Last week, the electrical industry’s marketing and IT professionals gathered in Chicago for NAED’s annual AdVenture Marketing Conference. The IDEA team was there, too, exchanging ideas with other event attendees, gaining unrivaled perspectives from expert keynotes, and connecting with our industry peers who share similar goals and challenges. Below, we bring you our recap of NAED’s AdVenture, highlighting key trends and insights discussed at this year’s conference.
Investing in the future involves merging marketing and IT.
The rise of eCommerce and electronic communications is changing traditional business practices, and the modern business environment is making marketing and IT converge like never before. We observe the same trends across different industries: marketing teams are employing advanced software for data analytics purposes, deepening their knowledge of technology to improve their company’s digital marketing strategy, and joining forces with their IT colleagues to capitalize on eCommerce opportunities. As pointed out by a nationally recognized marketing expert and AdVenture keynote speaker Kelly McDonald, marketing and IT might attract people of different personalities, but the two disciplines both thrive on innovation and creativity. Today, marketing and IT professionals need to work together to address the challenges of the continuously evolving eBusiness marketplace.
Customer decision-making behavior is increasing in complexity.
To quote the AdVenture speaker and innovation, leadership, and sales strategist Dirk Beveridge, “We are living in the age of disruption”, the time characterized by fast-paced technology-driven change that is dramatically altering every aspect of our personal and professional lives. When it comes to marketing and eCommerce, the age of disruption is transforming the way we buy things, affecting customer needs, expectations, and decision-making behavior. For instance, businesses can no longer ignore the drastic transfer of power to the customers and end-users. “You’re going online for other people’s opinions and you’ve never even met them”, said Huron Consulting Group director and AdVenture speaker Lisa Cole about how online reviews influence our buying decisions. Another AdVenture guest speaker, Deloitte consultant Guy Blissett, spoke about how disruptors like Netflix and Amazon are impacting customer expectations by providing services that have never been offered before. To thrive in the age of disruption, companies must move toward customer-centric marketing and design their marketing strategies around increasingly complex digital media-dependent customer behavior.
In digital business, content is key.
eCommerce is about more than selling some of your products online; it is entirely changing the rules of the game, from internal company operations to brand management to customer relationships. The AdVenture panel “An Inside Look at the Future of eCommerce” discussed that, when it comes to digital business, quality data is key. As noted by one manufacturer panel member, we need to understand that “data is like [a] garden – you need to invest time and effort in it, and continue to work on it.” CEO of Incentive Solutions and AdVenture guest Steve Damerow voiced a similar sentiment, stating that we are only as good as our data. Furthermore, attendees explored the idea that electrical manufacturers and distributors need to work together to ensure that the product data required to efficiently conduct business is available in industry data sources like the Industry Data Warehouse, and that it is complete and up-to-date.
We are not in a “relationship business” but a “trust business”.
A research study on partnerships between electrical supply chain members – conducted by Dirk Beveridge in collaboration with NAED – showed that 91% of interviewed distributors and manufacturers believe there is a need to re-imagine how they work together in today’s business environment. When pondering the top challenges to improving partnerships, one issue rises to the top – trust. Are we prepared to trust each other and extend our partnering horizon? AdVenture attendees echoed the same idea: trust must be at the foundation of our strategic alliances, if those alliances are to grow and mature. And it is up to every one of us to generate that trust through transparency and integrity, and make trust-based partnering one of our core competencies.