As marketers, we’re constantly being inundated with the next big marketing tactic. We’re lured in by the promise of reach, potential, relevance and the ever-elusive “cool factor” to capture the slippery attention of our evolving audience. We are duped into believing that without the latest technology or platform, our products will lack impact and lose importance. Our entire careers are now determined by our ability to leverage bleeding edge tactics (and often times, gimmicks) so that we can sell our brands, and keep our jobs. Of course, none of this is mandated.
I hear my dad, Michael Loeb, say all the time that the same marketing tactics that worked in the Mad Men era still work today, it’s just the format that marketers need to adjust to. Meaning, the conversations, the segmentation, the communication has not changed, and never will. What will change is where those conversations take place, how we segment users, how the communication looks. The advent of data and technology has spurred this pivot, but any good marketer will be experienced enough not to panic in the face of these changes – rather, keen to learn how they could benefit from them.
This is a fine line that only few can tread. Marketers are destined to the overwhelming fate of sifting through too-many flashy options and having others tell them what is right for their own brands, making it impossible to distinguish the real from the fluff. Which is why Loeb NYC paired up with our partner and friend Bonin Bough to offer a course-correction opportunity through our event series, The Or Not Experience.
The series is designed to focus on the trendiest marketing tactics, the ones shrouded in pomp and frill, in order to demystify them for brand marketers, creating a safe space where they can ask the questions they may have been too intimidated to ask in a formal setting. This year’s subject: Blockchain. The title? Block Or Not.
The audience was split between Brand Marketers and crypto pioneers – two groups who have rarely ever overlapped, now together bonding under one roof. The idea was to bring together these two dichotomous camps to have conversations about how one can benefit from the other and more importantly introduce themselves and their missions in a setting where they can let down their guard.
We expected a few connections to be made. We thought a couple of follow up meetings would be scheduled. But in reality, we were stunned by the results. We saw meaningful relationships form and deals born. I’ve even watched partnerships germinate between entities in our own portfolio and some of the blockchain networks we met. Collaborations and new career paths were forged that day – all out of the simple necessity for honest and accurate information.
For that reason, The Or Not Experience is becoming a staple event marketing brand between Loeb NYC and Bonin ventures. Each year, we plan to host dinners and activations at major conferences like SXSW and CES, and of course, our curate our own flagship event in Southampton, NY. And while each year the theme will change, the requirement for empowerment via information will never change. As we’ve already seen, the juice is worth the squeeze.
Babs Rangaiah, Exec. Partner, Global Marketing, IBM:
“Blockchain is going to be a truly transformative technology. In fact, our CEO [Ginni Rometty] said that blockchain will do for transactions what the internet did for communications. Think about how big of a statement that is.”
Ryan Singer, Co-Founder, President Chia Network Inc.:
“I’ve been surprised by the utopianism” around blockchain technology. They’re taking a technology that very much was broken in a different industry and pretending it can fix the things that are broken in their industry, just because they’re looking for an opportunity to change.”
Douglas Rushkoff, Media Theorist:
“My main message is the blockchain a lot of them are wishing on, it’s not only that it’s a pyramid scheme that is going to crash for 99% of the people who are involved in it, it’s not just that. I would say 0.1% of the applications that people are envisioning for blockchain could actually work.”
Sam Cassatt, Chief Strategy Officer, Consensys:
“What is really is, is a new type of trusted database technology, that can allow parties that don’t trust each other to share the same source of information.”
“This is like a global computer that’s trustable because no one owns it.”
Shelly Palmer, CEO Palmer Group:
“Blockchain technology is open source and free to use by any developer who is competent. What is not in any way commoditized is domain expertise. That’s what you bring to any project.”
Bob Lord, Chief Digital Officer, IBM:
“My objective was to have them specifically understand that blockchain can be a tool for marketers to use. But more importantly, how do you use blockchain technology to enhance your brand?”
“With a trusted transaction system, I can create a value exchange with a customer in ways I’ve never been able to do before. I can get it down to their mobile devices, I can have it that one to one exchange which we all have been dreaming about.”