Friday, May 30, 2014

ThinkMSP Summit 2014

I accepted an invitation from Mark Potter, the publisher of Canvas magazine, to attend the first instance of a new conference, called ThinkMSP Summit 2014.  Mark is a really exceptional guy who serves with me on the board of the Electronic Document Scholarship Foundation.  I've known him for a few years now, and he always has great ideas.  This conference is definitely one of them.  It was an invitation only, very intimate event. I met a lot of new, interesting people, which for me is a rarity at printing industry related events (other than Dscoop, that is.)  There was a tremendous amount of interaction at the event. It was held at the Marriott Evergreen Conference Resort in Stone Mountain, Ga, which is a very nice property in a beautiful setting.

Gene Farrell
In a talk entitled, "The Art of Business Development", Gene Farrell, GM of Amazon Web Services, talked about all the ups and downs of launching the awesome FreeStyle soda machine at CocaCola, then moving over to launch a major new cloud-based software initiative, called Amazon Workspaces, which went from zero to 5000 customers in 40 days after launch. Even more interesting is that Workspaces is a product delivered with Microsoft Operating Systems running on AWS.

Kmberly Lyles Folkman
“There is a new paradigm shift in education and in business. Visual thinking and learning is at the forefront. It has brand impact for businesses, social and global impact for individuals and consumers. As a digital visual culture, we have to know how to think visually to communicate. We now have to fuse images and text to communicate ideas.” – Kimberley Lyles-Folkman, Ph.D., The Art Institute (Atlanta)

Kimberly's talk, "Visual Thinking and Learning in the 21st Century" was fascinating. But her student Dustin Kemptner, was even more interesting. It is just so thrilling to hear a student talk about graphic design work, and new ideas. He's won a few Addy awards.

Dustin talked about a rebranding experiment he did for a German restaurant in nearby Cumming, Ga. His idea was to make the restaurant an exciting and fun destination, pointing out in a tongue and cheek way that that no one ever says, "Let's go get German", like they do about Italian, or Mexican food, for example.  His campaign would definitely sell this idea.  A new logo, menus, a website and mobile app all tied in the new branding effort. Print and digital media. He also created a "Boot" for beer, which employed temperature sensitive ink on the glass, and as the patron consumed more beer, it revealed new messages egging the drinker on, such as "You're really going to drink the whole thing, aren't you?"  The final message on the boot revealed a QR code that provided a free ride home via Uber.  

Greg Cottichia
Greg is a serial entrepreneur and a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's Katz School of Business. He spoke about B2B marketing, and how much it has changed in the last couple of years, and used his own experience launching his latest company, Malcovery Security, as the example.

The conventional wisdom about marketing, including or perhaps especially, on the web, has changed. Salespeople knocking on doors and developing the relationships is only a small part of the equation now. Instead, according to the Corporate Executive Board, at the point of the customer's first contact with a vendor today, 57% of the process to arrive at a purchasing decision has already been completed. Customers no longer need a salesperson to enlighten them to their needs.  When they finally contact your company, they expect you to take the order and actually can be very annoyed by old school sales tactics at this point in the cycle. 

So the bottom line point Greg made is, your entire organization is in sales and marketing today.  The business is no longer dependent on one individual any longer.  It is marketing’s task to influence the 57 percent of the sale that occurs before the sales contact.  Then, sales must do their job efficiently and align their efforts (and offers) with that marketing. In Greg's case, he worked with  a technology savvy student, Megan Skiff, to implement a new set of marketing strategies for Malcovery, notably Inbound, that paid off. Malcovery was one of the first customers of her new agency, MixyMarketing.

To keep things from getting too stuffy and serious, Mark brought in an Atlanta Improv troop to encourage even more interaction, and get people thinking creatively. The session, called "Improvising to Success", conducted by Atlanta's Village Comedy was incredibly fun.  Imagine a roomful of business people pretending to throw medieval axes at one another.

Don't Miss
Mark has written a book that is available now, called Egrets, Hockey Sticks & Roller Skates. I haven't had time to read it yet, but picked up my copy at the event and am looking forward to it.

"Egrets, Hockey Sticks & Roller Skates is a creative example of why stories work.  Mark Potter has shared some of his experiences and a bit of himself to help move a group of people.  We all can benefit from the moral to his stories."
- Daniel Pink, author of "To Sell Is Human"

Following in a traditional started by Jennifer Matt, President of Web-To-Print Experts, Inc., all proceeds from the book go directly to the Electronic Document Scholarship Foundation. Click here for more information on the book, and to obtain a copy.