SMC2009: Marketing Renaissance

For more than 20 years I believe Stichting Marketing organizes the biggest Marketing conference in the country… and I’ve never ever felt the need to go before. For one because the 2 day congress happens to end on a Saturday, but also because I’ve always seen it as a well established marketing congress for well established marketers hearing to hear about … well you catch my drift I suppose. This year I was invited by the organization (thanks to @mediagast) so no reason not to check it out this time.

So I went to the congress, and truth to be told, I had high expectations. I hoped Stichting Marketing proved me wrong about my opinion about the congress, I hoped to see some interesting and inspiring talks and (last but not least) I really hoped to see at least a few speakers that could make that connection between the more traditional way of marketing versus what we’re all supposed to be doing right now. Why? Because there was a window of opportunity given the audience’s background I suppose. And the premise seemed to be right:

“There’s a growing consensus that in times like these not every ‘old rule’ still applies. More than ever, we have to be smart in marketing. Rationalizing our structures or adapting old models just won’t do it anymore. … We have to understand that marketing solutions are not there for eternity just because we’ve successfully used them in the past. Some insights still apply, others are clearly past their shelf life. What we need, in other words, is a true marketing renaissance.”

We kicked off day one in rather good fashion, Don Sull (Professor of Strategy of London Business School) did a talk on “The Upside of Turbulence”. And just as the title already suggests, Don talked about the opportunities you have in times of turbulence, stating clearly there aren’t just downsides linked to it. He showed us he sees to different kinds of ways to deal with turbulence, one being ‘agility’ and the other ‘absorption’. Something he explained using the famous Rumble in the Jungle fight between Foreman (‘absorption’) and Ali (‘agility’). Conclusion of all of this being you got to have both to be able to deal with turbulence in the best possible way.

After a quick stint from Nokia’s Global Marketing SVP (I’m sure he knows what he’s doing but presenting is clearly not his ‘shtick’) we got Jonathan Salem Baskin to talk about the “Digital Plague”.

jonathansalembaskin

I expected quite a lot from this presentation and I think I was kind of severe afterwards to Jonathan when I told him he had missed the opportunity to really convince people. We agree on the main idea of his presentation, saying digital is not just something you do aside it is part of the whole thing. You don’t need a digital strategy, you need a business strategy (just like before) that’s ready for the digital age. Why missed opportunity? Because I don’t think it came across that way to everybody, I think some people will have walked out of that presentation thinking that doing business as usual is just fine. Anyway, that might be just me – I still enjoyed the presentation and we had a great chat afterwards so that’s good :).

Day two opened with Charlene Li, another keynote I was looking out for. Great personality, nice talk and we had a quick chat afterwards as well but nothing new to learn. The talk we had afterwards was related to the work of an analyst and it’s one of the things I still miss in presentations such as Charlene’s – tangible examples from non global high involvement consumer brands. It’s on thing to analyze why Vodafone or DELL have been successful with some of their social media activities, building and implementing your own strategy for a brand of say sandwich meat is something else. Charlene still is one to watch though, don’t get me wrong on that. Here’s Charlene’s presentation btw.

Dan Hill (President Sensory Logic) told us we get way more effect by being on-emotion instead of on-message, playing on human emotions instead of being factual. Nice talk but hardly anything new. And sometimes jumping conclusions – Dan showed some eye-tracking research showing people didn’t look at the ads to then suggest to change the ad placements… now that’s not really what this means right? Then Niraj Dawar (Professor of Marketing, Ivey Business School Canada) talked about “Downstream Innovation”, an interesting talk about re-focusing our innovation efforts into how we deliver products to consumers instead of just on what to deliver. We at Duval Guillaume often also ask our clients about the why on top of that.

Last but not least, our own Geert Noels (Econopolis) closed the congress. Always good to see someone looking at something you know from a totally different angle, this time Geert who is an economist shared his look on marketing with us. You can find his “Marketing lessons from the Econoshock” right here. Just started a conversation with Geert on Twitter about his presentation, let’s see where that leads us ;)

Anyway, that was that. I enjoyed the congress, it was good meeting up with people as usual but I did miss eye-opening, truly inspirational talks… presentations that would have people go home and change the way they do marketing. Maybe next year?

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