Forrester forums always go by in a blur – so many ideas and conversations crammed into 2 short days. I'm still synthesizing, but even so, there are some key insights that I've jotted down from my seat in the speaker's gallery:

  • David Cooperstein of Forrester kicked things off by showing us the rapid pace of change. What really jumped out: today, 83% of US consumers are active in some type of social media. That number was only 48% just two years ago (!). Cooperstein challeged us with the question: How will you adapt in the face of this change? He recommends 3 principles: 1. Think and move differently; 2. Listen more, react intelligently; and 3. Target people, not statistics.
  • Next up, Pam Kaufman, CMO of Nickelodeon, discussed their 2-year journey to unify the Nickelodeon brand across channels and countries. Much of this started with the key insight that Nick was no longer dealing with just kids, but had to deal with the F-word (Families). Nickelodeon now balances its brand attributes –which have stayed constant for 30 years — with customization for each specific channel and audience. During the Q&A, Pam said that Nickelodeon isn't prioritizing earned media; they chose to focus on their owned platforms. Hmmm . . . do brands really have the choice?
  • David Williams, the CEO of Merkle, reminded us that it had been 20 years since Peppers & Rogers wrote 1:1 marketing (!). His talk focused on how to elevate the customer in marketing. A few gems: "Brand equity doesn't create financial transactions; customer behavior does." and "Customer Strategy is Business Strategy." I asked him why stick with "CRM" since it's such a loaded term. He gave a surprisingly good answer: 60% of their customers have CRM in their title – the perception has shifted away from the failed software implementations and promises of yesterday. So why not stick with it!
  • Steven Sickel, the SVP of Relationship Marketing at Intercontinental Hotel Groups, talked about why IHG had to change its stripes: "Our customers were behaving in real-time, but our marketing was still in Batch." IHG tests and learns with all their online media now. They never launch with just one campaign; instead, they keep the one that survives. That's hard-core adaptability. Sickel compared IHG's old campaign practices to a "mosh pit" with campaigns bombarding customers and overlapping. Now all customer contact channels are organizd under one roof. Sickel served up a few more morsels: IHG's mobile revenues were up 3,000% this year (!), and IHG just used voice analytics during the volcanic ash crisis to identify patterns of questions coming into their call center and figure out the best ways to respond. Very cool.
  • Day 1 wrapped with a B2B panel of  heavy hitters: James Cornell, CMO of Prudential Retirement; Chris Bradshaw, CMO of Autodesk; Deborah Nelson, SVP of Marketing at HP; and Marjorie Tenzer, VP of Marketing and Communications at IBM Americas. This group really grooved on how to be adaptive — a tough call since most of them sell upwards of 80% of their business through indirect channels. On marketing and sales partnerships, Bradshaw summed up marketing's contribution: "Marketing needs to answer 'what's the most profitable channel for this business?' Because sales guys will close it, profitable or not." Tenzer highlighted how IBM has created market segment managers who can tell the business: 1. Where to hunt; 2. the IBM value prop for the segment; 3. Where to dial up the marketing dollars; and 4. how to report back.

Now, with my head swimming with ideas, it's time to go mingle at the cocktail reception. Be sure to watch the streaming video and Twitter feeds on the blog tomorrow. G'night!