Reflections on MARCOM 2014


Another great year for MARCOM 2014… “Canada’s premiere educational forum for public and not-for-profit sector marketers and communicators”. Great speakers and trade show; great venue at the Ottawa Convention Centre and this year’s food was the best ever. No question that my colleague Claire Mills and the advisory committee, volunteers and sponsors did a great job in organizing and running the event.

The forum Keynote, Mitch Joel, President of Twist Image, was terrific as usual. This year he discussed five new movements that have changed the way we do business forever. The next five years he suggests will be about the convergence of these five major movements that will require organizations to adapt like never before. For more information check out his book; CTRL ALT Delete: Reboot Your Organization…Your Future Depends on it.

I really enjoyed doing my pre -MARCOM social marketing workshop this year; we had a great group of attendees.

The peer – to – peer round tables were a hit again this year and really pleased with doing a round table with my colleague Kathleen Connelly, on Integrated Communications and Stakeholder Engagement. We had a great turnout for this year’s round table. There is no question that public sector and not-for-profit organizations today are looking for approaches that motivate various audiences to get engaged and take action.Here is the link to our roundtable handout.

I enjoyed doing the opening panel on day 2  with my colleague Bernie Colterman and Stephen Faul (Imagine) for the Not-for-Profit and Association Sectors. It’s no secret that both sectors are facing serious challenges. Increased competition for mind-share and dollars, changing demographics and new technologies are just some of the dynamics that are forcing them to take a fresh new look at their business models.

I discussed how the traditional not-for-profit culture needs to change to adapt to today’s environment and how they need to embrace marketing as a means of making this cultural shift. For more information on my thinking on developing a marketing culture, check out How to Create and Sustain a Marketing Culture in a Public Sector or Non-Profit Organization

Also congratulations to my colleagues at Intersol for the Intersol Advice Café: Fresh Ideas for Smarter Marketing which ended the MARCOM forum. Very useful exercise and I hope we continue doing this event in future. The concept of the  marketing community of practice  sharing information, experience, best practices and advice is a splendid idea.

Finally, I would like to share something that happened on day 2. There was a presentation on Blueprint 2020: A Case Study on Engagement through Social Media. For those who are not familiar with Blueprint 2020 launched by the Clerk of the Privy Council in June 2013, it is an unprecedented engagement exercise that offers federal public servants across the country to take part in a dialogue about the future of the public service.

The session discussed the use of social media and collaborative tools, as well as more traditional methods, to participate in a dialogue on the future of the public service.

There is no question that any effort to help shape the public service of tomorrow and find fresh ways to uphold the tradition of excellence that is the hallmark of Canada’s Public Service is a darn good idea. In a rapidly changing world shaped by technology, globalization and an inundation of information and data, clearly the Canadian public service needs fresh ideas.

After the presentation was completed, an interesting  question came from one of the MARCOM delegates. The questioner wanted to know if part of the process for Blueprint 2020 included consulting with clients/customers of the government.

Can you imagine any business organization who was trying to respond to questions like; Where do we need to be in five to ten years, How do we have to change to get there, What best practices should we adopt to help us do our job better  not consulting with their clients/customers?

No question that there needs to be an internal component but talking to yourselves without reaching out to those you serve is not good strategy. And no credible marketer would ever dream of such an approach. (keep in mind that the question was asked at a marketing forum)

The questioner also pointed out that public servants are continually criticized by the public and wouldn’t it be a good idea to dialogue with Canadians.

This is a pivotal time for Canada’s public service. As events evolve rapidly in an increasingly complex world, public servants must continue to ask themselves how and what they do for Canadians is relevant to the needs of the people they serve. A good start would be talking to Canadians as part of Blueprint 2020.

I hope you’ll join us next year at the Ottawa Convention Centre June 10-11, 2015 (Workshops June 9).

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