At a conference that focused on the discussion of the future of print, digital and mobile marketing, marketing executive Ash EiDifrawi seemed to capture the tremendous daily pressure and responsibilities marketing professionals face in the fast-changing, multi-faceted and highly competitive battle for the attention of the American consumer.

“The question you have to wake up everyday and ask yourself is: ‘Am I still relevant.’”

EiDifrawi told attendees at the Incite Summit: East conference in Manhattan last week that marketers must constantly review their product and marketing relevancy on a multitude of platforms. During a session entitled “Have a Look At This: Make Content That Stands Out,” he noted that one day a marketer could feel he is “on top of the world” only to find the next day “that 100 people have your idea and you are irrelevant.” 

In With the New

Old marketing standards no longer apply, he stressed. He cited the highly competitive smartphone sector as an example where Google’s entrance into product delivery arena now has the firm in competition with, Amazon, Apple and a host of others.

Marketers need to adjust to remain competitive in light of those and other changes taking place in the industry. “It is a little frightening and scary and intimidating right now in a lot of ways in marketing with all these realities,” he said.

EiDifrawi is executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Gogo, a global aero-communications service provider that offers in-flight Internet, entertainment, text messaging, voice and a host of other communications-related services to the commercial and business aviation markets.

The company has more than 2,000 commercial aircraft equipped with its services on more than 10 major airlines. More than 6,000 business aircraft are also flying with its solutions.

He was one of a host of participants at last week’s summit at the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel. The two-day event, staged by Incite Marketing and Communications of Hoboken, N.J. brought together marketing professionals from across the country to “Define the Future of Marketing.” 

Reinventing a Brand

Alex Kaminsky, vice president of brand and advertising for YP (also known as the Yellow Pages) gave a candid blow-by-blow description of how he and his staff are attempting to “reinvent” a 130-year-old brand.

Kaminsky noted that parent company YP Holdings Inc. underwent an ownership change in 2012 that saw private equity firm Cerebrus Capital Management acquire the controlling interest in what is now YP Holdings from AT&T. He said the change in ownership and the ongoing rebranding effort is both a “confusing” and “exciting” time for those charged with orchestrating the marketing of the print, online and mobile Yellow Pages. has 85 million unique visitors reviewing information on 20 million businesses he said. 

Learning Opportunities

Noting that the company was built on its print platform, Kaminsky, who joined YP in early 2013, shared, “Ironically, I think we made a mistake in thinking that should become the digital version of the book. And so we are working through that. It ( is a different platform, it is a different experience, and it is a different navigation.”

The company is now in a “transition” phase in its efforts to rebrand the Yellow pages on its various platforms. 

'Complicated, Confusing But Intoxicating'

Speaking of platforms, Kaminsky said YP does not think necessarily of platforms, but of messages to be delivered on different platforms.

“When you think of platform, don’t think of the platform—think of how the consumer uses the platform; think of how the consumer interfaces with the platform,” he advised. 

Both EiDifrawi and Kaminsky agreed that due to the plethora of communication platforms, marketers must first realize the problem they need to solve before they decide on what platform to use or what new idea to embrace.

“It’s complicated, it’s confusing, but it’s also very intoxicating to be a marketer,” Kaminsky said. “There are a number of tools, most of them sound really great, most of them are really interesting, most of them are trendy, most of them fell sexy and give you some social credit that you know what is going on. The bottom line is unless you know what problem you are going to solve, you are going to spend your entire day yielding and vetting possibilities and you are going to turn around and you are going to realize you hadn’t done anything.”

He added, “I can’t tell you how many phone calls and emails everyday I get from people who have the next greatest thing. And until I got to the point where I knew what my consumers wanted and I knew the problem I was going to solve, I didn’t even have a mechanism for hanging up on them. I didn’t have a mechanism for vetting that and all of a sudden I realized, “Holy $%&* we are not doing anything.”