The Future is Bright in Detroit...yes, Detroit, and across the country: Part 2

Earlier this week I introduced you to the Future Midwest Conference and recapped the opening session by Joseph Jaffe.

There was so much great information presented over the two days that I can’t possibly summarize it all. But I’ll provide you some highlights and juicy nuggets from a handful of the presenters. One common thread throughout most of the event was that location based applications will only continue to grow in use and importance in marketing, so expect to see the use of foursquare, Gowalla, and others to increase in the coming year.

Tim Shaden of Fluency Media spoke on “Integration – Making it Work in Any Business”. Tim said, “It’s time to become a fantastic conversationalist.” He said you must be a good listener in order to be a good conversationalist. It made me think of our own eBook about social media called Conversation Starters.

Tim provided a case study on integration from the Pure Michigan marketing campaigns. He demonstrated how their various marketing initiatives provided great insight for each next phase: Pay Per Click provided insights for their Email Marketing, which gave them direction in diving into Social Media and other conversation opportunities. The Pure Michigan integrated marketing activities led to it being the #1 visited tourism website in the U.S. – beating out sunny Florida! And it also has the #1 social media program for any state.

Scott Monty of Ford discussed how Ford went Digital – not only with its products like the SYNC system (check out this article in Fast Company about Ford being the next “consumer electronics company”), but also in their marketing initiatives. Ford now rivals Honda in customer satisfaction, which you don’t hear much about in the mainstream media, so they are going directly to the people to get their message out. They’ve gone social with their marketing and use real people to tell their story of new products, new cars, new features, which has helped transform their image over the past few years.

Beth Harte of Serengeti Communications spoke about “Public Relations: It’s no longer about just the media, it’s about the people.” Beth encouraged marketing and PR folks to integrate PR with Social Media because the “publics” have something to say and they want to be heard.

Chris Barger of GM spoke on “Diluting Haterade – The Social Web & Reputation Rejuvination”. Obviously GM has had some public impression issues recently. He talked about the best opportunity for reputational repair is to be on the social web BEFORE you have a crisis. Chris’ core philosophy is that the social web is a tool for listening and engagement, not as much about blasting out your message.

What I loved most is the example Chris gave of how they faced a specific instance of criticism head on. When David Meerman Scott blogged about the problems with GM’s marketing in 2009, the team at GM reached out to David and invited him to their headquarters in Detroit to talk about his criticisms, ideas, ways they can improve, and David responded and spent days with their team.

Chris also encouraged marketers and businesses to “take the high road” when it comes to competitors – give them a shout-out when it’s appropriate, and don’t get into “spitting matches” when a competitor is struggling.

Shiv Singh, VP of Razorfish, and author of Social Media for Dummies, talked about “The Digital Renaissance” and provided some ideas on the “Post Digital Era” that blew everyone’s minds. The idea that in the future social networks will merge into one huge master network and that we will own our and control our social profile is very intriguing. Shiv also suggested that communities will get “real” again, that time spent online will begin to plateau and people will want to engage in more in person interactions. Some interesting stuff to look for in the future.

On Saturday Ken Burbary of Ernst & Young spoke on “Customer Insights & Analysis that Drive Digital and Social Strategies”. Ken said that data is the future of marketing and that data requires analysis to understand it and have it lead to measurable outcomes. An interesting bit of information he shared was that in 2009 more data was generated by individuals that in the entire history of mankind through 2008!

The closing presenters from Egg Strategy, a branding firm based in Denver, talked about “Innovating for your Brands & Consumers”. As business, marketing and sales folks we must remember that the most important thing is meeting our customers’ needs, it’s not about “the brand”. When you determine and need and develop a product/service that you have created something that is relevant. And relevance leads to revenue. So, we must keep at the forefront of our minds that we are meeting needs.

So, how are you communicating with you “publics”? Are you leveraging the social web to listen to and communicate with your customers? How is your product / service meeting the needs of your “publics”?

Keep watching for more good news out of Detroit, and look to apply some of these ideas and strategies in your own marketing and social media plans this year!

Post by Jocelyn Cook

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