Monday, October 26, 2015

unCon 2015 Session: How Many Marketers Does it Take to Screw in a Lightbulb?

By Patrick Rafter (Principal and Co-Founder, Rafter Communications, and longtime MassTLC Ambassador, Blogger, @prafter)


Session Moderators: Alex Lee, Head of Marketing (Cantina) and Prashant Kaw, VP of Marketing (Codeship) 

Alex Lee (L) and Prashant Kaw (R) Leading "Marketing Track Session, 2015 unConference
Morning sessions of the 2015 MassTLC Innovation unConference brought a new element of thematic structure missing from unConfs of years’ past: #unConf15 participants were offered an assortment of 6 role/interest-defined tracks and invited to “ find the track that’s right for you.”  While sessions for CEOs, Customer Success, Technology/Development and other roles were compelling, I joined the well-attended “Marketing” session.

Ably moderated by marketing gurus Prashant Kaw of Codeship and Cantina’s Alex Lee (who dubbed himself someone who evolved into marketing after prior sales/biz dev roles with Forrester, HP Autonomy and eRoom), the “No Agenda” Marketing session attracted circa 50 people from companies large and small; more than one-third of whom work full time in marketing.

While Prashant and Alex did an admirable job of trying to capture and distill the group members’ interests into some sort of action plan, given that marketers are well known as formidable idea generators--- it wasn’t surprising that more than 30 different subtopics were suggested by the session’s loquacious attendees and by the two moderators!

The first half-hour of the session centered on an interactive discussion of which topics we might discuss during remaining hour.  Suggested subjects came from both Alex & Prashant, and from the group itself.

Organizers’ suggested subjects:
  • Marketing & Sales....Who should get more money
  • Managing and growing talent
  • Building an "A" team
  • Marketing my new startup
  • Who owns the customer journey? (Sales? Marketing? Customer Service?)
  • How many leads does sales lead
  • What's in the marketing technology stack? (Free and paid tools/services)
  • The Subscription Economy SaaS
  • Transform my marketing

Topics suggested by group members:
  • Marketing & Sales: Can’t we just get along?
  • User acquisition for B2B and B2C businesses
  • Strategies for segmented marketing (vertical, horizontal foci, etc.)
  • Content marketing --- a buzzword that needs to die!!
  • Campaign marketing or drum-beat outreach
  • Metrics that matter
  • Monetizing social media
  • Marketing for solopreneurs
  • Personable marketing vs. personalized marketing 

Marketing Sub-Group Breakout Session:
At 10:45AM, the large group broke into two equally-sized subgroups, led by moderators to tackle as much as we could impossibly, collectively cover in one hour!
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The subgroup I joined (led by Alex Lee), was a spirited collection of people who are both experienced marketers, but who also showed they’re perplexed by rapid changes and possibilities foisted upon them through new marketing technologies and

As someone who’s worked in tech marketing/PR for 30+ yrs., our discussion of the “Brave New World” of Marketing brought to mind the fun cartoon (shown below) from @TheSpine Blogger David Waywell (better known by his pen name, Stan Madeley). 

It was a thoroughly interesting hour --- chock-a-block with great insights, real-world findings, from people who’ve been there/done that and are looking to the future.

Three of the Marketing Track’s most resonant themes:

1)         What IS marketing success?
Posed by
Chris Carleton(Principal and Co-Founder of CHEN-PR, longtime MassTLC corporate sponsor), the group shared their thoughts and findings on the most incontrovertible measurable and intangible elements to track and work toward to achieve marketing success. Alex Lee coaxed us all to reveal our perspectives on “metrics that matter” (beyond simply driving revenues).

2)         Organizational Alignment
Building upon the group’s consensus that marketing and sales organizations can often be out of synch with one another, Allison Parker (Digital Lumens Director of Marketing/Microsoft & Lotus alumna), emphasized the importance of seeking alignment up and down the entire organization about marketing. Businesses succeed when sales management and CXOs understand what marketing can do/how it can best be integrated with other departments. We discussed how third-party facilitators are helpful in running constructive dialog to bring disparate internal organizations together for effective alignment.

3)         Building Customer Trust
Echoing a theme that @TimeTrade CEO Gary Ambrosino detailed in his 2012 presentation “Selling at the Speed of Trust” -- building and maintaining trust with customers was a recurrent topic at this unConf session. Describing it as something he learned as a salesperson-turned-marketer, Alex Lee proclaimed “it’s all about trust” – and session members nodded their head in agreement, chiming in with comments on that Milennials don’t like to be “sold to,” on delivering truly valuable and welcome content marketing material, and on the importance of listening to customers and tracking “tone of voice.”

My take away from the session?
Lots of smart people work in tech marketing and sales in Massachusetts. Full of great ideas, MassTLC marketers are pursuing new marketing strategies that are simultaneously help their companies better connect and engage with prospects and customers, while also driving brand awareness and revenues.

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