I’ve just returned from a week in NYC, and the announcement of my new business ventures during the Inspiration Festival. It was a whirwind of a week, starting with a weekend at The Gathering, held this year in Brooklyn, with an endless stream of mind-blowing presentations from artists, entrepreneurs, writers, musicians and scientists, and ending with a preview of Wired’s NextFest, complete with intelligent robots, futuristic cars and Branson’s new space ship. In the middle was Juliette Powell’s Inspiration Festival, a 3-day gathering of top creatives from all over the world who converged on New York for Advertising Week. There were a lot of compelling presentations and discussions on marketing, advertising, technology and culture, at venues ranging from an art gallery to a breathtaking former synagogue in Soho–and some of the best art and entertainment imaginable. It was a far cry from the hotel ballroom-and-buffet conferences that put you to sleep before lunch–and a fantastic venue to launch two new ventures…
First up, the Value Added Marketing Association. I launched VAMA to address one of the most persistent shortcomings of marketing today–technology is advancing far faster than marketers are able to adopt or adapt it. Most marketers think they’re on the cutting edge if they’re managing SEM programs or deploying blogs, but there’s a world of technology out there that could help improve the practice of marketing, if only there were marketers who knew how to use it. In the Enterprise IT space, there’s long been a successful channel of Value Added Resellers who bridge the gap between application Vendors and IT managers. VARs keep up with all the latest technology so IT can focus on keeping their systems functioning properly. VARs have become trusted advisors who make product recommendations, assist with installation and integration, and even help with system training and maintenance. The existence of VARs has accelerated the development of new enterprise applications, and helped IT managers keep up with the new technology.
Now we need the same structure for marketing. Marketers simply must get smarter about technology, and the best way to do so is to provide a channel that can help them identify and target relevant technologies that can improve the effectiveness of their programs. VAMA will provide that structure by creating an association that connects marketing technology vendors, marketing agencies, and marketing operations managers. VAMA will spotlight new technologies to keep marketers in the loop; beginning in ’07 we’ll publish an annual list of the VAM100, and host an annual marketing technology conference called VAMX. Check out the VAMAweb site, and let me know if you have any recommendations for the ’07 VAM100 list.
My second venture, MotiveLab, is a parallel concern–a "marketing lab" where marketing fundamentals can be explored in the light of new technologies. I’m already working on my first project–a product roadmap for a publicly traded company, which, instead of being published as a paper brick that will be out of date in 6 months, will be deployed as an internal Wiki, where product managers can keep their roadmaps continually up-to-date and accessible to stakeholders. I’m also exploring a mash-up between social-networking and content management tools to power a customer advisory board.
MotiveLab is essentialy where I’ll have the chance to explore, while VAMA will ensure that I have one ear always to the ground to know what’s up and coming in marketing technology.
I’ve got a lot of work ahead, but now that the seemingly endless incubation has ended, I can focus more on the kind of work I love to do. You should be seeing some more consistency in the Marketonomy posts, and some more penetrating analysis of marketing strategy, finance and technology in the days and weeks ahead. Let me know what you think of the new ventures.