Becoming a marketing rockstar, part 1

On 2nd and 3rd March the Online Marketing Rockstars took place in Hamburg with over 25000 attendees.
In the last couple of years OMR has become one of the top events in the digital marketing sector by attracting industry professionals with top international speakers and a lot of rock. 
The first day consisted of an Expo with 200 exhibitors, masterclasses, guided tours as well as a large stage with lectures on Influencer, Content, SEO marketing and much more. The second day was all about the conference - the heart and soul of OMR. The whole stage setting was inspired by a rock concert. Over 5000 seats and a huge lighted up stage including a bar on the left reserved for influencer of the industry.

I took part for the first time and have summarised my highlights below.

Selling memories

Andrew “Boz” Bosworth is the inventor of Facebook news feed. He used to be Mark Zuckerberg's lecturer at the university and is now responsible for advertising formats and the Business Platform at Facebook. A true Facebook veteran. 

In his talk he mainly focused on one thing: change. If you want to grow big, make a difference and want to create an impact you have to adapt and innovate in this ever-changing marketplace, and then commit to those changes. In order to do this you have to take risks. Without these you won’t succeed.

On a side note he impressively showed that we nowadays have to rethink brands. What’s the core of a brand? And what’s a brand's impact?

You won’t sell anything only by having a great product. When we look at all those big brands we will quickly notice that all of them don’t really have anything super exciting or different to sell than their competitors. Let’s take Polaroid. Basically it’s a camera that takes pictures. No real wow factor. Right? But what is it then? Why are people still getting excited when they think about Polaroid? Why do they still want to buy it after so many years? 

It’s the experience. The memories. The good stories that polaroid builds around it. They managed to sell us memories. Not a camera. The camera is only the shell providing the memories. Innovations arises above all through attentive observation of consumer behaviour.

Every do is better than no do.

Worth mentioning is the talk of the American entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk who was almost whipping his doer-mentality to the audience. Known for his strong wording and directness he called upon the audience to not only scratch the surface of the industry issues. It’s simply not enough to read an article or some headlines on new tools, platforms and stuff. No.

“Start getting practical.” Do. Do. Do. More action and less chatter. 
You simply have to start doing things. Without courage, creativity and a lot of sweat there won’t be a good product. Don’t be afraid of failure. Learn from it. Every Do is better than no Do. 

In order to have influence and take an impact into the development of a company or product you’ll need to start being practical. And from an online marketing point of view that means to start testing relevant platforms. It’s never been easier to build an audience thanks to target group-oriented advertising via Facebook and Instagram. 
Invest time in things and dig deeper. Move away from theory into practice. 
Important side note: Keep an eye on your data. Without data and analysis your Do’s remain a black box. Because without data nothing is possible.

Which brings me right to the next talk that probably polarised the most.

Making a president

In my opinion the talk by Alexander Nix, CEO of Cambridge Analytica was definitely one of the biggest controversy of the day. He focused on data analytics and targeting as a success story for Donald Trump’s digital presence.


Apparently the company has helped Donald trump become president of the United States. At least that’s what they’re claiming. Last year Cambridge Analytica generated special attention with an often quoted press article a few days after the election about their possible huge impact on Trump’s win.

At OMR Nix used the stage to present the data modelling that has been used during the US election campaign. Their motto is: „Better Audience Targeting“. And that’s what they’ve done. Using data analytics and targeting as a recipe for success. They identified undecided voters by collecting personal data via facebook games and other sources and used these informations in the follow-up to target them precisely with Trump campaigns by creating psychograms of more than 200 million voters. 

Subjects of discussions was the way Nix answered questions from the audience. When he was asked “Are you happy with Trump?” he replied quite unemotional saying “The elections were completely free and fair and the company is happy with the job they’ve done.“

The overall question is if the company did really have that much of an impact? Or did they just know how to merchandise themselves to capture new clients ? It might have been a simple PR coup. Anyway fact is Facebook data can be a very powerful tool - no matter how it gets used.

I’m now jumping over to my last highlight and the last talk of the event. 

Creating fans, not customers

No one would have been a better fit to round off OMR than Bruce Dickinson, Frontman of the rock band Iron Maiden. Everybody was waiting for him to enter the stage.  Like a real business man he was all suited up and entertained his audience with his impressive story of life.
Apart from being a singer Bruce is also a trained pilot, entrepreneur and is running a business for the maintenance of aircrafts. A real sales talent. Listing to him doing all this stuff made me wonder if his day had more than 24 hours.

He gave an impressive talk about Iron Maiden and how he established a whole merchandise empire. One key message got stuck into my head: Customers shouldn’t be seen as customers. They should be fans. Customers can run away, fans however stay. In order to create fans we have to make our products essential and build a relationship with our customers. However in the age of Internet and e-mail people have forgotten how to build and maintain relationships.
To retain fans it’s important for a brand to keep its values consistent. Therefore for example a champagne wouldn’t fit a rock b(r)and. So Iron maid created a strong beer to represent their brand values. 

Here's a rundown of what I’m going to do

  • Read less, do more. Time is money and as always speed counts. That being said I’ll start experimenting more to quickly see what works and what doesn’t. So basically A/B testing everything. 
  • Put the user at the heart. Even though we’re already focusing a lot on the User at RB I think this can’t be said and done enough. Always keep the user in mind.
  • Life is about moments. Only a brand that has personality and knows how to create great stories will win and keep fans for a lifetime. Therefore I'll continue to help shape the RB values and showing these to the outside world.
  • Hello, Big Data. To get a deeper understanding of the consumer needs I think it's essential to use as much data as we can.  Personally I'm expanding the traditional data sets with e.g. social media data to get a better understanding of the customer, their behaviour and preferences. This helps me to get a more complete picture of the user and serves benefits for the user and the company. 

It’s been inspiring two days filled with brilliant speakers, great talks and informative masterclasses. And definitely some good and useful insights to take home for everyone in the industry. My personal key takeaway is that even with the increasing opportunities that digital marketing offers we still have to focus on building relationship and keep our brand values consistent.
 

Meanwhile, if you think you'd like to join our team, good news, we're hiring. Check out our latest vacancies.