August 23rd and 24th I had the opportunity to attend and present at the Digital Summit in Philadelphia. This is a very well run and well-attended event not only for digital marketers but all marketers. The audience was an equal mix of Enterprise companies and SMB. The beauty of this conference is that you can get different learnings based on which sessions you attend. In my case, I have a couple of key takeaways which came from the sessions I went for. I am seeing marketing continuing to balance between a left-brain visual concept focus and a right-brain analytical focus. Much of this is being driven by two key factors:

  • The drive for more analytics to justify investment as marketing which is still viewed as a cost center (ugh!)
  • The huge investment in digital with Facebook and Google to best understand return of digital dollars

Encouraged by the summit, however, more meaningful discussions to advance marketing into a revenue source is needed. In fact, one of the key-note speakers challenged that marketing should push back when asked to deliver a ROI number – an approach that concerns me. As I discussed in my presentation, Customer Analytics and Marketing to Drive Demand, I think it is time we step up and own a number which is relevant to our stakeholders including sales and C level executives. In the process, I think you will also get more buy-in and support in driving conversion which are critical to the overall success for a company. Having heard in the earlier presentations a major focus on the top of the marketing funnel on awareness with search, I challenged my audience to think more on the bottom of the funnel to get to the key metrics like Customer Lifetime Value and Revenue. I suggested it is time to flip the funnel upside down to reorient the focus.

This was a tremendous experience and I want to personally thank all who attended and especially those who reached back and gave me input. What I heard validated our efforts. People were interested in the small data aspect of my presentation and how you can get to results faster with an iterative approach to data; similar to that we use in programming. After introducing the audience to the early leaders in this area and sharing Martin Lindstrom’s book, Small Data, he asked why are we not talking about this more? I also spoke with several individuals who were aware of Mr. Lindstrom and his work so hopefully the word is getting out. Another person who worked with strong mid-sized companies admitted he has gone as far as possible without more of a focus on the customer analytics and making sure you are apportioning your resources to the value of the customers which was the overall theme of my discussion. I came away with the feeling our message is relevant to a discerning audience.

And lastly, having not given Philadelphia its due attention in the past, I spent some time walking around and touring this lovely city. I went to the see our Liberty Bell and visit Constitution Hall. It was absolutely the calm, forethought and vision needed to put today’s political environment in context. When I read, or hear the latest news reports, I think back to the City of Brotherly Love and know we will come through this time stronger as we continue to grow and evolve our democracy.