Recap: US Customer Summit 2018

Recap: US Customer Summit 2018

Last week, IgnitionOne hosted our Customer Summit in vibrant Brooklyn, New York. We enjoyed a lively two days packed with engaging discussions, insights from thought leaders, and networking against a backdrop of the Manhattan skyline. Below is a recap of the Summit’s sessions and activities.

Day 1: Wednesday, September 12

We held this year’s Customer Summit at the beautiful William Vale hotel in Williamsburg. Day 1 commenced with lunch at noon, allowing attendees to arrive from out of town and get settled before we kicked off discussions for the day.

After a brief welcome and agenda overview from Will, Shareen Pathak from Digidaydelivered her presentation on the trends that marketers need to know to connect with today’s customers, with references to recent advertisements from Nike and Pepsi. The ensuing discussion on building strong customer relationships was the perfect segue into the following session, a panel on customer loyalty with Verizonand Visa.

The room was rapt throughout the next panel, titled “The Audio Boom,” about the growth of podcasts and the extremely high conversion rates of podcast ads. It was a truly impressive and engaging panel comprised of seasoned experts, with representatives from Slate and Panoply, and podcast creators Manoush ZomorodiKeesa Schreane, and Mallory Kasdan. Discussion was moderated by Pavan Bahl, President of MouthMedia Network, who also covered the entire Summit from a pop-up podcasting station. Look out for upcoming episodes from Pavan that feature some familiar IgnitionOne voices!

We then heard from David Villa, founder and CEO of iPD, a marketing, media, and training company, about the importance of a positive and productive mindset in achieving one’s goals.

In the evening, attendees were invited to the Vale Garden Residence penthouse suite for a cocktail reception amidst stunning views of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Day 2: Thursday, September 13

We kicked off day two of the Summit with Zak Normandin, co-founder and CEO of Dirty Lemon, a wellness beverage company that is the first brand to sell its products exclusively via text message. Zak spoke to the room about the ways Dirty Lemon is disrupting the beverage industry with its conversational commerce model, and its innovative, experimental retail store concept, which was featured in the New York Times just that day. The audience sat fascinated by Zak as we sipped on complimentary Dirty Lemon drinks, provided in CBD, charcoal, collagen, and ginseng flavors.

The morning progressed with a series of panels, the first exploring how marketers should be leveraging AI, with panelists from ClarifaiPandora, and Roomi, moderated by Stefan Tornquist from Econsultancy. The discussion on AI perfectly prefaced the following panel on the power of personalization with Movable InkDrawbridge, and LiveRamp. We then discussed the challenges that travel and hospitality companies face given the strength of online travel agencies, with La Quinta and Travel Tripper, moderated by Rafat Ali, CEO of Skift.

The star of the morning was 19-year-old Ziad Ahmed, co-founder and CEO of JUV Consulting, a marketing consultancy that specializes in the Generation Z demographic and is wholly operated by employees aged between 14 and 22 years old. Ziad wowed the audience with his passion and charisma, and gave us valuable insights on the importance of authenticity and community when engaging with Gen Z. He was truly informative and inspiring.

After a break for lunch, we heard from Shane Lennon on the evolution of the modern CMO. Shane’s explorations on the various hats that a CMO needs to wear was the perfect lead-in to our keynote speaker, Jenny Fleiss.

Jenny is the co-founder of Rent the Runway, a retail company that revolutionized traditional models of fashion consumption. After Jenny’s success with Rent the Runway, she is now co-founder and CEO of Jetblack, a text-based retail service launched by the incubation arm of Walmart, designed to help busy moms shop effortlessly in a truly on-demand world.

Next, we had two of the best-known direct-to-consumer brands, Casperand Harry’s, speak about the value of data-driven marketing. The discussion on leveraging customer data to deliver more effective marketing strategies was the perfect primer for the next session from Fatemeh Khatibloo from Forrester, who delivered an engaging and highly relevant presentation on personalization and the customer journey. Fatemeh encouraged marketers to approach personalization in a way that provides value to the customer, and cautioned against the intrusive and excessive.

Our final panel explored the history and challenges of the burgeoning cannabis industry, with representatives from across the supply chain: Lisa Buffo, founder and CEO of the Cannabis Marketing AssociationElana Frankel, co-founder of Indigo and Haze, a cannabis product marketplace; Diane Katz, president of Electrum Partners, an advisory firm that specializes in the legal cannabis industry; and Evan Nison, a board member on the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. It was an informative panel that not only explained the politicized stigmatization of cannabis in the early 20th century, but also highlighted the personal experiences of those who rely upon the medicinal properties of cannabis, including its non-THC byproducts such as CBD and hemp.

Throughout both days, we interspersed IgnitionOne proof points between sessions, showcasing the success that various IgnitionOne customers have had in our key verticals. Rachel Pierson presented with Rick Tablan from AcuraKelly DeRosahighlighted the work we do with Lowe’sDanielle Gonzalez presented with Megan Karney from Extended Stay America. These brief sessions were effective in demonstrating the value that IgnitionOne provides to our customers.

To close the Summit, we hosted dinner and drinks at Jane’s Carousel, flanked on either side by the iconic Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. Attendees were treated to a very special guest speaker, 11-year-old August Roebling, whose family many generations ago designed and built the Brooklyn Bridge. August captivated us all with tales of the innovation that went into constructing the bridge, and of how the Roeblings helped usher in a new age of industry with their steel cable, which is showcased heavily on the two bridges that surrounded us.

Many important and valuable insights emerged over the course of the event, and we at IgnitionOne are proud to have brought together such an impressive roster of thought leaders and trailblazers in the industry. Below are several key themes that were consistently in conversations throughout the Summit:

  1. Strong customer relationships begin by building trust. Amid data privacy concerns and endless sponsored content, customers today place high value on brands that exude authenticity and integrity, with values that resonate with them. Customers are more willing to share their information with a brand that they trust, powering more impactful personalized interactions, which in turn fosters retention and brand loyalty.
  2. Conversational commerce is on the rise. More brands are emerging with direct-to-consumer models, highlighting the demand for more personalized interactions. Customers now have limitless options available to them, and marketers need to consider how to develop customer relationships that endure beyond a simple price difference with a competitor. Direct text messaging enables brands to interact with customers on a more intimate, personalized platform.
  3. More marketers are adopting AI, but many remain unclear on how to best leverage its capabilities. Experts at the Summit urged marketers to practice emotional intelligence as complementary to AI: let your technology deliver the insights, while your marketing team makes the nuanced decisions. AI is a tool, not a proxy, for deeper human interactions.
  4. Watch the podcasting space. The podcast industry is booming, consistently churning out compelling content for every broad or niche market imaginable. Advertisers on podcasts see conversion rates above 60%—the platform fosters extremely high customer engagement, simulating true one-to-one interactions between host and listener. Brands that work with podcasts to produce great audio content can leverage high listener engagement to create stronger customer relationships.
  5. Successful marketing responds to a need—it serves a purpose and provides value to your customers. For example: the instinct for marketers working with physical store locations is often an experiential, social media-forward approach. Instead, consider a functional perspective: what value can your store provide that makes your customers’ lives easier? Modern brands are innovating the traditional store concept to provide spaces for networking, mingling, even for a quick wardrobe change between work and evening. A customer-driven mindset ensures greater long-term value.

Thank you to all who attended this year’s Customer Summit! Be sure to join us for more valuable insights and discussions at our summit next year.