Written by Heather Bowen Ray

How will the World Social Marketing Conference in Toronto shape your work? For me, the ideas and relationships formed there promise to be incredibly influential in both my consulting practice and my volunteer work with the ISMA.

WSMC Toronto

On the flight home, I had a chance to think about my top takeaways gleaned from both speakers and partipants. Here are some of those thoughts.

1. Social marketing, as a field/discipline, has some gaps to fill. We need:

  • More “consumer research”-focused innovators in the pipeline.
  • Greater forward momentum, less retrospective / introspective sharing.
  • Ability not only share successes but to call out “bad social marketing” programs/campaigns so we don’t repeat mistakes or waste resources.
  • Collaboration with other disciplines working to set the agenda for world social change priorities.
  • More practitioners who share an understanding of the forces moving us toward the “service dominant logic” marketing model. (And perhaps someone to coin a catchier term for “service dominant logic”…)
  • A greater sense of unified purpose–to care less about who developed a particular idea and more about which ideas are working now and in the future to solve the biggest social challenges.

2. We have accomplished much — and need to continue taking full advantage of our strengths and new opportunities.

  • Our current leaders have influenced not only societies around the world, but the field of commercial marketing itself. We may have contributed to global progress more than we realize. For example, when Alan Andreason said he wished that the field of Social Marketing would have become more influential within commercial marketing, Joan Young, CEO of Australian social research firm Colmar Brunton, said, “From the research practitioner perspective, your work has helped our organization to be successful. There is more interest in social marketing models from the commercial side than from our social clients. You are putting rigor and science into the general marketing field.”
  • The amount of free data analytics tools available to us as social marketers is TRULY AMAZING. And–while it doesn’t help our case for separating the fields of “social media marketing” and “social marketing”–we need to admit that social media actually is more than just the tools, and data generated through online activity can inform us to make better decisions. If you missed the end of Mike Kujawski’s presentation on this topic, don’t worry, we’ll share more about that soon.

What do you think? How will you use what you learned at WSM Conferences this year? With 11 breakout sessions to choose from multiple times per day, each of us is bound to have different perspectives and takeaways… so please share your comments and links. Let’s continue the discussion.

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Be sure to also check out “10 Reflections on the 2013 World Social Marketing Conference” by Jennifer Wayman on Ogilvy’s Social Marketing exChange. In addition to providing an excellent recap, she’s suggesting the discipline call itself “social change marketing”… personally, I love it! What do you think?


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