Festival of Marketing: The key takeaways from day one

Festival of Marketing 2015: An action-packed first day at the Festival of Marketing saw astronaut Chris Hadfield and Lord Sugar take to the headline stage but there was also plenty to see and learn around the rest of the event.

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Don’t predict the future, hire people that understand the future

What does the future of marketing look like? That is more a questions for millennials which is why brands should be hiring more of them.

Simon Michaelides, marketing director at UKTV, said the business has adapted its hiring procedures to focus more on apprenticeships and bringing in the next wave of talent. The executive team are also listening more to what its employees think about its strategy.

“Trying to predict where technology is going, you are probably going to call it wrong. A large part of our strategy for coping with the future is in recruitment.”

Simon Michaelides, marketing director, UKTV

“We try to diversify the profile of people we are bringing to the business and bring a younger perspective into the business so we have a voice constantly day in day out that is a sounding board for what we’re doing,” he said.

Steve Parish, chairman of Crystal Palace FC, agreed: “You  have to have very young vibrant people and let them take risks. Senior management is typically risk averse.

“We were using Periscope before I’d even heard of it and we have a number of tools like that that have been brought into the business by exciting young people. You need that constant freshness, and a bit of turnover sometimes.”

Marketing should look to build partnerships beyond agencies

Brand Learning unveiled some of the results of its research into what drives growth businesses (which will be covered in full in Marketing Week on 19 November). Of the seven identified ‘hallmarks’ of growth drivers, collaboration was picked out.

For Diageo CMO Syl Saller that doesn’t just mean collaboration with agencies. She highlighted that the company has been working much closely with its brewers to come up with new innovations for its Guinness brand to keep it relevant and ahead in the rapidly evolving craft beer market.

“There is tension between the old and the new and how to innovate and open up the thinking around our core brands. We wanted to unleash the creativity of brewers,” she explained.

Diageo’s CMO Syl Saller revealed the brand has been working closely with its brewers to keep its Guinness brand relevant among consumers.

On further questioning about collaboration, Saller said she is also looking beyond agencies to new media companies such as Vice.

“For us collaboration is not just about our agencies it’s about our partners. What you have to do is listen to them [new media companies] and be willing to give up control of your brand because they know content better than we know content.”

Evolving beyond multichannel

Marketers should brace themselves for the era of on-demand retail according to Mark Elkins, VP of digital sales and marketing at Coca Cola Enterprises.

He told delegates that retail was evolving from multichannel and the next stage will need to satisfy a consumer’s needs to “get what I want, when I want it.”

“The online experience has made it so easy and convenient to order products that the in-store experience has to mirror that.”

Mark Elkins, VP of digital sales and marketing, Coca Cola Enterprises

“I can see a time very soon when tills in supermarkets, for example, go completely and are replaced by people paying on their smartphones.”

CCE embarked on a digital transformation back in 2011, which has helped it to double its online sales (even though they are still only 10% of its business) and Elkins advised brands against making separate teams for digital.

“You cannot do that as then people outside of digital don’t think it’s their job to think about something like social media. Digital must be engrained throughout your business,” he said.

Disagreeing with Lord Sugar

Responding to comments made by Lord Alan Sugar during his headline stage appearance that marketers should only be worried about product, Eva Barrett, global head of marketing comms at Philips, rejected the notion completely.

Philips has introduced socially conscious campaigns such as Living Lab, where it helps local communities, in a bid to improve its sustainability perception and help consumers to understand its work in the health care industry.

“I disagree with Sugar completely,” Barrett countered. “We all have infinite choices on who to buy from these days but what makes brands stand out are brands who don’t just try to sell products but have a purpose and stand for something. It isn’t just about products.”

Customer-centric brands need to be relevant

In a hugely competitive market where brands constantly fight for attention, many companies hope to turn customers into loyal brand advocates. To achieve this, brands need to focus less on marketing their products and more on customers’ lives, says O2’s marketing and consumer director Nina Bibby.

“As a company, we have to be relevant in ways that allow us to be visible and active in consumer’s lives and across their digital journeys.”

Nina Bibby, marketing and consumer director, O2

O2 set out to be “more than just a telco” and broaden its role in people’s day-to-day lives. According to Bibby, its O2 Priority loyalty scheme has achieved just that.

“O2 Priority is the largest digital loyalty scheme and is all about providing customers early access and once in a lifetime experiences. Through this scheme, people are more likely to recommend us, use more services and are less likely to leave us for competitors,” she says.