FWD.Thinking: 4 Marketing Takeaways for You

By: Gary J. Nix | Reading Time: 5 min

Historically, this week is one of my favorite in digital marketing. For the past 5 years, it was due to Social Media Week, however circumstances have changed in 2016 and this year I started with my good friends at VentureBeat.

Marketing.FWD Summit celebrated its second year with a slew of senior marketing leaders from companies big and small to inspire and further educate us all in a world that is continually changing due to technology. The information disseminated was plentiful and, to be honest, it didn't hurt that many of the points brought forth fit within the rules of BRANDarchy. Those facts notwithstanding, I feel it is my duty to share my four favorite insights from a valuable day of education.

Managing Expectations

One of the greatest strengths of the hospitality industry is that it can teach you a valuable lesson about managing your customers' expectations. More specifically, hospitality is an industry that will teach you to not expect to be lauded for things you're supposed to do. This quote from Matt Valenti, Vice President, Guest Experience Intelligence, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, spoke about this fact in great detail and extended it to a situation that we can all relate to: making a first impression.

Impressions and expectations go hand-in-hand and, in branding, the cyclical nature of a relationship does cycle between last and first (new) impressions. Think about Matt's quote when you are considering the work you put in to acquire and retain a customer versus the difficulty in convincing a customer you've lost to return.

Experience this!

High energy speakers tend to grab my attention rather easily. Dana Anderson, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Mondel─ôz International, is no exception to that rule with a dynamic presentation that reminds me of her colleague and friend of the BRANDarchists, B. Bonin Bough.

Out of the many subjects Dana touched upon, the one that felt closest to my heart had to do with us as marketers looking at the experience through the lens of the customer. We have been speaking about e-commerce for years as if it is a completely separate thing, however, a customer only views this as commerce. They go to their laptop, desktop or, very likely, their mobile device and shop. This is a normal activity and while there are differences between online and in-store purchasing activities, the experience and intent is the same in so many ways to consumers, it makes perfect sense to drop the "e."

Responsive Responsibilities

The increasing ubiquity of mobile devices forced quick changes in mobile sites and design. One of the most significant developments was responsive design that allowed companies to design digital experiences that paralleled each other in terms of branded look and feel but conformed to the devices on which they were viewed in a spirit of consistency. This was a great step in the right direction, but it was not the only way being responsive needed to be carried out.

Rishi Dave, Chief Marketing Officer at Dun & Bradstreet, brought up a great point at a lunchtime breakout session regarding a more important brand need: serving your customer. Giving the consumer what s/he needs or wants is even more important than the way you wrap the message. Yes, we need to deliver in the best way possible, but it is imperative to deliver no matter what.

1-to-1, P2P, F2F, H2H & other ways to say the same thing

Another favorite speaker of mine at Marketing.FWD Summit was John Costello, President, Global Marketing and Innovation at Dunkin' Brands. All donuts aside, John spoke a lot about the way new marketing tactics change quickly, yet traditional principles remain. If you know me, you know that is a major philosophy of mine in everything I do. Thus, now that John has garnered the attention of us all, he spoke to something that was a goal of all marketers but seemed unattainable for a very long time.

Personal, one-to-one communication is a lofty goal for any marketer due to a finite amount time and a finite number of people to foster such relationships with a large audience. However, because of the way human beings behave, it was a logical goal. John's point, in the spirit of mastering new techniques and coupling those with traditional marketing principles, is that mobile devices, with the permission(s) of each device owner, can be the great facilitator of scalable one-to-one connections. Mobile technology allows us to communicate easier with individuals and if consumers want that connection, they can easily get it from a responsive and reliable brand through a slew of devices.

What I enjoyed most about this conference was the fact that it truly renewed my faith in our industry. To see people at companies, both large and small, who get it, it being the fact that putting the customer at the beginning, middle and end of your marketing processes, is the most effective way to success is quite refreshing. I suppose, it is possible for marketing to move forward after all.