The Future of Marketing

Post ImageIn the first keynote of the day, Stuart MacDonald will be chatting with popular blogger Steve Rubel of Edelman about the future of marketing. Here are my notes from the session (my comments in italics):

  • Throughout the conference they have been showing short ads for Mesh, made by a company called Storystream, whose tagline is “ads you want to watch”. I’m not sure what the point is, but they are fairly interesting and sometimes funny.
  • What does micropersuasion mean? Steve says its no longer about Superbowl ads, but rather about one person with a voice and the same impact. One individual being just as persuasive as anyone.
  • Steve says public relations has to mean exactly what the words say, relating to the public. The PR professional needs to know how to interact with people as people. Bloggers have many different motivations, you have to consider a person’s motivation and how to help them with it.
  • Stuart remarks that blogging is harder than just issuing a press release, it feels like “a military campaign with no end.” Steve says that’s not the best analogy, it’s more about befriending the community. The new model is “further the conversation.”
  • This time, for the first time, the Edelman annual survey showed that a peer is the most authoritative person, no longer a CEO or someone else. People like to find people like themselves.
  • Steve says advertising is still working, let’s not kid ourselves. Marketing isn’t dying, PR isn’t dying, it’s just that new disciplines are appearing.
  • Stuart asks if Steve gets a lot of fear from clients, and Steve says we get fear from the whole industry. Sooner or later though, you have to face that fear, and when people see there are ways to succesfully engage that conversation, they’ll get over the fear.
  • The community will tell us who is credible and who isn’t, Steve says.
  • It’s not a numbers game, you don’t need to go for the blogs that have the largest numbers. A deep level of engagement with a particular audience is better, that’s the new model.
  • Steve has seen some companies setup budgets for community marketing, so people are starting to pay for this kind of PR, and others will follow.
  • Steve says blogs can surely generate a lot of traffic, and many campaigns these days are measured using traffic.
  • We learn as we go, that certain things will work and others wont, but we need to remain transparent.

Now, some questions from the floor:

  • Blog posts are being circulated to political people, do you see this with companies? Steve says the companies that get it use services like Tailrank, but he doesn’t think posts are printed out and spread to executives.
  • What is happening with MySpace? Steve says it is more than just MySpace, it’s all social networks. There are centers of gravity that pull people in, like MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, etc. Whatever you do with social networks, needs to be on the terms of service of the community, in a way that’s polite and accepted. Social networks are a great place to engage people, but you need to engage in a way that furthers the community.
  • Someone asked about Strumpet. Apparently it is a blog that wonders how long Steve will last at Edelman. Steve says that as a blogger he recognizes that he lives in the public, and with that, you gotta take your lumps. The lesson to marketers is that you’ve got to take the bad with the good.
  • Question about Second Life and the opportunity for marketing. Steve says for him, Second Life came out of nowhere, and he thinks the potential is terrific, provided you can find a way to engage in a way that is accepted.
  • Do bloggers need to learn any new skills to better communicate with PR people? Steve says they don’t need to learn new skills, they need to be people.
  • Steve says what he would measure is conversations, engagement with the most influential people.
  • How do you represent the masses when its the educated tech elite doing the talking? Steve says the old stuff doesn’t go away, but there’s a new group of people you focus on more deeply. (I don’t think he quite understood the question.)
  • What about “pay for play” in the blogosphere? Steve thinks it is fine if accepted, but right now, it’s not accepted at all. The way to know what will work is to read blogs, to keep track of what people are talking about.
  • What are some of the techniques used today to calculate community ROI? Steve says you could use touch points, web traffic, inbound links, the rank within the search engines, etc. Ultimately it comes back to sales, did people buy more product? Clients right now might want measurement in a way that doesn’t exist yet.
  • Who did the biggest rain wreck? Kryptonite? Sony and DRM? Steve says it is anyone who created a fake blog, like Captain Morgan, character blogs. Steve thinks characters are great for ads, not for blogs. Blogs are about authenticity.
  • Tris asks, what about character blogs for entertainment purposes? Steve says why do a blog and not something like a Flash microsite? Steve doesn’t think there have been many great successes with it.
  • Steve is getting hammered over the character blogs right now. Steve says a character blog is a shield, it says to the consumer, “I don’t want to get down and dirty.” The best blogging companies take real people from the gut of the company.
  • Jeremy Wright just made a good point – “If Darth Vader blogged, I’d read that every bloody day.” Steve says well, let’s try it and measure it and see if it works!
  • Stuart says that without data, it’s just opinion. And don’t be afraid to fail.
  • Where do you think this is going? Steve says its heading to a shift of advertising dollars from one-way communication to two-way. In three years there will be metrics, more case studies, processes, more failures, and a new budget created for generating conversation. We’ll see indexes like the the most talked about brands in the world.
  • Step 1: know where your customers hang out. Step 2: develop the infrastructure to listen to the conversation. Step 3: engage the audience in a dialogue. Step 4: empower the audience, figure out what they want to achieve, and help them do it.
  • Steve says if you want to do “I talk, you listen” then do podcasting, or microsites, or something.
  • Will blogging bring more truth to advertising? Steve thinks so, he says “the blogosphere is the greatest fact checking machine ever invented.” It will force companies to be more honest.
  • Some guy just basically said blogging hasn’t reached the masses. Um, hello? Over sixty million blogs worldwide? Probably double that if you count all the ones in China that we don’t keep proper track of. I wish Steve would have said something to that effect.