Latest Keynote: The New Rules of the Marketing Dance

Last week, I attended a marketing happy hour, hosted by MarketingProfs and Oracle/Eloqua.

After a fine glass of Oregon Pinot Noir, I had an epiphany. In spite of the hoopla around the benefits of content marketing and predictive analytics for today’s modern marketers, and Oracle/Eloqua’s steady stream of acquisitions, nothing replaces the power of the “human cloud.”

Ann Handley & Lisa2



Targeted, thoughtful networking with live humans trumps technology. Ann Handley, Content goddess extraordinaire (pictured above), inspired me to come up with this saying:

Talk more; tweet less.


copyright 2014, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.


I just spoke at the High Rock Marketing Summit in Maryland, hosted by High Rock Studios. Over 250 entrepreneurs and nonprofit executives participated, and learned about the most effective ways to win the hearts and minds of their communities.

My keynote session, entitled: “All The Right Moves: The New Rules of the Marketing Dance,” covered these key points:

High Rock Summit keynote21. Today’s buyers are dancing freestyle. They don’t want to be led. Today, even if you have the most elaborate tracking and analytics mechanisms, you can only see less than HALF of what customers are saying about you. The Atlantic found that people can talk about your company through email, Skype, and instant messaging—and nobody sees these messages. And big data server farms could be missing more than half of the information about your customers. Alexis Madrigal, a contributor to The Atlantic, found that in The Atlantic’s case, 56.5% of social traffic sources remained invisible to data analytics programs. She named this the “dark social” phenomenon.

2. Over-investing in digital marketing is like having two left feet. Human discernment, critical thinking skills, and live, face to face value exchange are still essential pieces of the marketing equation. An increasing number of my marketing clients are increasing their investments in live breakfast meetings, executive planning sessions, and customer advisory boards.

High Rock Summit 1 book signing3. Great dancers don’t always wait for their partners to tell them what to do next. Neither should marketing leaders. If you wait for your CEO or CFO to tell you how to structure your marketing plan, you are an order taker, not a market maker. During planning meetings, marketers should be able to say “Here’s what the marketing plan looks like. Remember what metrics I showed you last quarter? Here’s the progress we made this quarter.’“ And the leading metrics you select should not be number of twitter followers, PR buzz, and number of new subscribers–unless you are a startup.

4.  Dancers are willing to leap. When modern marketers take a leap of faith from “order taker” to “market maker,” they succeed by factoring all 7 areas into their planning and change process:

Market Maker Model 2014

5. Dancers know their limitations. When a marketer embarks on a new initiative, such as predictive analytics, demand creation, Voice of the Customer, or other program, they need to first be honest about what changes are possible. The starting point is the true gap between your organization’s CORE values (the stated way you do things) and the OPERATING values (how things really get done).

The wider the gap, the less prepared your company will be to allow you to make that shift towards a strategic contributor and  advisor to the CEO.

Much like we have seen with Dancing with the Stars—which recently celebrated its 300th episode – we must be open to some freestyle thinking in order to be modern marketers. I have been a fan of the show for years. It is a great escape from the world of intellectual pursuits. When that show started 16 seasons ago, they judged the dancers on traditional dance: foxtrot, waltz, jive, and so on. Last season, we saw the Charleston, African Jazz, and Hip Hop take center stage.

This is a metaphor for who you need to be in this new, customer-driven marketing function. These principles guide us on the marketing dance floor.

If you would like a copy of my presentation, just drop me a note. 

copyright 2014, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.


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