DMA 2012: Generation Disruptions

As the clock ticked down, the official DMA 2012 proceeding closed with a final keynote – a panel consisting of five of the sharpest minds in business and marketing. Hosted by Jeffrey Hayzlett (@JeffreyHayzlett), conversation stretched across a wide range of topical elements, from business structures to suit modern demands, to the impact of mobile on marketing. The panel consisted of:

While the session touched on far too many topics for one blog post, here are a couple of the main discussions and their outcomes.

When Hayzlett asked the panel how they manifest change in their people, the responses were probably some of the most actionable and insightful of the entire conference. While some of this insights didn’t exactly shake the floor – accept that change is inevitable, get to the core of the change and communicate it well – when conversation let to how these changes are encouraged, some blog-worthy material arose.

Jared touched on the fact that a key component to instrumenting change must be having aligned incentives and motivations within the company. For example, he as a retailer may want to put wifi in stores along with accompanying iPads, however IT would generally knock the idea flat due to security implications. Both parties are doing exactly as their role entails – innovation vs compliance – however without a common shared vision this friction is always likely to exist.

Elizabeth added at a tactical level to this, suggesting that within Gilt, time is split 70/30 to operational and experimental activities respectively. She claimed that to overcome a fear of failure and instil a true culture of innovation/experimentation, people needed 30% of their time to do whatever they like. In the right culture, this can include building new analytic models, product prototypes, or genuine thinking time.

Probably the most agile comment of the keynote came out of this point – form small teams within the organisation (no more than 6) and assign radical goals. Small teams move faster, pivot more nimbly, and tend not to fear the failure as much as in a larger, political group.

The second question worth mentioning was with regards to mobile, its evolution, and the future. Notably, our host Jeffrey Hayzlett pretexted the question with the opinion that marketers had “ruined” email via the cheap barrage of irrelevant content to date. He painted mobile as the holy grail of channels, the most personal of devices, worthy of only the most elegant and polished of strategies.

The consensus here is that the iceberg has barely been discovered on the mobile front. Companies realise that the hard sell – email or push messages – do not work on such an intimate medium, and that anything on a marketing level needs to have a far different tone. Consumers regardless,  Alasdair Lloyd-Jones observed, would still see a marketing message for what it is; a marketing message.

Generally however, the outcome needs to be an integrated solution, most likely where a user initiates the mobile (or location-based) tango. At this point however the status quote is but a glimmer on the marketing horizon; it can be seen but not touched. Your best bet? Elizabeth Francis suggests an actionable tactic is to take your best three people across (almost) any role and get them to know everything there is to know in the mobile world – get them excited.

These messages and advice bits align closely with the overall theme of DMA 2012 – the world is changing fast so hold on tight, be brave, and run with it. As the final keynote of DMA 2012, I leave you today with not one but two quotes, both from our enigmatic host:

Dont let the perfect get in the way of the good“, or in other words, act fast, fail fast, and have fun doing it. After all, it’s only marketing, “no one’s going to die“.