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Key marketing takeaways from the world’s biggest tech conference

This year, I was lucky enough to attend Web Summit in Lisbon for the first time. Whilst everyone will attest to how huge and overwhelming the conference was, I’ve since managed to catch up on the Vimeo recordings of the talks I really wanted to see but sadly missed at the time. So, armed with both my frantic iPhone notes and typed Stickies from playing video catch-up, here are my key marketing takeaways from Web Summit 2019:


RE-THINKING THE MARKETING FUNNEL


I was very intrigued ahead of attending this talk, and tried to answer the question myself beforehand. As much as I racked my brains, I couldn’t pull myself away from the well-known and commonly-used marketing funnel system, currently used in all marketing departments around the world.


The answer?


With so much focus on customer acquisition, actually factor in loyalty programs earlier on in the process.


This, of course, doesn’t have to be a full-blown rewards scheme from day one, but have something in place that’s ready to not only attract and seduce your customers to begin with, but that keeps them with you from the get-go. 


Depth over width. Get personal, direct, and meaningful with the individual.

Part of this is also one train of thought, which is to go deep as opposed to only looking at width. By this I mean get personal and direct and meaningful with the individual, instead of purely looking at growth-hacking the masses. For example, a successful influencer strategy has seen users receive personal, dedicated voice notes in their DM when they follow the new account - thanking them with their own voice, direct to the new follow. How meaningful and powerful is that? There’s also a trend that’s seen top figures (execs, CEOs, entrepreneurs, influencers, etc.) give out their direct phone number - either publishing it in the bio or including it on their posts or Stories. We’re not suggesting or recommending these tactics, necessarily, but these are examples of getting you to think more about this depth strategy over width - and this will pay dividends. 


MARKETING IN 2020


Forget about tech and new channels (even though TikTok was being talked about quite a bit during the conference); the best minds on this panel line-up (Burger King CMO, Fernando Machado, President & CEO of Weber Shandwick, Gail Heimann, and CMO of Lamborghini, Katia Bassi) advocated for “the power of creativity”.


When asked about developing campaigns for Instagram or TikTok, Machado commented: "We NEVER brief for platform, we brief for ideas.” (Something I harp on about all the time, so it was nice to hear this guru say the same up on stage at the world’s biggest tech conference!)


"We NEVER brief for platform, we brief for ideas.” - Fernando Machado, CMO of Burger King

Heimann echoed this by talking about “the power of an idea to earn attention” as well as the importance of brand-building to create “enduring businesses in a short-term world”.

To further reiterate our previous points on depth over width, Bassi talked about the emphasis on personal relationships with their Lamborghini customers. This of course makes sense as a luxury brand, but going over and above to make them feel like the VIPs they are is integral to their brand marketing strategy. 


MEANINGFUL BRANDS - TAKE A DEEP DIVE


In the talk on 'Key lessons from the art of a successful rebrand', with Mailchimp CMO, Tom Klein, Siegel+Gale President, Margaret Molloy, and DesignStudio Co-Founder, Paul Stafford, there was a much-needed conversation about the deeper meaning required with brands. 


"Belong anywhere" versus "Find a place to stay." You tell me the brand difference here.

All too often, a brand is mistaken as simply being synonymous with a logo (if I had a dollar for every time I’ve tried to explain this to a non-creative!)


The incredible Paul Stafford of DesignStudio shared his agency’s work for AirBnB to illustrate how it was able to not only overtake HomeAway - who was their main competitor at the start - but to completely blow it out the water and develop true affinity with their audiences.


Initially, a very early version of the AirBnB website displayed the copy “Find a place to stay.” Whilst accurate, this straightforward and clinical nature leaves a brand wide open to failure. The meaningful difference, and the work carried out by DesignStudio for AirBnB was centred around the human desire for belonging, with their “Belong anywhere” concept (not, "find a place to stay”). The brand is about connecting people and places - not just booking accommodation! (In the same way that Nike does not sell trainers, it’s about overcoming adversity, in the way that Disney does not sell films, it’s about magic, and how Coca-Cola does not sell fizzy drinks, but happiness). 

Change within the internal culture of the business, as well as the external advertising, need to be clearly aligned in order for the brand mission or the rebrand to work. “It all needs to point back to that core mission,” Molloy commented. 


As another great soundbite from Molloy: "Every company with the right research, insights, and creativity can come up with a resonant brand. The trick is to deem it very holistically so brands are no longer just about the words the story the pictures - it's about the experience. That's the secret sauce here - being thoughtful about that combination.”


"Segmentation and differentiation is what all successful marketing can essentially be boiled down to.” - Tom Klein, CMO of Mailchimp

"Segmentation and differentiation is what all successful marketing can essentially be boiled down to.” - wise words from Tom Klein, CMO of MailChimp, as a reminder of how to look at successful marketing!


THE IMPORTANCE OF PARTNERSHIPS


People don’t trust salespeople, they don’t like advertising, and - with 90% of every digital ad dollar going to Facebook and Google - online advertising is just getting noisier and more expensive. The answer? PARTNERSHIPS.


By leveraging the credibility and affinity with first-party audiences, brand collaborations are an extremely successful tactic in marketing today. 


For example: Ticketmaster and Spotify - you can buy tickets to concerts at Ticketmaster through Spotify, where there’s much more trust in the purchase as well as getting to access a highly-qualified audience. Also AirBnB and Qantas (flights and accommodation, obvious tie-in).


Partnerships have seen to add 25% to the revenue mix and is experiencing a 50% year-on-year growth as a marketing channel with large organisations. 


(From Startup Showcase on the Centre Stage by David Yovanno, the CEO and Founder of Impact.com, a cloud-based partnership solution where you can do everything in one place; discover, engage, track, protect, pay, etc. See more: https://impact.com/)


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All in all, I am very happy to see that the industry seems to have moved past the initial excitement of the tech explosion (shiny new things!), and enjoying a renaissance in celebrating the power of ideas, creativity, meaningful brands, and considered communication tactics to your clearly-defined target audience.


Did you attend Web Summit this year too? What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree? Did you see any other, better talks, not mentioned here? Drop a comment below! 👇🏽

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