GRMA Executive Leadership Forum Takeaway Blog Recaps

May 9, 2013

The Kobie Marketing team attended the GRMA Executive Leadership Forum last week and heard some great presentations and sessions. Check out our quick “Cliffs Notes” summary of each speaker. Enjoy~

The Edge to Success: Intrapreneurship – Linda Rottenberg, CEO and Co-Founder, Endeavor
There’s nothing like being an entrepreneur – unless of course, you’re an intrapreneur! The term might be over 30 years old but its contemporary relevance has never been greater. In order to achieve maximum impact, companies must foster a corporate culture that encourages free thinkers: those who break the mold, are dedicated risk takers and “make chaos [their] catalyst.” So stop planning and start doing today.

Big Data at Work in Retail – Tom Davenport, Professor in Management and Technology, Babson College
Is Big Data a big deal? You better believe it. But how retailers use Big Data effectively is the key going forward. Instead of collecting all available data, having a more focused, shorter-term strategy is the best approach. The goal is to measure something NEW and IMPORTANT with an outcome that answers the most important question: what’s the next best offer or what will your customer be interested in next? Only then can Big Data analysis mature into something that is actionable, exciting and produces real results.

Connecting for a Higher Purpose: What For-Profit Companies Can Learn from High Performing Non-Profit Organizations – Marc Kielburger, Co-Founder, Free the Children and Me to We
It’s time for-profit companies started following non-profits’ lead and have a “minga.” That’s the Ecuadorian term for a “coming together for collective good.” In his session, Marc Kielburger stresses that too often corporate structures fail to empower their employees. That’s especially true when it comes to their youngest and potentially most valuable long-term group: Millennials. Ultimately, a happy and engaged staff leads to happy and engaged customers. It’s a positive vibe that imbues their purchasing decisions as well as brand loyalty. So the next time your employer is looking for ways to improve ROI, tell them to look for innovation within their corporate walls first.

Understanding the New Map of the World and What to Expect of the Consumer of the Future – Nader Mousavizadeh, CEO, Oxford Analytica and Columnist, Reuters
More connected. More individually empowered. More local. More global. Sound contradictory? It is. But in describing the consumer of the future, Nader Mousavizadeh carefully explains how these contradictions should be embraced, not feared. As much as businesses think their vertical operates in isolation from the world, nothing could be further from the truth. Businesses of the future must think global but act local because that’s what their customers are doing. Recognizing technology’s ability to unite a diverse humanity is key to true business success.

The Future Is in the Cloud – Tom Koulopoulos, Founder, Delphi Group and Executive in Residence, Bentley University
The future may be in the cloud, as Tom Koulopoulos rightly points out, but so is the present. And if your brand hasn’t recognized this game-changing cultural fact there’s still time to embrace its possibilities. But what exactly is “The cloud?” It’s the aggregation of all digital information, accessible and updatable by billions of devices from anywhere in the world. And it’s growing larger all the time with profound implications. Or, as Koulopoulos puts it, “we are creating a new intelligence that will understand us better than we understand ourselves.” For retailers, learning how to utilize this data is essential in influencing customer behavior, driving engagement, long-term loyalty and creating new experiences.

Death to Dumb Promotions – Marco Bertini, Assistant Professor of Marketing, London Business School
Are coupons and discounts the “gateway drug” for brands and retailers? Marco Bertini makes a compelling case that they are. As with a chemical addiction, companies that employ heavy discounts often see a short term “high” or sales spike. But every high eventually wears off and customers are expecting greater incentives for their continued loyalty. This is the trap of smart versus dumb promotions. Discounts alone aren’t bad; it’s only when customers are conditioned to expect them that they become a problem. Pairing a deal with impactful psychology will help raise a brand’s promotional IQ fast.

CEO Session: A CEO Glimpse of the Future– Jill Braff, Executive Vice President of Digital Commerce, HSN and Robert Moran, President and CEO of PetSmart
What can the Home Shopping Network (HSN) and PetSmart teach executives about running a better business? Plenty. Both are aggressively finding new ways to break the “fourth wall.” In film and television that means the actors speak directly to the audience, acknowledging its existence. More broadly the “walls” that once separated customers from their brands are breaking down too, as are the walls between employers and employees. This is being accomplished in internal and external ways, including de-siloed sharing of data within companies and genuine engagement of customers in ways that build long-term trust and generosity. Learn how both brands are using psychological and data-driven knowledge to improve the quality of their services.

We’re Not Consumers, We Are People: Marketing with Social Media – Douglas Rushkoff, Media and Technology Theorist and CNN Commentator
“Retrocausality” and “everything old is new again.” These words summarize Douglas Rushkoff’s presentation as well as the themes in his book, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now. It turns out that Retrocausality, a quantum physics term, has very practical brand relevance. Under unique circumstances, “effect” can precede “cause.” Retailers, with all marketing and consumer engagement happening simultaneously and across multiple channels, already know this. Here, too, the cause and effect relationship no longer applies. Meanwhile technological innovation, particularly real-time social media and consumer metrics accumulation, is helping return to consumers a level of brand authenticity, transparency, trust and engagement not seen in hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. Learn how today’s technological advances are bringing the best of mass production and hyper localism together, helping define a new consumer-brand relationship. 

CMO Session: The Changing Role of Marketing in a Customer Powered Environment – Kim Feil, EVP & Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, OfficeMax, and Don Hamblen, Group Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, Roundy’s Supermarkets
“Brides make the dresses beautiful” might be a fun phrase used by Brian Beitler, of David’s Bridal, Inc., but its relevance goes far beyond wedding gowns. His point: people make the products, not the other way around. It’s a lesson all retailers must learn. Not just in dealing with customers but with employees as well. Good corporate management begins and ends with A+ human interaction at all levels and across all channels. Genuine connections and genuine caring yields a genuine employee and brand loyal customer. Throw in a dose of unbridled honestly (pun intended) in the event your brand fails to deliver on its promise (as was the case with J.C. Penney) and you’re well on your way to higher employee and consumer satisfaction.