B2B Beat: Traveling the Globe Tracking Down Insights for Marketers

June 28, 2015

jeff weiner oasis cannes

This week, B2B Beat traveled the world -- from Cannes, France, to St. Paul, Minnesota -- to track down the most important stories in a marketing world that’s changing at jet speed.

B2B Beat spent much of the week at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Novelist and film director Marjane Satrapi said of the city, “How can you have enough of Cannes? It’s the best place to be, like a fairytale.” And this week it was a great place to glean insights about marketing from speakers at the event who ranged from WPP Chairman Sir Martin Sorrell to Bacardi CEO Mike Dolan to LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner.

Cannes may have the classic architecture, the gorgeous climate, and the beautiful ocean, but the poets have celebrated St. Paul, too. As The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn said of Minneapolis’ Twin City, “And St. Paul had it all when we called.” The city can also hold its own in providing marketing insights, as the MnSearch Summit, which was held this week in St. Paul, proves.

Here are five takeaways for B2B marketers from St. Paul and Cannes:

Failure, it turns out, is an option.

They say that failure is an orphan, but some speakers at Cannes embraced it. During one panel discussion, Lou Paskalis, senior vice president at Bank of America, said he “empowers failure to empower success.” He means that, as the marketing world changes at a blistering pace, marketing executives must encourage their direct reports to take advantage of constantly emerging new opportunities -- even if means that failure can be a byproduct of moving so quickly. Bacardi’s Dolan takes a similar approach. “One of things that is important is to allow people fail,” he said. “I think what that means is to be bold.”

The Millennials are changing marketing, maybe even faster than you think.

In his presentation at the MNSearch Summit, Duane Forrester, senior product manager at Bing, noted that the Millennials will soon have $7 trillion in spending power. He said their spending power, combined with the different way Millennials view the world, will force marketers to make big changes in the coming decade. Chastened by the downturn of 2008, Millennials “value experience over products,” Forrester said. Millennials will continue to take the world mobile, preferring their phones to their cars, with 70 percent, in a Ford Motor Company survey, saying they didn’t plan to buy a car. Forrester suggested marketers could put these insights into action by designing their websites for mobile and by ensuring that the website provided a positive and intuitive experience, both of which will be critical for SEO rankings moving forward. “If you get the customer loving you, we (the search engines) will follow,” he said.

Companies must market themselves to prospective employees.

At a panel during Cannes Lions, Bacardi’s Dolan said it helps in recruitment, which has become more difficult as unemployment rates have declined, to have a powerful brand like Bacardi. “You can work on pharmaceutical products that cure rashes, or you can work on Grey Goose,” said Dolan, whose loyalties lie with Bacardi’s Grey Goose brand. LinkedIn’s Weiner said attractive companies have enticing cultures and employees sell the positive power of that culture naturally. “We are the stories that we tell,” he said. “… You also need to be able to tell that story authentically.”

The privacy issue is also a security issue.

In an engaging interview in Cannes by the BBC’s Stephen Sackur, WPP’s Sorrell addressed the interrelated issues of data, privacy, and security. He acknowledged that “math men” – as opposed to the traditionally creative Mad Men – are “increasingly important” in data analysis related to advertising. Sorrell also said that consumers are right to be concerned about their privacy, but corporations are striving to be transparent about what data they are collecting and how they are using it. A major issue, he said, is actually security – securing the databases of sensitive consumer information from hackers. “If you solve the security issue, you go a long way to solving the privacy issue,” he said.

A data-driven world is not incompatible with gut instinct.

“Data is the lifeblood of the LinkedIn platform,” Weiner said in a Cannes Lions panel discussion. Data shared by LinkedIn members helps them find new jobs, helps companies hire and train valuable employees, help salespeople make connections, and helps marketers tell their story to the right audience. But Weiner said the rise of data doesn’t diminish the power of a gut feeling. He pointed out that a hunch is based on data -- a matrix of observations we are making and are quickly processing in an “internal database” based in part on our previous experiences. “Go with your gut,” he advised.

B2B Move of the Week

LinkedIn named Shannon Stubo, who had been interim CMO of the company, to the role of full-time CMO. She will also continue to hold the title of Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications.  Prior to joining LinkedIn in 2010, she held senior marketing roles at OpenTable, eBay, and Yahoo.

B2B Resource of the Week

In addition to spending time with your prospects face-to-face, events are an opportunity for companies to establish their thought leadership credentials. Download The Sophisticated Marketers’ Guide to Thought Leadership, which provides powerful advice for establishing your own company as a thought leader.