Greetings from Forrester’s EMEA consumer and finance forums in Barcelona!  We’ve just finished the first two speakers of the event:  Forrester’s VP and Research Director, Jaap Favier and Wunderman’s Chief Marketing Technologist Officer, Mark Taylor. 

The presentations were an excellent introductions to the themes for both the consumer and the finance tracks:  Share Your Brand (for the consumer track) and Beating the Competition With Superior Customer Experience (for the financial track).

Jaap had a few particular soundbites which I thought really crystalized the current state of marketers today, and also the changes they need to make in order to accommodate the growing influence of user generated content and virtual communities.

In Jaap’s words, "Up to now, brands have walked alone"…and because of this, they are losing brand loyalty and facing huge competitive threats from brands who better allow their customers to "walk with them" to help create their brand.  To include consumers in your brand strategy and marketing approach Jaap recommends taking both an offensive and a defensive approach to changing consumer media behavior.  When leading your offense:  "Develop a stroy that consumers want to share and mobilize them to share it for you.  When managing your defense:  Tune into the attitude users want to share and be prepared to embrace or react to their existing comments, communities, responses.