World Marketing and Sales Forum 2016

Disruption, strategy and reinvention were the buzzwords at this year’s World Marketing and Sales Forum in Melbourne.

With a selection of the top thinkers in marketing and sales presenting at the event delegates from all industries converged on the bustling Town Hall.

Brands including Quiver, TBWA, Global Red and the Melbourne Business School were well represented as the speakers took to the stage. Here’s what they heard:


The Age of Disruptive Innovation

Customer experience expert, Don Peppers kicked off proceedings with a reminder of Moore’s Law and the simple fact that although technology grows exponentially, business is still limited by the constraints of being human.

He centred his talk on the importance of removing friction from the sales process and suggested salespeople should be using data to isolate customer wants and desires.

Don gave everyone a stark reminder of ‘The Goldfish Principle’, and said “even well-intended services can be worse than doing nothing”.

Don Peppers
Don Peppers

A double dose of Don and a networking lunch later everyone was treated to a marketing panel headlined by Carolyn Bendall, Head of Marketing at ANZ and Kimberlee Wells, CEO of TBWA Group Melbourne.

The two brands shared the story of their collaboration in transforming ANZ atms into GAYTMS to celebrate their sponsorship of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Never shy to talk about disruption, both panelists spoke at length about the need for brands to shirk the beaten path and instead take a less-traveled route.


Tweeting for the President

Next the very impressive former member of President Obama’s social media team, Rahaf Harfoush, spoke about digital and strategy.

The author of multiple titles, including “Yes We Did: An Insider’s Look at How Social Media Built the Brand”  challenged the audience to never stop learning and always be open to new platforms and engagement strategies.

She shared some of the tools that enable her to be across her industry including, feedly and coursera.

Her story of how she drove all night to make it to her first day on Obama’s social media team spoke strongly to her character, but one of the big takeaways was around opportunity; it never hurts to ask, she says.

Rahaf Harfoush
Rahaf Harfoush

The final message of the day from Rahaf: “Strategy is the most important part of any campaign”.

Day two started with Newsmodo’s own CEO, Rakhal Ebeli who sat down with Brian Smith, founder of UGG. The innovative slipper entrepreneur walked the crowd back through the history of the brand, highlighting the triumphs and tribulations that placed the business where it is now.

Brian called on startups and SMEs to act bigger and than they are. The Birth of a Brand author connected a Pink Floyd t-shirt, tadpoles and frogs, the story of Nike and passion for perseverance into a narrative about accepting your shortcomings and building them into your brand identity, and the audience were entertained.

“Sometimes your most disappointing disappointments become your greatest blessings” he preached.


You Don’t Need A Strategy If You’re A Cow

Swinging the conversation back to strategy was Don O’Sullivan, who quoted another market leader, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who said “I believe we are the best in the world to fail”, illustrating his point that innovation needs to play a part in any strategy.

“How much growth can be achieved if we take no risks?” he said.

Case in point, he said was the sad reality for phone company Nokia who failed to take advantage of the industry’s move to smartphones, with former CEO Stephen Elop saying following the acquisition of the company by Microsoft, “We didn’t do anything wrong but somehow we lost.”

And on strategy, he said that it can be hard to get your superiors to understand the value of it. He says refining your strategy so it fits on one page is the best way to sell it up the ladder.

Don O'Sullivan
Don O’Sullivan

PwC Chief Data Scientist Matt Kuperholz shook up proceedings with fascinating insights into the world of data and relationships.

Using the example of the battle between Pepsi and Coke for market share, he said that the American states could be divided into either camp, much like that of an electoral map.

Then followed a discussion about the Internet of Everything and the concept of moving screens and how video is fast becoming the norm with products and infrastructure lead us to a talk by Movember co-founder Adam Garone to round out the forum.


On the frontline of Mental health

Adam forged his career at Movember on the leadership skills he picked up as an officer in the Australian Army.

Having turned Movember from a party month into a serious organisation with a mission statement to improve men’s health Adam was one of the most anticipated speakers at the event and the perfect way to close proceedings.

Movember can now be called a movement, with more than 5 million people taking part since its inception. For Adam, the key was reinventing the ice breaker (the moustache) to restart the conversation on men’s health. The more people who asked, “What’s with the Mo, bro?” the more conversations about the often avoided topic of men’s health there would be.  

Adam Garone
Adam Garone

Speaking with Adam on the Brand Storytelling podcast and hearing him deliver his keynote, one message was clear: brands need to be pushing the boundaries and thinking outside the box with strategy. Whether it’s creative marketing on or developing a strong social media presence, brands need to be reinventing constantly.

He finished by saying: “Reinvention is the key to longevity… You can’t think outside the box if you live in the box.”

And so, the Marketing World and Sales Forum came to a close for another year. Disruption. Reinvention. Strategy. Three themes that will no doubt be prevalent when we meet again next year.

The World Business Forum 2017, Sydney will be headlined next year by Arianna Huffington (Co-founder Huffington Post, Jimmy Wales (Co-founder Wikipedia), Randi Zuckerberg (Facebook) and many others. Secure your spot and hear from the best minds in business from around the globe.