Monday, January 31, 2011

McCombs Marketing Fellows @Kellogg's Marketing Conference

On January 22nd, some of my fellow Marketing Fellows and I were fortunate enough to attend the Kellogg Marketing Conference (KMC) at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Thanks to the generous sponsorship by CCIMS, Alice, Kim, Meagan, Sarah, and I were among the more than 700 attendees to explore the bleeding edge marketing techniques that industry giants such as General Mills, Harley Davidson, Target, and Deloitte use to further our understanding of consumers and the future of marketing.

The day started with an inspirational story by Bill Rasmussen, the founder of ESPN. Though he humbly retold the story of ESPN’s birth, we gleaned that luck wasn’t the only ingredient in his success. Instead, Bill connected with major players from Budweiser to the NCAA to cable TV operators across the country in order to form a cohesive partnership that has resulted in one of the biggest brands around the world today. Casually, Bill remarked that ESPN’s brand leadership surpasses Coca-Cola and McDonald’s in some parts of the world. His ambition, salesmanship, and incredible dedication were what got ESPN off the ground, and in his words, “If you’re dreaming and it doesn’t cost anything, you may as well go all out.”

Break out panels throughout the KMC discussed Emerging Technologies, Ecosystem Marketing, Marketing Metrics, Multi-Channel Marketing, and Generational Marketing. The insightful day ended with an Executive Roundtable with names such as Anna Catalano, former Group VP Marketing for BP; Scott Freidheim, Executive Vice President operating and support businesses for Sears Holdings Corporation; and Betsy Holden, former Chief Executive Officer of Kraft and current Senior Advisor to McKinsey & Company.

Here are some of the key points we discussed as a group during the plane ride home:

· Increasingly, consumers are shaping a brand’s reputation through online channels, where they are able to communicate with others at extraordinary speed. To keep up, companies need to be active because people are talking, whether or not the company is listening.

· Meaningful, strategic partnerships are long-term, provide services that further companies on both sides of partnership; it’s crucial to have advocates internally and externally.

· Understand that in the world of data, there are business problems, product problems, and consumer problems. The goal is to know the goal before digging through mountains of data.

· The roles of Chief Customer Officer or Chief Experience Officer are becoming more powerful each day because personalization is a great way to keep a brand relevant.

· Multi-Channel Marketing helps manage the risk across all channels much like diversifying a portfolio.

The Kellogg Marketing Conference injected fresh new concepts into our minds and many ideas for McCombs Marketing Fellows events in the future. Thanks again to CCIMS, and be on the look-out for more from us!

Jany Xu

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