What marketer wouldn’t give their right arm…and probably their left…heck, you don’t need arms with today’s voice recognition software, right?! Sorry, back to the point. What marketer wouldn’t give nearly anything to know the next big thing? The next marketing platform/technology/tactic that will revolutionize the industry? How will the customer/brand relationship evolve and mature?

As much as I’d like to wave my hands in front of a proverbial crystal ball and be shown a clear, concise answer to these questions, reality doesn’t seem to work quite that way. As AKHIA Creative Directors Nick Pfahler and Mike Lawrence recently shared during AKHIA’s annual Vision Week, “Predictions are uncertain. Weren’t we supposed to have flying cars by now? So when we look ahead, we have a mix of what we THINK will happen and what we WANT to happen.”

That’s the future in a nutshell. We bring our years of industry experience and client interactions and reading and talking to colleagues to bear and make reasonable, informed educated guesses on what marketing will look like in two, five, ten years.

As preparation for Vision Week (our internal time to come together, recharge, hear from our colleagues and focus on the business of the agency), we hosted a series of internal retreats. One of hottest topics was exactly this…what does the future hold? We’ll share some of the highlights with you in the coming weeks. Here’s the first:

Simplicity and Nimbleness

For years, marketing was often about putting as much information in front of a target audience member as possible. We weren’t sure when we would get to talk to them again or what would stick, so we inundated them from the get-go—12-page whitepapers, 10-minute videos and multifaceted tool kits were the norm. Our goal was to arm our audience with all of the information they needed to make an educated and informed decision, which, of course, was the purchase of our product, service or expertise. Though the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) model has been around since 1960, there was an inherent level of complexity in how we approached content and messaging.

While there are still instances where these tactics are relevant, the new norm is simplicity. Simplicity of communication. Simplicity of look. Simplicity of the brand message. Simplicity of the customer interaction. Simplicity of engagement.

This simplicity often results in an increased number of direct interactions with our customers, and hey, what marketer doesn’t dream about that? While there may be more of them, these instances can be of shorter duration, leaving marketers little choice but to become more nimble and evolve the marketing playbook.

The types of content and messages must be “snackable,” easily digested and understood by consumers, and interactions and engagement must be more potent and impactful. We have a short window of opportunity to hook a consumer before they hit the back button or surf off to another brand’s site.

The flip side to this simplicity is its capacity to drastically complicate the lives of marketers. It’s a reminder to all of us that we can’t afford to overthink and overanalyze. While we can’t stray from thinking strategically and analyzing consumer responses and interactions, we can’t afford to let it bog us down either. It’s a tightrope, and walking methodically down the cord with a balancing stick can be equal parts terrifying and exhilarating.

The marketers (and the brands) who are nimble, attuned to the conversation, decisive and calculated risk-takers will win the day. They will stay close to what is happening on the ground, keeping an eye to the overarching brand strategy, while managing the change and empowering their organizations to continue to meet their consumers where they are. (With this approach comes a needed analysis of the job description and role of the marketer-of-the-future. We’ll have to consider that for a future Brew post, as well.)

What is your marketing crystal ball telling you? What do you think the future of marketing holds?

Kate Eidam is Portfolio Lead at AKHIA. Her cat has a crystal ball, but it appears to be worthless, as the responses only show up as meows, which her cat refuses to translate. If you know of a good cat translator, tell her at @kateeidam.