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Conference-Review “Year of the goat”

Last Tuesday I attended the new digital conference “Year of the goat” in Hamburg. The organizers seek to establish this new format next to big events like “NEXT”, “DMEXCO” or “re:publica”. And you can feel the differences: A hip location (Markthalle), national and international speaker all speaking english, and a mix of short lectures and workshops. The conference focuses on digital transformation and the consequences for society, entrepreneurship and marketing. This article reflects my opinion on my experiences and will give some insights on inspiring topics I remember the most.

The goat

The goat is name-animal of the conference in 2015 because of the Chinese signs of the zodiac Source: http://yearofthegoat.co/hamburg/

Big Brands

Two of the worlds most iconic brands made it on stage at the Year of the goat: The global marketing director of VW passenger cars Anders-Sundt Jensen talked about the change in perspective within the corporation: From product to people. And campaigns are not longer just a “to-many-communication” (few times a year), but also “to-one-communication” (always on). To change that, VW needs to handle all data that are collected at all the different consumer touchpoints. VW is working hard to combine these data, get insights about customers and tries to develop interactions and services from that data. And in a few weeks, they expect the breakthrough, whatever that means ;-).

After that, Fernando Machado, global brand director for Burger King told his story how he got hired at burger king, after he was responsible for some truly remarkable campaigns (“Beauty sketches”) at Dove. He really saw the power of the Burger King brand, which was obvious when watching customers, but was not noticeable in the marketing campaigns. He is now changing this: With the message “We are the same inside” Burger King made an appearance at the San Francisco Pride-Festival, while offering a new burger in a new packaging. It turns out: It was just the Whopper and that was the genius idea to that message. Currently he his working on a new campaign: Burger King asked McDonalds to work together on the McWhopper for the world-freedom-day on the 21th of september. But McDonalds denied. No problem – three other competitors jumped on. Brilliant marketing tactic!

Note: Data is money (you should accelerate the digital business transformation in your company) and if people believe in your brand, then this is good reason to further invest in it.

Granular Society

Another exciting topic was target groups: Dr. Christoph Kucklick, Editor in Chief at GEO, shared his thoughts on the „granular society“. He his convinced that machines with artificial intelligence will use our data in a way never seen before: Obama already uses clever CRM-software to drive a one-to-one election campaign to deliver individual political message to each human. And that is, how he sees the future: We are all individuals, there are just a few people just like us – so for marketers there are only very small audiences that can be reached with one message. And more than that – he predicts that for our society this diversity is valuable: We will be more tolerant and kind to each other than ever before.

Harley Ard from the Stylus Media Group touches a similar point: Defining target groups gets difficult, as the people are getting more and more diverse in their way of live, way of thinking, consuming and feeling. She shared some insights on their observations how the global society changes and how this is reflected in different countries. The results are really impressive. But what does this mean for marketing? What if we don’t think about people as our targets, but topics, events, emotions, place, media and time? I agree, this could be the key to reach a big audience that has unique feelings and thoughts, at least to one specific fact.

Note: Don’t define target groups based on demograhpic data – focus on time, place and topic. With a good CRM this gets much easier.


Did you know, what teamwork has to do with soccer? We can learn a lot from the spanish team that won the european championship 2012: They won, becauce the interaction (walkways, passes) between each player was nearly perfect and very close. Teamwork at its best. But how would we reach this kind of interaction? The organisers keynote provides an answer: Self-organised and self-responsible teams are more efficient, faster and more succesful then hierarchic structures. As an example for that, we can have a look at the Buurtzorg Model that successfully transforms home care with self-governing teams.

But there were two more sessions about this topic, with concret ideas for developing productive team structures: Peter Burow, NeuroPower Group, came all the way from Australia to talk about 6 success factors:

  1. Belonging/relating – Each member should feel as a part of the group
  2. Expression – label the emotions and feelings of each teammember
  3. Status matters – the team should be rewarded for successes, not a single person
  4. With love comes forgiveness – interpersonal connection are key to a healthy teamspirit
  5. Seeing the facts – making the track and the project numbers transparent to the team
  6. Hope – Let the team focus on a shared vision and sought result

Last but not least, Stefanie Kuhnen, Strategy Director at Grabarz & Partner shared her vision of the KEI – Key Emotional Indicators. When establishing a productive collaboration culture there are some values, that are necessary: Empathy, Integrety and Appreciation.

Key Emotional Indicators

Key Emotional Indicators, developed by Stefanie Kuhnen Source: http://www.slideshare.net/GrabarzPartner/shaping-healthy-collaboration-through-keis-52509613

In my opinion a very smart move for every company to use KEI for providing contrast to the normal used KPIs. Without a good working culture we just can’t be successful.

Note: If you want to be succesful, make sure that your marketing team as well as your agency team can work in a productive way together. Otherwise, your goals based on KPIs will remain dreams and won’t become reality.

Will I join the event in 2016 again?

Yes! The whole conference made a lasting impression on me – thanks to the hip location, the small number of guests, the various speakers and topics and the quality of thoughts and cases. I recommend this format to everyone, who wants to get new impulses on how digital transforms our society and corporate culture.