Watch video interviews with conference speakers Douglas McWilliams (above) and Nigel Piercy, and read the full conference report below.
Chris Lenton; Sarah Montague
“Thought into action – moving forward” was the theme at The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Annual National Conference.
Institute chairman Chris Lenton kicked off proceedings with a reminder of the fast changing nature of the industry. “Technology has changed beyond all recognition. The remarkable thing is how quickly we take it for granted and look to the next innovation,” he said. “This looking forward nature is common in all of us and that is what we are looking at today.”
BBC Radio 4 presenter Sarah Montague then explained the educational aims of the day. “The sessions will get you thinking about strategy, keeping your staff happy, social media and new digital technology.”
Read more from Chris Lenton >>>
Marketing for growth
Centre for Economic and Business research CEO Professor Douglas McWilliams got the programme of keynote talks underway with an insight into the state of the global and UK economy. “Growth will probably be slower this year than next but I would bet one of my better shirts there won’t be a global double dip recession.
A UK double dip is another matter.”
McWilliams went on to acknowledge that advertising is recovering but that a tough year lies ahead. “We’ll have to be careful on cost and take advantage of the digital opportunities available.”
McWilliams ended by warning that diluting marketing activity is the wrong approach. “People like to think they can cope with a spending squeeze by cutting marketing. We’re in tough times but marketing is the way out.”
Read more from Douglas McWilliams >>>
Nigel Piercy; Allan Evans
Professor Nigel Piercy, Warwick Business School, told delegates they must think of marketing as more than marcomms and branding. “Traditional marketing is lacking, we need new ways of doing marketing.”
Rather, marketers should focus on strategy to succeed in new highly disruptive markets. “How well we respond to change is all about strategy.”
Allan Evans, partner at accounting company BDO, followed with a case study on how his company had merged marketing with its core business strategy. “Don’t talk about marketing or brand, talk about the change agenda. The world is changing and that is your way into the boardroom. Reposition your agenda as change.”
Video interview with Nigel Piercy >>>
Fiona Rogers; Brant Long
The importance of staff in turning around the economy was raised by Fiona Rogers, head of internal engagement and change at the Central Office of Infomation (COI). “You can have the best marketing strategies in the world but at the end of the day it is people that deliver change.”
Rogers added that with COI facing a 40 per cent reduction in headcount she passionately believes internal engagement is more important than ever before.
Brant Long, global brand director at Jones Lang LaSalle then explained the challenge faced by professional services firms in engaging their employees. “We must get people to realise the institution is about more than just a few fee earners.”
Daniel Rowles; Paul Doleman
Institute course director Daniel Rowles kicked off the afternoon sessions with a hands-on guide to making the most of social media. “It’s not a question of your budget but of content quality,” he argued. He cited one-man-band blog by Steve Pavlina, which is built on the free tool WordPress but attracts one million unique visitors each month. He gave tips on how to monitor your brand’s “buzz” using free tools from Google. He also warned against attempts to ignore or control social media, pointing out that applications such as Sidewiki mean that people can put public reviews alongside your site whether you facilitate it or not: “It’s happening anyway – if you aren’t at least monitoring it then you’re not embracing it,” he said. Social media agency iCrossing CEO Paul Doleman lent weight to Rowles’ view with a case study of his work with Manchester City Football Club. “Sticky content is about control,” he said. “Manchester City instead uses ‘slippy’ content, which users can add to, rebuild, rework and spread to others.”
Read more from Daniel Rowles >>>
Digitising customer relations
Although it may seem that the digital realm has introduced a totally new marketing remit, CIM course director Nick Baggott reassured conference attendees that the traditional rules of marketing still apply: “Old rules, new tools,” he said. The established marketing principles of understanding trends, segmenting customers based on insight and identifying engagement objectives are just as relevant, they have just been expanded upon in the new digital context: segmentation by demographics has developed into the more specific behavioural targeting for example. Baggott outlined a systematic framework for marketers to gauge how customers interact with their companies online, which he developed through his work with Microsoft. He ended with a warning that most marketers make the mistake of leaping from the attempt to “acquire” customers straight to “engaging” them, which misses out the key stepping stone, “participate”.
Read more from Nick Baggott >>>
Trading on trust
“Privacy protection in social networks will soon be a dead issue,” according to Don Peppers, founding partner of Peppers & Rogers Group. A more open society could lead to a more honest society, he predicted, saying that in future customers won’t stand for businesses profiting from consumer error, as in the case of bank overdraft charges. “Previously acceptable standards of behaviour will become unacceptable,” he said. His vigorously delivered speech ended the conference on a spirited tone when he described the financial services sector as the industry least worthy of customers’ trust. “If you truly had your customers’ best interests at heart you wouldn’t design the banking services we have today.” Earning trust often means sacrificing a short term loss for a long term gain. “Trustability is the hard currency of social interaction. In order to be trusted you must demonstrate that you have both the intention to put your customer’s best interests at heart, and the competence to carry it out.” Peppers’ conclusion supported the words of the previous afternoon speakers: “Avoid the impulse to control social media; treat it not as a channel but as a conversation.”
Read more about Peppers & Rogers Group >>>