Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Insight's from the AMA's M-planet's Conference

The keynote at the AMA's M-planet Conference kicks off with Dennis Dunlap, CEO of the American Marketing Association talking about the importance of scenario planning for CMO's as they move forward. This approach should avoid missing opportunities while not betting the farm on a trend or technology that may or not pan out. Two examples Dennis gave that reinforced this message were:
  1. President and founder of once great Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), Kenneth Olsen's, prediction in 1997 that "there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home."
  2. Business Week's prediction in 1968 that stated "with over fifteen types of foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself."
Not a bad recommendation given the associated risks although I imagine this type of approach is hard for many companies to execute on given their quarter to quarter type of approach. By the way, Dennis/AMA took an interesting approach in his kick off by bringing four actors who were playing the roll of the CMO of the future (circa 2015). While innovative, it came off as a little bit contrived because you could tell that the actors had memorized their lines so it wasn't as authentic as it could have been. I give Dennis an A for effort and a B- for execution.

Next up, Anne Mulcahy who is the chairman and CEO of Xerox Corporation. Anne (pictured above) started her keynote by citing a number of statistics including the fact that Blackberry owners check e-mail on average 50 times a day and ironically that there are thousands of blog posts created every hour (which is exactly what I'm doing as she speaks). Most importantly, Anne did mention the importance of figuring out the impact/value of social media. Glad to know this is on her mind.

One thing I like about Anne's talk is that she is talking about the importance of "listening" to their customers. The approach that Xerox is taking is more CRM and focus group oriented which is a good first step but it's too bad that they aren't taking it a step further and listening to the socialsphere. 

Anne went on to stress the importance of going back to basics with a focus on brand, messaging, and measurement. Certainly good advice to live by but nothing radically new. Anne did conclude during the Q&A portion of her talk with a recommendation that companies don't retrench but instead act boldly! This means that they need to listen to what their marketing departments have to say and to explore new avenues for growth opportunities.

More to come...


I missed Amex CMO, John Hayes, keynote because I had to jump on a conference call so here is  a nice wrap up of that session written by @marketingshift.

Next up is Mary Dillon, EVP and Global CMO of McDonald's. Now there is no doubt in my mind that Mary is incredibly smart. She's also quite eloquent. However, her presentation is a mix of cool McDonald videos/commericals and a very high level discussion of the way she/McDonald's think about global brand. Obviously this is an interesting topic for some folks but I can't help but think that there are a number of people in the audience (small businesses in particular) that are scratching their heads saying "how does this help my 15 person business exactly?"

Unfortunately, Mary yadda-yadda-ed over the most interesting part of her presentation which for me was McDonald's covert but clever Lost Ring game. She did mention that it was a tricky concept to sell to her senior team. I can only imagine being a fly on the wall of that meeting.

NEXT UP: My session which is titled - Competing in a World of Networked Organizations: Implications for Marketing. Obviously I can't live blog this section so I'll either find the Twitter hash tags for this one (should be #mplanet) or I will do a summary post sometime this evening including my portion of the PPT which I will post on slideshare.


  1. Interesting stuff, Aaron.

    Re: "Anne went on to stress the importance of going back to basics with a focus on brand, messaging, and measurement. Certainly good advice to live by but nothing radically new."

    I think one temptation for those of us in the socialsphere is to look for the new, new, new thing -- when a lot of business success *does* come back to the basics. Not that that's a new insight on my part. ;)

  2. Tim - I can always count on you to keep me grounded. In fairness, I took a deep breath and tried my best to see this conference through the traditional marketers eyes. So to that end, I can see why sometimes "getting back to basics" is not a bad thing. I guess I was hoping to hear a little more "rah rah" around social but alas it was not to be.

    Aaron | @aaronstrout