Mplanet 2006 – Day 2


For Mplanet Day 1, see here. For Mplanet Day 3, see here. 

Wow. What a day I had…

Mplanet press coverageAfter etching my way out of bed, I ventured to Mplanet for a full day of listening and conversing with a load of decorated marketing professionals. On my arrival, a wholesome breakfast was served and it was a great chance to chat with others attending the event. Not too long into my breakfast, we were moved into the main hall where we sat to be enlightened by CEO of the AMA (American Marketing Association), Dennis Dunlap and COO of AT&T, Randall Stephenson.

Courtesy of Josh Hallet
Dennis’ speech was centered on the incontrovertible, emerging issues which are impacting the environment that marketing professionals must face, such as:

  • Increased consumer control
  • Market fragmentation
  • The proliferation of new media channels
  • Commoditization of products and services
  • Globalization
  • Profit chasing.

He also explained that new paradigms of thinking and strategies were quintessential to the success of organizations. The five strategies discussed were:

Start a Fire, then Carry a Torch.
Innovate then market it effectively.

Wear the Customer’s shoes, create a path for them.

Consumers are looking for a brand to satisfy their needs. They want a brand which will satisfy their needs for a statement, an experience, whatever. A company must know it’s customers inside out.

Measure with precision and prove your mettle.
To highlight the effect of marketing in an organization, you need to make use of effective metrics.

Run a sprint AND a marathon.
A company is in it for the short and long haul. This is particularly the case with public companies however it also applies to any business out there, especially those which require steady cash-flow.

Know who you are, create who you want to be.
Touted as the most pivotal strategy by Dennis, knowing who the company is and what it stands for is vital for growing the business into what you want it to be. Since organizations cannot change at the pace of the external environment, it’s critical that businesses integrate IT, Marketing and HR together to support this change.

Courtesy of Josh Hallett
Dennis’ speech set the tone for the rest of the event and Randall Stephenson carried this on well. He discussed the Three Screen Reality which marketers must grip.

  • TV
  • Cellphones
  • Computers

This was discussed in relation to the new U-verse which integrates these three screens, via IP (internet protocol). They envision that with the new medium, they will be able to deliver targeted advertising and programming to viewers instantly and seamlessly between their ‘three screens’. He also stressed this as being important due to the need for the integration and proliferation of marketing communication throughout these channels as they are the way of the future.

After Randall’s spiel about U-verse and it’s relevance to future consumer trends, we had a short break and then I headed to listen to Larry Huston, VP of Procter & Gamble, talk about his model for innovation.

He advised us that the traditional model for innovation was outdated and the new model, the Connections Model, was a much more sustainable approach to fostering innovation. The following points were made:

  • Conventionally, innovation requires marketers to converge what’s possible with consumer needs.
  • Larry maintains that this approach is useful but to be most effective in this day and age, marketers must rely on making connections between companies and architect networks of suppliers, manufacturers, competitors and anyone else in your industry.
  • For each business you need to identify and address the top 10 needs to be satisfied.
  • Consider your marketing networks when looking to bring your innovation to life and deciding where it is possible to be done.
  • Innovation must be re-created across the entire business and its touchpoints. You can integrate the innovation into all aspects of a company to deliver a holistic experience to consumers who will ultimately reward you with brand loyalty and advocacy.

Mplanet 2006 lunch

For lunch they served a hearty assortment of salads, chicken, meat, marinated mushrooms and more (not the kind of food that makes you leave Mplanet early). Once more, this was another fine chance to chat with some marketers and to discuss with them, the topic of Social Media.

After filling my mind and body with food, I met up with fellow blogger (Who is also to thank for several of these photos which I have borrowed), Josh Hallett and we headed to Chris Anderson’s (Wired Magazine) and Jason Zajac’s (Yahoo!) forum session on The New Economy – Long Tail vs. 80/20.

The 80/20 rule in marketing, basically states that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. This is one of marketing’s fundamental rules, but now, due to the emerging media channels (such as those found on the Three Screens and blogs), customers are more informed and are using multiple information sources. Here’s a great article which illustrates the concept of the longtail.

Key notes which were brought up in this forum were:

  • Bloggers are having a huge amount of influence in consumer decision making.
  • Your business is what Google says your business is (and bloggers show that).
  • People are searching for very specific things.
  • It’s becoming necessary for businesses to gain control of this medium and generate positive word of mouth in the blogosphere.

Finishing up, Jason Zajac illustrated the value of social media (blogs and Flickr!), using his example of Nikon’s viral campaign. Then he and Chris Anderson answered some questions and gave out signed copies of Chris’ book called ‘The Long Tail’. I just can’t wait to ‘digg’ into this book… if you know what I mean.

Anyway, soon enough we were off again – now it was to see if I could learn something about Branding with SVP and VP, Jennifer Dorian and Katherine Johnson of the TBS and TNT television networks.

Unfortunately I didn’t find it as useful as the previous two sessions. It even appeared like they viewed the session as an opportunity to promote their TV networks as viable providers of mass advertising. What they did mention howver was indeed useful information, though:

Your brand needs to stand for something and stand out.

To stand for something you must:

  • Discover what you stand for.
  • Define what you stand for.
  • Declare to your customers what you stand for
  • Deliver what it is that you stand for.

To Stand out and become remarkable you must:

  • Imprint upon people’s minds
  • Create Associations with your brand name
  • Build strategic relationships or use co-branding

Although this was my least favorite session, I still enjoyed it. Following this we walked back to the main hall for the evening’s networking session and cocktails (yes, they were free). This session was trailed by a Keynote address and the presentation of the Sheth award by Dennis Dunlap to Sam Palmisano, the CEO of IBM.

Courtesy of Josh Hallet

In amazing and inspiring speech by Sam, which was marked by a standing ovation, issues were highlighted, such as:

  • Integrating the internal functions of global coporations (HR, Marketing, IT and Sales)
  • Globalisation
  • Innovation
  • Collaboration

Sam re-iterated the fundamental significance of these key notes with regards to their implication to marketing professionals and organizations. The speech was potentially one of the most captivating and motivating speechs of the day and was well deserving of the crowd’s standing ovation.

If this is just the first half of the event, I can tell you guys now that I’m in for a hell of a show tomorrow! Anyway, I should get to bed now since I have an early start tomorrow.

Stay Tuned for more coverage…
Robert Kingston

Ps. Contrary to my post yesterday, it turns out that Ann Handley IS attending, and I recommend that you go and check out her blog.

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  1. Whoa! Okay I am super jealous now – I wish I went with you Rob, even just for the food 🙂

    All the talk about social media would also have been great to hear, especially coming from traditional old-school marketing speakers who have been marketing long before the Internet came about.

    I look forward to tomorrow’s report!

  2. Hey Yaro,

    The food was great… The meat was tender and I’m hooked to these mushrooms!

    Besides that :P, the information being presented is first class. It’s not physically possible to digest it all in one session. I think I’ll have to write a few follow up articles on how it pertains to small business owners.

    Anyway Yaro, Keep in touch.