Last week I had the pleasure of attending The Holmes Report’s In2 Innovation Summit in San Francisco, “a global network of events that explore innovation, disruption and evolution that has — and continues to —redefine influence and engagement.” That’s a lot to take in, right? “Redefine influence and engagement.” What does that mean? Well, here’s three things I took away from the conference:
– Storytelling is alive and kicking, but participation is key. Daina Middleton, head of global business marketing for Twitter discussed how today we are in the age of participation. In her book, “Marketing in the Participation Age,” she discusses how now is the time to evolve from the traditional marketing methodology developed over 50 years ago to one that embraces how people engage in conversations today. The world has become smaller and more complex. It’s not a competition in who can be the loudest. There’s so much content available and people are now choosing how, when and where they spend their time consuming content. Daina discussed how the key for customer participation is to activate all three elements of the framework:
- Discover: The human desire to continually learn, and the satisfaction of becoming competent at something. In what ways are you inviting participants to learn more about your product/brand?
- Empower: Inviting someone to have a meaningful contribution to the brand and/or product. Do you invite participants to connect with the brand: provide feedback, offer tips and suggestions, and help to create the product itself?
- Connect: Humans love to interact with others in meaningful ways. Brands often only think of creating environments that allow Participants to connect with the brand, but do you build environments that foster relationships with others who may share the same interest?
– Chief Marketing Officers are under pressure to show ROI. We heard from some of the biggest brands this week: Starbucks, MasterCard and one of my favorite brands, Method. These leading brands are all on the cutting edge of engaging in a more participative conversation with their customers. I am a brand advocate for Method. Why? I tell everyone how much I love their laundry detergent. I also proudly have their hand soap on my sink counter vs. in a soap dispenser that matches my bathroom decor. Why? I am proud of my decision to bring a brand into my home that is socially responsible. That’s all great and fine, but how does that translate into sales? Despite all the chatter around mobile and the term “big data,” many chief marketing officers (CMOs) are at a standstill in reaching digital and data-focused marketing goals. Why? Internal silos, resistance to change within their companies and limited expertise with emerging technologies and solutions. Here’s the Oprah aha moment: Companies can’t keep up with the pace of consumer adoption. How do you fix the problem? Baby steps. First, ensure you’re CEO is supporting the cause. Are business objectives clear and do they align with marketing objectives? Second, CMOs must get all functions of the marketing organization to talk to their finance and IT departments. The idea is to find an approach that works for all functions and to slowly identify ways to measure the connection of marketing to sales. That approach can include the use of CRM data, scan data from supermarkets, insights from digital conversations and/or measurement of influencer engagement, to name a few.
– Analytics and Insight – no longer just an afterschool special! During the conference, I heard one of our leaders Bob Pearson at W2O Group say that companies are starting to develop insights through analytics, but then they stuff it in their pocket and move on with their regularly broadcasted TV program. Worse yet, if they do use analytics, the insight is elementary… learning of “likes” and “RTs” is not a strategy. In the course of the conference, there was a panel discussion entitled, “Speaking CEO – The Next Frontier in Measurement & Analytics.” It was clear that the panel participants, including Seth Duncan from W2O Group, are on the forefront of analytics and insights. The idea is to actually use insight to help make strategic business decisions, not just communications decisions. Overlapping market segments with an understanding of where customers spend their time online, plus insight into what their passions are could be incredibly lucrative. It means not just counting the numbers, it means understanding human behavior. Once you do that, it’s not just about holding onto that data, it’s about identifying how to align with business objectives. It’s about creating the right conversation, identifying the right channels online and offline and it’s about having an engaged experience with your customers. Not only that, do it fast, be agile and evolve it over time.
So, you can see that the market is ready for us to redefine the way we influence and engage. It’s about participating in a conversation. It’s about understanding how people behave, what gets them excited. Where are they spending their time? It’s about finding ways to engage all parts of your organization to identify opportunities to link marketing to sales. Finally, it’s about taking those insights and turning it into action – FAST!