As the hangover from the excesses of the festive period recedes, marketers are struggling to predict the future. It's time to get off the fence, writes Nicola Kemp.
There is one thing marketers would be loathe to give up as a new year's resolution: the seemingly endless predictions of just what 2013 will bring.
At a time when 'the uncertain economic climate' has become the one-size-fits-all explanation for the widespread and debilitating lack of clarity in business, many marketers are loathe to commit to long-term goals.
In fact, for many in the industry, 2013 will be a year in which brands will struggle to see beyond the next quarter.
There are those who think that these brands have a point, and, if the recession taught us anything, it's that predictions often aren't worth the paper they are written on.
Marketers frequently think the best way to inform any prediction they make is to collect as much data as possible first. Yet the historical nature of available data means this is, as the old adage goes, like driving a car by looking at the road only via the rear-view mirror.
The economy may well remain flaccid, and the combination of looming tax increases and inflation outstripping turgid or non-existent pay rises is, understandably, spreading fear among the marketing community. Nonetheless, this does not mean we can write off 2013 before January has even got into its stride.
For me, 2013 has already delivered immeasurable joy; last week my husband and I went for our 12-week pregnancy scan. I was irrationally convinced there would be nothing there; that multiple tests, combined with constant sickness, simply weren't enough proof. But when I saw the head, tiny hands, perfect outline of a nose, firmly crossed legs and a tiny heart beating, I thought, with absolute certainty: 'I will do anything for you.'
The economy may be uncertain, but why should we be? This year will be what you make it.
What brands should know about predicting 2013
Bored of talking about 'Empty 13'?
Yes, we know: there will be no Olympics or European football tournament this year. Brands did not conjure these budgets out of thin air, though; much investment was diverted from existing projects. Marketing will not come to a standstill in 2013, so, please, ditch the hyperbole.
According to figures from StartUp Britain, British entrepreneurs broke records in 2012, with start-up business numbers up by almost 10%. Research by the national enterprise campaign showed that 484,224 businesses were started last year, compared with 440,600 in 2011.
UK online adspend increased 12.6% to £2.6bn in the first half of 2012, according to the latest IAB/PwC study. This presents a major, urgent, opportunity for marketers to grow their digital capabilities in 2013.
Smartphones and tablets will continue to revolutionise marketing in 2013, with tablet penetration hitting 14% in September 2012. The Apple iPad's growth since launch has been three times that of the iPhone in its post-launch period.
Nicola Kemp is Marketing's head of features. Follow her on Twitter: @nickykc
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