6 Marketing Takeaways from the American Marketing Association’s Annual Conference

Recently, I traveled to New Orleans to soak up the American Marketing Association’s Annual Conference with over 400 marketers from around the world. Top-notch speakers represented well-known brands like Naked Juice, Frito-Lay, IBM, JCPenney and Kraft Foods.

While the conference topics were diverse – customer experience, package design, grassroots marketing, etc. – there were six main themes that connected the conference speakers and topics.

  1. amaconferenceemilysm_1b3b1da2f0cd1Focus on the consumer. We are all busy. We all need to get a product ad out the door, finish up a video and send a few tweets – but have you stopped to think about your consumer lately? Are you just keeping the business moving or are you strategically thinking about who your customers are, how they consume media and what they want to know about your product?Neil Golden, the former CMO of McDonald’s and Toys R Us, had a great quote in regards to consumer focus, “A marketer’s job is to be the advocate for the consumer…Focusing on the consumer will set a brand free.”
  2. Personalization. Take advantage of “big data” and personalize emails, target ads and hone-in on direct mail campaigns. The days of blanket e-blasts and generic direct mail campaigns are gone. Make customers feel special and give them the information that they want to hear, not the information you want them to hear.
  3. Do something good for the world. It’s not good enough for brands to simply exist anymore. Consumers, especially younger consumers, are driving brands to be more socially responsible and to give back to the communities in which they live. What can your brand do for the world? What connection with a non-profit can you make to give your brand purpose?In regards to purposeful marketing, Max Lenderman, CEO of School, left the audience with this thought, “If not now, when? If not you, who?”
  4. Integration. Silos shouldn’t exist in marketing anymore. Sales, design, product development, marketing and many other departments need to work together to integrate customer knowledge and information. Where can you integrate with another department or area in your business to better your customer?
  5. Make an emotional connection with the consumer.  During a presentation given by Peter Borowski, Head of Design for Kraft Foods, Borowski noted, “All great brands tell a story. People have an emotional connection with a brand. You can get them to fall in love with you.” Simply selling product attributes isn’t going to cut it. How can you bring emotion into your marketing materials? How can you connect with your consumer and get them to fall in love with you?
  6. What are you doing with your data? We track data and we analyze it but how do we use it? Many of the CMO’s at the Conference spoke about combining and using data to make strategic business decisions. Kevin Bishop, VP of IBM ExperienceOne, stated, “You don’t use data to know what to do. You use data to know what not to do.”

And finally, because I love quotes, I’m going to leave you with some of the best quotes from the conference. Enjoy!

  • “You can’t do great marketing unless you’re having a lot of fun.” – Debra Berman, CMO, JCPenney
  • “It’s not about perfection. It’s about improving your probability of success.” – Pam Forbus, Vice President, Strategic Insight, PepsiCo, Frito-Lay Division
  • “Products are built in the factory, brands are created in the mind.” – Walter Landor
  • “Four fifths of U.S. adults keep their smartphones with them 22 hours per day.” – Kevin Bishop, Vice President, IBM ExperienceOne
  • “A happy place is a moving target.” – Katie Das, Global Marketing Manager, Sealed Air
  • “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein
  • “The enterprise that does not innovate inevitably ages and declines. And in a period of rapid change such as the present … the decline will be fast.” – Peter Drucker
  • “Empathy is the next competitive advantage for creativity.” – Max Lenderman, CEO, School
  • “It is wise to keep in mind that neither success or failure is ever final.” – Roger W. Babson