Key takeaways from marketing conference.The Pennsylvania Marketing Summit, held at the Hilton at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, PA, on Tuesday, October 30th, hosted 7 panel discussions led by some of the state’s biggest brands. These top-level, big-picture thinkers offered insight on approach, motivation, and method, from which attendees like myself could infer applicable pearls of wisdom.

Here are my key takeaways from the day:

Brand Purpose: Do You Have One?

This hot term earned “most said phrase” for the day. Unlike other trendy marketing buzzwords (storytelling—ugh, disruption—gag, growth-hacking—yawn), I actually kind of liked this one. Mainly because it was less about marketing and more about getting to the bottom of who you are as an entity, an organization, a contributor to today’s society. Basically, if you don’t spend a minute every day considering your business’s purpose, if your brand purpose isn’t the driving force behind your actions, you’re not doing it right.

Create Original Content

Content isn’t king—original content is king. I mean “original” in two ways: It’s yours, and it’s unique. Invest in content that is new and meaningful because that’s the only way to drive engagement. Find a way to make this happen. If you don’t, you’re spinning your wheels.

Find Influencers

There are influencers on social media, yes, but they also exist in our communities and other arenas. Seek them out, connect with them, build a relationship if you can. These authentic advocates can and will get your message out in front of an entirely new audience that may potentially engage with your brand.

Know Your Customer Journey

If you haven’t mapped out your customer journey, do it now. If you haven’t mapped out your buyer personas, do it now. And I’m not saying give it some thought—I’m saying, get your key thinkers and front-line folks in a room and listen to their customer experiences. With that information, put on paper your buyer personas and their buying journey. The exercise alone is enlightening and worth your time.

Real Personalization

…is not sending a “Happy Birthday” postcard with a 10% discount. Nope. Personalization is understanding what your audience’s behavior is. It’s looking at their movements and sequence of actions to understand their thought process so you can predict, target, and engage with them on a more personal level.  

B2B vs B2C: Not as Different as You Think

As we talk more and more about human-to-human marketing, we’re paying more attention to the fact that even in B2B, there is a person on the receiving end of your marketing efforts. There is a human decision-maker there, just as there is in B2C. Speak to that human.

Do keep in mind that while the marketing channels used to connect to both B2Bs and B2Cs are the same, you’ve still got to choose the best and most appropriate ones for your cause.

Social Media isn’t Just Marketing

It’s part marketing, part customer service. In terms of marketing, social media is unquestionably a platform for expressing your brand, getting exposure, and advertising. But it’s become so much more than that because there are more ways for people to interact with brands now. If I see your brand on social, I’m not going to hop over to your website to call you or email a question—I’m going to slide into your DMs, publicly tweet you, post on your wall… Your customer service department needs to have a hand in your social strategy.

And, you need to respond to every comment, not just the hot or pressing ones. Every interaction counts.

Don’t Lose Sight of the Magic of Marketing

We are so highly focused on data these days. Digital has primed us to act this way because every digital action is accounted for—instantly. But guys, there was a time before digital. And in that time, we just trusted that our campaigns were getting us good exposure. There is a magic to marketing that sometimes gets left aside because we’re so concerned with our metrics. In turn, our creative and strategy fundamentals may suffer because energy is being placed elsewhere. If you’ve put a damper on your inner marketing child, let that kiddo run free occasionally without the pressure of delivering trackable metrics.

Content Should Intrigue

Your content does not have to directly equate to a sale. It should be made with the intention of creating intrigue. You’re trying to prompt an authentic relationship, and that won’t start with a bland ad. Be creative with the message you’re distributing. Remember, we’re exposed to so many messages every day; make yours memorable and different. Trust that your viewer is smart and curious enough to engage with it, even if it’s a little wacky.

Your Brand Can Evolve

Your organization is a living, breathing thing. So, keep in mind that your brand can change. That’s okay as long as you’re always driven by your mission (your true north, as Josh Kroo said). Also, always consider the next level you want your brand to be on and then think about the KPIs that will get you there.

Other Pearls

  • Don’t know how to find your Brand Purpose? Look back to your founding story: How was your organization born? Draw inspiration from that story.
  • Marketing starts and ends with data.
  • Don’t always feel the need to reinvent the wheel; your core business will come from low-hanging fruit.
    • But, do find ways to drum up creative PR.
  • If you can, dedicate part of your budget to “test and learn” to discover what works for you. Don’t stress if it fails; just strive to understand why it failed.
  • Don’t worry about the vanity metrics on social media. Go for what counts: real engagement.