By Jessica Schaeffer, Director of Marketing, LaSalle Network
A clear theme emerged at 22 West Washington Street on April 28th as some of the biggest minds in marketing gathered to share insights around the brands they manage. The theme: the new wave of marketing: the power of storytelling to build relationships and trust with your consumers and clients.
Chicago American Marketing Associaton’s BrandSmart offered a smattering of perspectives from not-for-profits, ad agencies, big brands and up and coming brands.
Here’s a peek at the day in case you missed it, or just want to compare notes.
Session 1: Marketing for Tomorrow Starting Today – First Session
The day kicked off with a tag team effort by Ron Bess of Havas Worldwide and Zain Raj of Shapiro + Raj. Their message? Great brands (both your personal brand and an organization’s brand) build enduring bonds by fulfilling relationship expectations and sharing brand control.
Raj highlighted eight actionable relationships a consumer has with a brand – the best being a devoted relationship and the worst being a passable relationship. While every brand should strive to achieve devoted relationships with their customers, a mere 12% of customers say they have a devoted relationship with a brand.
So how do you deepen attachment and improve the experience? Raj shared five tips:
- Create a new focus: Begin with your most devoted customers to convert your most attractive prospects. Stop going after customers who don’t LOVE your brand.
- Try a new approach: Treat customers with respect, trust and loyalty
- Adopt a new mindset: Brands need to be perpetually evolving and try to improve
- Build a new model: Every company needs to be focused on cutting costs and producing faster
- Solve a new equation: Values x Authenticity: The strongest brands know they have to have commendable values, and LIVE those values
Bess closed out the session by drawing parallels between Raj’s presentation and personal branding. Just like a company’s brand, your personal brand is tied to the results you produce and the relationships you build. As a professional, you need to be focused on building trust, respect and loyalty.
Session 2: Transforming the Cubs Brand
Director of Marketing at the Chicago Cubs, Allison Miller, gave attendees a glimpse into the challenges the Cubs’ brand has faced during her tenure. Chief among them understanding and honing in on their target market.
Miller joined the Cubs and realized quickly they were selling a bad product. The Cubs had an aging team, the third highest payroll in the league and amenities that were deteriorating. They had a large, diverse fan base, and yet they knew nothing about them. They were marketing to everyone, without a clear focus of who would really move the needle for the brand.
Miller began the process by segmenting their customers and creating a fan and brand promise. The Cubs took time to understand the different brand personas and talk with these customers. Then, they worked to develop a brand message, campaigns and experiences they wanted these customers to have.
The findings helped the Cubs narrow their marketing, target their messaging around changes within the organization and bridge what the community wanted to do with the stadium with what the Cubs needed to do to advance the organization.
Session 3: Redefining a brand through a cause partnership
Chuck Gitkin, SVP of Brand Marketing at Smithfield Foods gave attendees a glimpse into a strategic partnership with Operation Homefront. Operation Homefront assists military families during difficult financial times by providing food assistance, moving assistance and financial assistance among other things.
If you aren’t familiar with Smithfield Foods, Gitkin says you probably aren’t alone….packaged meats isn’t the sexiest or most well-known industry, and that’s one of the primary reasons behind partnering with Operation Homefront. Not only does Smithfield Foods believe in giving back and supporting those and their families who protect our country, but the partnership helps bring visibility to both organizations.
Gitkin explained that cause marketing has allowed the company, which has a limited marketing budget, to create more exposure for less. They’ve brought in spokespeople to help champion Operation Homefront, and by default, Smithfield Foods. They’ve also created special packaging that a portion of the proceeds is donated directly to Operation Homefront.
Session 4: Panel Discussion: Getting Creative with the B2C agency of the future
Maybe you’ve seen this commercial. What you may not know is that Wrigley and ad agency, Energy BBDO worked collaboratively to create it. The two companies, which have been working together for years, gave us a glimpse into their relationship with John Starkey, VP, Gum, Mints and Media at Wrigley talking with Lianne Sinclair and Andres Ordonez of Energy BBDO.
The trio shared how their relationship has evolved over the years – emphasizing the fact that Energy BBDO is an extension of the Wrigley team, and explaining that now Energy BBDO is brought in earlier in Wrigley’s process. Wrigley is also exposed to Energy BBDO’s “unfinished product” to gauge their temperature and get their input on a project before it’s nearly complete.
Session 5: Hear the Brand: The Rise of Audio Branding: How to get the Most from Your Sound
Colleen Fahey sang, hummed and tapped her way to her main message on Thursday: leave an earprint with every piece of brand communication.
Fahey runs Sixieme Son, an audio branding company that strives to express brand values through sound. The audio brand of a company, Fahey explained, is everything from its on-hold music, to its app sounds, TV and radio spots and sales presentations.
Fahey argued a few key reasons why every company needs to consider its audio DNA.
- Music is a language that is universally understood
- Music moves behavior
- Sounds lead to sales
- Sounds speeds search
- Audio branding builds brand value
Session 6: Insurance Agents are Rock Stars
Assurance Agency has been recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the Top 100 Places to Work in the Country. This is one of dozens of awards the company has won throughout its tenure, and VP of Marketing, Steve Handmaker argues it’s been good for business, too….but it hasn’t always been this way.
Assurance wasn’t always a great place to work. In fact, staff was disengaged and profits were suffering as a result. In 1998, Assurance brought on new leadership to right the ship. They decided to focus on people.
Their philosophy was simple. Happy employees = happy clients. Handmaker borrowed from fellow marketer Seth Godin’s theory of purple cows, explaining that Assurance’s culture was their purple cow, the one thing that makes them truly remarkable and sets them apart from competitors in the insurance industry.
Since that decision, not only has Assurance invested in staff to build an incredible culture, they’ve also effectively marketed employee engagement programs to ensure the country knows they are a purple cow.
“Our culture doesn’t automatically mean we win, but its’ getting us to the finish line and helping make us a part of the conversation.” – Steve Handmaker
Session 7: Brand Building and Data Driven Demand Generation
How do we overcome this? We have to better understand our customers and what they want. We have to identify customer intent before they want express it. As marketers, we can do this by measuring time on site, bounce rates, coupon downloads, the list goes on and on….any piece of content that captures data about our audience.
If you don’t have the data you want, Greenfield says to identify needed data, then create audiences, design experiences and then plan, launch, test and learn.
Session 8: The Impact of Content Creativity with Always on Brands
In typical Leo Burnett fashion, Vincent Geraghty, EVP and Head of Production at Leo Burnett, wowed us showing some incredible campaigns, with one of the most poignant being the Runlikeagirl campaign created for Always.
This was about as conventional as it got though, as Geraghty discussed how his greenhouse team is changing the way Leo Burnett does business. The greenhouse content team is run like a newroom. They’ve adopted a “maker mentality,” where concepting is no longer good enough. They are executers, doers, creators.
This team has allowed Leo Burnett to streamline the approval process, execute on trending ideas quickly and efficiently.
The Greenhouse team is focused on telling great stories that are finely crafted full of human insights. Their goal is to deliver content that entertains, resonates, and weaves the brand into the insight and story.
Session 9: Panel: Getting Creative with the B2B Agency of the Future
According to Linda McGovern, SVP Global Marketing at USG, and Mike Hensley, President at Gyro, the B2B agency of the future is one that understands how to curate brand touchpoints, one that is able to expand and shrink based on the needs of its client, and one that is insanely focused on user experience and content creation.
Like speakers before them, McGovern and Hensley echoed the need to create experiences, not just compelling messages. They touched on the importance emotion plays in the decision making process, and how marketing today needs to connect with the customer.
Session 10: Think Differently: Opportunity Identification or Breakthrough Ideas
After Lindsay Avner stepped off the stage, there may not have been a dry eye in the house. Avner, who founded BrightPink, shared her story of undergoing a risk reducing double mastectomy at the age of 22 to help prevent a future seemingly inevitable diagnosis of breast and ovarian cancer.
As Avner shared her passion for education and getting one step ahead of cancer, it was clear that her powerful message was reaching the right audience because of unique marketing tactics.
Avner explained that she borrows the equity and brand recognition of powerful partners like Arie and Paul Mitchell to communicate BrightPink’s message. The not-for-profit has created highly visible campaigns around Mother’s Day, with the most recent being the #goaskyourmother campaign which urged young women to talk about family history of breast and ovarian cancer.
BrightPink created an online assessment that allows women to assess their risk of breast and ovarian cancer quickly and easily.
Avner’s philosophy is: awareness doesn’t save lives, action does…and all of BrightPink’s marketing efforts are judged based on that simple premise. Has our content, our partnerships caused people to make a change?
Session 11: LUV Lessons: Building a Brand from the Inside Out
He may be retired, but Dave Ridley definitely still has it….the former head of marketing at Southwest Airlines reminded the audience of our biggest brand advocates, our employees.
A few key quotes from his speech sum up his message:
- “The business of business is people” –Herb Kelleher
- To develop a great brand, start from the inside out.
- “I still bleed canyon blue” – as marketers we need more of that diehard marketing. That commitment and dedication to our brands
- It is a privilege to lead people – you get to invest in the hearts and minds of people
- Everyone is a CEO…a chief encouragement officer, that’s the number one way to make a difference in people’s lives
When trying to reach Generation Z or Millennials, SnapChat, Instagram and Twitter are the “it” social media platforms. Print still serves a purpose — mainly driving the recipient to your digital presence – but social media is the place where engagement and conversion happens. That was the message Michael Mullarkey, chief executive officer of Chicago-based Brickfish, delivered at the Higher Ed SIG gathering that took place April 6.
The SIG meeting, which was held at Troquet North, was a discussion about how to optimize social media for colleges and universities. In keeping with our new format for these gatherings, the meeting was more of a moderated conversation as opposed to a presentation. It was a huge success!
Brickfish, whose slogan is “Engagement is Everything,” manages the content and social media of large brands like Neiman Marcus and Hertz. Relevant, fresh content along with a quick response to visitors’ queries is essential to the success of any enterprise. Generation Z and Millennials expect instance responses. Mullarkey believes Facebook is still important, but these cohorts spend most of their time exchanging rapid-fire communiqués with their friends on SnapChat and WhatsApp. Marketers need to become a relevant part of these exchanges.
Mullarkey also spoke about the shrinking reach of Facebook and Instagram. Once brands established their presence on these platforms, these firms monetized their sites. You now have to boost your post to expand your reach and that requires paying for it. He offered some advice about how to get around having to pay, which includes unique, relevant content, engagement and short video.
Bottom line: For us higher education communicators, it’s new a world. We just need to fasten our seat belts and enjoy the ride.
Betsy Butterworth and Dean Petrulakis
Co-Chairs, Chicago AMA Higher Education Special Interest Group
The Chicago AMA is always looking forward to how we can improve and enhance our programs. To this end we surveyed our members in 2014 and prepared this revealing report on what we do well and where we can do better. Some of the results may surprise you, others confirm your own feelings about the organization. But all will increase our value to our members and the industry we serve. Download the Report here.
Written by Wendy Lalli
CIO. A CMO’s Natural Partner in this Digital Age.
To Nancy Costopulos, Chief Marketing Officer, Senior Executive, Nonprofit Sector of the AMA there is no question that digital technology has changed marketing in many ways. As she points out in this Chicago AMA leadership interview, today a CMO’s most important professional relationship is with the CIO of their organization.
Just consider the profound influence technology has over the way companies conduct market research, develop a target audience and disseminate brand messaging. All of these developments have made an enormous difference in how we market products.
For example, a restaurant owner who decides at 10 a.m. to offer a discount coupon on sandwiches can publicize this offering through the restaurant’s website, Facebook page and app in time for patrons to save on lunch that day. Or an investment broker can react to a change in the stock market with a blog and email blast to his clients within hours.
Marketers have also been able to make their content more relevant due to digitally gathered research identifying specific markets and analyzing what messages are most likely to resonate with them.
Finally, we can communicate with larger audiences more frequently than ever before, not only because of the international scope of the web, but the myriad of media channels now available. Marketing messages can reach targeted audiences through a wide mix of options including websites, social media, email blasts, banner ads and YouTube videos – not to mention the non-digital media.
To make the most effective use of all these elements, creative marketers ultimately must depend on and collaborate with the people who design and maintain the necessary digital technology. According to Nancy, this relationship depends on developing a sense of trust in each other and respect for the challenges each must face. Click here to hear more of her astute observations on the symbiotic partnership between marketing and IT.
Wendy Lalli is an award-winning writer and marketing strategist who has served clients in a wide range of industries and created communications in every format. She describes herself as “Peggy from ‘Madmen’ grownup.” She’s had her own company, Wendy Lalli, Ltd., since 1997 and is now a VP/Creative Director at Crux Creative, a creative and marketing agency in Milwaukee.
In addition to creating print, direct response and digital communications for clients like GE Healthcare and MB Financial, she has also written articles and blogs for organizations such as the BMA and the Professional Women’s Club of Chicago. Her interest in career development led her to write frequently on job search for the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, contribute several chapters to college textbooks on marketing communications and facilitate career seminars at colleges, libraries and professional associations throughout Chicago.
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