JWR Articles: Commentary - The Art of Persuasion (Featured speaker: Howie Mandel) - July 7, 2010
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The Art of Persuasion

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A version of this article also appeared in July 2010 edition of The Business Link Niagara
Getting noticed in an increasingly crowded clutter of messages

Spending two days (May 26-27, 2010) with the country’s top marketers at the Canadian Marketing Association’s annual conference provided much food for thought for business and arts as both sectors begin to compete for post-recession dollars. Entitled “Tomorrow’s thoughts today,” the prognostications shared by 17 presenters ranged from blunt honesty (“I don’t know”—Sahrad Verma, President, Digital Cement) to an apology/mea culpa (“Don’t wait for us to get it [marketing theory] right … the power is in your hands”—Ken Wong, teaching fellow in Marketing Strategy, Queen’s School of Business) to bold predictions (“We’ll still be a publisher, but not on newsprint”—Jo-Anne Visconti, Director of Sales (Toronto), The Globe and Mail).

While these columns frequently discuss ways and means for business and the arts to creatively collaborate (to the mutual benefit of both), today, I’ll attempt to whittle down the information-packed sessions into a top ten issue list that has relevance to bottom lines be they measured as profit or attendance.

  1. The new business/mission model will be driven by the consumer rather than shareholders or stakeholders. From many of the panelists, we heard that social media is having a huge impact—ignore its power at your peril.
  2. The glory days of advertising agencies may already be behind us. With the huge increase in delivery channels, traditional campaigns can no longer guarantee the same degree of reach and results.
  3. Multi-platform ad promotion is the only way to go. With enough advertising balls in the air (radio, TV, Internet, print, billboards …), brands may finally win the support of the consumer who surfs everything in sight or sound.
  4. Television as the predominant method of screen delivery is fading. Recent statistics show that Canadians—for the first time ever—are now spending more hours per week (45 hours monthly) on the Internet than watching TV. As a side note, many consumers do both simultaneously, perhaps while listening to music. That gives potential advertisers three points of entry to their target market, but which message will be heard, much less acted upon?
  5. The first rule for a successful online presence is “Don’t stink” says Avinash Kaushik whose session title attracted everyone’s attention: “Web Analytics 2.0: Achieving Minor Orgasms Online by Using Data.” In other words, why spend a fortune in search engine optimization strategies if your visitors land on a malodorous page?
  6. Ken Wong also spoke strongly about the need for marketers of all stripes to get back to basics: “focus on the bottom line; [any] marketing should create value for our company/client.” Slick and clever doesn’t work as well now.
  7. Along with the rise of the consumer’s individual power, much was made of creating a total customer experience or risk the wrath of tweets if anything is found to be lacking. Not surprisingly, many businesses and arts organizations also have a social media presence to get right into the fray of product/performance discourse. Does yours?
  8. Creativity still abounds: the shortest commercial ever produced won a Palme d’or at Cannes. In barely 1 second “Guinness Book of World Records” is heard, concurrently winning the prize and earning an entry in the client’s famed publication.
  9. Would Barack Obama be president without the huge social marketing campaign? Rahaf Harfoush, behind the screens in the run-up to the vote, gave a compelling demonstration of the power of the collective to change history. Yes they did!
  10. Howie Mandel closed down the conference with his trademark humour, culled largely from recalling the rise of his own brand. “You can’t decide what’s next, those around you will,” was his summary. That was at one with the conference where survival in the marketplace for goods, services or ideas depends largely on an increasingly connected consumer. Going with that flow, trying to see then stay ahead of the curve is vital, but even more important is the notion that once the customer’s attention has finally been focussed on your organization, everything it does and offers had better pass Kaushik’s “stink” test. JWR

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