By @SimonCocking a version of this article first appeared at.


From left to right, John Collins, @jaycee001, Noel Toolan, @noeltoolan, Gerard O’Neill, Fergal Brophy,  @FergalBrophy, and Donal Cahalane, @donal_cahalane


Mc’d by Johnny Ryan, @johnnyryan

This was an evening about marketing, with some great insights from different Irish marketeers.


“Your brand is what people say about you when you are out of the room” Noel Toolan


Fortunately no one told us that 50% of what they did was effective, but …

We are now moving to the point where we can begin to get a really good idea of what is, and what is not working.


Donal Cahalane was keen to emphasise that successful, good marketing is still hard work, built upon the key principles of keeping it simple, and recognising effective marketing takes time. He stressed that people still make the mistake of talking about the features their product offers, rather than the benefits the product offers to the customer.

Effective marketing must be about ‘them’, the customer, and their relationship to the product.


Noel Toolan spoke about how effective the Swiss were in rescuing the watch industry, and re-convincing customers of the value of having a beautiful piece of jewelry, aka a watch,  on their arm again. He stressed the need not to talk about your perceived solution, but rather your customers actual problem, and focus on how to solve this.


Fergal Brophy stressed the importance of solving a problem or satisfying a need. Noel Toolan suppported this with the story of the success of Grey Goose, a surprising French success in the elite vodka market. It branded itself as the world’s most expensive vodka, successfully appealing to an elite and rich segment of the market.

John Collins, managing editor of Intercom, mentioned that great thinker Clayton Christensen, (The Innovators Dilema et al), and looking for a ‘job to be done’ . Gerard O Neill raised the question of whether marketing to other businesses is significantly different. Fergal Brophy felt it still involved people, and therefore there were some commonalities.

Overall it was a great and interesting debate cum conversation. They discussed the importance of knowing what you wanted to get out of the Web Summit. When Donal Cahalane compared the Summit to Electric picnic, a wry smile was permissible as this  had been suggested here a few weeks ago.  Cahalane stressed the key concept of planning your PR strategy. Be systematic, have a clear idea, map it out, and follow a process, with targeted, specific papers.

All the speakers had many more really useful insights to offer, and it was an interesting, entertaining and enjoyable evening.

The speakers were:

Gerard O’Neill, CEO of Amarach Research,

John Collins, Managing Editor of Intercom, previously of The Irish Times;

Donal Cahalane, Head of Growth at,

Noel Toolan, brander extraordinaire,

Fergal Brophy, specialist at The Innovation Academy, founder of Open Financial Services, ex-Head of Marketing at Pepsi and Nivea Ireland,

and Dr Johnny Ryan, Executive Director of The Innovation Academy.

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