International marketing trend spotting in Sweden

Last week I spent four days at Dialogkonferansen, an international marketing conference in beautiful Strömstad, Sweden. Probably one of the biggest marketing conferences in Scandinavia. We had typical Swedish summer weather with both sunshine and heavy rain. 

On Monday I delivered my talk ‘Digital Leadership’ and shared some facts, stats and ideas about leadership in the digital age. The world is full of opportunities and threats, and as a leader you need to listen to both critical and positive sources.

I think that making decisions based on over-hyped, exaggerated facts is not good for anyone. In marketing and business analysis this is quite common – and mangers are making up their mind about what to do next by reading a random article in a magazine about a new shiny digital tool. What are your thoughts about that? Maybe it has happened where you work?

At every big marketing event there is a lot to discover. Businesses shares their success stories, and the brave brands are also sharing what didn’t work out according to plan.

If I would summaries the conference in one sentence it would be:

Right now in marketing m ulti- and omni-channels are big and complex machines that take a lot of collaborative brain power to understand.

How many different touch points does your organisation have with your customers? 10, 25 or 50? To figure out how many you have is one of the many interesting tasks in digital marketing right now.

Brands need to have a good organisational structure set up to manage all this new data and knowledge to turn it into wisdom and action.

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Every organisation who enters the omni-channel labyrinth needs to be quick learners to manage the new information well. There is a big risk that all these complex systems are causing digital stress.

Brands that makes it easier to find information and data that relates to them; both internally and externally, show that they respect their employees and customers.

An other insight:

Teams that are exploring digital collaboration and creativity are better learners and they are also quicker at picking up trends.

A speaker I’ve only ever heard of before who also spoke at the conference was the legendary Ken Schmidt. He was the branding and strategy director who helped turn Harley Davidson around and take it from a failing business to where it is today.

What a brand story to listen to. The company makes every Harley Davidson owner feel special with every bike built uniquely for them. Ken said: ‘The biggest enemy of HD is people who play golf. They spend all their free time and money on a sport that makes them feel frustrated.

All Harley Davidson fans please feel free to feel jealous that I got the chance to meet Ken Schmidt 🙂

Another speaker I enjoyed listening to was Amit Shah, Vice President of Mobile and Social Media for 1800 Flowers in the US. He said: ‘Using mobile and social media is all about better experiences.’ In other words, being online is about trying to understand the moment and subsequent moments where you will find your customers. ‘To succeed you need to increase the creativity you have in the business culture.’ Of course, I loved that he emphasised that we need to explore creativity on all levels.

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I was up early on Wednesday morning to listen to Julia Hoffmann, Executive Director of Digital and Consumer Experience at MGM Resorts, USA. It’s a huge hotel and conference chain in the US.

She shared her philosophy about user experience and said: ‘We want to give time back to our customers. Our life is full of memories and the more positive memories a brand can give to their customers the better.’ This is something to think about for the kind of brand that doesn’t seem to care at all about their customers.

Under Hoffmann’s leadership, MGM Resorts is working on being a test data-led organisation instead of an opinion-based organisation. Many organisations are struggling with this today.

I’ve been in jobs where we had big arguments about facts vs opinions. I don’t think these arguments will ever disappear, but it can be good to remember that we need to be humble and learn about the new digital world by being good listeners and alert students.

In total there were over 50 speakers at the event, some of them were:

  • Geir Lippestad, the defender for the perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks, Anders Behring Breivik
  • David Wild CEO, Domino’s Pizza Group Ltd
  • James Keady Head of Digital, Samsung,
  • Melanie Spring, branding speaker & Chief Inspiration Officer, Sisarina
  • Dan Germain, Head of Creative, Innocent Drinks.

Next year they are running the event for the 20th time. I can recommend you tocheck it out. It’s a lovely event that includes boat trips, golf tournaments, seminars, comedy and parties. 

Have a lovely day whatever you are up to.

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Thank you! Sofie

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