Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Marketing Conference: Faster, Cheaper, More Focused

This week I attended the Second Annual Marketing Conference organized by the Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Haifa & the North. This followed the first conference I attended last year, and was once again held at the International Convention Center Haifa. There were about 250 people attending, slightly fewer than last year.

The morning started with greetings from Haifa's deputy mayor, Oded Dunitz, who spoke about the city's development, and noted that the number of tourists visiting Haifa has doubled in the past year. Then the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Gad Shefer welcomed the participants.

The first lecture was by Osnat Rubin, who has spoken at two conferences I have attended, this year's ITA conference, and the last Jasmine conference. She explained that marketing messages should focus on the customer's needs and how the product/service benefits the customer. Next, Amir Cahani told us about providing value. He noted that locating a new customer costs 5-8 times more than preserving an existing customer, and stressed the importance of long-term relationships with customers, and of professional ethics. Avi Osipov of Open College presented his lecture as a story of a computer technician trying to find the right way to advertise his business. The suggestions were asking existing customers to give referrals, opening a business Facebook page with recommendations, and providing appropriate content.

After a short break, Yahel Demeter introduced us to his method of sociological branding, explaining that the brand has to represent something symbolic, not just functional, for the customers to want to be associated with it. To create good branding, it is important to study the potential customers through sociological theories. Next, Josepha Edman, who spoke at last year's conference, told us how to use Facebook ads for effective advertising, and gave practical tips for creating a good business page. She argued that Facebook ads are becoming more popular than Google AdWords.

Next there was a panel about marketing to different sectors in Israel. These sectors are the Israeli Arabs (20%), the Russian immigrants (15-20%), and the ultra-orthodox Jews (11% or more). Keren Bar told us that marketing to the ultra-orthodox sector stresses family values and uses sales promotion and word-of-mouth marketing. Jumana Boulus described the Israeli Arab population as having a growing middle class, with a rising education level and greater disposable income. Marketing to this sector should focus on community marketing, sales promotion, and should create an emotional connection to the brand. This sector has a greater cellular market than the Jewish population, and a new Arabic language television channel to be opened in 2012 will provide new opportunities. Avner Korin explained that there has been a decline in Russian printed newspapers, and now Russian speakers are very active online. This panel was not given enough time, so the audience was not able to ask questions and develop a discussion.

Nahum Donitza discussed digital media and the importance of creating a community, providing interesting content that encourages social interaction. He noted that Israelis spend more time than any other population on social media, and that 65.5% of them read their friends' recommendations.

Finally, Zeev Klang presented cellular marketing, noting that only 45% of cellular activity now is phone calls. The advantage of cellular marketing is that it is focused, content is sent only to those who request it, our phones are with us all the time, the some content can be location-relevant.

The conference ended with lunch. In general, it was well-organized and the lectures were more or less on time. I learned a few new things, and felt motivated by having things that I already knew confirmed. I met about ten people I knew. I hope to attend next year's conference.

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