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At the BMA: B-to-b marketers spark ideas in Firestarter session

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Chicago—In a fast-paced Firestarter session designed to ignite ideas about b-to-b marketing, marketers from Dow Corning Corp., General Electric Co. and Juniper Networks presented some new ways of thinking about b-to-b on Day 2 of the BMA “Blaze” conference. Randall Rozin, global director-brand management and marketing communications at Dow Corning Corp., drew on ideas from existential philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Soren Kierkegaard, and from physicist Albert Einstein. “Existentialism and brand marketing are interrelated in so many ways,” Rozin said. “The existential questions—Why am I here? What is my mission? Why do I exist?—are the same questions we as marketers ask about our brands.” Rozin presented his own theory of brand management: “Brand is the sum of promises kept/promises made over time.” In a joint Firestarter talk, Steve Liguori, executive director-global innovation and new models at GE, and Anthony Goldbloom, CEO of analytics company Kaggle Inc., talked about how they partnered on two initiatives to crowdsource innovation for two GE businesses. “Crowdsourcing is really, really new in the b-to-b space,” Liguori said, pointing to GE's Flight Quest and Hospital Quest crowdsourcing contests, in which GE and Kaggle presented complex data sets to analysts in the aviation and hospital industries and offered prizes for winning algorithms that would improve experiences in the two industries. “This is not about customers or finding prospects; it's about developing brand new products,” Liguori said. Lauren Flaherty, exec VP-CMO at Juniper Networks, said the pace of change in technology is so “breathtaking” that marketers must find ways to keep up or they risk becoming an endangered species. “The shifts are tectonic; this is a time to pay really close attention,” she said. Flaherty offered the following strategies for CMOs to stay on top of the changes: Get millennials on the team; start developing mobile apps; take notes from b-to-c on handling Big Data; give customers high-function tools that help them in their everyday activities; and create velocity, because “time is the new killer app,” she said.
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