(Above,l): Pankaj Malviya, CEO, Conversy; (Top, r): Carolyn Crandall, CMO, Attivo Networks; and (Bottom, r): Jay Visvanathan, Executive Director, TiE SV. (All photos: Vansh A. Gupta/Siliconeer)

With a lineup of marketing gurus sharing their experiences and insights, a host entertaining the crowd with his quirky anecdotes, and a robust organization behind it, TiE Silicon Valley’s CMO Inflect 2018 was a huge hit with the Silicon Valley crowd, writes Siliconeer youth editor Vansh A. Gupta.

Marketing plays a crucial role in a business’ life. Let’s take Apple for example. When a new iPhone is created, the marketing team has to decide how it should be presented, the pricing, and how to make the product look appealing to consumers. Apple, notable for its marketing, has mostly been successful in selling its iPhones, until now.

In 2018, when the iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max were introduced, most critics were impressed with the products, but consumers aren’t that impressed. If 35-year Apple patrons suddenly criticize the “New Apple,” and long-time iPhone customers are suddenly looking at other options, the question arises: Where did the blunder happen? The answer is Apple’s marketing. The pricing of these products does not justify the product itself and Apple is clearly hurting.  Whether it’s Business Insider, Forbes, or Siliconeer, every media outlet agrees: Apple’s silence about the number of units it’s selling signals something is wrong.

(Clockwise from top): Wayne Ariola, CMO Tricentis; Blaine Mathieu, CMO Vantiq; Chandar Pattabhiram, CMO Coupa Software; Attendees at the CMO Inflect event; Team behind CMO Inflect; (L-r) Tricentis VP of Product Marketing, Anand Akela, and Chandar Pattabhiram converse with an attendee; Host, Jeffrey Hayzlett (l) converses; TiE Silicon Valley President, Ram Reddy (l) and Co-founder Quantela, Raju Indukuri at CMO Inflect; and Bryan Kramer, CEO, PureMatter. (All photos: Vansh A. Gupta)

Evidently, marketing is a crucial determinant for a business’ success. To substantiate the importance of a CMO in a company, TiE held a special conference introduced last year.

On Nov. 2, at the second floor of the Computer History Museum, TiE held it’s 2nd annual marketing conference with tracks presented by CMOs, entrepreneurs, and marketing executives. An enlightening event for marketing amateurs and a refreshing event for marketing gurus.

With an entertaining and engaging host, Jeffrey Hayzlett, and influential speakers from giants like SAP and Eventbrite and others like Vantiq and Engagio, CMO Inflect was an action-packed conference full of wisdom and engagement.

Kicking off the event with talk show and CMO Inflect host, Jeffrey Hayzlett, TiE Executive Director, Jay Visvanathan, and Tricentis VP of Product Marketing, Anand Akela, the room was quickly filling up and the tracks went by like clockwork.

Jeffrey Hayzlett, a ‘business celebrity,’ shared his personal anecdotes on his secrets of success from his latest book, The Hero Factor. He claims today, “We’re at an inflection point…” for technology and our “mindset.” He gives examples of AI, Blockchain, and the smartphone. Hayzlett also talks about brand value and explains the story of Dominos and how the brand promise changed from “30 minutes or it’s free” to “Our pizza tastes like cardboard [and we are going to change that].” The most important aspect of a company’s brand value is “transparence.”

Attendees at the CMO Inflect 2018. (Vansh A. Gupta/Siliconeer)

The first track was a keynote on marketing strategies presented by Jon Miller – CEO and co-founder, Engagio. Miller explains the importance of marketing in a company and the components of successful marketing. He claims, “Marketing can create good in the world.” This claim, however, is not recognized by consumers as a survey claims that out of a score of 100, advertising and sales’ honesty and ethical standards scores a meager 11 points. However, Jon Miller says this should and could be changed. Personalization, transparency, trust, and relevance are few components in “Marketing to Win.”

Following the keynote was a panel discussion on the impact of a CMO in a company of any scale presented by Carolyn Crandall, CMO, Attivo Networks; Wayne Ariola, CMO, Tricentis; and moderator Steven Wastie, CMO, Unravel Data. An interesting point put forth by Wayne Ariola, the difference in expectations set by large companies and startups for a CMO. In large companies, over-qualified candidates are not strongly considered and the role a CMO is segmented, however, a startup like Tricentis looks for someone who can “get the job done,”  “is a great fit,” and still has the energy to adapt. No matter what the age is, Silicon Valley CMOs are all about quality over quantity.

Concluding the morning tracks, attendees had dispersed for lunch and networking hour.

The rest of the day was brimmed with tracks, kicking off the afternoon with a very lively and passionate keynote, Pankaj Malviya, CEO, Conversy, who talked about the role of AI conversation in marketing and the benefits of it. Malviya proves that conversational marketing powered by AI can help turn anonymous visitors into real leads. He presented statistics to prove that chatbots are actually very helpful for marketing. In a survey conducted by Conversy, almost 70% of customers claim to have a positive experience with bots and about 60% claim that experience with a bot can positively impact a brand’s perception. In a personal conversation with him, Pankaj Malviya explains that the integration of AI-powered conversation is limitless and virtually any digital marketing platform would benefit from it.

Following this lively track, there were a few tracks on B2B marketing, data-based marketing, influencer marketing, and more.

“Influencer marketing?” Yep, that’s right! The track titled “If You’re not Doing Influencer Marketing, You’re Already Behind,” was presented by Amisha Gandhi, VP, Influencer Marketing, SAP; Bryan Kramer, CEO, PureMatter; Blaine Mathieu, CMO and CPO, Vantiq; and Karen Steele, CMO, Leandata, and moderated by Carter Hostelley, Principal, Leadtail. Kramer explains that the influencers you want are the type of people who say, “I love the product so much, I wasn’t expecting anything back.” “You want to take those people and put them in a position where they can share your sh**.” When asked how one becomes an influencer, Bryan had one simple response: “content.”

CMO Inflect was concluded with a keynote presented by Chandar Pattabhiram, CMO, Coupa Software. The keynote titled, “5 Steps to Ascend the Stairway to Customer Heaven,” was the only keynote where I didn’t blink even for a second. This enlightening presentation breaks down the complicated process of acquiring a loyal customer to five simple steps. The first step is “Awareness.” The best way to achieve the first step is to “shift from mass marketing to educational marketing.” The second step is “Acquisition.” Chandar claims, “align your sales and marketing and look at all-bound rather than inbound or outbound.” The next step is “Adoption.” Chandar asserts, “You cannot increase lifetime value of a customer until they have adopted everything they have bought (from you) in the first place.”  After adoption, comes “Add-ons” and the final step to “Customer Heaven” is “Advocacy.”

With the tagline, “Winning in the Market,” CMO Inflect 2018 was a winning event for Silicon Valley featuring a lineup of marketing gurus sharing their two-cents on various subjects, a celebrity host entertaining the crowd with his quirky anecdotes, and a robust organization behind it. Customer acquisition, AI and marketing, RevOps, and the significance of a CMO were some topics covered. The biggest takeaway from this conference is the importance of brand value and transparency.