Note: this post originally appeared on the PARTNERS+simons blog.
Earlier this week, I posted Part 1 of my recap of The AdClub EDGE Conference, the industry organization's event to celebrate some of the people and brands that are driving innovation in Boston. It was a great affair, and there was simply too much to cover in one blog post alone. So here, I give you Part 2 of what I learned at #adclubedge (again, in no particular order):
- Businesses can be risk averse, but brands should take calculated risks. This is especially true of the brands we work with in PARTNERS+simons, which are in heavily regulated industries like financial services and health care. The businesses are inherently risk averse, but the brands need to stay relevant in a fast-moving marketing environment. They can do this by taking calculated (or educated) risks: take time to understand the new technologies available and give great thought to how to leverage them in a way that makes sense for the brand. Jim Bacharach, VP of Brand Communications and Creative Services at John Hancock, demonstrated how his organization dabbled in content curation, two-way communication, and a bit of social while showing a real understanding of its customers that instilled confidence and trust.
- If you're not successful internally, you can't expect to be successful externally. Bill Fox, SVP Managing Director at Fidelity Investments, explained how his firm built a brand launch web site for its employees, explaining and showcasing last year's green line campaign in advance of its launch. This is so important - your employees are one of your key target audiences; if you can get your employee base to be aware of/understand your positioning & marketing, it's that much easier for them to "live the brand" (which will create more consistent touch points and happier customers).
- The opportunities for mobile are [seemingly] endless. Ted Morgan, Founder & CEO Skyhook Wireless truly wowed the crowd with an overview of his location-based data services. Imagine being able to serve dynamic mobile banner ads based on locale, or getting real-time population density based on location requests (which could in turn help determine new retail store locations or validate traffic for out-of-home ad buys). Well, Skyhook is working on these solutions...and more. They've driven 10 million miles around the world to map access points, and their technology is in 100 million devices around the world (thanks to inclusion on iPhone & iTouch) and about 10 thousand apps. Innovation at its best.
- Purchasing is increasingly an act of citizenship. Social and rich media allow us to tell the powerful stories behind the objects we buy, which is what Jules Pieri is doing with Daily Grommet. Her start-up is the birthplace of Citizen Commerce, a place for people who want their purchases to have meaning (here's one of my favorite stories). On a similar note, Rob Weisberg, CMO of car-sharing company Zipcar, explained how technology makes it easier/more appealing to do the right thing. Did you know that 19% of post tax income is used on transportation in the US, yet our cars sit idle nearly 90% of time? Zipcar set out to do something about this, by creating a techno-savvy solution (read: super easy + slick) to getting wheels when you need them. Every Zipcar replaces 15-20 cars on the road and they've reduced vehicle miles traveled by 50%, thanks to fewer trips and smarter planning. More importantly, they reduced 482,000 tons of C02 emissions in 2009. And their customers - lovingly called Zipsters - feel part of a community that cares about the environment and urban living. The Zipcar culture (fun, honest, clever innovation, social good) transcends advertising to every point of contact with the brand. Zipcar is synonymous with fun, honesty, clever innovation, and social good. Both companies show how value and mission can drive a brand...and a loyal following.
- Tradtional media is still important. Despite rumors of its death, most of us acknowledge that traditional media still plays an important role in the marketing ecosystem. Colin Angle, Chairman of the Board, CEO, and Co-founder of iRobot illustrated this in a humorous way by sharing that iRobot had 14 failed business models while working to pursue its dream of practical robots. It finally hit it big with the Roomba (but in fairness, they have a huge government & industrial operation as well), particularly after a couple of [unintentional] TV appearances (here and here); traffic to their site skyrocketed, and the brand is very much now part of the culture. Colin reminded us that traditional media have built the audiences and trust needed to gain traction for both new and existing brands.
- One of Hollywood's hottest special effects providers is right here in Cambridge. Katherine Hays, CEO of visual effects software provider GenArts explained how pervasive their tools are in the film, broadcast, and video industries. Visual effects create emotion, and audiences have come to expect them...from huge production houses like Sony and Disney, to smaller IT departments like the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. GenArts has about 27,000 customers using its software, and you've likely seen the end results.
And with that, hopefully EDGE has inspired you to go back to your own daily routines and be even more creative, innovative, and revolutionary. If you missed the conference, you can check out the LiveTweet feed here, or the AdClub's recap here.