The Westchester Digital Summit 2015


Written by: Eloisa Andre Gaona

Graduate Student, Branding and Integrated Communications, CUNY


“Where the tech world meets to discuss the future of advertising, marketing and sales”

“Conferences that will keep you ahead of the marketing trends in 2015”


The summit kicked off with a Keynote by Jeffrey Hayzlett, who presented his book ‘Running the Gauntlet’ about driving change in business, along with great real life examples, anecdotes and ice breaking humor. He stated that nowadays businesses need to adapt, change or die and change is never the way we think it will be. To be a leader you have to be a clock changer, you have to be ahead of what’s happening. The five big reasons we fail to change are: fear, tension avoidance, lack of transparency, risk avoidance and broken promises. And those five reasons can be explained this way: we need to overcome the fear of doing it wrong and accept the fact that we can be beginners; healthy debate that creates tension is good – as Jeffrey said: ‘no pain no game’; radical transparency is key to be likeable; take more risks- no one is going to die! And finally, keep your promises: they are mutual conditions of satisfaction, and a brand is a promise delivered.


The first panel of the morning discussed game changing digital strategies in sustainability, presenting case studies from IBM and GE. Sustainability is related to people, the planet, profit making and a desire to do good. It’s a way of doing business and also taking care of citizens, neighbors, helping our planet be there for next generations. From a marketing perspective, you can tackle sustainability through partnerships, innovating and allowing a conversation about the future. It’s about capturing value with sustainability by tapping it into the company’s narrative. Sustainability and digital were defined in the ‘80s and are maturing now… What about the future? There will be transformations at the industrial level, in operations, in storytelling and a culture shift. And about specific data-driven innovations that are coming: augmenting products to generate data, digitizing assets, combining data within and across industries, trading data and codifying a distinctive service capability.


In tackling the issue of what makes good content, the second panel opened our eyes to a big problem that a lot of brands are facing: not having a content strategy. A content strategy includes content creation, distribution and how to leverage it. As a brand you need to establish a presence and make sure you’re informing and also entertaining, and your content needs to adapt to each medium (more or less deep, fact-based, etc.). It has to fit the context because otherwise you won’t be properly reaching your audience. And this rule also applies to native advertising (i.e. organic, rooted in the place where it’s being shown): to gain the audience’s trust, you need to reach them at the right point. To achieve an effective native ad campaign and have the impact that you want, you need to think of the context and distribution, and never forget the content! It should make them care about you, people are not looking for product information on social media, they are looking for stories, fun facts, interesting content; a more personal approach tends to perform the best. A good tip is to have a ‘content calendar’ that better organizes your communication and increases your performance. All in all, you should you’re your audience because today everything’s about the consumer, not the brand.


In a series of breakout sessions we learned about the evolution of social media, how to define your brand audience and a case study about Travelocity. Some interesting remarks from these sessions: in marketing, we no longer have the 4 Ps, now it’s all about the big C, and that is the customer. The consumer handles everything and drives everything. Content is king but it can’t stand-alone: it needs context and intent. As Chris Dessi from Silverback Social said, ‘brands now need to be an omnipresent publisher’ that is seamless and has reverence for the individual. Sheri L. Koetting from MSLK also talked about the importance of content saying that ‘media without message is meaningless’. The path to success is to define who you are understanding how you fit among your competitors, then define your audience and how to reach your audience aligning what you’re going to say, to whom, and where you’re going to
say it through a content plan. And about Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome: this case study proved how a social story created around a brand could really travel the world.


After a great lunch with a lot of networking opportunities, we dived into afternoon panels and sessions that really managed to keep growing our interest. Starting with a panel about the power of visual content, representatives of leading social media platforms discussed some case studies, the use of visual content, the different uses of each platforms, analytics, user generated content and the importance of data. Followed by a multi channel marketing panel, where very interesting topics came up, such as driving engagement, marketing tools, consumer behavior measurement, how to work across platforms and how to keep your interaction and comments in a structure so that you maintain a debate that is worth having.


Then we entered the intricate and –for some- confusing world of data and analytics, where a great panel walked us through how to take on big data, the notion of ‘who owns the data’, the variety of sources and the use of data as a way to get your user through a conversion funnel, when to build and when to bring in data and how to overcome the challenge of having too much data. They also discussed the next level of personalization: to know and message the customer no matter what platform they are on -‘cross channel customization’; and the use of real time data to customize your messaging according to what the user is doing; closing with the need to draw the line between appropriate marketing and creepiness.


The last panel of the afternoon went on about the rise of mobile in social/digital strategy. Mobile enables users to reach across platforms to make transactions effortless, seamless. Content ‘on the go’ is playing a big role in the industry and it’s important to think about how to deliver content experiences to the right user at the right time. And what about privacy? How do we leverage data? We, as consumers, are giving up privacy to gain personalization. “If you’re on social, you’re out there”. There’s so many ways to engage with customers on social media, and mobile has to be the hub of it because it’s where we all are. The best way to figure out how you’re doing is to ‘be your own customer’ and think about what you want them to do when they get to your site, what experience they are going to have. And finally, where are we headed? Towards moving your identity across different experiences to get really seamless and personalized.


This wonderful day full of events ended as good as it could get, with Dave Kerpen talking about how to be likeable on social media. He presented seven concepts that are crucial if you want your brand to succeed in this new interconnected, social and interactive digital world. Listen first and never stop listening to your staff, your customers and your fans; responsiveness is no longer optional in social media and apart from listening, you have to apologize, solve or thank any issue that may come up, including positive comments. Tell, don’t sell: use social and online tools to tell your story, inspire your customers. Be transparent and vulnerable, be authentic, work hard and play hard as a team; and finally, always be grateful!



By Eloisa Andre Gaona

Graduate Student, Branding and Integrated Communications, CUNY

Connect on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eloisaandre/en