Welcome to the Participation Age! Inspiring Community at #SESCHI


Welcome back to our continuing coverage of SES Chicago! Day 1’s keynote roared the crowd to life as Daina Middleton, global chief executive officer, Performics, kicked off the morning, crowd pumped for the action packed days ahead. Marketers were poised and appeared eager to soak in the first day’s session.

Daina shared with the crowd that the days of persuasion marketing are dead. No longer can the suits on Madison Avenue send one-way messages expecting them to be the catalysts that drive sales. Today, individuals are absorbing messages, engaging with like-minded cohorts, and accessing information from countless mediums. We are in the Participation Age, which requires a marketing transformation for brands if they expect to succeed in today’s complex and fragmented media landscape.

To start, Daina explained that consumers are now participants. They no longer freely eat-up disseminated brand messages; they are a part of a dialogue. Brands must adapt and start sharing the story behind the story, and most importantly, find out what participants have to say.

Experiences are blurring for today’s shoppers, and according to a recent IBM research study shared by Daina, online is increasingly mixing with brick and mortar visits.

Check it out:

  • 44 percent of people research online and buy products online
  • 51 percent of people research online and visit store to purchase
  • 17 percent of people visit a store, and then purchase online
  • 32 percent of people research online, visit store to view product and then return online to purchase

Daina shared that the expectations of today’s consumer (participant) are changing. They expect everything to be searchable online, they want to know what others think, and content should be easily accessible to them. Most importantly, they want to be heard and have a dialogue with their favorite brands.

Ultimately, that means that marketing through persuasion is OVER and that marketing through participation is IN. According to a recent study shared by Diana, 1,734 CMOs agree. In addition, she shared a recent IBM CMO report that found that CMOs in the most successfull enterprises are starting to focus on relationships, not just transactions. CMOs are using data to stimulate interest in their organizations’ offerings and form bonds with customers.

The Participation Way: Creating an Effective Campaign

Daina explained that there is a consistent and repeatable framework for achieving marketing performance, which is to understand and integrate the needs of your customers to motivate and create action. She shared a great formula to help you get in the groove.

D+E+C= P2

“D” stands for discover. She stated that “discover” is about relevancy and the human desire for knowledge. In order to be successful, marketers need to provide an environment that promotes competence.

Once customers are allowed to discover, we come to the “E,” which stands for empower. Marketers need to empower participants through choice. As a result, they feel motivated to provide meaningful contributions – helping customers feel connected. This often makes many marketers nervous because they are afraid of hearing from their customers. For example, that nervousness has hampered many websites from openly allowing transparent ratings and reviews – which customers happen to love.

“C” is for connect. Daina explains that humans love to connect with others, and not just the brand alone, but through meaningful ways within communities of like-minded individuals. To help drive that and build brand evangelists, grow communities where connections can occur in person and across all screens among your brand fans.

The sum: PARTICIPATION and ultimately, PERFORMANCE.


Rethink the Approach

Daina introduced us to the new marketer, the “nurturist” marketer, similar to a gardener. For example, if simply watering the plant doesn’t help it grow well, you try something else, too. She explains that in order to thrive, we must embrace “test and learn” values. If something works, you scale it. If a tactic starts to fail, you pull back. If you don’t test and learn, you may not find your potential.

Next, we must innovate, don’t perfect – she explains that we don’t have the time and energy to spend all of our effort up front and that it is a good thing to evolve and champion innovation. We also must move quickly and motivate others across the brand, since marketing touches so many points today including social, customer service, in store, etc. As such, everyone must be on the same page and ready to tackle new strategies – move beyond the silos.

We need to work together with others and develop partnerships. Daina shares that its important for companies to mix and blend; don’t recreate. She explains that today’s most progressive brands look for opportunities beyond their silos and walls. It is important to examine and discover business startups and pilots to work with you in order to best blend media and propel participation.

Lastly, companies need to embrace failures as gifts in the pursuit of results.  In order to truly drive participation and performance, we need to operate beyond a culture of fear, because nurturists require new organizational values to thrive, and the Participation Age is here to stay.

That completes day one’s keynote. Keep your eyes peeled here for live coverage direct from #SESCHI to learn more about the latest online trends, tidbits and tactics in today’s marketers toolbox.

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