Mplanet 2006 – Day 3 (The Final Day)


Today was the last day of Mplanet, yet it was equally as interesting as yesterday. I attended sessions on:

Managing The Customer Experience
Reinventing The Marketing Organization
The Digital Age and Implications For Marketers
Consumer Trends in The Third Age of Globalization

Free book from Mplanet on Behalf of Dave Senay from Fleishman-HillardIn fact the day was so packed full of practical advice, I’m going to warn our regular readers in advance that it might be a little buzz-loaded, but nothing too far reaching. The day started smoothly and as per the schedule it lifted off with an excellent varied breakfast, accompanied by a book on behalf of Dave Senay, the CEO of Fleishman-Hillard, titled BOOM. This was then followed by the first session of the day (of which, I had my mind made up).

The first session on managing the customer experience was conducted by Scott Bush (Corporate SVP, CMO of Maritz Research) and Michael Treacy (Co Founder and Chief Strategist of GEN3 Partners). After hearing the buzz on the grape vine about Michael’s fantastic speech on innovation in consumer products, I just had to see what all the hype was all about.

Basically, Michael began his speech by discussing how customer experience can:

Destabilize a brand
By generating negative publicity.

Enhance a brand
By having an experience which compensates for other lacking features of a brand (ie. High price).

Define a brand.
By becoming renowned for a certain aspect of the customer experience.

Michael also shared with us, some grisly statistics about customer service:

  • 43% of customers who leave a brand do so due to poor service.
  • 77% of those people blame poor employee attitudes.
  • Then, to top it all off, 83% of people who have bad service tell someone else.

To make sure you avoid this pitfall, Michael recommended 4 tips to solidify a company, so as to provide a consistent and effective customer experience. He recommended researching customer experience in your industry, involving employees in delivering a brand experience, tying employee incentives to customer satisfaction metrics and focusing the rest of the company around the customer.

To finish up this session, Scott discussed Michael’s points within various case studies and they answered questions together. This was an entrancing session yet I was still eager to get into the next one, despite Scott’s profound topical enthusiasm.

A short break and a walk led me to my next session which entailed Peter Kim’s (Senior Analyst at Forrester Research) insight into moulding an organization to effectively integrate Finance, Sales, IT, HR and Management in the organization to focus on the customer.

Coutesy of Josh Hallet

Peter’s key points were that customers should be the reason for re-structuring. He highlighted research which shows most companies restructure their marketing function to comply with organizational changes. Peter contended that this approach was short-sighted and often, when functions are confined to insular structures, they communicate ineffectively and they make it more difficult when coordinating an integrated marketing campaign.

For those of you who are marketers reading this, one aspect of Peter’s session really stuck out for me. He basically said showed to us, research which displayed the new skill set which marketers require for success:

      1. Strategic Thinking
      2. Relationship Building and Networking
      3. Business Acumen
      4. Quantitative Analysis
      5. Process Creation and Management and;
      6. Managing Financial Assets.

Now, the first three were pretty self-explanatory but the last few, being predominantly left brained skills, were most interesting. In an age where we have so much control over our metrics and finances, it is no mistake that these skills are becoming requisites for marketing success.

Finishing up, Peter described some of the opportunities for Customer Centric Marketing Organizations (CCMO):

  • We should describe our target market in a persona (ie. Jill is a 34 year old woman who likes dogs and spends her time reading books).
  • We should market towards particular lifestyles.
  • We should cultivate a culture in which everyone is a marketer and, if possible, appoint the CEO as the prime example of what the company should deliver.

Unfortunately we could only spend an hour and a half in this spellbinding presentation before it was over. Luckily though, lunch was served and boy… It was GREAT.

We had exotic salads (well, exotic to anything I’ve ever eaten where I live), tender chicken breasts, a meatball soup and a selection of sweet desserts. Eventually, the ‘feast’ was over and we all assembled in the main hall to listen to the Perspective session on future trends.

I don’t know why so many people left so early as this was one of the most practical sessions of the day. Presenting first in this session, was Gian Fulgoni, Co-founder and Chairman of comScore Networks – a research firm specializing in giving marketers insight into internet marketing trends.

Gian, informed us as to the trends in consumer internet usage and the implications of those trends for marketers. The biggest points which rose in this session were not entirely surprising to most Internet marketers but are nonetheless important to know:

  • Enormous growth still predicted
  • Increasing broadband penetration
  • Broadband users are spending 40% more than dialup users, online
  • Google accounts for 45% of all searches. So, why do Internet marketers and SEO experts only optimize on Google?
  • In August 2006, 110 Million US citizens downloaded streaming video.
  • On average 63 streams viewed per user (per month)

So what does this information say for the marketer? Well Gian told us this:

  • A study showed that advertising is still noticed more on TV than any other media.
  • Meanwhile Streaming Video is rising – So will advertising on this media be received better?
  • Advertising around user generated content is more appealing to younger audiences.
  • Average age of blog visitors and participants ranges from 35-37yrs old.
  • Advertising for fun products and services are better received on sites of user generated content.
  • Advertising for trust products and services is best received by consumers on general media sites.
  • Contextual placement is a huge issue.
  • Ultimately, the consumer is in control.

That wraps up the key points of Gian’s speech and Katherine Sheehan (SVP of GfK Roper Consulting and GfK NOP), had the tough job of following this up. She spoke on consumer trends in the third age of globalization.

One of the main factors she noted in the age of globalization was that consumers had greater levels of mobility.

  • Social mobility – As in mobility between social classes.
  • Physical mobility – As in traveling quickly around the world.
  • Cultural mobility – As in culture can move and change quicker than ever.
  • Virtual mobility – As in you can become well known on the internet.

Finally, she discussed how consumers live with a growing paradox of choice. On one hand they want luxury, yet on the other they want it at extremely cheap prices. Also look at the paradox between healthy food and junk food. She finished the speech with very specific information regarding trends within US citizens from 1975 all the way through to 2007 and what to expect in the future.

I feel sorry for the people who missed this session and I think it would be extremely responsible of the AMA to follow up the people attending the event with copies of all the presentations. Overall, though I’m over the moon with the professionalism and quality of the event. Attendees were friendly and receptive to networking, food was great and the hotel it was hosted in, was perfect. The insight I gained at this event was truly invaluable and I’ll be surprised as to how Mplanet 2008 unfolds.

For now though, I’m going to digest more of this information – God knows I’ll need to! Anyway, thanks for following my coverage of this event…

Best of Luck Branding,
Robert Kingston.

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  1. Robert:
    Sounds like a great learning opportunity. Interesting speakers and fasinating subjects. Thanks for the summary.
    Chris Brown

  2. Did you find navigating MPlanet’s website a bit tedious? I think they could have used some of their own advice when it comes to the customer experience. Just my opinion. Glad to hear the actual conference was a winner.

  3. Hey Chris,

    Good to know that you enjoyed my summary… It was a fascinating event and I’m sure Mplanet 2008 will be just as good – if not better.

    I’m no fan of flash websites either. They’re always tedious to navigate and I’m yet to find one that does the job effectively. For now, I think I’ll stick to HTML based CMSs.

    Thanks for the shout-out from your blog – you’ve got some great posts on it too, keep them coming…


  4. Thanks for the most accurate and articulate blog about Mplanet!

  5. Martin Neumann says

    Robert – looks like you had a great time and you’ve got lots to digest information wise.

    Of course, we expect many posts down the line talking about the issues at the conference. I bet you’re suffering a little from information overload. 🙂

    Great job – and pure envy from me about all the feastings you guys did. 😉

  6. Cheers guys…

    I really appreciate your feedback. I’ve had a hell of a weekend after Mplanet too, so it’s been tough to reply to emails and comments all in one go.

    There was certainly way too much information at the conference to express in three posts, so I’m in the process of digesting it all and will no doubt, be posting about it in the near future. In particular, one on using Social Media websites to carry out viral marketing and a review of a book I got there.

    The most inspiring of the sessions is definitely tough to pick between but I’d have to say Chris Anderson was incredible when he spoke about the longtail economy. Yaro has done a great and comprehensive post on his blog about it already. I recommend checking it out here.

    Of course, like most things in marketing, it doesn’t apply in all situations. I mean, how could you use it at a news agent?

    Anyway, I better go and rest up before we visit Universal Studios tomorrow :P. (More pictures to come of what we had to eat at Mplanet, too… In case you’re wondering.)


  7. Excellent coverage Rob, well done.
    I’m going to have to revisit these posts a few times to digest it all!

    The point I found most interesting to ponder was the paradox of consumer choice. Will chew on that one for a bit.

    The point I found most inspiring was:
    Start a Fire, then Carry a Torch … Innovate then market it effectively.

    That one flicked my switch in a big way 🙂

    I’d love to hear what was most interesting/relevant/inspiring to others.