Bringing the outside in, and the future forward

Millennials are living in a state of CPA - ‘Continuous Partial Attention’ and Tl:Dr. For the uninitiated... this is shorthand for ‘Too long: Didn’t read’, as Nick Worth CMO of Selligent shared at yesterday’s Festival of Marketing in London. So I'll avoid having that impact on you as I share the 'what you need to know' short-cut to the key themes I heard emerging yesterday.

The Festival - with attendance of several thousand, UK marketing and agency folk offered a feast of new thinking and ideas from a broad blend of contributors - starting with the influential Keith Weed (Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Unilever) and ending with agency chief Sir Martin Sorrell, WPP (interviewed by CNBC Anchor Carolin Roth), and the legendary Steve Wozniak Co- founder of Apple (bravely interviewed by Ashley Friedlein from E-consultancy).

Overall I found it a refreshing, insightful and very stimulating day and it was good to take some precious time out, as Keith Weed put it, to “Bring the outside in and pull the future forward”.

General themes I took out:

  1. Sir Martin Sorrell - Festival of Marketing 2016According to Martin Sorrell, the outlook for growth remains modest (3.5%), with continued cost consciousness and the pressure to “grind it out” to meet short term targets. He provided a refreshing reminder that only through innovation, inventiveness and actively disrupted business models will faster top line growth be achievable.

  2. Keith Weed Unilever Festival of Marketing 2016According to Keith Weed, we need to move from "marketing to consumers to mattering to people". And where our consumers go, our organisations must follow (not the other way round)!  All models have "decay in them” and we all need to evolve - continually. We need to have "differentiated strategies", "be bold & experiment" and "tool up … or get out”, building capabilities, partnering and putting the right skills in place. We need to "get the right people in and work with the right people - externally & internally", to "survive and thrive". Disruption was a clear theme - "do it - before it gets done to you". Pioneer, experiment, innovate, try it, beta it, start it …ultimately  "Be in it to win it".

  3. Accsteve wozniakording to Steve Wozniak - and understandably - we need do more to respect our engineers and product developers – not just showcasing our financial people and the commercial leaders. We need to encourage technical and design brilliance, give space to allow techies to work on their passions (in his case design & education). And marketing-led is good – as evidenced by a business that is worth a cool $586 billion.
  4. Here’s the CPA version of the key themes I noted from all the other sessions I attended over the day...Change mind-sets to serve customers in the moment; provide solutions; join up the organisation especially across channels; disrupt it; evolve continuously. Focus on the moments that matter; offer convenience; value; a more personalised customer experience. Have integrity; focus on customer digital listening not asking; engage and learn; look for insight, connections, interactions. Demonstrate empathy (came up a lot) and be relevant. Strive to understand the customer journey… especially the important micro moments.
  5. Finally, and before you move to another device... here’s an interesting set of data shared by Jen Witt, at It seems 93% of consumers are considering Ad blocking software, 81% mute ads, 62% are annoyed with forced pre-rolls, 74% skip video ads asap to get to the content and 51% find Ads annoying. Only 40% of consumers agree that brands succeed in creating a consistent, personalised experience across devices. Room for improvement it appears.

Customers are comparing the best experiences they're getting across all the products and services they use and interact with – not just within industry, or category or brand boundaries. So to orient ourselves relative to competitors and to recruit people for a narrow industry or company expertise is not fitting our brands or our organisations for the future – we should be looking to shake that up completely.

In closing, I didn’t hear much about corporate success coming from ‘cutting costs’, though consolidation seems inevitable as only the best survive. CEOs be aware and Financial and Procurement teams take note... your Marketers and their agencies and partners are your best route into what your customers and prospective customers are thinking and feeling and hence to top line growth... so listen to them.

As Keith Weed put it, to survive and thrive we “need to work more fluidly” between Marketing, Advertisers & everyone else, to build “brands with purpose”, working "real time, in the moment” with both local and global focus and all at the same time!

Challenging and exciting times lie ahead for our industry!

Hope that was not tl:dr...

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