As 2018 comes to a close, it’s overwhelming to sit back and reflect on the dizzying pace of change we have witnessed over the last 12 months. This period of disruption stands poised to continue into the year ahead as the dialogue around creativity and technology shifts from one of an “either/or” tenor, to one with a “better together” mindset. Much of this sea change is being propelled by our new emotion driven economy which is mandating a strategic fusion of imaginative marketing with different types of AI, machine learning and emotional driven analytics. For all of these reasons, as our new age of business continues to unfold, the marketing function only continues to rise in importance.

As plans get underway for 2019, what follows are the top 5 things senior marketers and entrepreneurs should be aware of as we inch closer to the new year:

1. We have entered the “Emotion Economy.” Brands must view emotion as a critical currency of business.

Historically, consumer insights have been developed by collecting and analyzing data to predict what the customer’s next move might be. Today, however, this is just one piece of the equation when trying to understand what a customer will do as technology is being used to read, analyze and even replicate the other half of the pie – our emotions.

For successful brands, it’s no longer just about understanding what customers will do, but rather how they feel and how we can best get them to act. This is what pundits are calling the ‘emotion economy’, and recent advances in technology have already put us on the path towards it.  Understanding how this ecosystem works, and learning how to draw value from it, will become vital to the success of any organization that is looking to engage with customers and stay at the front of the pack amongst competitors.

The reason that understanding emotion is attractive to businesses is because of the new opportunities for growth, efficiency, and profitability it offers. Industry pundits claim that the affective computing market, made up of technology that is designed to recognize, understand and simulate human emotion, is set to rise to $59 billion by 2021.

In the year ahead, leading brands will recognize the opportunity to not just be smart, but to be emotionally intelligent in ways that define distinction and ultimately positively impact the bottom-line.

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2. Our sharing, or collaborative culture, impacts the world of storytelling. People are putting more trust in others they know and reputable content, not ads.

The sharing, collaborative or We-Conomy we have seen unfold over the last decade has been spurred by one fundamental idea: trust. We have witnessed traditional sectors like lodging (Airbnb) and transportation (Uber) be completely upended based off of technology platforms that instigate sharing and are predicated on the notion of trusting in one another, more than “big business.” This is the very reason we have seen a rampant shift from the “me” to the “we” in recent times, along with a sizeable rebalancing of power from the few to the many.

Consequently, the world of storytelling is not immune to these changes, and recognizing the power of content that is reputable, authentic, purpose-driven, AND potentially created and/or shared by people who are known or recognized in the space has never been more vital.

As brands approach storytelling in the year ahead, it will be vitally important for them to embrace a focus on the why and who as opposed to the what, and do so in partnership with brand loyalists, advocates or influencers that authentically stand behind an organization and what it represents.

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