What I Learned at the Festival of Marketing 2017

Think human shaped, not idea shaped. What I learned at the Festival of Marketing 2017.

I was lucky enough to attend this year’s Festival of Marketing #FoM17; and it was my favourite yet. Great speakers, great venue and I came away having learned a lot about a lot. I also got a very nice waffle with strawberries and Nutella, which was a great partnership moment in itself. 5 customer-centric lessons…

1)     Everything is human shaped, not idea shaped. The great Stephen Fry’s view that people don’t behave as they ought.  I loved this concept; just because an idea looks good on paper doesn’t mean it will work out that way. It’s a great common-sense checker for marketers. For us, at Mando-Connect, we use data to develop ideas and strategy – but we still make sure we test things out in the real world – learning by doing, co-creating with partners and people, testing and experimenting to find the right approach – a common theme from many of the speakers at the event. We use our heads and our hearts, as well as our numbers, to develop partnerships that really work.

2)     The importance of experience. David Burnand of Adobe shared a fascinating piece of research, done in collaboration with Goldsmiths University. 80% of consumers are more loyal to brands that provide them with better experiences; Amazon held up as the leading brand of its kind. Adobe shared a nice ABCD model of customer loyalty too:

  • Give customers an adaptive experience. 61% of people are loyal to brand that tailor experiences.
  • Be wherever they love to be. 59% demand convenience.
  • Help them filter choices. 46% of consumers are overwhelmed with choice.
  • Differentiate through immersive experiences. 50% of consumers feel good about brands that innovate through technology.

It goes to show that experience should be at the heart of every brand’s loyalty strategy.

3)     Referral really works, and it’s all about trust. Andy Cockburn of Mention Me argued a compelling case that in today’s over-cluttered world peer referral is a great tool that brands can employ successfully for customer acquisition. Andy had case studies that showed referees are more profitable, more engaged (+40% higher email click through), 67% shop more and you can achieve up to 3 x higher overall spend.

He put its success down to the filters that people use before they refer. Reputation (by referring they are putting their own reputation on the line) and relevance (people only share if they know it’s relevant to the recipient). Those same 2 filters apply strongly to brand partnerships too – a referral from a trusted brand can be as compelling and effective as a referral from a trusted friend.

4)     Take a whole-hearted approach to brand partnerships. For a partnership to really work it has to be authentic and transparent, was the conclusion of the panel discussion of Tom Daley, Reggie Yates, Rochelle Humes and Leon Harlow. Tom Daley went on “when it comes to brand partnerships, it has to be something I believe in, something I’m passionate about, authentic, something that aligns with my beliefs.”

The panel focused on celebrity and influencer partnerships. However the same principles apply to partnerships between brands. For a partnership to be really successful both brands have to jump in with hearts, heads and resources fully committed to making it work. Leon explained that it’s critical to think beyond money “you have to understand the value exchange beyond just money”. Brands should think about everything they can bring to the partnership – funding of course, but also marketing assets, expertise, ideas and resources.

5)     My absolute favourite talk was the WARC / Manning Gottlieb / Mark Earls presentation on behavioural economics, not least because they made us all jump around. Did you know that our system 1 (our subconscious) can process over 11 million bits of information per second, our system 2 (our conscious system) can do just 40? It reminded me how important instincts and emotional connection is in marketing. Mark Earls summed it up as “humans are more like Kirk than Spock” and talked at length about the power of us as social creatures and how that should be directing influence for marketing. I’m hoping to follow up with him later to see what he thinks the top take-outs should be for partnerships and engagement strategies, so watch this space.

    Charlie Hills
    MD & Head of Strategy