Steve Wozniak, keynote speaker at #ISUM14

Internet Summit 2014: Marketing Trends and Best Practices

This is my second year attending the Internet Summit, probably the largest conference in the Southeast region for professionals that apply their expertise to the overall marketing strategy for their companies and organizations. Most attendees work for small and medium size regional businesses, so learning from the experts what are industry best practices and marketing trends is tremendously valuable. (See full agenda here).

Proliferation of cheap programmable sensors

Steve Wozniak, keynote speaker at #ISUM14
Steve Wozniak, keynote speaker at #ISUM14

David Pogue, Tech Columnist, Yahoo & Host, NOVA ScienceNow, opened the conference with his keynote speech. He set the stage by highlighting emerging trends in technology that will be important for the next five years. First, the pointed out that smartphones really shouldn’t be called smart-“phones” because these devices are used for number of applications, and phone calling is just one of them, a feature that is being used less and less. Smartphones today are sophisticated computing machines loaded with sensors that can detect user location with GPS navigation, analyze the movement with variety of motion sensors, pay for purchases, receive offers from retailers nearby via iBeacon, take photos and videos, measure user’s body vitals, etc. This list will only grow with proliferation of cheap, easily programmable sensors. This represents an incredible opportunity for a number of hi-tech, or Internet of Things (IoT) startups to emerge in the market space. Steve Wozniak, a keynote speaker and co-founder of Apple, is excited about advance of artificial intelligence, made possible by these cheap hardware layer. He believes that Siri is the best AI software solution to date with a lot of room for improvement.

Ubiquitous Device Screens will Open New Marketing Channels

Currently there are 14B connected devices worldwide; their numbers will grow to tremendous 45B over the next 5 years, generating incredibly rich data set. Big data analytics will continue to be incredibly important part of analyzing this tremendous amount of data as companies introduce new produce lines and change their marketing strategies. Further, most of these devices will have some form of screen to display information to the user. Because of that, proliferation of screens is seen as a perfect channel for sending advertising messages to the consumer.

Screen itself is ubiquitous and it can be found at the usual places such as your smartphone, tablet, laptop. But, the growth will happen in screens embedded in your car dashboard, home thermostat, home appliance such as washer and dryer, or a vacuum cleaner. Simply put, if device is connected to the Internet and has a screen, this screen can be used as a distribution channel for advertising and promotions.

One of the panelist during “disruptive tech, 5 year outlook” panel, speculated that one day Nest can display you with a coupon for a nice cashmere sweater when you increase the temperature in your home. Personally, I would be very disturbed by such violation of my privacy, so I am curious if I am in minority. Let me know your opinion by answering this quick poll.

Situation: you are chilly and you increase the temperature in your home using your internet connected HVAC thermostat (like Nest). As you set higher temperature, a coupon for a warm cashmere sweater from a local retailer shows up on device screen.

[poll id=”2″]
When I asked the panel if they see anyone competing on customer’s privacy, they said no, it’s hard to compete by protecting customer’s data. I can only hope that they are wrong, or that at least tokenization (think ApplePay) will make all our financial transactions seamless, encrypted and personally unidentifiable.

Proven Marketing Techniques

Some marketing advice has not changed over the last few years and they still hold true. Consumers have fully embraced their smartphones as they use then constantly throughout the day, so it is imperative that all communication sent to people is in mobile friendly format, with a font that is no smaller than 14 points. Content Marketing is still one of the best strategies to build brand name recognition and to attract customers. SEO is still very important as customers rely on search engines to find the relevant content before they make a purchase decision. Quality content describing your product or a service is very important as 78% of search engine visitors trust organic search results over paid search. Finally, email marketing is going nowhere, but the challenge is to make the content relevant and engaging to the reader that is very quick to unsubscribe from marketing mailing list.


Finally, I highly recommend that all attendees download relevant presentations as most of them contain up to date information that can be used to fine tune marketing tactics. For more tactical information about best practices for small businesses, please read this blog post.

Dragana Mendel, a management consultant for startups, small and medium size businesses develops and executes growth strategies for her clients. Please call for 30 minutes complimentary discovery session to assess your business current situation and market development needs.