Two things became abundantly apparent at Oracle’s Modern Marketing Mashup last month in Seattle:
1. Modern marketers like a good drink.
Despite all our innovations and evolution, we haven’t outgrown an old-fashioned, Don Draper-ish, any-hour-is-happy-hour cocktail. Fortunately Oracle gets this. They even gave a prize to one lucky attendee for drinking an actual Old Fashioned. Stay classy, Oracle.
2. Modern marketers don't sleep much.
Modern moderator Adam Lavelle of Merkle launched his line of questioning with a simple prompt:
'What keeps you up at night?'
The panel couldn't answer fast enough. Expedia's Global Head of Loyalty and Rewards Jarvis Bowers offered a string of sleep-staving angsts, from the increased codependence between marketing and our internal partners (ie Customer Service & IT), to the ever-foreboding reality that we're held accountable for what's said about our company, but helpless against controlling it.
Wendy White, Head of Global Business Campaigns for CenturyLink Technology Solutions, answered with an issue that's had marketers tossing and turning forever.
Alignment. With. Sales.
Oh yeah. That.
As Wendy explained, for most marketers it's hard enough to convince many of our sales partners that MQLs are even real, and harder still to persuade them to take action when one falls in their lap. Sales’ treatment of marketing leads can sometimes be akin to using the Holy Grail as a spittoon. That alone is enough to keep us all up.
Still Sleepless in Seattle
Adam then tried to turn the conversation towards other topics around what he likes to call context (what we know about consumers), content (what we put in front of them) and connectivity (how we put it in front of them). But no matter what the subject was, the discussion kept drifting back to sleep. Or the lack thereof.
When asked about personas, Jarvis made a statement that would make any devoted targeter jolt awake in a cold sweat. Personas, he said, are quickly becoming passé.
“Consumers’ expectations are that you know them. Not in the abstract,” Jarvis explained. “We need to get beyond the notion of broad segments.”
Personas still have a place when it comes to tailoring messaging and targeting communications. But once you’ve connected with a customer, Jarvis is right. It’s time to get personal. Easy, right? Not exactly. Just ask Cortney Wright, VP Marketing for Artbeads.com. Cortney knows what she’s doing. Artbeads.com has one of the rarest ‘problems’ in marketing. Get this. Artbeads has to be careful to avoid promoting their content too much. A product demo Cortney’s team created once helped sell 6 months’ worth of product the first day it was published. Let’s just say that demand outpaced supply that day.
So when Cortney talks content marketing, I listen. And according to her, the gap between the vision of 1:1 marketing and the reality is “so big I can’t see across it.” She credited disparate data sources, a lack of resources to help interpret data and the inability to act on it in the moment with causing the chasm. Any one of these challenges is hard enough to conquer. Let alone all three. So it’s no wonder marketers today have a serious case of the content creeps at night.
Wendy may have put our collective insomnia in perspective best. She reminded everyone in attendance that, “content is your permission to have a conversation with a customer.”
With multiple stakeholders involved in B2B purchases, Wendy confessed that it’s more than a challenge to track which content is hitting which phase of which buyer’s journey. And if you are able to identify the gaps, it’s no scroll above the fold to find the resources and inspiration to fill them. Yet our success bridging those gaps with relevance and value can mean the difference between permission granted and permission denied.
When you put it that way, maybe sleeplessness is inevitable. But Cortney offered a ray of hope to close the conversation. When asked how her team manages to stay afloat and on course in a sea of data discrepancies and deficiencies, Cortney’s answer was simple: Sometimes it’s OK to go with your gut. Throw the compass overboard. Because, rested or not, your gut is smart.
Apparently, the consumer isn't the only one who's always on. There's a new brand of sleeplessness in Seattle. But even though the odds seem to be stacked against our marketing stacks, it’s clear that sometimes it's not counting problems but counting possibilities that keeps modern marketers up. If you ask me, that's sleep worth losing. But maybe I’m just overtired.
Whether problems or possibilities are keeping you up, sleep counseling is coming to a city near you. Go to a mashup. There’ll be drinks. And there’ll be some ridiculously good marketers to connect and commiserate with.
And locally, the Seattle Interactive Conference is just weeks away. It’s easily one of the best events of the year. There’ll be some truly sick presenters, including BuzzBee CEO, Michele Keeffe. Get registered today, and come check out her session on the secrets to selling through storytelling.
Now tell me… what keeps you up at night?