Last week I attended FutureM, MITX’s annual marketing conference in Boston that brings together advertising, technology, and design leaders to exchange ideas and share their latest innovations in the marketing space. Not only was this my first time at FutureM, but it was also the first large industry event that I’ve attended as a still rather green marketer. Although an initially overwhelming experience, with hundreds of innovators from around the globe participating in countless workshops, presentations, and networking sessions, there were many lessons I took with me to the office.
For simplicity’s sake, I’ve decided to highlight three key takeaways from FutureM based on presentations that were highly impactful to me.
1. Curate your content
During the presentation “The Art of Non-Obvious Thinking,” best-selling author and professor of Digital Marketing & Persuasive Storytelling at Georgetown University, Rohit Bhargava, stated, “Curation is what turns noise into meaning.” Out of everything I heard throughout FutureM, these words stuck with me more than anything else. In fact, they’re the words that helped me filter down pages of notes into this blog.
Bhargava spoke about how today’s saturated digital ecosystem has lead the consumer to run towards simplicity, a trend he calls“the desperate detox” in his most recent book. We struggle to keep our heads above water while being inundated with new technology, media, and products. When it comes to your content, do your audience a favor and curate it like a museum. Declutter anything that stands in the path of the consumer’s journey by putting out clear and direct content that will make their decision to adopt your brand a no-brainer.
2. Make the user feel
In the age of information and constant innovation, many people have started to think that logic and reason is king. However, Dipanjan Chatterjee, VP & Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, reminded his audience that in order to convert users into loyal customers, brands need to make those users feel.
From the very start of his speech, Chatterjee cites examples of Charles Darwin, the Star Trek starfleet, and the digital consumer, as all valuing emotion over rationality. We can measure the performance of the most nuanced segments and track their behavior with advanced KPI’s, but one thing that many often neglect to gauge is the emotional impact a campaign will have on the audience.
Today’s metric-focused marketers no longer have an excuse not to, because Forrester Research has designed a system of measurement that Chatterjee and his colleagues refer to as “Brand Energy.” In the below charts, emotion comes in as the most critical aspect to a brand’s identity and it’s no surprise given how the consumer-brand relationship has evolved.
It’s no longer solely a transactional relationship, but also conversational as we have the ability to strike up a dialogue with our favorite brands right at our fingertips. Marketers must engage with the consumer and use emotional intelligence to personalize and improve upon the customer experience. These interactions generate an immense amount of data, but only 0.5% of this data is put into action, a statistic that brings me to the final takeaway from the event.
3. Be Purposeful with your data
Many marketers today find themselves at a crossroads with information overload. On the one hand we’re told that it’s imperative to use data and predictive-models because implementing them is thought to be a surefire way to boost awareness and generate leads. However, there are others that warn us to not rely too heavily on algorithms and other forms of artificial intelligence that are thought to take from the human aspect of the consumer journey. What’s a digital marketer supposed to do with these conflicting pieces of advice?
The panel “With AI Comes Great Responsibility” believes that the approach to solving this dilemma is much simpler than the technology that their companies develop. Cofounder of Born AI, Max Fresen, challenges brands to counter this question with another important question: “What data are you feeding into AI in order to get meaningful insights?”
If you don’t have a clearly defined answer to this question, then you’re probably not properly optimizing the data sets you have to reach your customer. Artificial Intelligence is best used when machine-learning is combined with a talented team that knows how to effectively implement the technology. Programmatic partners like Digilant can do just that. By tapping into actionable data science to facilitate unique one-on-one relationships with users on a massive scale, new insights and audiences are uncovered for advertisers.
Similar to Bhargava’s point that marketers must curate content to effectively reach the user’s cluttered mind, data must also be properly curated and decluttered to be of any use to today’s marketer. To tie everything together – 1.) Curate your message, 2.) Craft it with a real, emotionally-driven user in mind, and 3.) Maximize the precision and reach of this message with the data-driven technology available to you.
Overall, my time at FutureM ‘17 was very enjoyable and memorable. I left with great insights and I can’t wait to see what next year brings.