I was fortunate this week to attend the annual Razorsfish Client Summit in Boston. After working with Razorfish for five years now this was the first Summit I attended. The lineup of brands was a good one, they varied from large global brands like Mercedes Benz and Nike to small, niche start ups like Skillet Street Foods in Seattle. The variance in brands really drove home the theme of the Summit which was consistent across all presentations, be a great storyteller! Bob Lord, CEO of Razorfish kicked off Day 1 with his perspective for CMO’s. His message to CMO’s is that the expectations of a brand have evolved and now CMO’s must understand how to make the brand LIVE for consumers. The three things he sees as table stakes for CMO’s going forward are:
- CMO’s must understand technology
- CMO’s must go beyond focus groups or segmentations studies – suggesting Social may be the new real time customer segmentation
- CMO must push change throughout the organization
Best Buys’ CEO Brian Dunn gave a passionate talk about how Best Buy is embracing and letting their employees lead the companies direction. “Engage your employees and allow them to change the course of the company.” Best Buy has been a leader in the concept of meeting people where they are. They have programs across multiple digital channels including Twitter’s Twelpforce, IDEAX and over 1.2M fans on Facebook. It’s a decentralized digital model leaning into the theory that conversation is good no matter where it happens, in fact they never even mentioned http://www.bestbuy.com/. I actually think there is a digital model that recognizes conversations happen all across the web but I don’t think the domain.com is dead. I still go to Microsoft.com when I want specific information about a product. The difference is when I’m looking to talk about a product, then I’m going to go to a social domain for continued information gathering.
By far the most pervasive theme across all presentations was the need for compelling storytelling. And not fly by night UGC campaigns, but compelling, authentic, storytelling threaded through the marketing bringing to life customers and employees passions. Mercedes Benz shares stories of real customers safety and survival. Nike created Write the Future which embraced the passions of football enthusiasts leading up to the World Cup. Both of these brands know who they are, and they know who they are not.
I was particularly impressed by JCPenney’s CMO Mike Boylson. His position on the new world of marketing is relevance is the new price of entry, consumers can now filter out messages and JCPenney’s focus is on creating customers who create customers. They start with Innovation, picking an inflection point and move quickly to test and learn. Some will fail and a few will succeed, moving quickly allows them to get to the best and move past the rest. They have created a culture of speed and educated risk. They embrace ‘falling forward’ and have dubbed this ‘fallure’ recognizing the only true failure is when one quits. The are focused on four criteria which they measure every opportunity by; it must be relevant, connected, consistent and measurable. An example of educated risk can be seen in their most recent Back to School campaign where they embraced a new teen trend called hauling. Theirs is a culture where they are constantly challenging themselves to innovate and lead in their category and hoping this connection to the new, savvy social customer will put them ahead in a crowded category.
Ashton Kutcher wrapped up the Summit with an hour long Q & A. He takes an absolute view of the social web opening his remarks with “all advertising on social channels is bad.” I think this is an easy perspective to have if you are running a social agency like he is. If you have a dynamic brand like Mountain Dew and can crowdsource a new flavor of soda to draw attention to your channel then that position makes sense. But the reality is a brand is only going to run a campaign of that size once in awhile. The question is how does that same brand attract attention when they don’t have a big campaign driving awareness virally? Ashton tends to subscribe to the market research of one position in that he says he doesn’t like to get promotions from brands and won’t follow them if they are sending coupons and promos and goes so far as to recommend brands stop doing that. This flies in the face of research that says the #1 reason people follow and like brands is for promotion and discount opportunities. He advised “stop advertising and start entertaining.” Entertainment done right can create it’s own conversation as was seen with the Old Spice campaign of late.
- Ask yourself what is the last innovative thing your brand has done? Does you culture support innovation?
- Can you honestly say your marketing takes educated risks? Do you have a model by which you measure opportunities? Does your culture reward risk?
- How quickly can you respond to opportunities for your brand. JCPenney put together the Hauling campaign in less than two months start to finish.
- What’s the last think your brand did to generate a conversation your customers care about?
Good stuff Razorfish!