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I’m just returning from an impressive 3 day conference put on by e-Consultancy with headliners like Brian Solis, Tom Fishburne, Martine Reardon and Seth Godin. There was so much content to absorb it took my fried brain a few days to reflect on the overriding message delivered at the conference. Here’s my brief summary as to how the world should interpret the digital marketing tsunami…

1. The Game is On. It’s clear that the connected consumer revolution is on us – Brian Solis and Seth Godin made it clear that the game has changed. I guess there is a reason that
– 60% of the population has a smartphone

IMW 2013

IMW 2013

– 20% of users average checking it every 10 minutes.
– LinkedIn has over 100 million users
– FB has over 1.1 billion (yes that’s billion) monthly users and…
– Pinterest is the hottest property since Hawaii was purchased.
The consumer now has a voice that can be heard around the world – capable of causing an Arab spring. It’s now a fight for companies to share in new, open, completely transparent dialogue, innovation and experiences. The implication on all levels of the customer experience and in particular, on organizations, are enormous – strategic, operational and tactical. And we’ve only begun to explore the changes and impacts this consumer revolution will bring.

2. Look Before You Leap into the Digital Strategy. The volume of solutions available in the market today – from technology enablers to datasets, and from integrators to agencies is overwhelming. Companies like Selligent, Salesfusion and Teradata have great and ever expanding solutions. But starting with a sound digital strategy and customer experience strategy – or at least a plan and hypothesis – is paramount to delivering any sort of business return or benefit. Shawn Burns of SAP highlighted their best practices of setting up an internal lab to constantly ideate, test, adjust and deploy with overwhelming success. Measure your expectations to your results, make adjustments, and keep the discipline and cadence to continue to deliver in-line with your plans.

3. A New Collaborative Paradigm must Emerge. We now have the ability to create a meaningful and holistic customer experience through listening posts, integrated marketing and 1-1 engagement. BUT… if you’re not coordinated – it’s the customer that feels the pain of a disconnected organization. And every disjointed function that interrupts a seamless customer experience runs the risk of being exposed. CMO Martine Reardon highlighted Macy’s market leading approach to omnichannel retailing. They’ve internally liberated data – both operating and customer data, and provide a seamless platform and integrated experience that brings “Magic Selling” to life. Functionally, we learned that Marketing must play the on-field quarterback role directing signals to the areas of the organization that require adjustments or overhaul. Organizationally – the company must adopt a collaborative culture to deliver the brand promise, moments of truth, and long-term return on customer investment.

4. Safeguarded Data Becomes Competitive Information Differentiator. The volume of data available to marketers is enormous (i.e. Big) and growing exponentially. We have more data and creative ways to target, connect and communicate than ever before. Despite the NSA breach last week, consumers are beginning to realize that they must contribute information in order to gain an experience customized to their preference – as Ernon Roman calls it – the “Reciprocity of Value”. The Data Driven Marketing Institute is our advocate for data stewardship and keeping public policy makers from destroying the multi-billion dollar direct marketing industry. (Make your www.thedma.org/ddmi Pledge here.) The role of the marketer is two-fold. 1) Be the creative genius to segment, target, personalize, and build unique memorable experiences with first and third party data and 2) become the steward of sound data privacy practices as you deliver the products, services and customer experiences – when, where and how they desire.

5. Now is the time when leaders are born. It’s always been easy to follow in the best practices of others or copy your competitors. But in periods of rapid change, leaders with an inspirational vision are needed. Martin Luther King didn’t pave the path to freedom by copying the best practices of others. He led change by creating a vision and compelling others to act on their own in ways that enhanced the movement. Marketing is now at the forefront of the fastest and perhaps the biggest consumer behavioral change in the history of mankind. In the words of Tom Fishburne – “Make your customers’ awesome” and on a personal note – seize the moment and lead your organization through these transformational times.

Kudos to Ashley Freidlien and the eConsultancy team for pulling off highly successful and first ever Integrated Marketing Week event. No small feat, and one that I’m sure will only continue to get better and better.

Rob Urbanowicz

One Comment

  1. Jeff Fenter

    Rob — I’m particularly intrigued your the reference to “A New Collaborative Paradigm must emerge”. Traditionally, Marketers have worked tirelessly to “direct” or “control” the marketing messaging with great success. The rise of “Generation C” (the Connected business or consumer) reshapes this conversation substantially. Companies must reframe the way they view marketing from one of owning the message to one of influencing and shaping the customer experience and dialogue with them.