What is the best thing I have learned at SES HK?
Yesterday when I was leaving the SES Conference hoping to catch-up on my emails which piled up after a week-long vacation and a few events, I saw an email from a colleague, who tried to alert me to answer a question on Twitter, posted by Joshua Steimle, a contributor at Forbes. His question was “What’s the best thing you’ve learned at #seshk“? He also wrote “Give me a good answer and I’ll quote you in the Forbes article I’m writing.”
That’s pretty attractive.
With my mobile battery emptied after seeing this email, and an iPad with no mobile connection (it was a prize from a lucky draw, can’t complain), I got off from the MTR and went up to the platform to one of those internet kiosk and answered his question on Twitter.
As a speaker and an attendee myself, I have learned a lot and realize as a marketing communications professional nowadays, you really cannot stop learning. My answer to his question was “Data-driven marketing will push brands to provide better customer service & targeted content if they want to win over competitors.” I of course learned more than that.
“There’s no integrated marketing agency”
I put this in quotations because this is from the first keynote panel discussion on the first day of the conference. SAP, Starwood & Hotel Club all agreed that if an agency claims they can do everything they are probably lying. Rather than stereotyping agencies and judging subjectively, my thought on this is, marketers should really focus on customers & clients to integrate their marketing communications efforts. Before we go to any agency, we should have a plan on how to integrate those efforts, resources, and content — inside and outside of the marketing organization.
If brands could spread this integrated ‘DNA’ across the entire organization, it doesn’t matter if there is no integrated marketing agency, because you’re integrated in the first place. Burberry is a great example, they probably never talk about integration, because they are aligned towards the ultimate business goal – to build a better brand. And to be honest, people working for agencies are also human, if we hope agencies could help us integrate our internal efforts, we’re just hoping they have some sort of superpower.
Marketing should be about dialogues
From PR Newswire’s standpoint, and from our experience distributing an average of 400,000 pieces of content each year for 60,000+ customers across the globe, producing valuable content to drive awareness means you have to listen to your target audiences, be them journalists, industry influencers, customers – so you understand what they need and meet their needs with your products or services. And on their decision-making or purchasing journeys, you create and distribute relevant and valuable content, engage them via various channels, amplify word-of-mouth and creditable reviews, deal with the negative ones, so they do end up doing business with you, not your competitor. If it sounds like a lot, because there is a lot to do if you believe in marketing.
I cannot agree more with what Jamshed Wadia, Head of Digital and Social Media at Intel APAC said, “Consumers expect daily interaction & conversation, and marketers need to get out of the ‘campaign’ mode”. The fact is customers are increasingly well-informed and thus demanding, they want dialogues (we are customers too and we know that!). If we keep pushing out one-way messages and not build a listening mechanism to what we do, chances are we will become irrelevant.
If you are not distributing your content, you are not doing content marketing
Jamshed also mentioned marketers have to distribute their content. (And I have to thank him for bringing this up because content distribution is what we do here at PR Newswire.) He mentioned how important it is to distribute content, because no matter how good your content is, if you don’t distribute your content and hope the traffic will come to you out of the blue, you’re just gambling.
Brian Hiu, VP, Marketing at Amazon China kept the audience awake after lunch with data-orientated marketing and humor, he reminded us the role of data, because they do not lie, and is probably the best tool to test if your marketing people are lying. That brings us back to the marketing cycle, first we have to have an integrated mindset towards how we do marketing, second we have to listen proactively to understand the market, third we have to get out of the campaign mode to open dialogues, then we have to keep doing this and evaluate how effective our efforts are by looking at data generated from this cycle. And there is no end to this marketing cycle.
Data-driven marketing is the future
I am a big believer of data. Big data is a buzz word for me and many people. Ultimately, data is just a simplified form of information, which means you have to understand what you’re trying to get out of data, before you look at data. And data can be found everywhere, they can be structured and unstructured, they can be gathered from sales, customer service, finance, marketing…etc.
Napoleon Biggs, Chief Strategy Officer at Gravitas gave us a lot of useful data during his presentation on SoLoMo, yet how we utilize his insight and the data he shared, combine them with data from our own organization to better our products or services, is always a challenge. That’s the same with the sea of data we already have internally within the marketing organization. And Brian’s take on making the marketing leaders like entrepreneurs to look at data and return on investment on the dollars they spend, will probably be the future of most of the marketers.
Thus, my most important learning from SES HK is, “Data-driven marketing will push brands to provide better customer service & targeted content if they want to win over competitors.” Thoughts?
Sarah Tam is the Regional Marketing Director for PR Newswire. Follow her on Twitter at @sarah_tam.