Last week EVRYTHNG attended and spoke at The Economist’s CMO conference in New York. The theme was marketing with a start-up mindset – lean and agile, with an appetite for cutting edge technologies and innovation that can be scaled up fast when it works.
It was a high quality, exclusive and intimate affair of about 200 executives and influencers (in spite of a New York snowstorm’s best efforts to spoil the party). I was there with EVRYTHNG’s investor director Jeff Burde and co-founder and CMO Andy Hobsbawm who was a panelist for ‘Multi-platform: marketing on the Internet of things’.
Interesting pairings of established and growth stage companies kept the sessions lively and varied – for example, Andy was interviewed alongside Howard Pyle, Vice-president of IBM’s marketing innovation group.
Among many points during that particular discussion, Andy re-iterated the criticality of CMOs being able to operate their physical products as core strategic digital assets. Now that a variety of smart tags and connectivity technologies like printed electronics exist, in combination with smartphones and smart software in the cloud, any product can become interactive, trackable, and come with an added digital layer of personalized, real-time services.
By turning products into ‘Always On’ media companies can deliver the most useful, relevant content, tools, and experiences on demand. This digital layer differentiates products at the point of sale, increases switching costs, and creates new usage-based and subscription-based business models. It also powers a ‘product graph’ of powerful data on the associations between consumers and different products – most brands are happy to know how many product units they sold, now they can know who bought it, how and where they used it, how content drives interaction and sales, and what other products their customers also bought and interacted with.
Three final notes on conference themes, trends and takeaways:
1. Stay true to marketing fundamentals.
- There was an emphasis on going back to basics: what does the customer really need? How can the brand help?
- To be a good marketer, be a human first.
- Trust. Trust. Trust. Play the long game.
- It should be pointed out that this message came not just from ‘traditional’ marketers at brands like Unilever, PepsiCo and Kellogg’s, but equally from the CMOs of Salesforce, Pandora and Dropbox.
2. Adtech will not save us.
- There was a lot of debate about the extent to which adtech has lived up to its promise. Lots ‘buzz’ but not much has been delivered many thought; it over-hyped?
3. IoT is coming.
- In a mobile-first world, context is king so keep things hyper relevant. So if you are behind with your mobile strategy now, you will struggle even more as IoT picks up and physical things become part of the Web. As we like to say: If you thought there was a lot of data online today, just wait until all the products start talking!