Predict The Future… Get It Wrong… Get Away With It

Predict The Future… Get It Wrong… Get Away With It


Barely ten minutes goes by where I don’t predict some future outcome. It could be the outcome of an action I’m taking, planning on taking or wishing I would take. You do it too. We all do even if we fail to notice. Even little kids do it.

Two of the most important days of the year are my kids birthdays. Recently, my younger son celebrated his 4th birthday. My wife and I do whatever we can to make it a special day for them. For his birthday this year he wanted “PJ Masks” decorations, “Miles From Tomorrowland” wrapping paper and “Lion Guard” streamers. Plus, he wanted his cake to feature a spaceship design. Somehow, my wife made all of that happen.

My older son celebrated his birthday a few months ago. It was a blast. The attention, happiness and gifts  must have been seductive to his younger brother. Not more than two minutes after it ended my younger one began planning his birthday. We were still three months away.

This is a classic example of basing future predictions on previous outcomes. My younger son saw the outcome of his older brother’s birthday and predicted that his birthday would turn out equally well. This addiction to prediction plays a role in crafting our marketing messages too.

How Marketers and Pundits Exploit Predictions

In sales and marketing we boast about past successes that lead our prospect to conclude they’ll get the same result. Political pundits are famous for taking a past result and drawing a conclusion about a future prediction. They’re usually wrong but we continue to fall for it. 

Ironically, predicting the future usually fails. We rarely consider the infinite number of variables that go into each outcome. They’re never exactly the same. So, why do we still do it? Why do we still listen to others who do it? Because it gives us a sense of certainty and control. The feeling of certainty and control matters most in that moment. It matters more than being right in the future.

Could It Really Pay To Be Wrong

Does it matter if our predictions turn out to be wrong? Consider:

Political pundits never die out even though they’re often wrong
Expert stock pickers thrive even though they fail to beat the market.
Sales people show us success stories and we get all giddy with excitement

We keep falling for the same bit because that feeling of certainty becomes irresistible. What sucks is we often make these predictions ourselves. Smart marketers let us draw our own conclusions. They simply lay out the facts and let our natural intuition take over. For example,  a salesperson tells a story about customers who used a system to get rich and the prospect thinks:
“Wow. The last three people made a fortune. I’ll do the same” 

He doesn’t need to say anything. The customer sells himself. See how it works?

Here’s how to ethically use this yourself:

Option 1: Your audience/prospects take comfort in your predictions. Just don’t make promises you can’t keep
Option 2: You rarely need to make your own predictions. Your prospect or customer predicts on his own. My younger son concluded his party would be amazing all on his own. Why? Because after experiencing his older brothers party he made the leap that his would be great.


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