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Interview with a Marketer: Mitch Joel on Life in a Digital World

I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing one of my marketing heroes last night.

Life in a Digital World with Mitch Joel

I felt a bit like a cross between Seth Godin and Michael Parkinson – all be it with a fraction of their wit and intelligence – when I had the pleasure of interviewing Mitch Joel at the London Bloggers Meetup. We had an audience of 50 or so bloggers, marketers and comms professionals all keen to get the lowdown on everything and anything digital.

Mitch is a well known personality in the digital marketing world. He’s President of digital marketing agency Twist Image, a frequent blogger and podcaster at Six Pixels of Separation and now an established business book author too.

Mitch joined us as the London Bloggers Meetup to talk about ‘Life in a Digital World’ and to introduce his latest book Ctrl Alt Delete. It was far from a book pitch, in fact it was much more thought provoking and inspirational than that.

Mitch shared his perspectives on everything and anything we threw at him to do with digital, fielding questions for an hour before he was whisked away to a client dinner.

Early on in the interview Mitch set the tone of the conversation by saying ‘marketing is a function of digital’. This nicely elevated the conversation above social media marketing which is surely by now a rather hackneyed topic.

In Ctrl, Alt, Delete, Mitch gives an overview of his ‘five movements’ that are changing the face of business. You’ll have to read the book the get the full story, but essentially:

1. People want direct relationships with brands

2. Consumers want utility and value from marketing

3. There are passive and active media channels to explore and a right and wrong time for both

4. Data is fundamentally changing how brands interact with consumers

5. We are entering a one screen world

These make a lot of sense to me. However the data story particularly resonates. Having recently produced a conference on the theme of ‘next generation research’ I’ve had my eyes opened considerably as to what information is available to marketers and what this means from a marketing optimisation point of view.

The digital data trail we leave behind as we navigate our lives online is really quite staggering. I’m in two minds as to whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, but as consumers we all have to realise there’s nothing free on the internet. If you want to use Facebook, twitter or any social network without charge, the trade off is you give them a licence to use your data. Get used to it, or get off the net.

You can read a much more in-depth review of Mitch’s thoughts and ideas from Phil Szomszor here. This is one event where I would have liked to be in the audience as well as being the interviewer.

Mitch was everything I expected of a marketing maven, but to my surprise and delight he was also really quite self-effacing too. No diva behaviour at all and this only heightened my admiration for the man.

Following on from Mitch I chaired a panel session with David Keene (Head of Enterprise Marketing UK & IE, Google), Phil Szomszor (Head of Business and Digital at Firefly PR) and Rob Wilmot (Entrepreneur and investor) where we embellished on the topic and discussed the Google stories du jour: G+, Hummingbird, authorship, how enterprise is using G+ and more.

We also had a chance to play with Google Glass which was an experience. I’m not convinced I’ll be a customer when it launches, but you have to admire Google’s innovation.

Overall a truly great evening. Hat tips to all of our speakers and to Google UK who hosted us at their splendid offices in Central London.