The Future of Marketing Starts Today: Day One of FutureM in Boston

This is the week that the people and firms who are creating the future of marketing, draw the spotlight to the boldest new ideas in marketing, media and technology.

This event was started last year by MITX (Massachusetts Innovation Technology eXchange).  Now its its second year, FutureM is a time friends in the industry look forward to connecting during, and catching up on the latest.  HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Summit is taking place concurrently in Boston, so you’ll see overlap between #FutureM aned #IMS11 crowds all week long.

Like most participants, I have work going on which will keep me away from some events — but here are the FutureM events that are on my radar.  If you’ll be attending any of these, please give me a shout so we can catch up.

As the day goes I”ll add in notes as I can — so this page may be a work in progress…and be relatively unedited, as I’m typing live from events.


Beyond the University Website – The Future of Digital Marketing in Higher Education

Why I’m There:
Higher Education is big business in Boston — and digital technology is fundamentally changing how universities recruit students, educate in the classroom, and connect their communities. New business models are emerging as Universities enter new global markets, and produce applications that provide greater interactive learning opportunities. And yet, many Universities lack formal marketing structures – and they find digital to be difficult to govern as it spans increasingly larger portions of its operation. 

There’s an amazing line-up of practitioners:

Great Questions:

Is running digital for an .edu the toughest job in marketing?
Perhaps.  Few environments are more political, decentralized, or fragmented when it comes to their value propositions. Universities sell their student body, professors, reputation, and even their region as part of the admissions pitch.  And you’re advertising to both parents and prospective students.

Green is a growing part of university identity. Its appearing at the top level of the home page. Green initiatives are part of digital steering teams. All participants have big green initiatives, and showing its success is part of the web team’s role.

Its hard to get organizational alignment – so up-leveling the conversation to quantifiable goals frees the organization from implementation squables. Digital will deliver, or their stakeholders have redress against them. “Design is going to be design.”  University politics? Better to present finished product to approve rther than concept to shoot down.

Think holistically:
Think about your digital presence as a whole, not as a web site.  Paid search ads, social media recommendations from friends, online student reviews, the mobile site, video, and email are all part of the footprint. Don’t think of it as just one website.

Mobile First:
Harvard mobile access has grown astronomically, 70% iOS, 19%. Everyone wants mobile, and the key question is which specific use cases should mobile support. Though admissions may want a bright shiny object, often serving the internal audience provides the best value, and it drives the institutions credibility as “getting it” online.

Governance is Key:
Tom Baird described governance as a real challenge for everyone. Where does the centralized web team live? (Provost, Marketing, in departments.) There’s a natural concern that a centralized team might start editing content. Babson started a 30-person “Social Media Counsel” working across campuses to encourage best practices.

Curate, Syndicate and Amplify
Rather than litigating navigational structures, use data feeds to break the mold of scare home page real estate and turf battles. When everyone can get their data surfaced on calendars and in the editoral stream – the content becomes creating great content, not carping over how many home page pixels each program gets.

The mythology of finding the right CMS is like the hunt for a spouse. “There’s a right CMS, and if I just find it all my web problems will go away.” Truth is, there are probably fifty that could work, and what resources you have to support it may mean more than which system you pick. – Perry Hewitt

Agency Opportunity
We need cross channel analytics, examples of great implementation, guidance on how to make a great experience — so that means both getting higher ed….and from beyond because they have a broad industry client base.

What metrics do you use?
Too often we’re not. Several schools echoed this problem. It is necessary to work on school goals, and department ones. Is it engagement, admissions leads, or user generated content. This may be a sweet spot for getting help.


How Marketing is Evolving for Small Businesses

Why I’m there:
Digital marketing’s initial promise is leveling the playing field by giving smart scrappy players access to the whole world through digital technology. However, the result can be one of overwhelming limited resources, while larger players have the staff, systems and spend to dominate in digital channels just as they do in traditional media. The key, I believe, is for small business to focus on the must win battles, and to connect personally in ways that are difficult for larger organizations.  Let’s see what the experts say:

This panel has gone off track. It focused more on the medium (gamification, local, and mobile) rather than smart marketing. There was a significant discussion of how online coupons reduce a firm’s overall approval in forums such as Yelp. Well, sure it does.  This is the classic Crossing the Chasm challenge of moving from niche markets to main stream markets. Its not the medium, its the marketing.

The vendors on the panel are talking about the benefits of their fine platforms, which is a bit self serving. And, some silly generalizations have been made. “Its easy to make mobile apps”.  Sure, just like reading Nietzsche is easy, understanding it is hard. Anyone who thinks mobile apps are easy, will make a terrible app.  One panelist suggested that Virtual Reality in time will level the playing field for small businesses.

One problem with discussing tactics and their virtues is that small business ends up having taken a lot of action, and the potential insight from this is scattered across multiple platforms. The discussion illuminated bright shiny objects without integrating this effort back to a unified customer profile that one could leverage going forward.



FutureM Opening Night

Why I’m there:
Friends. Its time to hear what’s really going on straight from other brand and agency managers. It’s nice that Mayor Menino will be there to throw out the first ball.

  • Jessica Greenwood, A Cannes Lion Festival speaker and Director of Contagious 
  • Carol Kruse – The SVP of Marketing for ESPN and one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2011
  • Frank Rose – A Wired Magazine contributor and Author of The Art of Immersion
  • Rishad Tobaccowala – The Chief Innovation Officer for VivaKi

2 Responses to "The Future of Marketing Starts Today: Day One of FutureM in Boston"

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    July 8, 2014

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