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For the last several years, I’ve been writing up predictions on what is to be expected for the year to come. Typically, I release these early in January of the relevant year or December of the year prior. This year, things got away… and, I mean… AWAY away….. that plague of a flu that hit this season? Yup. That happened, x2.

But, with all things — you make the best of it and it gave me plenty of time to reflect over the happenings. There were several large trends, none so surprising, to be appreciated… and, some interesting marketing trends that seemed to loom over the horizon.

Suffice to say, 2017 taught us a few things on the digital market front:

  1. It was the year of websites.
  2. It was the year that social media “failed” — because, it’s not social media… it’s just plain media, now.
  3. It was the year that all the other major predictions, seemed to hiccup and never come to fruition.

All that said… it was good that I was able to reflect and truly ponder what is to be expected for this year. And, so… without any further ado…. here are!

5 Marketing Predictions for 2018

As mentioned, 2017 was the year of websites and New Year 2018 was when social media “self destructed” with all of Facebook’s business and fan page algorithm changes. Honestly though, it is no different than when in 2017, Google killed pop ups, when in 2016 Snapchat killed Twitter, or when again in 2017 Instagram killed Snapchat… and, through end of 2017… Twitter had a rebirth.

All these things come to pass in cycles; 2018 is the year that people (and, brands) will consolidate and reboot their footprints with a fierce user focus on all fronts — inbound, outbound, paid, organic…. ALL. OF. IT! Look to how international users like to manage their accounts. Typically, it’s through highly centralized and consolidated streams. One app to keep an eye on in terms of functionality: WeChat, the “Chinese Facebook.” Through this app, you do all your calls (voice and video), purchasing, ride sharing functions, social channels… everything.

You can expect 2018 to be the year everyone goes back to basics. Keep your eyes out for brands that are going to dust off the history books for tech-powered retro approaches in marketing, consumer engagement, branding, PR, etc. etc. etc.

The number one reason we can expect companies to go retro is because “back in the old days” people actually connected. That, is what has been lacking most of the end of 2017 and this fluttery start of 2018… there’s automation everywhere, there’s technology everywhere, there’s media and screens and swipes and taps… EVERYWHERE. What’s missing is connection. And, those who learn and master the “subtle science and exact art” (Harry Potter fans, know what I’m talking about) that the balance of authenticity and automation — such storytellers, will win and win BIG.

Reviews will matter more than every before. When it comes to content clutter (as we discussed in multiple blog posts in 2017), consumers go back to basics (ie. retro) and lean on two primary things: (1) search engine results, and, (2) reviews. Reviews, social media, forums, etc… all these are seen as Word of Mouth 2.0. There’s no other way around that truth. And, because of it, consumers will rely on multi-channel proofing via reviews as a precondition to purchasing behaviors. So, if you don’t have a system for feed-forward loops on gathering 5 star reviews from your company’s brand ambassadors… [A] we need to talk; [B] you need to get on identifying a platform; and, [C] you need to sit down and name 10 potential brand ambassadors, right this very second!

As alluded to in #2 above, storytellers will win and win big. Stories are the original media of the human condition — it is the way we communicate, pass on knowledge, lore, and conventional wisdom. These are all active considerations of the prospective consumer -AND- the prospective consumer seeks validating stories about WHY they should buy your brand.


It can’t be objective. No, no… no! We know all too well from psychology and cognitive science that when people buy, they buy for emotional reasons from those very centers of our brains. We then justify those decisions based on the rational elements within our mind in support of that emotional decision; however logical we may claim to be as individual thinkers.

We can’t ignore this science if we are to be precise and effective marketers. Therefore, share stories. Stories about HOW your brand brings value, changes lives, empowers others, and brings good to the community — these are the stories to share about… certainly not how someone’s functional measures improved… *barf*

Share! Share, how your company helped someone regain their livelihood when all hope was lost. Tell it, with gripping emotion and striking relate-ability. Tell it as if it was your close friend or family. Tell it so that everywhere who hears of these stories, feels its deep and leaves them with warmth, hope, and the desire to engage.

Oh, Hint! The best way to tell contemporary stories: VIDEO. High level production value video.

Only ecosystems will survive. Now, that might sound bleak, but that is the harsh reality of 2018’s marketing landscape. One dimensional, tactical approaches to marketing will quickly burn out. Foundationally driven, strategically oriented approaches will survive and even grow!

It’s all about the long game and it needs to be just as data driven as it is user focused.

Just as in the clinical world, we would customarily never ONLY use one singular clinical intervention (ie. only use TherEx, or only use Neuro ReEd, or only use Therapeutic Activities — shoutout to our Physical Therapy roots and our PT colleagues reading this post)… such is the truth in effective marketing. In fact, it has always been this way. It’s just that the acid test for 2018 will be that much more grueling to stand up to; if you’ve been relying on what is essentially a singular approach, it’d be an incredible important thing that you expand your lead sources beyond the status quo.

Proof your lead sources in this fashion: If the way your business continues to have steady business comes from one type of customer conversion journey… if how they come to find you always sounds the same… you NEED to start diversifying NOW!

Now, I do have a few more predictions of the non-marketing type.

  • Student debt will become an uningnorable and fiercely deciding factor in the job market, talent acquisition, and staff retention.
  • Wearable, communication portals, and apps will become even more a thing, especially as it pertains to data science and it’s impact on population health.
  • To the above: If Physical Therapists DO NOT define their roles within data science and population health management, it will once again be defined for us and will cripple our presence for the next foreseeable evolution within the healthcare schema.
  • This year, non-payer healthcare consumerism (ie. CashPT) proves itself as “not a fluke”… particularly for established practices with a healthy community footprints that happen to have long waiting lists.
  • “Young” practices will begin to find ways to share resources in working together; established practices must shed their differences in a unified economic pursuit… or, die trying.

Well! That’s all I have for now. As per the past, I’ve been pretty darn on the spot with my predictions and the next 11 months or so will tell for what I’ve now stated in black and white.

So, until next time, may your 2018 continue to sprint with success in strength. And, should there be anything you need or any questions you have… you need only reach out.

Ben Fung, DPT, MBA
Co-Founder, COO, UpDoc Media
Co-Founder, CFO, Recharge|HoCo-CrossFit
Twitter: @DrBenFung
Snapchat: DrBenFung