Sunday, June 7, 2015

Too much fragmentation in (San Diego) Marketing Associations


Something that's been bothering me since I left New York City, but it's taken on renewed emphasis since moving here to San Diego. There's just too much split inside the marketing community:


It's hard enough to sustain this many groups in a city of almost 9 million and a metro area of over 25 million. It's virtually impossible to do so in a city 1/8th the size. It wasn't much better in the Bay Area  with 6.5 million, but with that irritating "Peninsula/SF vs. Silicon Valley crap. I can't imagine Chicago, Atlanta, Houston or other Top 10 cities fare much better, let alone smaller metro areas.

I'm not necessarily advocating a single group. What I do think is needed is a more collaborative, federated approach at both the local and national levels.


  • Better Scale. By bringing together groups that overlap a little, sometimes a lot, we can get size and scale we couldn't get otherwise. Many of these groups suffer from the same too-small number of attendees. A similar federated approach has been taken by the San Diego MBA Group, which brings together 10 East Coast MBA schools (including my alma mater, NYU Stern School of Business, but also Columbia, Wharton, and others). They realized a while ago that they couldn't get the level of participation just from their schools, but if they had regular joint activities, suddenly they got critical mass.
  • Enhanced Innovation.  Innovation happens at the intersection. It's where two or more disparate subject matter domains interact with one another that interesting things happen. Music and video? The Virtual Choir. Mobile and Cloud? The API Economy. If we got different marketing, strategy, and digital domains together, really interesting things could start to happen, and drive a more dynamic, interesting community.
  • Millennial appeal. Millennials tend to be more collaborative, and less hierarchical (per a few recent studies like this one from IBM). All this hyper segmentation I suggest is a turn off rather than a selling point, making it harder to collaborate across disciplines, setting up duplication of effort, and too much emphasis on narrow domain expertise. Millennial are less patient for this kind of stuff than their older counterparts, I would wager.


Don't get me wrong. I love San Diego, especially for its sunny, laid-back vibe (why do you think I left San Francisco and New York City?). But it doesn't mean we still can't have a vibrant, interesting and ultimately fulfilling professional and entrepreneurial community here.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

AGILE development means AGILE marketing

IBM has been applying AGILE development theories and Design Thinking to its product development for some time. In the age of Cloud (the "API economy") and Big Data & Analytics (the ability to glean insights at scale), it's only natural. And it's paying dividends, with the release of cool new products like IBM Verse (for which I'm leading the marketing), IBM Watson Analytics, IBM Journey Designer (which a friend of mine is working on).

What I'm finding interesting is that this renewed emphasis on the complete digital experience a customer has with our (any) Brand has pretty much broken down all the old silos. Customers don't care -- if they ever did -- who is responsible for a particular element of their experience. They care about the experience, period. The traditional lines between product management, development, design, marketing, sales, support are blurring. One bad touchpoint impacts the entire brand, so how can Marketing NOT be involved in the entire customer lifecycle?

But if Design and Product Management and Development are being transformed through AGILE, then by extension Marketing has to also be impacted. I've been thinking about this a lot: how can traditional marketing keep up in a world of continuous delivery? Short answer: it can't.

That's why I'm trying to learn more about how to apply AGILE techniques to the Marketing function. There's been quite a bit written about the concept already, from the Agile Marketing Roundup, Agile Marketing Manifesto, or the thousands of search results.

There are significant challenges we as a marketing profession need to address if we're to be more responsive to customer needs and market shifts:


  • traditional annual (or even quarterly) marketing planning cycles are rigid but well-established. There's significant psychic pain in moving away from that well-rehearsed model, especially for executives who made their bones on that structure
  • foregoing Big Bang campaigns for rapid iterations and small experiments means a permanent state of discomfort, but also means giving up ego.  Your portfolio is now about the many small successes, and not the Coca Cola ad.
  • data-driven marketing takes precedence over (but doesn't replace) gut feel. That means most marketing professionals will have to develop their left brain quantitative faculties, no easy task for a predominantly creative profession (I think people who actually have STEM backgrounds but show artistic passion will wind up being the winners here). More importantly, most company's marketing systems (let alone data systems) can't handle or are so NOT ready for data-driven marketing. This is not just marketing automation, but collection, analysis and synthesis of massive quantities of customer and market data coming from every possible direction.
  • true 1-to-1 marketing (whether B2C or B2B, those distinctions start to disappear) with customized experiences based on omni-channel interactions
  • collaboration replaces traditional hierarchies as more Millenials enter the workplace, but older marketing professionals are used to chain of command and formal structures, which is a major change management challenge
I covered some of these topics in a recent talk I gave at the Business Marketing Association's Southern California Chapter in a panel session with an amazing marketing director from Qualcomm.

I'm only just starting this AGILE marketing journey. I know I have a LOT to learn. I'm looking forward to the journey :-)