About 100 handpicked marketers representing companies including Intel, Google, GM and HP gathered at Kahuna’s headquarters in Redwood City, Calif. last night to hear Geoffrey Moore’s insights on digital marketing.

It was the first event in Kahuna’s new series for marketing professionals.

Kahuna’s new office by the water once housed DreamWorks, and according to Adam Marchick, Kahuna’s CEO, the company bar can be found on Google Maps (We checked: “Kahuna Cantina” is indeed listed).

kahuna cantina

Moore, author of the marketing guide “Crossing the Chasm,” just published “Zone to Win: Organizing to Compete in an Age of Disruption.”

Getting in the Zone

His latest title introduces the concept of zone management and its four zones: performance, productivity, incubation and transformation. Kahuna had made it required reading, and it’s a book for anyone who has an innovative mind, Marchick said.

During the event, Marchick facilitated the conversation with Moore, discussing some of the biggest changes in high-tech marketing.

The important changes came in three waves of about a decade each, Moore said.

“The ‘90s was the coming-of-age of B2B marketing in high-tech,” Moore said. “There was not a significant consumer movement.”

After the Y2K bubble popped, the next wave was B2C. It “came out of absolutely nowhere,” Moore said. It was a new way of thinking about marketing, more about log files than it was about people. 

“Google violated every single reasonable principle of how to run a company I could imagine. It wasn’t marketing in any sense that I recognized … It wasn’t people. It was math.”

The digitization of marketing was led by Facebook and Google rather than Wal-Mart and Proctor and Gamble, Moore said.

The Sharing Economy

Fast forward to the mobile era and where cloud computing is ubiquitous. Businesses can now connect to customers with their smartphones for free  — think ride-sharing and deliveries.

Moore continued: “25 years ago to compute and scale globally was a very expensive proposition. Now it is virtually free … There’s a billion smartphones that allow you to connect with one billion people actually for free. You didn’t buy the phone, you don’t pay for the network, and you didn’t pay for anything.”

That’s the case at Uber, where the company adds a car and driver to its network at no cost. It’s the same at Airbnb, where the home-sharing service adds a property and property manager to its network, also for free.

Another big change in marketing is the speed. The mobile era demands that the marketer moves faster, acting as a coach to “step back from the game and say what’s going on.”

Moore went on: “Nobody else in the company is. Not the head of engineering, not the head of finance, not the head of ops. This is why the marketing person got so important … The speeds are nano. It’s an inhuman speed.”

‘Disruptive Innovation’

Also a core of the conversation was McKinsey’s three horizons of growth, which is a framework for looking at a company’s performance and growth.

Horizon one is the core businesses with the most profits and cash flow. Horizon two includes emerging opportunities, ventures that are likely to generate a profit but will require a considerable investment. Horizon three — where most upstart businesses exist — includes small ventures and pilot projects with a potential for profitable growth down the road.

A common problem, according to Moore, is when companies spot hot opportunities and invest all their effort and resources to pursue it. Sales will inevitably run out of resources and question whether they can make their numbers.

“The answer was always, well, yeah, of course you got to make your number,” Moore said.

“Turns out that’s the wrong answer. Turns out if you’re going to make your number, you’re never going to get anything through horizon two. The other thing we were making it worse … we put two or three or four things in horizon two at the same time, and then it was like zero chance of getting through horizon two.”

“Disruptive innovation’s an hourglass, and horizon two is like this chokepoint. And we just got nothing through the chokepoint. So everything in the book, ‘Zone to Win,’ is how do you solve that problem.”