The Marketing Experience is one of the greatest conferences for the marketing industry and branding. As you maybe know, Belgrade was the host of 2011 experience manifestation from October 24 – 25. I have to say that I wasn’t skeptical at all, since I’ve seen the list of speakers who are important part of their companies and I knew that ThePWorld is the right organization who has managed this event as a perfect experience for everybody.

The Marketing Experience The Hall

Both delegates and speakers are threaded like royalty, so as one part of delegates, we’ve met immediately with the people who have organized this event and enjoyed in conversation with them.

Of course, as every event, this wouldn’t be the complete experience if there wasn’t for sponsors and partners like MTV, Press, Hypo Alpe Adria Bank, Tikveš winery, Asket Brand Architecture, Attica Media, TV Avala, Taboo, Adria Media, Radio 3, and Infostud. Also the project has been helped by friendly companies from the region like Kapital, iStudio, Sagena, Business and IAA. I have to mention all these companies, because they were all part of this project and what’s more important that they are communicative and good people.

This was a huge event, so I told myself, I’ll present this experience dividing on the parts: Day One and Day Two.

Day One

At 08:00 AM started the registration and morning coffee part. It was a good opportunity to just feel the atmosphere and vibe which were circling around the space. Personally, I think that everybody just wanted for the event to start, cause no one knew how this experience will go on.

In the hall, we were welcomed with ThePWorld ad for this event, which is great. It reminded me on CSI show.

9:20 AM Kosta Petrov, Founder & CEO of ThePWorld, has opened the event. He explained that the goal for this manifestation is to change regional marketing industry. After showing his regards to the partners, he talked a little bit about the teamwork in organization and that the audience should ask as much questions as they can. The main goal of the project was to provide delegates with new strategy for their companies. And I think, they succeed in that.

The Marketing Experience Kosta Petrov

Among questions, as a part of interactive discussion, you could also Tweet about the conference with a hashtag #mxpbg. Sagena has developed Tweet wall for this project where audience, but also all users of Twitter could do a TweetUp.

First one on the stage was Aliza Knox, Managing Director Online Sales in Google. She started her presentation at 09:25 AM. Topic of her speech was how to use digital media to drive your sales and then explained how to high up your companies sales with help f some Google tools like Google Translate, Gmail, AdWords. She explained that the whole industry is now growing up its sales through the mobile devices rather than desktop computers. As we all know that Google is marked as the king of the internet, Aliza Knox said something that can encourage smaller companies: “Everything is possible with internet.” She noted that global presence is very important for smaller business who wants to get bigger, so with the internet they are in a chance to do it. That’s why Aliza Knox presented us Global Market Finder. With list of keywords and terms we can explore which markets are good for our product. Nice! Her message to the audience was that we should build Call To Action websites and analyze stuff. That’s how we can develop our business.

It was Chris Lenton turn to speak at around 10:15 AM. For those who don’t know, Chris Lenton is a Chairman of Chartered Institute Of Marketing. His speech was about the trends, issues and latest challenges in the global marketing industry. I especially liked his quote: “Do it more with less.” He was telling us that it’s time to focus on online marketing rather than traditional one. Something that’s very important and it was a part of his speech is his note, that all employees need to live in the online space like their customer so they can get people involved in campaigns. One of his examples was a Guinness App, which is amazing.

We had a little break after those two speeches, and after that at 11:25 AM Tom Lucas had his presentation about what is working in social media, and what isn’t. He is a Former Marketing Director from UKTV. Thing that I liked about Tom’s presentation was that he started with a question: “Is there anyone who is a social media expert?“ There were no responses. Than he continued: “Good, because I’m not a social media expert either.”

If you believe me, my dear readers, Tom Lucas is a person who has complete knowledge about social media and branding on them. He told us that for him there is no such thing as a social media expert, because it’s the industry that started to develop. I was so exited after his intro cause I knew that we will collect the knowledge and inspiration for our further needs using social media. He explained that it’s important to be honest and human in branding, and that we have to address our brand to real human needs. The conclusion of that part of presentation was that if you get all the pieces right, people will reward you with their following. He noted that it’s a mistake when brands are acquiring new customers. Instead of that, they should keep their fans stick to the brand. Also one of his messages was to pull out the human face when it comes about solving problems. That is bringing a completely different level of conversation with the customers, because we’re human beings and we should start thinking as one. Tom Lucas insisted that it’s important to use technology, because it pays. Total truth!

I have to say that Tom Lucas mentioned my dear colleague and a friend Nemanja, who most of the audience and speakers know as @fitzelgard. He was tweeting about the conference constantly. Tom said that he is a perfect example how the social media sharing works. After every smart Tom’s conclusion, @fitzelgard tweeted about it. You know what Tom said to him? “Keep up, you’re doing a good job!”

At 12:10 PM Madlen Nicolaus, Social Media Manager EMEA of Kodak, held her presentation about the right social media strategies and guidelines to get support from top executives. She opened her speech with a quote: “It’s all about sharing.” Madlene said that sharing today is much more easier and faster, we can share from platforms, smartphones, cameras. She was explaining how the social media sharing is good to achieve our business goal. We have to create a creative content online, engage people, make them comment and interact, make people send us quality feedback so we can develop our engagement online. Customer service is also important, and it needs to be available always. Madlene also had a message for audience, and it is that we have to listen carefully our consumers, do social analytics and provide online conversation. Useful message definitely!

As the organizers knew that our brain can’t be fully concentrated for the whole time, we had a lunch break. Enjoying in a great meal, both delegates and speakers have started to chat about conference and some new ideas. Great opportunity for networking for sure. After that, we had an interactive exercise. I’ll just say this – doing a Tai Chi with speakers and audience really puts a smile on your face!

The Marketing Experience Tai Chi

It was around 13:55 PM when Michael Bouclas from Galoo stud up. From the beginning of the presentation, I knew that this will be a different type of speaking than previous ones. First statement from Michael was: “Position yourself as a consumer.” He also stated that it’s important to gain popularity on social media. But he explained that we are talking about a whole different market – Balcan. Michael said that we need to find out why are people trash-talking about new products, provide more options for pay methods. Important message from this speech is that we all need to think  about our own market and how we will place our brand there.

Next one was Marvin Liao, Commercial Director at Yahoo.  He started to analyze the latest trends in global advertising at 14:20 AM. Something that we didn’t know , and what we have heard from Marvin, is that Yahoo is trying to become a media company. He said that internet penetration is growing and the search business is slowly stopping. He thinks that we can reach more audience with branding events, pages types of media advertising through multimedia campaigns. When I saw the enthusiasm in Marvin’s speech, I knew that Yahoo is changing the direction of its work. Personally, I think that multimedia advertising is a future definitely.

It was a time for a little refreshment and networking, but then we got back in the hall.

After Marvin, it was time for someone to speak from a region, but who is very familiar with the marketing and app development industry. Andrija Frinic is one of the key people for development in Sagena. He is also credited  for making Wall Of Tweets at The Marketing Experience. At 15:25 PM, Andrija started to talk about digital signage and how is it useful for boosting your brand’s performance. Digital signange is a form of electronic display. Basically, it is connection between a brand and consumers. I agree totally with Andrija, digital signage is a new way of interaction and it will change branding for sure.

At 15:45 PM next speaker was Mads Holmen, Planning Drector from Go Viral. I have to mention that this was one of the charismatic presentations. Like speakers before him, he agreed that consumers are spending a lot more time today on the internet and social networks. “We can buy thousands of impressions, but we will not have engagement”, he said. It’s important to get opinions, values and to engage people. It’s important to show your face. That’s why Mads stated that video is a part of social media and it plays a huge role in it. It can measure engagements through views and shares.

The last speaker for the day one was Greg Jarrett. Greg Jarrett is a Managing Director at Fuerte. He started talking about Mobile apps at 16:45 PM and explained what is the whole buzz about mobile applications. Either we like it or not, mobile app industry is growing. It’s innovative and accepts social sharing which is quite important. Greg showed some amazing and awesome apps, I’ve really enjoyed listening. My favorite was Jamie Oliver Cooking app.

After 9 speeches and presentation, we got invited to cocktail at Beli Dvor, place where Serbian royal family is settled. It was a tired day, but we could chat with a lot of creative and innovative people.

Day Two

The day started at 09:00 AM with a morning coffee but also another chance to communicate with people. After 45 minutes, Kosta opened The Day Two and said that this day will be a little bit more about how to make your sales bigger.

At 10:05 AM, Martin Moll, Head of Marketing at Honda, started his session. He said that we need to create a marketing strategy that fits to your customers needs. Martin noted that it’s very important to take all factors: economic reality and feelings about the brand. Something that is so important is that we need to divide rational and emotional. Consumers want to listen about the brand and its personality, so Martin said we have to show ourselves. “Maintain values of your brands.” That was the message from him and Honda. He added that brands are build by stories, so that we should create storytelling, cause people are engage then and it’s important for the story to be shared.

The Marketing Experience Day Two

Next one was Timothy White, Head of Marketing at Novartis, who started his presentation at 10:50 AM. I didn’t expect for this speech to be so interesting the beginning, cause Tim comes from drug industry. But after Tim’s explanation that Novartis is becoming a pure user of social media, I was delighted! He spoke about reaching the customers in both real and online world, and it is something that it’s great for company who makes drugs. For this kind of business, it’s important to build loyalty and personalize you brand. “Personalized marketing is a key.” Those were Tim’s words. He said that in drug business you have to create a true dialog between consumer and brand and to gain on activity of consumers. Personally, this was one excellent session.

We had a little time for refreshment and networking.

Lars Ludwig from Low Cost Travel Group has brought the sunny weather and beaches when he started his speech at 12:05 PM. It was very interesting to listen about marketing in tourism. Lars talked about multichannel marketing and how to provide it, and simple answer was – Google! He told us that people who are in this industry should invest in technology, cause technology takes service to the people. Also he stated that we shouldn’t try to ignore new stuff, like mobile apps and social networks. Those are great ways to get a customer review.

The next session was about traditional values of marketing and how it effects on sales at 12:45 PM. Andrea Monaci, Marketing Director from HP was the speaker. The point was to create your marketing portfolio by analyzing. So Andrea told to ask ourselves before every strategy- Who are my clients? Potential spends? Opportunities for a strategy? Relationship with consumers? Those are questions that every marketing portfolio maker should ask himself and it’s important to analyze those question answers with the sales manager. Andrea stated that it’s important to take place in digital marketing as well as  creating events and workshops.

It was time for lunch, people were looking tired, but still they wanted to listen this great speakers.

At 14:30 PM, Tolga Sezer, General Manager Marketing at Ulker talked about brand development era. He said that we must think of brand’s needs, stories, emotions, designs and evolution. What I liked about this speaker was that he used the new Interbrand list of Top 100 Brands. But he also asked why there is no any brand from this and middle east region. Tolga messaged that it’s important to speak directly to the consumers, to achieve communication, because with a perfect feedback you can create unique stories around your brand.

The last speaker for this conference was Peter Vogt, Internal Communications Director from eBay. He took the stage at 15:15 PM, and talked about building a strong internal brand and also how to make your employees live your brand. It’s very important to connect your employees with your brand. Peter said that good communication between employees and their engagement around the brand is something that every company should go for. He talked about brand innovations and technological part in brand for example QR Codes. He stated that QR Codes are trendy and they work. I was delighted when I heard his opinion about connectivity between brand and employees. He stated that most important ambassadors of any brand are its employees. Complete truth!

After 2 days of marvelous speeches and presentations, it was time for Kosta Petrov to close the conference.

At the end of this piece I must provide a good conclusion of the whole manifestation. First, I have to send my regards to the whole organization and ThePWorld who have done an amazing job by bringing these successful marketers and experts to share their knowledge with us. This is certainly one event that is not often in Belgrade, but after this kind of  service they have given us, I can’t wait for more.

As you have maybe noticed, I’ve mixed pure facts and knowledge statements through the whole article. I thought that it was the best way to bring you the whole picture about it. Also, you could see that there was a lot of talking about social media because – that’s our future.
I think that the most important message from the event is the interaction. Interaction with everybody, consumers, marketers, executives, because at the end we are all fans of something awesome and good; and what is more important – we are all people.
I think that our main life goal is to interact with others. Help, create, share and develop. Those are the things that connect us and the stuff that we like.