Marketing Society Conference: Meet growing demands

Speakers ranging from Sir Alan Sugar to the former Formula One driver Damon Hill will illuminate this year's Marketing Society Conference with tales of how they generated a thriving bottom line.
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"Marketers shouldn't get hung up on supply. Generally they're not much good at that. On the other hand, don't expect Finance, HR or management consultants for that matter to help with demand. That's where good marketers come into their own."

At last year's annual Marketing Society Conference, research commissioned by McKinsey showed that "demand and top-line growth" were the two things which chief executives most expected from their marketing directors. As a result, the 2005 Marketing Society Conference on 15 November is concentrating on just that.

This focus has attracted great support from leading business people who are speaking at the conference. The Marketing Society has concentrated on bringing together chief executives whose perspective on marketing's role sets the tone for today's marketers. The list of speakers reads like a "Who's Who" of British business with each speaker in demand in their own right.

In the first session of the day, there will be a team of classic entrepreneurs who have built demand from scratch: Charles Dunstone, founder of The Carphone Warehouse in 1989, has also set up TalkTalk, the fastest growing telecom company in the UK, with over 1 million customers; Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent Drinks in 1999 has created the UK's fastest growing food and drink company and the No 1 smoothie brand in the UK; Damon Hill the 1996 Formula One World Champion will tell the story of his unique performance car club P1, which introduced the concept of fractional ownership for super-cars to the UK's motor enthusiasts.

Aided by Ross Walker, the Royal Bank of Scotland's UK economist, the ways each company has built demand from nothing will be explored. How did they all know pent-up demand was out there? Did they use research or gut feel? Once demand was recognised, how did they manage to scale up sufficiently to dominate their competition? What do they as entrepreneurs do differently from more established companies?

This final question raises an interesting argument about creating demand? Is it more difficult to turn around suffering brands or start from a clean sheet? Fortunately, speaking and answering questions in a session about "Fighting for Demand" the conference has Simon Kelner, the editor of The Independent whose decision to re-launch the paper as a compact, has revolutionised the UK media scene, with major competitors now following his lead.

How can competitive advantage built from innovation, be maintained? There is also Dianne Thompson, the chief executive of Camelot since 2000 who has overseen their return to growth and finally, Peter Beresford, the chairman and chief executive of McDonald's UK, who is leading a series of initiatives to restore the fortunes of the company. Questions being volunteered for this session make for fascinating consideration. What were the tell-tale signs of difficulty that you wish you had recognised earlier? What are the biggest barriers to a turnaround? How fragile does growth seem when re-building out of a decline?

Of course consumer demand ultimately depends on the economic cycle which is why a global perspective on demand has been included - India and China's economies are predicted to grow somewhat faster than the UK's. Standard Chartered, led by its group chief executive, Mervyn Davies, is a rare example of a FTSE-100 company whose main theatre of business is outside the UK, primarily in the Far East. A brand now seeking global expansion is also being covered. Peter Kenyon the chief executive of Chelsea Football Club, was the obvious choice after Jose Mourinho's team ran away with the Premiership last season. Mervyn and Peter can provide unique insights on global demand and rivalry for growth - as well as running Standard Chartered, Mervyn is a non-executive director of Chelsea's competitiors Tottenham Hotspur.

Finally, as people start to think about the legendary Marketing Society dinner, we needed a barn storming finish to the day. So Justin Sampson will run a session using the extensive research ITV has conducted on fame and how this relates to building demand. Then Sir Alan Sugar runs a session entitled "Demanding Audiences". Following the huge success of his appearance in The Apprentice, this will be a freewheeling session in which the audience can anticipate being challenged by Sir Alan who has not been universally supportive of marketing or marketing services such asadvertising or public relations in the past.

Equally conference attendees will be encouraged to question Sir Alan on what he believes the role of marketing should be, who should champion marketing in companies and how marketers should pitch their ideas to him! It's a fair guess that the 250 and more delegates who have already booked are looking forward to the session with Sir Alan with particular relish.

If you would like to book your place for the Marketing Society conference, which is supported by ITV and 'The Independent', please go to The Marketing Society website at www.marketing-society.org.uk or call the society on 020-8973 1700.

Chris Satterthwaite is chief executive of Chime Communications plc

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