Here are 15 insider secrets Team Silverbean picked up at the Festival of Marketing 2015…

1. AS LONG AS YOU HAVE CONSUMERS TO REACH, YOU HAVE INFLUENCERS THAT CAN REACH THEM FOR YOU

‘Brands can no longer afford to ignore influencer marketing’ was a key theme during both Fashion and Beauty Monitor’s ‘Not Your Average Influencer’ and ‘Disrupting Luxury Through Influencer Marketing’ with Traakr and De Grisogono. It was recognised that influencer marketing is a long term partnership between a brand and a person who will consistently add value to your business. As we reported in our ‘Influencer Guide’, influencers come in different guises, so it’s important that investment is made to find the right influencers so that they can become genuine spokespeople, knowing as much about the brand as the business themselves.

2. TO TRANSFORM A BUSINESS DIGITALLY, EVERYONE FROM THE BOARD DOWNWARDS NEEDS TO BE ON-BOARD

A central theme across many of the sessions was that to transform your business successfully, you need buy-in and support throughout the whole business, from the CEO down to the ‘shop floor’.

Lots of people echoed these thoughts, including Mark Evans the Group Marketing Director at Direct Line Group, who led their digital transformation. He said, “Digital transformation needs to be ingrained throughout the business and not just in marketing”. Supporting this was Mark Elkins, VP of Digital Sales & Marketing at Coca Cola Enterprises who said “Digital transformation needs to be led from the top and be integrated into overall strategy and metrics”.

Following a great talk from Sean Cornwell, CDO at Travelex, who was outlining how the brand transformed digitally, emphasised the need for a business willing to be ‘disruptive and innovative’ with their business models, so that they could be successful in transforming. He continually stated the importance of how ‘digital should be relevant to every team’ and not just the digital or marketing teams, and ‘internal education and engagement’ is critical to this. Another interesting theme to the sessions was that digital transformation was actually business transformation and cultural change. For a company to change its culture, it’s important that everyone from top to the bottom is bought into the changes and there is no resistance.

3. THE WAY CUSTOMER AND BUSINESSES TALK TO EACH OTHER HAS FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGED

Joel Windels, Brandwatch’s VP of inbound marketing, noted that the way people communicate has evolved, and businesses must adapt if they want to survive. He said, “It’s not just verbal language anymore. You’ve got Emojis, GIFs and video content: the way customers and businesses talk to each other has fundamentally changed”. With Oxford Dictionary announcing their ‘Word of the Year’ as an emoji a few days later, we definitely think that he’s onto something…

He noted that using social data can help in the battle to transform and businesses should be predicting rather than reacting. His four most valuable uses of social data included spotting patterns in conversation, being reactive to customer experiences, conducting market research and using wider audience interests as a strategic sales method. Backed with the evidence that 89% of businesses are predicting that social data will be essential within three years, we’ll certainly be taking note.

4. BE CUSTOMER CENTRIC… AS A BUSINESS

So often businesses are focused on their own products, their own services and their own marketing messages, and often this results in them not being relevant to their customers. Nina Bibby, Marketing and Consumer Director at O2, spoke about the company being a customer-first business, who “focus less on their products and services and more on being relevant to their customers”; an ethos which is consistent throughout the business.

Nina went on to say that at O2, “every person in the business needs to be 100% focused on the customer from CEO to the Execs to make sure the values are being delivered correctly, all the time”.

This view was emphasised once again later on by Rebekah Mackay Miller, Managing Director at trnd, clarifying that ‘only 6% of marketers know how to market with their consumers instead of at them’ and stating how forwarding thinking O2 are.

5. MAKE USER GENERATED CONTENT YOUR ‘BFF’

Silverbean has long been singing the praises of user generated content, but the proof was in pudding during Engage Sciences’ talk. They revealed that pages, which included UGC experienced an 11% decrease in bounce rate and sales conversions saw an increase in 7% at point of sale. Not only that, it was a huge driving force in increasing engagement, advocacy and data capture efforts.

They claimed “user generated content is more impactful than traditional review” and to put this into action, “it’s all about curation, finding the best UGC content and putting it in the best places”.

The importance of UGC was backed up during the ‘Scalable, relevant and fast content’ panel discussion with Miss Selfridge, Oasis and Adidas. They powerfully said, “Brands are no longer what marketers say they are, but what their customers say they are”. They provided a common sense approach for why you should include UGC in your content strategy, “why would you ignore good content which is already out there?”

6. #THISGIRLCAN CONQUER THE MARKETING WORLD WHEN POWERED BY SOCIAL INSIGHT

Kate Dale, Sport England’s strategic lead of brand and digital, encouraged brands to gather social data to ensure campaigns are targeted and stay on message – the key to making 2015’s #ThisGirlCan campaign such a success. Speaking of how #ThisGirlCan came to be, she explained:

“Using social insights was hugely important. As well as collecting data to establish common themes when it comes to women’s attitudes to sport, social has provided us with instant feedback in a natural environment. In government health surveys women don’t always say what they think, but what they think we want to hear.”

7. MARKETING INVESTMENT SHOULD ALWAYS INCLUDE ‘BLUE SKY THINKING’

Mark Elkins, VP of Digital Sales & Marketing at Coca Cola Enterprises, discussed how marketing investment is split at Coca Cola Enterprises and how a step-change in growth requires resource and investment into testing and blue sky thinking. Mark recommended that “Marketing investment should be split 70/20/10. 70% on tried and tested marketing methods, 20% on marketing methods that are currently being tested, and 10% on blue sky thinking”. Often business, for logical, but also short-sighted reasons, focus 100% of their investment in tried and tested methods and forget about new opportunities, ideas and initiatives. To see a step-change in performance, businesses need to welcome and embrace testing and ‘blue sky thinking’.

8. DON’T VISUALISE SUCCESS, VISUALISE FAILURE

The star presenter of the festival was Col. Chris Hadfield, who wowed the audience with his remarkable stories and pictures from space. Amongst many great antidotes and stories, he shared the approach of how he and his fellow astronauts prepared for going into space, which is great advice for business and people alike. Rather than dreaming about success and thinking of what success looks like, they always visualised failure, and what failure meant.

When you are in a space shuttle, or indeed in space itself, failure almost certainly results in death, leading to regular discussions like, ‘what’s going to kill us next?’.

In a business or personal situation, rarely is it as cut-and-dry as that, but it’s easy to get caught up in the bright lights of what success looks like. Ignoring the fact that one mistake could result in failure and being completely underprepared to adapt quickly.

9. GIVE YOUR CUSTOMERS THE RELATIONSHIP THEY WANT WITH YOUR BRAND

From Neil Davidson of HeyHuman’s research into customer/brand relationships, we learned that your customers don’t have to love your brand to value it. While most brands set out to win a lifelong commitment from their customers, success can also come from more fleeting interactions. You could be their friend with benefits (EasyJet), a bit on the side (McDonalds), or a marriage of convenience (apparently this is the best that most banks can hope for!).

Even if your customers ‘can’t live without you’ (Apple), brand relationships tend to be more Tinder then eHarmony. Usefulness trumps just about everything, and no amount of ‘brand love’ will stop customers from trading you in for a competitor if the competitor delivers more value.

The moral of the story? People’s feelings about brands don’t correlate with how they spend their money. There’s more value in being helpful than in trying to win hearts with branding exercises, so if your customers ‘just want to be friends’, don’t get all creepy on them!

10. IF MEASUREMENT IS AN AFTERTHOUGHT THEN THE PROJECT HAS ALREADY FAILED

Andrew Hood from Lynch Pin excited all the data geeks over at the data and analytics stage by admitting that a data scientist was the “sexiest job role of the last decade, but required the individual to own too many cardigans to be successful”. As well as his insight on workplace wardrobes, he brought to light that 66% of companies do not have an analytics strategy in place, which may be a result of ‘not everyone in an organisation being naturally thrilled by data’ as some people just want answers.

To counteract this thinking, he recommended that measurement should be in the design of the project, and if “measurement is an afterthought, the project has already failed.”

11. PERSONALISE ON THE BASIS OF BEHAVIOUR AND NOT DEMOGRAPHICS

Mentioned multiple times throughout the 2 days of the festival was personalisation. How to do it and why it’s important, but the interesting subtext to the overall theme was about how to segment your customers. Traditional segmentation is based on obvious demographics, such as gender, age and marital status, however Brogan Savage, Global Digital Marketing Manager at Dr Martens, stated that in today’s society, when segmenting your customers you should focus on behaviour and not demographics. People don’t see themselves as demographics anymore, the lines between ages and categories are blurring. People’s behaviours and habits don’t change between the week before getting married and the week after, so you should segment based on how the behave and not how they appear on paper. Mitch Vidler, Head of Digital Analysis at Jaywing, echoed these comments when he said you should treat people as individuals and not demographics.

12. DON’T FALL VICTIM TO ‘COOL DAD SYNDROME’ ON SOCIAL MEDIA

When the man who can make anything trend on Twitter in less than 30 minutes gives you advice, you listen. Inspiring young CEO of Social Chain, Steve Bartlett, who is responsible for the majority of the UK’s most popular Twitter and Instagram accounts, gave a gem of advice on how not to become another company with ‘cool dad syndrome’. Instead of using corporate speak on social, or trying to be ‘down with the kids’ which instantly disengages an audience, simply hire people who are a reflection of the target audience for a natural and connected conversation.

13. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF ATTRIBUTION AND DATA

Christian Bartens, CEO & Founder of Datalicious, discussed the importance of understanding attribution within your data. He spoke of how understanding how your sales should be attributed leads to better decisions, and regularly increased investment, as you know where you need to be investing.

Echoing this sentiment was Mitch Vidler, Head of Digital Analysis at Jaywing who developed the concept further; he stressed the key to developing effective use of big data is to actually think small, while monitoring trends and journeys rather than getting lost in the volume. Wrapping it up was Marco Storti, Digital Acquisition and Media Planning Manager at SKY Italia, who said “attribution helps to prove what your gut thinks”.

14. YOU NEED TO TOUCH PEOPLE’S MINDS BEFORE YOU CAN REACH THEIR POCKETS

Passionate MD of Naked Wines, spoke of how they came to acquire 500,000 new customers – they touched people’s minds before reaching for their pockets. By involving their customers in everything they do, they are able to make a real difference to special causes whilst also giving them what they really want.

With such a focus on customer experience, Naked Wines believes that treating their staff like gold dust will make them treat their customers the same. Can’t argue with that.

And last but certainly not least…

15. “WE’RE ALL MARKETING TOSSERS WHO JUST PISS MONEY UP THE WALL”

Yes, you read that correctly, according to Lord Sugar, the 101st richest man in the UK in the Sunday Times Rich List 2015, everyone in marketing is a “tosser” who just “pisses money up the wall”. Although his views appeared a little out-of-date, it’s difficult not to listen and take on-board comments from such a successful British businessman, and one that is actively promoting and investing in a digital marketing agency.

However, we do think that his explanation of SEO as “ducking and diving on the Google pecking order” would definitely get him fired from Silverbean!

Did you attend the Festival of Marketing 2015? If so, get in touch via Twitter or in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you, as always! Don’t forget to keep an eye on our Events page for details of upcoming digital events and read our SearchLove insights post from October 2015. Insight aplenty, that’s how we roll!