The Hub launches its first event

 At its first event, The Hub brought
together marketing minds from a diverse group of companies to discuss the new
age of marketing, using digital tools and succeeding at social commerce.

The Hub launched its inaugural event on Thursday by hosting
a panel discussion titled “From Marketing to Social Commerce.” The
event took place at tech accelerator RocketSpace’s headquarters in San Francisco.
It focused on understanding social commerce and what companies can do to build
social capital while growing their brand and expanding their marketing tools.

In partnership with W2O Group, the event included a keynote address by T.J.
, CEO and founder of adventure and travel website Zozi, and a panel
discussion that included marketing and communication managers from a diverse
set of companies.

Sassani tells us the Zozi story

Speaking to a crowd of marketers, PR professionals and fellow entrepreneurs,
Sassani, was candid about the early difficulties faced by his startup. “I ran
out of money, couldn’t make payroll for three months, cashed in my 401K and
lost my girlfriend,” he said. Despite that,  he said he was extremely driven to solve what
he perceived to be the problem of providing quality local experiences for adventure
seekers. “Being passionate is not enough, you have to be obsessed,” said
Sassani. That’s one of the reasons he never discussed exit strategy with his
funders since it was always his goal to grow the company into something sustainable
that continued to solve problems.

Sassani also talked about Zozi’s successful brand strategy of bringing on
board celebrity “gurus” or spokespersons. These included athletes and adventure
personalities such as Olympian Travis Rice and TV host Bear Grylls who will accompany
customers on trips or adventure experiences, giving the brand high visibility
and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for its customers.

A Panel Discussion with Marketing Minds

The panel discussion included Bob Pearson, President of W2O Group, Natalie
, VP of global digital marketing at HP, Ray Elias, CMO of StubHub and
Chris Castro, VP of communications at 23andMe. It was moderated by The Hub’s
editor-in-chief Steve Barrett.

The panelists started off by acknowledging how the marketing landscape had
changed and marketing costs were going down with companies finding cheaper,
more digital ways to interact with customers. Companies such as Nike, Dove, Old
Spice and Southwest Airlines were singled out for their successful digital
marketing strategies.

Marketing is Getting Smaller but

Pearson said the age of big marketing budgets was coming to an end. “We’re
seeing a shift where paid is becoming a supporting player to earned,” said
Pearson. “We need to use paid surgically.” Pearson also said he believed we
were entering the era of “agile content” where companies can almost act as
trading desks by evaluating the market and quickly introducing short, effective
campaigns or changing the pace of existing ones.

Marketing is Getting Integrated

Both Malaszenko and Elias stressed the need to integrate marketing teams
within a company to have a coordinated effect on the brand image. Elias said
anyone in the StubHub team can pitch an idea and it will be given
consideration. Malaszenko said HP had streamlined its marketing by centralizing
it instead of giving each team its own marketing department. She also addressed
HP’s turnaround strategy and revealed the company would be rolling out several
exciting new products in the next couple of years.

As the VP of communications at the startup 23andMe, which provides genetic
analysis for health and ancestry, Chris Castro said the company has to try
every marketing approach. “It’s a challenge since we are trying to reach a very
wide demographic,” said Castro. “Everything from television to direct mail has
been tested when it comes to marketing.”

What About Big Data?

The panel also discussed the implications of Big Data and analytics, while
most agreed it was important, many felt that the field was still difficult to
navigate, with most of the available tools being mediocre at best. Elias called
it a “bloody mess” but said the other crucial part about understanding data was
asking the right questions, something not everybody does. As Pearson put it,
“You must look at whether you’re unlocking passion instead of just getting paid for impressions.”

This was the first of what we hope to be many Hub events. We’ll be posting a
highlights video and a downloadable e-book with more in depth material from the
discussion and you can also check out our Twitter feed for further updates.
Stay tuned for the next one!

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