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Ian Thompson


Three days, four flights, and 32 pages of notes later, we are back in Greenville, SC after traveling to Chicago for another incredible Cisco Marketing Velocity, hosted at the historic Palmer House in The Windy City. This year’s event centered on making us all Digital Believers – and understanding how to embrace the pace of digitization. We have been discussing this here at ScanSource KBZ for a while now, and even asked what you would do in 2017 to help accelerate your practice. Cisco rallied presenters throughout their Global teams and thought leaders from various industries – to add context and perspective on what’s next in “Modern Marketing”. As always, the event left us energized with our own internal panel of discussion in our Uber to Midway yesterday afternoon. I tried to condense all those notes, and our Uber conversation down to our 5 biggest takeaways from the week below:

  1. Find your story, and humanize it. From Robert Rose’s workshop to Martin Lindstrom’s keynote, one message was clear this week. Create a well-crafted, engaging argument, humanize it, and then share it. A plot is what happens, a story is why it happens. There is no story “too bland” to be told, especially when you focus on being a human, and not a brand. In doing so, we will increase our reach, and decrease the frequency needed to do so.Going forward, we need to find what our customers truly need besides our product or service. We need to discover what their “job to done is” and who our audience is outside of just our products and solutions.

  2. Omnichannel is omnipotent. In a world that is rapidly becoming digitally-driven, focusing on both the analog hearts and digital minds of customers in a trackable and actionable manner will be key in successfully reaching customers in a seamless manner, as told by Anders Sörman-Nilsson. Blending marketing vehicles and delivering them in a customized and personalized fashion will allow us to better reach our audiences and drive new business opportunities.
  3. Get social. I am not talking about awesome networking events (looking at you, House of Blues…), but the idea of utilizing non-traditional platforms to get a foot in the door with audiences we previously have not reached. When you hear statistics like the fact that LinkedIn is producing 65% of all B2B leads, it means the time to act is now! Social media can start conversations that emails cannot. Align yourself with influencers, see who they follow and continue to provide value at least 70% of the time to your audience. The best sales people are content concierges.

  4. Question everything. Whether it be the status quo, “The 5 Why’s” or just the calories in the morning smoothie you get from Freshii before general session (800 calories?!) there is value to be gained from asking questions. Michelle Chiantera challenged us in General Session to be provocative with our asks of Cisco, and inquisitive of the old way of doing things. Robert Rose taught us that simply asking “why” 5 times can get us to an editorial mission statement with our partners, and that morning smoothie taught me that sometimes eating breakfast is not the “healthiest” thing you can do.

  5. Find comfort with change. Our industry is moving fast – and that will never slow down. Some of the strongest inspiration on this tough truth came from Cisco CMO Karen Walker during the closing general session. She share a stat from Adobe - “Marketing has changed more in the past 2 years than in the past 50 years” – and you can exponentially increase that for the pace of technology innovation. Embrace it, be okay to stand out and do things different. There’s no time for discomfort – and by the way….. “There is no Plan B……we have got to JUST GO!” Automate, Consolidate, and create customer insight. There is no longer blanket mass media marketing. The customer experience is THE ultimate brand differentiation, and we need to be customer focused vs. process driven. That’s a change - it takes work and continued pace to stay relevant to our customers. Don’t wait to understand – get comfortable being a trailblazer.

And with that, I am back to work. Back to act on all of the lessons learned and to put to use the new knowledge and skills I have learned. There truly has never been a better time to be a digital believer, something I feel more confident about now than ever. A special thank you goes out to Cisco for what truly was an awesome event. Marketing Velocity is something we look forward to every year, and already cannot wait for next year. See you in Spain!

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- Ian Thompson