Wow! I can't believe how long it has been since I've posted here! I'd like to say my excuse is that we had been in crunch mode preparing for Brand ManageCamp 2008 - which was held last week at the Wynn in Las Vegas and, in my humble, non-biased, opinion was AWESOME! :)
Ah, what the heck, I'll just say it - that is my excuse.
So, now that we are on the other side of BMC, it's time for me to start posting again. First off is going to be my recap of the conference.
I can't begin to tell you how excited we were that attendance grew by almost 20% in this crazy economic climate. Kudos to the over 300 senior level marketers who were passionate enough about growing their brands that they took out the time from their businesses and their families to join us in Las Vegas. Just to reward them, we dialed up absolutely fantastic weather for the entire stay. And the digs at the Wynn were nothing short of amazing - from the beautiful garden when you walk in to the exquisitely appointed rooms and grounds, to the delicious food and, of course, the ever-helpful staff, the Wynn did not disappoint.
But the main attraction, of course, was the lineup of speakers. 17 of them, to be exact, over 2 days jam-packed with actionable insights, tools and techniques that attendees could start using on their brands right away. And they were all tied together expertly by our Master of Ceremonies - Tom Asacker (acleareye.com). As an extra bonus, Tom gave each attendee a copy of his brand new book "A Little Less Conversation" and even did a book signing late on day 1. Beyond Tom, here is a quick recap of who we heard from:
- Patrick Hanlon filled us in on the 7 pieces of what he calls the Primal Code - the DNA, if you will, of successful brands. See, Pat doesn't just get up and say "Be like Nike. Be like Starbucks." He actually has identified the 7 core things that all successful brands exhibit and, when adopted, make it that much easier for consumers/customers to become loyal followers. Read all about it in "Primal Branding".
- Jonathan Littman taught us about some of the key personalities within the Ten Faces of Innovation. Gleamed from his indepth experience with Tom Kelley at IDEO (they both co-wrote "The Art of Innovation" and "The Ten Faces of Innovation"), Jonathan shared his take on what is most likely to prevent successful innovation (The Stop Sign / The Devil's Advocate) and what is most likely to promote it.
- Joseph Pine boiled down the key aspects of Authenticity - explaining that there are several different ways to be Authentic (example - Disneyland is what Joe would call "Fake - Real" - it delivers a fake experience, since you are not really in a Magic Kingdom, but it is 100% true to itself) and there is no such thing as an in-authentic experience, since experiences are all internal and different for every individual. Fascinating stuff. Read "Authenticity" for more...
- David Aaker, a legend in the world of brand thinking, walked us through the concepts in his newly-released book entitled "Spanning Silos: The New CMO Imperative." His main message - don't do away with the silos, they are in a lot of ways very efficient. The important thing, though, is to figure out how best to manage the silos and make sure that they are not so independent that there are competing goals, inconsistent messages and inefficiencies that take place. Sound complicated? That's why he's a legend.
- Audrey Arbeeny, co-founder of sound branding firm Audiobrain, led a panel discussion on Sonic Branding. Joining her on stage was Jim Craig from 1st Advantage FCU in Virginia and Paolo Malabuyo from Microsoft - proving her point that sonic branding is a concept that can be leveraged by brands small and big, covering industries as wide ranging as financial services and video gaming. Most attendees walked out thinking "Why didn't I think of how to use sound before????"
- Dave Norton from Stone Mantel taught us that Happiness should take over from Satisfaction as our goal for delivery of our goods and services to our constituents. Happiness means focusing on the functional, emotional and social needs fo your customers. By doing so, you can overcome the gap between creating products that mrerely satisfy customers and those that actually enable them to become happy.
- Geoff Ramsey deliverd, with a frenetic pace that was much appreciated towards the end of a long, action-packed day, his take on the digital marketing landscape. Geoff's the co-founder of eMarketer and the statistics he provided (and the energy he displayed) were both mind-boggling.
- Bruce Turkel closed day 1 with another energetic performance (sans powerpoint - go figure!) in which he filled us in on the 7 Simple Steps to More Profitable Brand Communications. AND he taught us how to play harmonica! See his book "Building Brand Value"
Wow - a lot of stuff right? AND THAT WAS ONLY THE FIRST DAY! We headed into the evening with a cool, loungy feel for our cocktail reception (decor provided by The ALLSTAR Group). Attendees, speakers and sponsors alike joined for drinks and food on the balcony overlooking the Wynn golf course (at $500 a round, it was as close as I got!). Then everyone was on their own...in Vegas...we bid them goodnight and prayed they would come back the next day...
And they did! What a group! I couldn't believe how many people were there for the start of breakfast at 7am. And they had even changed their clothes!
Day 2 continued the energy and excitement from day 1 with these great speakers:
- David Meerman Scott brushed us up on the new rules of marketing & PR. Suffice it to say that the old days of buying expensive advertising and begging the media to cover us is over. Good thing David has a roadmap of the new terrain. Key point - think of yourself not as an advertiser but as a content publisher to ensure success on the web... For more, see his book "The New Rules of Marketing & PR."
- Robyn Waters has, when it comes to trends and design, what one might call 'credibility.' She was the VP of Trend, Design and Product Development for Target and helped lead the juggernaut retailer from a small regional chain to what it is today. 'Nuff said. She took us on a tour of the new trend landscape, explaining that the concept of a trend as a trend because everyone wanted the same thing is done. Today, for every trend (i.e., "Mini Cooper") there is a counter-trend (i.e., "Hummer"). It is this concept of contradiction that contains the most fertile ground for trend-seekers of the future and Robyn showed us quite a few to be on the lookout for... See her book "The Hummer and The Mini: Navigating the Contradictions of the New Trend Landscape."
- Marc Gobe is an extreme rarity in Brand ManageCamp - he is a repeat speaker. Marc previously joined us a few years ago to talk about his book Emotional Branding. This time, he gave us a glimpse at the latest work he has been doing - a documentary on a ban on all outdoor advertising in the city of Sao Paolo, Brazil. It is an amazing story of what marketers and retailers in Sao Paolo had to do to adapt once their #1 form of communication to customers/consumers were literally ripped down and forbidden. My key takeaway: what a great exercise to put your own team through. Take away their biggest tool and see how creative they have to get to adapt...
- Peter Krieg, co-founder of Copernicus Marketing Consulting and co-author of "Your Gut Is Still Not Smarter Than Your Head" walked us through the minefield that is the relationship between marketers and market researchers - providing tips and techniques throughout the way to help ensure more productive working environments. Because good marketing based on bad research is just as useless as bad marketing based on good research.
- Erich Joachimsthaler brought us back from lunch with another entry for 'highest-energy performance.' He is the author of "Hidden in Plain Sight" and founder of Vivaldi Partners and he dedicated his time with us to teaching the concept of demand-firt innovation and growth - a systematic and repeatable process that helps organizations see the biggest opportunities that are hidden in plain sight (a conecpt that would have been helpful to Sony before Apple trumped them on the whole MP3 thing...).
- Finally, Dan Hill, author of "Emtionomics" showed us how important it is to make quick, intuitive, emotional connections that enable awareness, consideration and persuasion. Dan is an expert on facial expression decoding and has been kept quite busy this election season doing countless interviews for CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc... on the hidden meanings behind the facial habits of our political candidates - even filling is in on the secret behind Sarah Palin's wink! Dan then promised to lend his skills to me at the poker table, but I ran out of money before he was able to come by...:(
So there you have it - a quick run down of the Brand ManageCamp 2008 conference. Of course, you had to be there to TRULY experience it. The good news is that there will be another one next year...hope to see you there!