The Woodlands, TX - June 30, 2009 - I just returned from the National Conference of the Business Marketing Association and wanted to share with you some thoughts, ideas and trends. The conference was sold out several weeks in advance. The speaker list was tremendous, and most attendees were there to learn about what's going on in Social Media (i.e. online tools that encourage community, sharing, connectivity, and conversation among people) and how savvy B2B marketers are using them.
Speakers from Linkedin, Google, IBM, Siemens and Pennwell (just to name a few) demonstrated how their companies are using applications such as Twitter, Blogs, Virtual Trade shows, and database driven email to communicate with customers and prospects in some very innovative ways.
The conference began with a reenactment of the famous McGraw Hill print ad, which effectively demonstrated just how much things have changed for us in Marketing. The contrast in how we did business just a few years ago vs. how we do it today was dramatic. The theme of the conference was "UNlearn" and you will need to if you plan to remain competitive.
David Meerman Scott gave every attendee a copy of his #1` bestseller - The New Rules of Marketing & PR. We learned about "word of mouse" marketing, and he demonstrated how information published by just a handful of influential bloggers can move through the internet the same way the arm movements of just a few people can have 80,000 fans in a stadium doing the wave. One factoid you may find of interest - Last year Dell started sending out a single Twitter message (a Tweet) each morning with their "special of the day". This 140 character blast now generates over $1,000,000 per day in revenues for the company and it is virtually free.
Matt Preschern demonstrated how IBM launched a business initiative called "Smarter Planet" which is a web site all about starting a conversation with the world on how to work smarter. But unlike most web sites, this is a two way conversation and all are welcome to participate (even their competition). It is clearly a corporate branding tool, but it feels different. Other companies demonstrated similar sites they have launched for their specific market niches - and new user communities have followed. Social media is here to stay, and this "Architecture of Participation" can help a company take a mindshare leadership role. In the old days the saying was "Knowledge is Power" today "Knowledge Shared is Power". We are trying to get Matt to come to talk to our Houston BMA Chapter - stay tuned…
Even the oldest form of telling your story - "Word of Mouth Marketing" - offers a number of new tools and techniques demonstrated by Andy Sernovitz, the author of a book by the same name. His scariest example was a Motrin AD that was cleared for release on a Friday night after being "thoroughly tested". A number of moms found the ad offensive and condescending and made their feelings known on blogs and YouTube. It wasn't until Monday morning that the company realized the backlash and pulled the ad on Monday night. But the damage was done. His point was if Johnson & Johnson (one of my first employers) had been socially connected they would have realized the negative groundswell and pulled the ad much faster. Ignore social media at your own peril.
Father and Daughter Al and Laura Ries talked about "War in the Board Room" - the conflict between marketing and management. Bottom line of their talk - stay focused on what you do best and are known for. They gave example after example of companies that ventured beyond their areas of expertise only to go down in flames. They demonstrated that in most cases you need to be number one or two in your market segment or you need to get out.
No trip to Chicago would be complete without taking advantage of some of town's fine dining and nightlife. Chapter leaders met for a memorable evening at "Ditka's", and Mike was kind enough to drop in and say hi.
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