Along with post-holiday sales and carcasses of Christmas trees on the curb, this is the season of forecasts. Pundits, gurus and mavens emerge from their dens to favor the rest of us with insights about the next big thing or the soon no longer to be big thing. As with forecasts of stock markets and fashion trends this can be risky and tough to do. Forecasting does have advantages. Comedian Jay Leno summarized these when he assumed his long running late night show:
There’s no heavy lifting and nobody tells me to comeback and fix the jokes, which weren’t funny last night…
As marketers we are often asked to predict. How do we do it? Mostly badly. Do we have an alternative? I suggest following the advice of the late Peter Drucker and “predict the future, which is already happening” rather than speculate or paying others to speculate on your behalf.
What do we already know about 2009?
- Consumer sentiment is negative
- Real spending will decline
- Commercial and consumer credit will decrease
- More ad spending will be allocated to measurable media than broadcast
- Your competitors will launch fewer new products
- Promotional budgets will decline
- You will have fewer marketing staff
For your own market and business you can extend this list and probably provide some relative quantification. This approach will save significant management and staff time. More important, it will let you focus on telling customers why your product or service is what they need even in a down economy.