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Avoid Predictions and Analyze the Possibilities of the Future [The Weekly Wrap]

Editor’s note: Sometimes you need to break the rules. We’re publishing The Weekly Wrap a day early to make room for a timely (and related) post from Robert Rose. Read and listen now. Then check back tomorrow.

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And that’s a wrap of the week ending Feb. 28, 2020

This week I’m wondering about stories from the future. I look at Ad Age’s content marketing awards – and find them to be aged ads. I talk with trend hunter and innovation expert Jeremy Gutsche about a methodology for seeing into the future. And I share several articles about future-proofing your content marketing strategy.

Listen to the Weekly Wrap

Our theme this week is the future – it’s where you’ll spend the rest of your life.

Let’s wrap it up.

One deep thought: Back to the alternate futures (3:18)

We all want to predict the future. The ability to do so increases the odds that what we’re doing today will succeed. I’d argue that most of what we are doing in any planning exercise is an attempt to predict what’s coming. We read research, deploy technology, hire analysts, engage consultants, hold retreats, and attend conferences to try to see around the corners of the future.

The challenge comes, however, when we try to calculate the probability of a future instead of understanding the variety of possibilities in front of us. We want the best outcome, so we use all the resources we’ve gathered to choose the clearest, shortest path to our destination. The problem is that the predicted path is often inflexible – and usually wrong.

I suggest a better way – one that involves analyzing trends to extract all the possibilities and then addressing the variety of futures that may come from those possibilities. Still with me? Listen in for examples of this approach.

Analyze trends to extract the possibilities to plan the future, says @Robert_Rose via @cmicontent. #WeeklyWrap Share on X

A fresh take on content marketing (?) awards (9:42)

This week Ad Age announced the Ad Age A-List and Creativity Award finalists.

Right at the top of the creativity award categories is content marketing of the year with three finalists:

  • HBO, “#forthethrone,” by Droga5
  • Sandy Hook Promise, “Back to School Essentials,” by BBDO New York
  • Skittles, “Advertising Ruins Everything,” by DDB Chicago and SMUGGLER

This set of nominees sent me off on a bit of a rant. It has nothing to do with the quality of the work ­– all those creative efforts were fantastic. It’s that they are not content marketing as we define it. (Ad Age does have categories that better fit these examples.)

.@AdAge’s #contentmarketing winners are NOT content marketing, says @Robert_Rose via @cmicontent. #WeeklyWrap Share on X

Take a look at Ad Age’s description of the content marketing category:

This category recognizes creative uses of storytelling on any number of platforms – such as long-form films, branded content and native advertising on publishing sites. While today, many would consider traditional ads like spots or print ads to be ‘content,’ work that will win in this category represents the sort of storytelling you would not expect to find within a traditional ad buy.

I talk about why this category gives content marketing short shrift, why a clear definition of content marketing matters, and some fantastic examples from brands (and their agencies) that get it.

This week’s person making a difference in content: Jeremy Gutsche (17:41)

My guest this week is trend hunter Jeremy Gutsche, whom I’ve been a fan of for years. Jeremy is a New York Times best-selling author, award-winning innovation expert, a keynote speaker, and CEO of Trend Hunter – a trend website and innovation consultancy with over 3 billion views and more than 10,000 innovation projects. His team is relied on by 700 brands, billionaires, and CEOs to predict and create the future, including Google, Sony, Disney, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, IBM, and Adidas. He’s even helped NASA prototype the Journey to Mars.

Jeremy and I had a great conversation about trend hunting and seeing around corners into the future. Here’s a glimpse of one of the trends Jeremy’s keeping an eye on:

You can now as a big company enter almost any market. No one thought Amazon was going to become a grocery store ­– and then they just did. The lines are blurring … There are all sorts of plug-and-play services that happen at a higher level, where whole companies can move into entirely different industries with little experience.

All sorts of plug-and-play services allow companies to move into different industries with little experience, says @jeremygutsche via @cmicontent. #WeeklyWrap Share on X

Listen in to our conversation, then learn more about Jeremy’s work:

One content marketing idea you can use (31:27)

And in the theme of this week, this idea is about the future and from the past. It’s not just one post. It’s a whole issue of Chief Content Officer from April last year. It’s just so good I hope you’ll look at it again. The issue will challenge your assumptions about change — and prompt you to consider whether the changes you make today will future-proof your business or set you up for future shock. Here are just a few of the juicy articles (about true content marketing):

Love for our sponsor: Kapost

So let me tell you a story … Once upon a time, customers wanted content. So, marketing produced it.

As new ways to reach customers emerged, marketers kept creating more and more content. They also started growing their teams and adding technology to help drive engagement.

But in all the excitement, we forgot why we started making content in the first place: for our customers. We knew the messages we worked so hard to build were getting lost in the chaos, but we didn’t know another way.

Finally our customer said, “Enough! You’re confusing me!”

With that, Kapost was born. Kapost unites revenue teams to speak in one voice across the entire customer journey.

Learn more at

The wrap-up

Join me next week for one thought about the past, present, and future (it’ll be intense), one bold prediction (as opposed to italicized news item) that will help you gain 2020 vision, and one content marketing tip that will help you become a prophet center. And it’ll all be delivered in a little less time than it takes a Whopper to get moldy.

If you have ideas for what you’d like to hear more of on our weekly play on words, let us know in the comments. And if you love the show, we’d sure love for you to review it or share it. Hashtag us up on Twitter: #WeeklyWrap.

To listen to past Weekly Wrap shows, go to the main Weekly Wrap page

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute