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Last week I has the pleasure of attending the World Marketing Summit held in Toronto. The Summit, which is committed to "Creating a Better World through Marketing" was founded in 2010 by Philip Kotler, the Father of Modern Marketing. He is also the S.C. Johnson & Son Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management. Toronto was granted the privilege of being the first city in North American city to host the event, as someone humorously pointed out “ Canada actually got something before the U.S.!?” Afterwards, the Summit makes it way to Bahrain, Singapore, Seoul, Korea, and Tokyo, Japan and judging from the lineup of international cities hosting the event, this was a significant event to be held in Canada.

Professor Kotler opened with a discussion on the "New Marketing" in today's disruptive climate and highlighted some key elements to consider: focusing on mobile marketing, incorporating social media platforms for advertising, utilizing marketing automation, and achieving success by building a reputation as an authentic customer caring company. Moreover, the consequence of marketing in the digital age means that people are no longer just influenced by a company's advertisement, consumers are now globally connected and can be influenced by anyone anywhere in the world.

Image: Professor Philip Kotler

​The summit was an incredible opportunity to mingle with marketers, be stimulated by technological achievements, and inspired by innovation. The Schulich Marketing Association (SMA) was a supporter of the event and myself (SMA, Co-President) and Chelsea Margolis (SMA, Vice President) had the great pleasure to be there as delegates representing SMA.

Some of the key takeaways of the conference were:

The Emerging Megatrends

  • Declining birthrate

  • Improving the status of women

  • Faster growth in emerging economies

  • Rapid urbanization

  • The sharing society

  • Increase shortage of food, water, and energy; the depletion of forests and fisheries

  • Climate change and increased pollution, both in water and air

  • Weakening urban infrastructure with decreasing financial resources

  • Continued development of biotech, nanotech, 3D printing, cloud computing, and The Internet of Things (IoT)—"Anything that can be connected, will be connected."

The Disruptor

  • Don’t just be an innovator, be a disruptor. Moreover, disrupt yourself first and then the customer, the product, the service, and the industry. This makes perfect sense because if you are uncomfortable with ambiguity and interrupting your own status quo then how can you possibly be effective disrupting an industry.

  • Airbnb, Uber, the iPhone—these are industry disruptors that created a new niche. If you're serving an established market segment then look to see if you can create a new one. There can only be one first mover.

The Customer & Community

  • Gather data on the customer journey (well that sounds familiar—thank you customer experience design class #CX17) BUT there isn’t just one journey; one size does not fit all. This is where creating personas can be beneficial—a marketer needs to discover three to four popular journeys to engage the customer.

  • Throughout the journey these customers should be participating with a brand though touch points and cues (see CLASS 02 CED post)

  • Building a brand community is important. An excellent example of this is Harley Owners Group or HOG (Harley-Davidson). This is a unique community of Harley-Davidson enthusiasts who are not just loyal to the brand, they live the brand. Moreover, this is not just a North American passion, the Harley-Davidson community is a cultural global phenomenon.

  • Building customer trust is essential. The consumer needs to know that the company, the brand cares about them. This is crucial because we are no longer in a marketing space where a business controls the brand, it is the consumer who controls the brand. Social media, word of mouth, social influencers—these are the key masters of today’s marketing landscape.

The Artificial Construct

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)—yes it will make some jobs obsolete but it will also create new jobs. Thus, we need to figure out how to work with AI and not fight it because like it or not, it’s a disrupter. So, how can we exploit this new technology to our benefit and situate it where it will be most effective; a tool to cooperate with it rather than contest.

  • Reframe AI—instead of seeing it as replacing something, look at it as an opportunity to enhance something; marketers can use this to their advantage.

  • A question raised was how to govern AI and keep data safe. One solution proposed was to put the power in the hands of the customer—give them a role to help make AI both systemized and secure to not only improve the customer experience but transform it. This concept taps into User-Centered Design, a design process that focuses on user needs and requirements by collaborating with the end-user. This also provides an opportunity to build trust with the customer.

  • There is a real opportunity for AI in developing countries where computers are not common but cell phones are. AI will be an agricultural disruptor aiding developing countries in need of long-term sustainable solutions for economic growth.[i]

  • Another excellent use of AI is in the area of customer service where AI and Chatbots are redefining the customer experience. Before you protest, think of this: humans need to sleep, are language limited, and are a limited resource in terms of numbers—we have all been put on hold—does Siri ever put you on hold? I rest my case.[ii]

  • Artificial Reality (AR) is changing the marketing environment. Advertisements are no longer stagnant 2D images. Instead, they are rapidly morphing optically inspired dimensional messages where a marketer has 30 seconds to grab the viewer’s attention before the next ad appears or someone holds up their new iPhone X to manipulate the ad to their liking. The consumer has the control!

  • Get to know a neuroscientist—they are very cool! Collaborate with them because they can tell you everything you need to know about the behaviour of a consumer and what the consumer will do before they even know!

The Required Hardware + Software

  • ​​Create visual hammers for your brand—essentially attach a significant image to your brand. McDonalds has the golden arches, Nike has the swoosh, and Target has the bullseye. People process and remember a visual better than words. Visuals create emotion and are more powerful than words for positioning. A visual hammer subconsciously communicates the emotional power of a brand while also "hammering" a verbal idea into the mind. The designer in me appreciates this entire concept. (book: Visual Hammer, nail your brand in to the mind, with the emotional power of a visual by Laura Reis)

  • I was slightly dismayed when Chris Stamper from TD Trust said the best marketing people are finance people. Augh!

  • I quickly recovered from that point with three qualities that were discussed that make a marketer: (1) authenticity ✅, (2) obsession ✅ ✅—I completely obsessed over the layout, and word spacing of this post, and (3) curiosity ✅ .

  • my two favourite takeaways: (1) Collaboration is King and (2) be passionate and be inquisitive—you have permission to be nosey

So, can a better world be created through marketing? Well, I for one feel it's possible and feel inspired after having listened to the outstanding lineup at last week's event!


Plastino, A. O. (2017). How artificial intelligence can drive South America’s growth. Retrieved Nov. 2017, from

Shep Hyken, S. (2017, July 15). AI And Chatbots Are Transforming The Customer Experience. Retrieved Nov. 2017, from

[i] (Plastino, 2017)

[ii] (Shep Hyken, 2017)

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