Yesterday I attended The Art of Marketing in downtown Vancouver. A one-day conference filled with 5 well-known marketing industry leaders and authors. Let’s be totally honest…I was really only there to see my real-life hero, Avinash Kaushik who I discovered a year ago while researching web analytics. Avinash writes an incredible blog called Occam’s Razor and I dare you to go there and not fall in love!
Back to the conference.
Ron Tite (@rontite) served as MC for the event and did a fantastic job warming up the audience (the Canucks jersey certainly didn’t hurt). Ron spoke about the “new” rules of marketing…or more accurately, the lack thereof. As marketers, we don’t necessary all play by the same rule book: unlikely hockey players for example. Some hit hard, some skate slow, and some stay on the bench. Ron’s analogies were effective and compelling and his ability to reach out and engage with the audience was outstanding.
A “Why To” not “How To” discussion about the Future of Marketing
Mitch Joel (@mitchjoel), author of “Six Pixels of Separation” was our first speaker and set a very, very, high bar. “Where is marketing going?”, asked Mitch. At the heart of this disruptive time is the core reality that consumers are leading the revolution, not marketers. Marketing is undergoing a major reboot – CTRL + ALT + DEL (Mac users: nevermind) – and the platforms serving us today require a completely different approach. What we should stop doing is trying to retro-fit the old methods. It’s time to move towards the new models of marketing which consumers are using, sharing, inventing, and demanding.
Mitch makes an excellent point when he says that the “new consumer” is practically unrecognizable from just two years ago. Think about it: how have you changed in your demand for, and access of, timely relevant information. How quickly do you grab your mobile device to get immediate information on movies, or a product, or a meaningless piece of trivia nagging your brain? Consumers have changed nearly at the same pace as the app industry. And damn, that’s fast.
So what does Mitch call this new era of marketing? He refers to it as, “The Connected Consumer Strategy”, and I’ll say this now…it changes everything in the marketing communications ballgame. During this part of his presentation I sent out this tweet:
I wonder if anyone heard it? Hmm…
The Connected Consumer Strategy is all about the mobile user and optimizing:
- the mobile experience
- the digital experience
After all, the stats regarding the purchases of mobile devices vs non-mobile are clearly showing a strong trend towards digital mobility. And guess what? Brands aren’t leading the charge on social media or marketing. Consumers are. Mobile, digitally-tuned in, consumers. Are you ready for them?
Strategy & Creativity
William Taylor (@practicallyrad) opened with a powerful, thought-provoking question that we should all be asking ourselves:
Can you persuasively tell your audience why they should be your customer?
Yikes. The reality is, most front-line workers can’t. From retailers to bank tellers…marketers, sales, and customer service all struggle with answering this question in a succinct and meaningful way. What’s missing is an intimate understanding of a brand’s value proposition: moreover, a thorough understanding of the VALUES represented by the brand. It’s companies like Zappos and Fido who have redefined value propositions that are compelling and relevant (not to mention authentic) for their customers: imagine…an Internet company that actually provides a phone number and encourages you to call it, and then a human picks it up and talks to you (unscripted!!!). This is what Taylor calls “humanizing core capabilities”. It’s simple, it’s brilliant, and it’s so over-looked. It’s also a completely new look at customer service. People, pay attention here: customer service IS marketing. Do it right and you will be rewarded.
Taylor leaves us with another great concept that addresses leadership. He challenges us to think like a “solution finder” instead of a “problem solver”. Seriously, problems are not that unique. Come on Mr. and Mrs. CEO…your problems are being experienced and shared world-wide and have already been conquered. Find solutions; ask others, gain their input & insight, hell crowdsource this if you need to. But stop locking yourself and your ego in a boardroom and thinking this is all on you. This, Taylor says, is how today’s New Leaders think.
It’s no secret that Avinash Kaushik (@avinash) was the main feature for me at this event. I’ve written several blog posts used for teaching and sharing knowledge about basic analytics, with all concepts borrowed from Avinash’s book, Web Analytics 2.0. What’s great about seeing him present is that he speaks like he writes; it’s all coming from the same bundle of funny, intense, passionate, energy. Avinash is a true natural and he knows how to bring the humanity (and humour) into analytics. This my friends is pure genius.
Consider an online video. Google’s, Parisian Love, for example:
How did this make you feel? Happy? Sentimental? Did it make you smile? And did you feel like sharing it? The statistics tell a story about this video:
But the fine print tells another one:
What Avinash wants us to understand is that sure there is data and there are lots and lots of stats out there, but we need to hone in on “metrics that matter”. Incremental metrics, not just the well-known ones (my God – do not say HITS or Page Views or else lightening will come find you), such as “Likes” and “Dislikes” tell a very important story. Look, it’s all about measuring the data that tells you you’ve made a connection with people. This is what Avinash is encouraging us to measure.
There are many other metrics that we should all be wrapping our heads around in the analytics world:
- Bounce rates (as in, “I came, I puked, I left”)
- Task Completion Rate
- Message Amplification (Retweets that tell us about engagement & velocity and show us the “ripple effect”)
- Conversation Rate (a measure of “shouting” vs “conversation”)
- Network Influence Size (measure of the “2nd level network; eg. followers of your followers. This gives us “True Reach”)
To be blunt, which Avinash is and this is why we love him, you want to be measuring outcomes that impact Social Value and Economic Value. One of the best lines of the day was when he explained that measuring incrementally is critical: by running controlled experiments you can “fail faster” (or #failfaster as he put it). Smart isn’t it? Find out which metrics matter, which ones impact your key outcomes, track the data to tell the story of your successes (or, failures).
There is no title for this presentation
No one made a stronger more memorable impact than the fourth speaker of the day, Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee). Author of “Crush It” and “The Thank You Economy”, Gary came out and hit us hard in the front, the back, the side, and on top with his profanity-based honest perspective of the (marketing) world we live in today. It’s a shame no one had an f-bomb meter running, I suspect we could have collected enough money to pay for drinks afterwards.
What I most enjoyed about Gary’s presentation was his fresh look at disintermediation. You just gotta be a nerd to love this stuff. Changing business models and distribution channels fascinate me and the role (new) technology plays in this context is something I could talk or read about for hours. The communication channels today are rewriting the rules and consumers have even more direct access to upward channel players than ever before. So what role are retailers playing? What value are they bringing to the consumer? You either are, or you aren’t…and if you aren’t, then game over.
Alas, a quote from Gary:
Sure, content is king. But context is queen and that b*tch runs the house.
Boom! There you go, that’s probably the cleanest quote I can provide from Gary’s presentation.
How to Create Enchantment
I hate this title almost as much as I hated this presentation. Yes, I know, strong words. Sorry folks, but this presentation delivered by Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) was #NOTenchanting. I found it to be pretentious, demeaning, and at times, patronizing. It was both the content and the delivery of the content that offended and disappointed me. It read like a biz school student presentation – no wait – I’ve seen better in business school – so let me just say that it was completely off mark and anti-climactic after such a #winning day. ;)
A glimpse into my frustration:
Guy put forth a numeric list of “to do’s” so we can all learn how to be enchanting. From ‘how to’ dress for our audience (yes, seriously) to ‘how to’ reciprocate with our neighbours in order to get something in return (gak), it was all straight from decades past. I’d like to try to find at least one nugget amongst the irrelevant story telling, name dropping, and ass kissing: Ah, here it is… “Tell a Story”. Ok, I get that. Storytelling has long been perceived as marketing’s long-lost and often forgotten younger step-sibling. The power of framing your values, your vision, your brand in the context of a story is practiced by many: Rick Hansen Foundation, Lululemon, 3M…they’ve all done it and done it well.
But the rest of the day was pure gold.