Yesterday over 400 marketing heads and decision makers gathered in London for the inaugural Alterian Engaging Times European Summit. If the twittersphere was anything to go by, and I hope you were following the #engagingtimes hashtag, customer engagement is definitely now on the minds of the brands and agencies that attended.
Highlights for me would have to be marketing legend Stan Rapp, who is always an entertaining speaker, Andrew Finlayson from AstraZeneca and Will Whitehorn from Virgin Galactic. It was interesting to see how these leading thinkers feel customer engagement will be a game changer in this decade and the difference between those brands that survive and those that don’t.
Stan really set the room alight with his talk. He focused on the Five Myths of Marketing where he discussed how marketers need to have the capability within their organisation for customer engagement. He used an interesting phrase to describe this saying “software becomes careware” and technology is key to effectively engage with customers in order to build a relationship and ultimately make them happy. He also focused on how, what has been traditionally deemed, direct marketing needs to change to something he called iDirect Marketing – where direct is interactive and the core focus is on customer engagement.
The scale in which organisations need to think about customer engagement was brought to light by Andrew Finlayson’s talk from AstraZeneca. Customer engagement is now core to their marketing strategy and they have hundreds of websites in 34 languages across 46 markets – all run on Alterian Content Manager. With numbers like this, customer engagement may seem impossible but Andrew demonstrated how, with the effective use of technology, they are effectively engaging customers across their many business units and brands. It was really inspiring as a marketer to see how effective customer engagement is possible, no matter what the size of your business.
By far the most inspiring talk of the day would have had to be Will Whitehorn, CEO of Virgin Galactic both from a business and a space travel perspective. Will explained how they have promoted Virgin Galactic, with minimal marketing, PR and advertising spend using an approach they termed “word of web” where they used the internet to engage with potential customers, sorry astronauts . They even took this approach one step further and created a social media platform on their website called “Spacebook” where they can directly engage with existing customers. A truly inspiring talk from a truly inspiring company.
For those of you that attended the Engaging Times European Summit, we hope you found the day as informative and inspirational as we did and those of you who missed this year’s event, stay tuned to this blog to find out how you can get access to all the content from the event and also be part of not only the next event, but the marketing revolution!