I was asked to participate in the Future of Marketing Virtual Conference the other day – it ran yesterday and today – which was comprised of 60 marketing thinkers given 60 seconds each to comment on what they thought the future of marketing was all about.

On my end, the audio was a bit garbled, unfortunately, but hopefully the message got out.

If it didn’t, this is what I said, more or less:

I’ve got bad news. 

The future of marketing isn’t about tools. Sure, we’re able to collaborate, communicate, pontificate and proliferate faster than we’ve ever been able to before, but if all we’re doing is allowing ourselves to do the wrong thing faster, this isn’t a bright future.

The future of marketing isn’t about tools. It’s about the discipline to use these bright new tools correctly. It’s about knowing before-hand that your social media has a positive ROI because you’ve measured it. You know. This isn’t a cultural question, it’s four function math. It’s about launching a new logo that you know is the right one because you tested it, rigorously, in front of a statistically relevant number of your real customers and not just in front of a smattering of people who raised their hands on your Facebook page.

Maybe the future of marketing is really about knowing stuff. Because unless we know what we’re doing and have the discipline to employ these fast new do-it-yourself tools correctly, we’ll just be making the wrong decisions from the comfort of our offices. It isn’t about tools. It’s about the mind of the toad using them.


OK, here’s what I actually said:


I’d encourage you to listen to the whole thing – you can register for free to get the entire conference here. My piece starts at about 33:14 on the recording.


Why is this an important message to take to heart? Here’s a few reasons:

1. When you rely on the tools to do your thinking, you get sloppy. Yes, we can do things that used to cost tens of thousands of dollars very cheaply now. This is great. The not so great part is that we tend to think that this smaller price tag requires less of our critical thinking now. We get sloppy as a result. And when this sloppy thinking is driving a critical part of our marketing strategy, disaster looms.

2. Non-sampling error – the “garbage in, garbage out” phenomenon – is very real. It gives us great comfort to do statistically relevant analysis on purely subjective fluff, for some reason. And in the words of a former statesman, “Do not call an elephant a mouse unless it gives you great comfort to know you are being trampled to death by a mouse.”

3. We love speed and we love shiny new tools that make it all look so simple. Both are seductive. And while speed can be a critical competitive advantage, it can also send you Wylie Coyote-like off a cliff of your own creation. It’s never a case of being fast or being slow. It’s a case of being right or being wrong.

When I get the link to the actual recording, which may differ a bit in actual content but not in tone from the above, I’ll update.