This summit was first conceived over a martini with Bill McCloskey and a couple of folks who thought it would be a great idea to create a different type of conference, one where marketers and providers get together in an intimate networking environment, with half-day sessions and fun activities that would allow groups to develop connections and really vet issues.
The first few summits were predominately the same people you saw at every event, the same marketers tended to come, and the topics seemed to flow similarly to other events. But we learned over the years that moderated panels in an interactive setting are effective only if they are reinforced with ample time to network and share experiences. Roundtables work as a reinforcement to the sessions; we all have unique situations and we need an outlet to share and balance our views with the outside world. This format gives vendors the chance to hear from marketers what they really need, in a non-sales environment.
As I mingled at the mixer last night (over a beautiful sunset on the beach), I noticed that over 85% of the attendees were new faces: different companies, different vendors and different type of speakers. In the past we addressed deliverability, privacy, list management and acquisition, supported by case studies. Today, we almost need to rename this conference to accommodate the emergence of social media, the integration of email into mainstream CRM activities, and the increasing challenges we have around measuring and optimizing growth in a complex channel mix.
In the past, social media wasn't apart of the equation, mobile marketing struggled to make the connection to mainstream CRM, and email was in many cases an efficient channel that lived in the cellars of the marketing organization. Today, market demands have put the value of email marketing at the front of the organization. Consumer spending and travel are down, concerns over disposable income are up, while housing, unemployment and the swine flu are occupying our minds. But email and search are key drivers of budget and focus.
Search and email really are the new channels and driving force of "Promotion" in the traditional view of the Four Ps of Marketing (Product, Price, Promotion, Place). It's ironic that MediaPost's Search Insider and Email Insider Summits are back-to-back. Was it visionary thinking to realize that search and email are the channels most marketers are investing in for the future?
Several things make this event special: the use of consumer focus groups in a live setting, letting the audience see firsthand real-world views, attitudes, consumption patterns in the use of digital channels; research that is outside of email and about the customer (the Digital Mom). There are also panels on budget demands in a recessionary market; social CRM; multichannel marketing; list growth strategies, along with innovations in email and marketing optimization.
Stay tuned to the MediPost blogs, and we'll be twittering continually throughout the event; should be lots of great insight, experiences and connections.
If you are stuck at the desk reading this and want to get involved, follow me on twitter (social_C_R_M) and submit any questions, comments or issues you'd like explored.