Live from Marketing Nation Summit: The Engagement Economy, Buyer Empowerment, and Authenticity

Modern Marketing


As 6500+ marketers descended on Moscone in San Francisco, it could only mean one thing. Marketing Nation Summit has arrived. We kicked off the 2017 Marketing Nation Summit on Sunday with an amazing Fun Run, Marketo University training, and our annual customer and partner awards gala, The Revvies. As the official day one (Monday) at the Marketing Nation Summit wraps up, this post will cover highlights from the amazing keynotes and breakout sessions.

New Customer Expectations

Things kicked off with a literal bang—with live drums and dancers. The audience was amped when Marketo CEO, Steve Lucas, took the stage and jumped into his TED-style talk describing the new world of communication and customer expectations.

Steve described that today with digital marketing as the norm, marketers expect to be able to reach millions of people in an instant. And that’s pretty amazing but it a testament to the fact that change is now measured in seconds versus decades or years—we are living in a hyper-accelerated pace of change. Technology has the world around us. 

The Buyer Has A Louder Voice Than The Brand

Technology has helped advance the expectations and knowledge of our buyers. Our audiences are more focused than ever before on being treated as individuals. Steve asked the audience, as consumers, “Don’t we want to be valued?”, and “Don’t we know it when we aren’t valued?”  

Then Steve highlighted the challenge for marketers, where we’re fighting the law of supply and demand. Creating demand has become a de facto goal for many marketers, but the problem is in the supply curve—people have a finite amount of hours, and we have a fixed amount of attention.

The demand model many marketers operate with doesn’t account for the new way that buyers access information and how empowered they have become. Today, the buyer has a louder voice than the brand. It is the era of the buyer.

The Problem With Volume

As marketers, our success is hitting a limit—as we bump up against the law of diminishing returns. If an activity is successful, like digital marketing, we invest more and more in it but we’ve reached the point that the volume is overwhelming for our audience. Our engagement over time needs to be more scarce, and frankly more valuable.

It’s not just volume that is making marketing less effective, but the need for a personal relationship with the brand. Volume, unchecked does damage to our brands. You see buyers that opt out not because they dislike the brand, but they dislike the volume. Buyers still want to be marketed to, in fact, they want a real and lasting relationship with brands that get us. We need to embrace that we are no longer able to prescribe the terms of the relationship. We work for the buyer. Go curate the experience for the buyer.

Leading In The Engagement Economy

So how can you effectively engage your buyer? Steve shared that engagement is curating a personalized and meaningful experience and that we need to put all our energy into making our share of the finite buyer attention as meaningful as possible.

We’re spending too much time talking at buyers and not enough time engaging buyers. Engagement is what moves them to choose us. Steve shared that engagement is about value and values. So how can you lead in the Engagement Economy? By following these three rules:

  1. Listen to your audience: Listening across every digital channel is paramount. Investing the time and resources to know your buyers.
  2. Learn: We must as marketers embrace the inner data scientist within us and understand what truly drives lifetime value for customers. It’s time to bring in our own data and learn from that data and change what we do and how we measure.
  3. Inspire: Inspire through engagement. Think about how you’re engaging today. Is every engagement point inspiring?

CMO’s Prepare for the Future

Next, Steve invited a group of executives to join him on stage to share their insights on marketing in the Engagement Economy. The first was a panel led by Jamie Gutfreund, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Wunderman. She introduced Penny Wilson, CMO at Hootsuite, Tracee Nalewak, VP of Customer Experience Marketing at Hakkasaan Engagement Group, and Jeff Wright, VP of Data Analytics and Automation at Autodesk and invited them to discuss how they are adapting to customer expectations, creating memorable moments and shaping their organizations to succeed in the Engagement Economy. Key highlights from our brilliant CMO panel include:

  • “Now it’s time to empower your whole organization. You need to give your whole organization the tools, training, and content to engage with your customers. You can have them really work in social harmony with your customers.”—Penny Wilson
  • “ To be effective means understanding our customers like never before. And data is critical to that. It helps us treat them in a way that is authentic and relevant.”—Jeff Wright
  • “Put the customer at your core—take it to the next level and feed into their experience emotionally…creating relationships drives loyalty.”—Tracee Nalewak

Then, Marketo’s COO Greg Wolfe took the stage with Ariel Kelman, VP of Worldwide Marketing, Amazon Web Services (AWS) to discuss how to create a valuable journey for customers. Ariel shared that the journey AWS creates for prospects and customers is heavy on valuable, educational content and light on gated forms. His goal? “How can we help them [customers] adopt this technology?”, and “How can I make my customers successful and give them opportunities to highlight their success?”

The next guest to take the stage was Charles Phillips, CEO of Infor, who shared the vision for Infor and Marketo as a strategic partnership.

Our next guest was Reggie Aggarwal, the CEO of Cvent, who shared a little bit about leveraging technology to amplify the power of human connection. In the Engagement Economy, events are one of the most effective ways to drive revenue because they help you engage your customers and prospects 1 to 1, and in person. And, nothing beats face to face. The true power of technology in that interaction? It helps events become measurable and shifts them from expenses to an asset.

Our final guest was the CMO of Box, Carrie Palin. Carrie shared insights with the audience about how Box is thinking about the technology stack that will prepare them to engage in the Engagement Economy. She shared that in addition to having Marketo act as the central nervous system of the Box stack, they are trying to deploy the right technology to address their wide range of personas in a targeted and specific way, and bridge the chasm between sales and marketing.

The King of Comedy

Finally, after much anticipation James Corden joined Marketo CEO, Steve Lucas on the stage and, to the delight of the audience, engaged in witty banter with Steve over the faux living room set-up, his presentation advancer, and the Amazon Alexa on stage. Steve asked James about how he thinks about creativity and storytelling, to which James replied that his methodology is less about the individual outputs (the video, the sketch, etc.) but more about, “what does it take to be ahead, or even, around the curve?”

Corden challenged marketers to think about how quickly the world is evolving. From his point of view, it’s a pace that is impossible to keep up. Convention or the status quo is the easy path, but he shared with Steve and the audience that, “The great thing about the internet is that the good rises to the top. If it’s good. People will find it. Chewbacca mom, for example. There is no great marketing person behind that. That’s a wonderful, creative, and freeing place to be if you are in the business of making content.” According to Corden, success in new areas can, “feel very new,” but it’s “actually the same. For example, you look at the rise of eSports (televised professional video game tournaments) but it’s actually the same. It’s not different than why someone would watch golf. To watch someone be extraordinary at something.”

Connection and Relationships

In his presentation- Learn to Speak, Share and Market Human, Bryan Kramer, industry influencer and President and CEO of Pure Matter, shared why it’s important for brands to let their ‘human’ shine through and how they (and you) can do it.

Based on his research, he’s boiled what it means to be human, as a person, and a brand into three traits: 1) Simplicity, 2) Empathy, and 3) Imperfection. And he pointed out that while it’s easy to think of brands that embody one of these elements, it’s fairly hard to find a brand that does all three. But, what it really comes down to is connection. How you connect with a business matters, and has a very tangible impact on how long of a relationship you will have with the service or business. Connection is what drives sharing, and it’s at the core of relationships.

What drives connection and sharing? It turns out that there are a few personas of online sharers (in fact, you can find out what kind you are here) and that ultimately, as a brand, or as a person, you are what you share. So if you want to change the way that people perceive you—you can share something different. But, he cautioned, do it authentically and honestly.

How To Think Like A CMO

Drew Neisser, CEO of Renegade, delivered an authentic and humorous presentation on how to think like a CMO.

Neisser authored The CMO’s Periodic Table, which originated from a content marketing and social media strategy he created to boost his company during a tough time in 2008.

To help the audience truly think like a CMO, Neisser helpfully provided the acronym CATS—complete with cute cat pictures—which is outlined below:

  • Courageous: As a CMO, you are held accountable for things that you’re not necessarily responsible for. To deliver, you have to be prepared to take risks. Sir Terry Leahy (who happens to be a British knight) is a perfect example of this. Prior to achieving knighthood, he was CMO of Tesco—the UK’s equivalent of Safeway or Vons. He spent some time trying to one-up the competition instead of doing anything unique or courageous. Then, he decided to take a risk and create a loyalty program that would risk 20% of the company’s revenue if it failed, but have an exponential payoff if it was successful. The risk ended up being well worth it, earning him a CEO title and knighthood.
  • Artful: Since when does B2B have to be boring? Both GE and NASA have used social media to drive engagement with their customer base. GE was the first big B2B companies to engage on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, while NASA transformed their brand through social media, engaging with their fan base through stunningly gorgeous photographs on Instagram.
  • Thoughtful: In a give-to-get economy, we must be mindful of content that delivers value beyond demand generation. Richard Marnell, CMO of Viking River Cruises, executes on this concept by creating fun, shareable content for people who have signed up for a cruise but are not due to depart for anywhere from 6-24 months. Richard created cooking videos featuring food from fabulous Viking River Cruise destinations such as Portugal and France. People who had already booked cruises shared these videos out of excitement for their trips, resulting in their friends signing up for cruises as well.
  • Scientific: The best CMOs know that their revenue metrics must be simple, yet constantly evolving with the changing dynamics in their industry. Antonio Lucio, CMO of Visa, measures reach/recall, usage lift, and brand health. All CMOs also know the importance of repeatedly hypothesizing and testing on relevant KPIs and revenue metrics.

To really let Drew’s message sink in, check out this hilarious video of someone trying to organize their 10 kittens for a photo (spoiler alert: kittens do not cooperate for photos).

Marketing As An Agency

Joe Pulizzi is often called the godfather of content marketing, and it’s for a good reason. He’s championed content marketing both personally through his awesome books, but also through his company, Content Marketing Institute. This year he brought a fresh perspective, imploring marketers to think beyond being a cost center and really become a revenue driver.

Marketers are creating more content than ever before—9 out of 10 companies are doing content marketing—and serving it on more channels than ever before, and unfortunately, they aren’t monetizing it.

Joe’s main point of view? Build an audience, and then monetize your audience. But he didn’t just leave it there, he showed us how to create great content and build an audience and then, using examples from top companies that had successfully made this transition, he showed us how to monetize it. Here are the steps you should follow to ensure you’re creating thoughtful, valuable content that will build a following, and allow you to monetize:

  • Identify a sweet-spot—this is the intersection of knowledge/skill and passion/customer pain point
  • Find a content tilt—identify if you are actually telling a different story. Can your content be differentiated? Do an actual audit and ask yourself and others, “if this was my main competitor would anyone tell the difference if it was us or them?”
  • Create a content marketing mission statement—This should inform everything you do and have three parts: 1) Who’s your core target audience? 2) What will be delivered? 3) What’s the outcome for the audience?
    • Example: Welcome to Digital Photography School—a website with simple tips to help digital camera owners get the most out of their cameras.” Add “audience outcome” for your editorial calendar. You will save time if you focus on the outcome for the audience.
  • Create your base—the base is your content type + main platform + consistent delivery + a long period of time. Sorry to break the news, but Joe shared that success is often an 18-24 month process. Why? It takes time to build a loyal audience. (Yay to Boo scale image)
  • Monetize—there are five direct and five indirect ways to drive revenue. Your marketing should be a direct profit center; it should pay for itself. Start with one way and then diversify whichever other ways you can.

Social Selling

Chief Evangelist & startup advisor, Jill Rowley delivered a crisp and relevant message on the importance of social selling in the Engagement Economy.

Attendees learned a framework for being #CustomerObsessed and #KnowingThyBuyer—and Jill also shared the five pillars of social selling:

  1. From resume to reputation—Do you market yourself on LinkedIn as a ‘quota crusher’ and ‘expert negotiator’? Think again—your buyers don’t want to be sold, but everyone is open to being helped. Before you ask for a withdrawal (i.e. 10 minutes on their calendar), you must make deposits by way of adding value.
  2. ABC—No, not the famous Glengarry Ross scene, but rather always be connecting. Your network is your net worth. Make sure every LinkedIn invite is personalized and relevant. Leverage LinkedIn Sales Navigator to be multi-threaded and find common ground with your pipeline.
  3. Content is currency—Use content as fuel for your social selling. Know what your buyer reads and watches. Don’t just share your company’s content, but be down with OPC (you know me!)—other people’s content.
  4. Social listening for leads—Filter the noise and distraction of social media so that reps are only listening to relevant updates for people in their world & pipeline.
  5. Measure what matters—If you keep measuring the number of sales dials and emails sent in your organization, your reps will keep repeating those same exact behaviors. Instead, sit down with sales management and agree upon a plan to train and invest in your sales team. Sales managers are a force multiplier, and their buy-in is essential to execute a successful social selling program.

With proven performance benefits & ROI of social selling, it is essential that modern sales organizations learn how to create authentic relationships with ideal buyers, optimizing connection while driving revenue for their company. Companies that invest in social selling improve forecast accuracy, total team attainment of quota, & renewal rates, all of which are very important in the subscription economy.

Product Innovation

Cheryl Chavez, GVP Product Management, Marketo, and Matt Zilli, VP Product Marketing, Marketo, closed out Monday’s exciting sessions, drawing cheers from a packed room of marketers as they unveiled Marketo’s exciting new innovations:

1. Platform updates: Big data architecture that’s all about listening.

People are bringing more data into Marketo than ever before. Our new architecture allows for faster execution to succeed in the engagement economy, enabling customers like Politico to deliver a relevant, responsive, and engaging experience at incredible speed — to over 80M customers on Election Night 2016.

2. System monitoring: A fitness tracker for your instance of Marketo—never again wonder what’s under the hood.

System monitoring will allow you to help run campaigns faster and find issues before they happen, including the ability to see Salesforce throughput over time, Smart List performance, and API usage.

3. Analytics: Empower your entire marketing organization with relevant and customizable dashboards. Marketo’s new dashboards will provide:

  • CMO Insights
  • Revenue attribution tied to marketing performance
  • Web insights

This full stack of analytics covers every role, from the everyday marketer to the CMO. Each will have actionable data to use in shaping their marketing strategies.

4. APIs

Get large data sets in and out of Marketo more efficiently with bulk APIs. Whether setting up Marketo for the first time, regularly importing customer data, or exporting Marketo data to your BI tool, you can now get data where it needs to go with ease.

5. Performance statistics: “What’s a good email open rate? Click through rate? Deliverability rate?”

We believe the platform should provide you with a competitive advantage—data that you can’t get anywhere else.

We’ve distilled data from the past five years into key benchmarks, to show you how you’re performing against your peer group and help you optimize for best practices.

6. Ad Bridge

With digital ad spend accounting for roughly 25% of marketers’ budgets, it’s possible to yield significant results with small improvements in ROI & engagement. LinkedIn lead gen forms now sync directly to Marketo. You can also target your audience on LinkedIn with incredibly personalized ads, and keep your ad data fresh with Ad Bridge list sync—automatically syncing Marketo Smart Lists.

7. Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Give your sales team the best tools and set them up for success. Account Insights is a browser plugin that surfaces actionable insights to your sales team, so they can work with marketing to engage with accounts effectively. To provide actionable data, we’re also rolling out Auto-Synced Account lists that are in sync whenever changed within your CRM.

8. New UX

A new and personalized My Marketo experience, with a virtual command center for all things Marketo. Add customized widgets to tailor your user experience, then create multiple dashboards and easily switch between them. With updates to UI and functionality from the ground up in key areas such as smart lists, workflows, and nurture programs, this is the coolest and most modern Marketo yet.

Matt and Cheryl emphasized their excitement to deliver these amazing new changes to our customers and prospects and thanks for a being a part of the vibrant Marketing Nation.

And that wraps an amazing day 1 of the Marketing Nation Summit. We’re excited to see what day two brings. Make sure to check back here for a recap of the day two sessions and keynote. Did you hear anything that stuck out to you at Marketing Nation Summit? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.