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MARKETING UNITED: CREATING CONNECTION
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by SEAN KEATHLEY


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With channels exploding, how are marketers creating brand meaning in this overcrowded space? How do you continually create something that lives on in the hearts and minds of audiences?

Want to learn from some of the most innovative marketing minds across the globe? Armed with powerful stories and novel approaches, the Marketing United Conference aims to inform and inspire. For the second year, several of our team members attended this influential gathering in Nashville from April 9-11. We heard case studies from some of the brightest minds in marketing and branding today. With everyone from Netflix and Pixar to Southwest and Marriott, we learned the tools, tips and tricks behind some of today’s best brands. But more importantly, we got to see the thinking and smart strategy pushing brands to create exceptional experiences for consumers. Below are some of our takeaways for influential marketing in this uber-connected, 24/7 world.

CO-CREATION OF BRANDS

YAZOO

One of the powerful case studies we saw was for a brewery that honed in on just two of their owned channels to create meaningful connections with their audience. Many brands today are struggling with the number of channels to communicate through. Just when you think you’ve got Instagram down, up pops Snapchat. Most marketers find it to be a continuous struggle to be everything to everyone on every channel all the time. What if we just stopped? That’s what Yazoo did. They saw where their audience was and focused on those channels – Facebook and Instagram – to connect with them. Further, they designed their physical space to leverage the visual, personal elements of their customers’ connection to the brewery.

YAZOO

Experience Strategist Caroline Jacoby says, “What’s most valuable to their audience is social, specifically Instagram and Facebook. So, when they designed their space, every single space within their brewery is photographic. They want people to take Instagram photos and push them out. That co-creation approach achieves two things. It doesn’t overburden their marketing team with constantly creating new content. And it allows their advocates and consumers to collaborate on developing the content that represents the brand. To achieve this, absolutely every touchpoint throughout the journey is focused on co-creation. They’re smart because they haven’t gotten distracted by all of these other marketing channels. They’ve stayed focused on what their team can handle and what’s right for their brand.”

YAZOO
YAZOO

AUDIENCE FIRST

Another theme that we saw is something that we constantly preach to our clients. Really understand your audience before you do anything to market your product or service to them. If you know your audience, then you’re automatically going to understand their demands and you develop based on that demand. In days past, new products were developed before there was an audience and marketing was brought in later in the process to find a way to drum up business. The quick pace of innovation has changed all that.

Marketing Coordinator Chelsea Hinkel says, “It’s about knowing your audience well enough that you also already know what the demand is. You shouldn’t need to manufacture demand. Predictive analysis says if A and B happen, then C will most likely happen. So, if you know your audience, you understand their demand and you have a product or service solely focused around meeting that demand, then they should ultimately use your product. Your only job then is to make them aware that you understand them and are meeting their demand. That sounds completely logical, but we know that most purchase decisions are emotional, so where it gets complicated is being in the right place at the right time for what marketers like to call ‘that moment of truth’.”

“Predictive analysis says if A and B happen, then C will most likely happen. So, if you know your audience, you understand their demand and you have a product or service solely focused around meeting that demand, then they should ultimately use your product.”

Adrenaline Marketing Coordinator, Chelsea Hinkel

STORYTELLING

“We saw some great examples of storytelling in the marketing realm throughout the conference,” according to Linda Bennett.  “One of the most powerful was the Like A Girl video. Although several years old at this point, this video is a perfect example of a hero’s journey: there is the ordinary world the hero(ine) travels, a struggle and then eventually an enlightened state where something has changed. With Like A Girl, we see girls showing the struggle of what it feels like to be denigrated and show these girl’s reclaiming “like a girl” into something positive. While it may be a stretch for some brands to take on such a level of social advocacy, finding the heart of your brand is always a good thing. The best brands take some risks.”

There is no doubt that storytelling is a powerful way to connect people together. Everyone responds to a powerful, emotional and resonant story. Our connection to story says as much about us as it does about the story itself. But storytelling doesn’t just exist in the realm of fantasy novels and children’s bedtime stories. Storytelling is a powerful motivator for consumers. If they feel apart of your story, your brand breeds greater brand love and loyalty. But your story is about more than words on a page. Visual storytelling is vital to effective marketing and branding. The best brands tell an emotional story and have visuals that support that emotion. One way of doing that is layered storytelling where people interact and propel the story forward, investing themselves in the emotional journey.

“But your story is about more than words on a page. Visual storytelling is vital to effective marketing and branding.”

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