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Surviving the Shift: An Evening With Mitch Joel


What poses a greater risk to a company: Completely overhauling its business model, or continuing “business as usual”?

Marketing legend and author Mitch Joel argues it’s the latter—and resisting change in the digital age is a cataclysmic mistake no company can afford to make.

That’s why we were thrilled to introduce DATA’s new brand identity and hear from the “Rock Star of Digital Marketing” himself last week at TIFF Bell Lightbox. 


In the next few years, it’s estimated that digital will account for 75 percent of most companies’ marketing budgets, and mobile will account for 50 percent, according to Accenture’s 2014 CMO Insights survey. There’s no question companies have to evolve to meet the shifting demands of the digital age. That’s the premise of Joel’s bookCtrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends on It. 

Over 100 people braved the after-effects of Toronto’s biggest snowstorm of the year to hear what Joel had to say about the most important evolutions of the digital transformation and the impact it’s having on brands everywhere. If you were among them, thank you. 

It was a fantastic evening. The venue was beautiful. The conversation was flowing, as was the food and drink. And of course, the company was delightful.

Now that the bar has been set, we welcome your feedback and look forward to having more events like this in the future.  Here are some of the highlights in photos and quotes.

On The New DATA CM

We set the tone for the evening with an introduction from DATA Senior Vice President of Sales, Steve Wittal. Steve has a long history with DATA and has been instrumental in our transformation, ensuring our new services align with the needs of our customers. 


Anyone who knows me knows I never pass up the opportunity to get a few words in myself, so I took a moment to share what we've been hearing from our customers and introduce our new website, The new site has been designed to better highlight our services and capabilities while demonstrating the value we bring to leading companies across North America. 


Finally it was time to introduce Mitch Joel, who took command of the room and offered his take on everything from video streaming to Snapchat. 

On Digital Transformation


To thrive in the digital age, Joel contends marketing must shift from a vertical within every organization to a horizontal that flows through every department at every level.

“I often argue that digital transformation is much more of an internal philosophy (that is leadership-led) and internal execution, before it's something that touches a brand's consumers," Joel said. "It's difficult to say that your organization is ‘digital first’ or leading the way in ‘digital transformation,’ if your leaders are not pushing the organization in this direction, or when the tools that the employees are using to build the business are legacy.”

On the Impermanent Internet


On one hand, the Internet serves as a massive repository for anything we do. We can build up a digital history with photos, articles and more. Obviously, this can be a great advantage or a curse for us personally and professionally, depending on how we use the Internet. On the other hand, Joel argued, owning content is becoming less and less important in the age of streaming and Snapchat.

This “impermanent Internet” represents a massive shift in how the new consumer communicates online.

Snapchat may have appeared to be a fad when it first debuted, but Facebook has been testing a similar feature with disappearing messages on its Messenger app.

“Suddenly, having content that we create with the full knowledge that it will both self-destruct and be impermanent could well usher in a new kind of content and consumer,” Joel said.

On Surviving the Live Brand World


The rise of social media demands a new level of transparency from brands. Companies are forced to publicly respond to angry customers, and any misstep or message taken out of context can quickly go viral. 

Now, with video streaming, social media is moving from a “record and publish” model to one that is live all the time.

We’re seeing brands livestream content on newer apps like Periscope and Meerkat, but more established channels like Facebook and Snapchat are also getting onboard. Video already takes priority over other content on Facebook, enhancing a brand’s visibility in search results. Now, Facebook is considering live videos as a new type of content and factoring that into its formula for what content users see in their news feeds.

It has even started paying celebrities to use its live-streaming service.

“Facebook is giving all of us a glimpse into the future,” Joel said. “Brands are next. Brands can decide if they simply want to advertise along with these celebrities, or if they want to have real skin in the content game.”

Actually executing live content—and dealing with all the potential legal ramifications that go with it—will be a challenge, he adds, “but— much like social media—the movement towards live is clear.”

Finding the Way Forward


All this is a lot to think about, and for marketers who are already strapped for internal resources, it can seem overwhelming.

Integrating the elements of long-established paper-based processes into a forward-thinking, digital-first strategy is where we feel we can offer the most value for our clients. We’ve been helping them manage the execution of their end-to-end business communications for many years, and our new company name, DATA Communications Management, now reflects that. We’ve been at this for more than 50 years and have learned a lot along the way, and we look forward to continuing to use that knowledge to help our clients save money and grow their business.

For more tips on surviving the digital transformation without blowing your budget, check out this handy resource, 10 Steps to Squeezing More Out of Your Marketing Budget.

Topics Marketing


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