The Incite Summit eBook - 15 Marketing Lessons From The Biggest Brands In the World


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A curated book of takeaways from the Incite Marketing and Communications Summit held on September 18-19, 2013 in New York. This ebook was created and curated in real time at the event, and presented in the final session live on stage during Day 2 of the summit. The authors of the book were Nick Johnson from Incite and Rohit Bhargava from IMG.

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The Incite Summit eBook - 15 Marketing Lessons From The Biggest Brands In the World

  1. On september 18, 2013 speakers from more than thirty of the largest brands in the world gathered In new york to speak candidly about their marketing and communications. No powerpoint was used.
  2. This book is the official curated collection of insights they Shared That Day.
  3. There are generally two kinds of business conferences. The first kind is social – where the networking trumps the content. The second is the educational where learning is priority #1 ... and Incite is that type of event. I was luck to host the first one, and during our two days together, we welcomed dozens of brand leaders to share insights. Normally those would remain behind locked conference room doors. Thankfully, that’s not the case this time. This book is a collection of what you might have learned if you were in the room. It’s a real time curation and the first time I’ve ever seen conference insights packaged and shared in this way. So enjoy the insights, let us know what you think … and hopefully we’ll see you next time. Rohit bhargava, founder + CEO Influential marketing group Marketing and communications are transforming. The depth, scale and pace of this transformation is, frankly, terrifying. The relationship (and power balance) between brand and consumer has shifted completely. Your customers now dictate the conversation around your brand, and your potential customers ascribe more weight to consumer reviews than to your PR and marketing efforts. OK, so ‘terrifying’ might be rather a negative adjective. ‘Exciting’ works, too. Being an agile, customer-centric and responsive brand takes a transformation of your internal organisation, of your hierarchy, and of your entire marketing and communications strategy. But it’s possible. That’s what Incite is all about. We find the best brands out there, and we share their expertise with you. Nick johnson, founder Incite marketing + communications Introduction from nick: Introduction from Rohit:
  4. The Insights: 15 marketing lessons from brand leaders shared from the stage at #incitesummit
  5. 1. don’t ask customers what they want. Ask them which they want. The Chobani brand is well known for being customer centric, but in a fascinating story CCO Nicki Briggs reminded the audience that asking the right questions is more important that offering a blank page. Recently, Chobani polled customers to ask whether pomegranate should or should not be in their yoghurt. Posing an either or option can be far more effective for getting useful feedback from customers than open ended questions. The seeds, by the way, will remain – thanks to customer demand. Nicki briggs, Chief communications Officer chobani
  6. 2. Want to be customer-centric? Learn to actually care. For the past two years, MetLife has embarked on an ambitious project to redefine it’s entire brand and operation as more customer centric. This has included everything from redesigning forms to changing scripted customer interactions. Driven from the top, Chief Customer Officer Claire Burns shared that the real key to how Metlife manages to bring this transformation to life is with a sometime forgotten truism – being customer centric starts with truly caring about your customers and the experience they get. Claire burns, Chief customer Officer metlife
  7. 3. Everyone hates guidelines, but being friendly helps. Sometimes communications managers are tasked with leading initiatives that hardly anyone is happy about. Professional guidelines, for example, fit that category perfectly. No one wants to hear what they can’t do, especially in a media organization like Dow Jones where plenty of employees are actually professional content creators themselves. Rather than launch guidelines as a dictator, though, being kind and open and (yes) friendly can make a big difference in how well and how rapidly they are adopted. Paula keve, Chief communications Officer Dow jones
  8. 4. Answer a bigger need. If you are familiar with StubHub, you already know it’s a great place to get tickets for shows. Especially if that show happens to be sold out. What you may not know is that CMO Ray Elias has a much bigger vision for StubHub. He wants to become the destination to help you plan what you’re going to do next weekend. Or next month. Most of us have heard that great brands find a need and solve it. The problem is, in a world where new competitors are entering your market daily – that may not be enough. The brands that survive in the long term are the ones that go beyond solutions to answer a bigger need. Like what you’re doing next weekend. Ray elias, chief marketing officer stubhub
  9. 5. They may buy the product, but they stay for the story. Of course you need a great product to sell, but is that enough? Not remotely, according to Bill Tolany from Whole Foods Market. The way that Whole Foods approaches marketing comes from delivering great products and experiences first, and surrounding those with powerful stories second. In this model, products drive short term revenue – but it’s the attention to storytelling that creates a deeper emotional connection which leads to unshakeable and fanatical customer loyalty. Bill tolany, senior director, marketing + integrated media Whole foods market
  10. 6. Use what people have told the world to personalize your message. Personalization gets a mixed reputation from consumers. Consumers see plenty of value from the “you might also like” type of functionality, but the horror stories of marketers learning a woman might be pregnant before her father do cause consumers to pause. Is all this big data really a good thing for customers? In her comments, Nora Denzel shared an important reminder that the things people tell the world (eg – “I’m getting married!”) are far different than those we can guess at by their behavior. And perhaps one way to draw the line is to focus on personalizing based on those things consumers share with the world, and not on those that predictive algorithms uncover for us. Nora denzel, non-executive director Ericsson/coinstar/saba
  11. 7. Stories need to be inspired, not collected. Pfizer has more individuals dedicated to saving lives than most other large companies. Yet they, along with other Pharmaceutical brands are often misunderstood. Stories could clearly be a great way to bringing more visibility to the truth about Pfizer, but they are not always easy to get. One technique AnnaMaria DeSalva shared which worked for Pfizer came when a senior researcher shared a powerful story at an employee gathering of a girl he had been trying to save. She was the reason he came to work, he noted. And his challenge to colleagues was to answer the same question for themselves. That speech inspired others to share their stories as well – because they realized how powerful they could be. Annamaria desalva, vice president Pfizer
  12. 8. Understand the story that matters. In a company with a directive to launch dozens of products a year, keeping stories straight matters. More importantly, knowing that not every story matters to every customer is key. In his comments during a panel on storytelling, Jeff Shafer shared an insight about storytelling that is often forgotten – that different stories work at different moments. The ThinkPad design was inspired by a bento box. It’s a great story – but it’s only relevant in a particular moment. When you know the right timing to share your stories, and have you an arsenal of them to pull from, you can really use storytelling to drive the things a technology brand cares most about … loyalty and sales. Jeff shafer, vice president global communications lenovo
  13. 9. Use every chance you get for authenticity. Across many vertical industries and lines of business, the Siemens story seems like a hard one to tell. Of course they could focus on innovation, or efficiency, or any other overarching human value. Yet the way that comes to life is through a single deliberate choice that Jim Whaley shared on stage. For Siemens, it is important that the people the brand features in advertising are actually real patients, and real professionals. It is a small choice in the span of everything a global brand marketing team does – yet that one choice offers so many more moments for behind the scenes footage and powerful stories. All because something a bit artificial (a TV spot) is done based on something genuine and authentic (real people instead of actors). Jim whaley, svp communications + marketing Siemens
  14. 10. don’t blindly follow channels. In the realm of loyalty marketing, one of the most common truths that many retail brands have uncovered is the value and importance of fostering an email list. It has almost become a hard rule that brands find value in email marketing. As Michelle Klein shared in her remarks, that may not be as hard and fast of a rule as we tend to think. In fact, the results for her brands on using email as a form of communication to their audiences have been disappointing – so they stopped. Instead, many Smirnoff brands now focus on using social media and experiential events as far more powerful methods of engagement. The lesson is clear – beware of a one-size-fits-all approach, and don’t blindly follow channels. Michelle klein, vp, global marketing smirnoff
  15. 11. Offer something no one else can. Anyone in marketing has heard plenty of times about the importance of having a unique selling proposition. What is it that sets you apart? The problem is, many don’t have a great answer to that question. For The Weather Company, the answer comes from understanding the value of the data they are collecting. We all check the weather – and The Weather Channel’s app is one of the most frequently downloaded and used in America. As a result, The Weather Company has extremely rich data around weather and behavior. This data forms the foundation for a unique product they sell to advertisers – which takes this data and offers better targeting as a result. Eric Hadley, svp marketing and sales The weather company
  16. 12. Know the odds before you bet. In an engaging session on real time marketing, AFLAC CMO Michael Zuna shared some insights from his approach to making decisions on real time marketing choices. One particularly powerful story involved the tip of knowing the odds before you take a risk – and how sometimes that may inspire you to choose silence. For Aflac, this was an element in deciding to either engage a celebrity with a related name via social media (Ben Affleck) in one case during the Academy Awards, but choose not to engage in another case (his being chosen as the lead for the new Batman film). Ultimately, the lesson was to know where you may have low risk, and where you don’t so you can make better choices. Michael zuna, evp and chief marketing officer aflac
  17. 13. Break the boundaries, not the rules. Most large organizations have policies and part of the challenge when it comes to big tasks like breaking down silos and inspiring more collaboration is to choose the right battles to fight. One of the tips that Robin Rotenberg shared from the stage to help with this was to learn which rules are unbreakable, and which are actually just boundaries waiting to be challenged. It was an important distinction that she raised which many of us forget to make. Only by understanding where the rules really are can you effectively challenge them and inspire change as a result. Robin rotenberg, chief communications officer BASF
  18. 14. Drink the other team’s beer. You would expect one of the more entertaining takeaways from the day to come from a communicator at a beer maker … but the insight he shared about the symbolism of something as simple as the beer you choose was powerful. In a company after a merger, there is always a challenge to inspire true collaboration from people who were previously on different teams. One method used at Molson Coors and at the US arm of Miller Coors is to remind team members that they need to drink each other’s beers. Everyone from the CEO to the lower ranks knows that this sends a powerful message that they are willing to collaborate – and see things from another point of view. Dan lewis,chief public affairs officer Molson coors
  19. 15. Let ideas evolve and grow. Sometimes the best ideas come from unexpected places. For Mastercard, digital marketing VP Elaine Lawson told a story of how a single office wanted to support a gay pride parade in San Francisco. That simple request turned into a larger campaign, which then also influenced the brand to make a public statement of support for the Proposition 8 measure in California. As a result of that passing and the issue of gay marriage taking a national stage, Mastercard was featured as one of the forward looking brands who supported it. And the entire campaign was seen as a big public relations success. All of it started with just a simple request to sponsor a parade. Elaine lawson,vp us digital marketing mastercard
  20. The Top five tweets: A collection of observations from attendees of #incitesummit
  21. The top five tweets (cont.)
  22. More thoughts: A collection of additional quotes and observations from speakers of #incitesummit