Two days at Brand Manage Camp

October 24, 2012
Angi Krueger Vice President, Marketing/Business Development

Two days. Thirteen sessions. 360° view of brand marketing. The promise to inspire, educate and energize. This is what Brand Manage Camp, sponsored by the American Marketing Association (@marketing_power) intended to deliver for each attendee. And boy did they!

This national event took place in Las Vegas at the MGM Hotel & Casino October 17 & 18. I’m always a bit skeptical about the value I can get out of conferences such as this, but I thought I’d give Brand Manage Camp a try. I was looking to get a new perspective on branding to offer up additional solutions for ourselves and our clients. The speakers at this conference are all recognized experts in their field. Most are published authors, some with business best sellers, so I knew they’d be worth listening to. This was a chance to get in front of some branding gurus to hear their particular points of view.

With so much to offer, what were my top takeaways? Read on. And let us know if anything gets you thinking about finding creative ways to apply these thoughts.

1. Honesty is your most powerful marketing tool. (@jonathansalem)
Today’s consumers and customers aren’t looking for conversations with brands as much as they are seeking conversations about them, and what they take away from them is far more important than the creative ways marketers deliver them. Creativity brings them in. The truth keeps them. People seek the truth about the products and services they buy, as well as the businesses behind them. Research shows that brands with a process for telling the truth are more likely to sell more products, make more money and keep customers more loyal–through any medium, in every market. “Truthful relationships are where customers understand what you are offering and believe in it,” Baskin said.

What does “truth” mean to you … telling it or finding it?

2. The psychology of choice can improve marketing effectiveness and efficiency. (@sheena_iyengar)
To get the most out of choice, we need to be choosy about choosing. Knowing your customers’ choices and differentiating your brand for them is key. Learn about what consumers want by looking at their choices. Too many choices can cause overload and reduce commitment (therefore; brand loyalty), decision-making quality and customer satisfaction. Cut (less is more), categorize, and condition your choices for complexity.

What does “choice” mean to you … services, products or reasons for coming back? If it’s the latter, is it easy for your customers to identify?

3. Unlock the unconscious world of brands and behavior. (@neale_martin)
Marketing theory and practice have focused on the conscious consumer. There is overwhelming evidence that most behavior from the consumer is controlled by the unconscious. It turns out the conscious and unconscious minds rely on brands to automate behavior and simplify life. Brands are a critical shortcut in the habit process but must be linked to behavior. Building a strong brand is critical, but acknowledge that the unconscious mind treats brands differently. “How habitual is behavior?,” Martin asked. He said 93 percent of products bought at grocery stores week-to-week are the same products. “So, am I in pilot or autopilot mode? Look at customer base – how many are regular; how many are heuristically visiting you?” Martin asked. And if they aren’t, how do you get there?

That’s why we stress the importance of building relationships with brands – internally and externally.

4. Create distinct competitive differentiation and build deep connections to increase sales and market share. (@carolcone)

Simply stated: to connect with people, you have to connect with what they believe in. Listen to learn what that is, and work to build lasting connections. Give purpose beyond profits to your marketing. Purpose matters to your employees as well – employee engagement drives profits. Are your employees connected to your brand? Are they, or you, creating opportunities for engagement?

See an example of purpose-driven marketing here.


5. Change your attitude. Change your business. Change the future. (@jeffreyhayzlett)
The most dangerous move is the failure to make a move at all. You can’t be satisfied with business as usual. Marketers are cheerleaders who reinforce goals and engage in debate. Don’t just mindlessly follow the lead; that doesn’t serve any good. Healthy debate is what drives change and keeps your brand fresh.

6. Turn creative fire into real results. (@joshlinkner)
Mistakes are the portal of discovery. Ask “what if?” “why?” and “why not?” a lot. Inject creativity into your storytelling.

Here’s an example of how one injection of creativity helped change the image of a city.


Now stop and think about what aspect of your business could use a dose of creativity to deliver improvement or solve a problem.

7. The new PR is called customer service. (@petershankman)
In this new age of broadcasting and social media, your job is to give the customer such an amazing experience, they will do the PR for you. Be top of mind.

8. Brand harmony is the next generation of integrated marketing communications. (@steveyastrow)
What makes customers fall in love with your brand isn’t how frequently they are exposed to your messages or even how creative those messages are. It’s how all the messages and all the interactions they have with your brand blend together to tell one complete story – creating brand harmony. Your customers see into the soul of the company. Your external brand can’t be stronger than your internal brand.

On a side note, and playing off of my earlier blog post Visual Graphics Can be Effective in Social Communication, I tweeted my sketch notes at this event and they spread like wildfire throughout the event. So much so that the national arm of AMA was inspired to write a blog about it. You can read it here. I was quickly linked with numerous connections within in the marketing communications world via Twitter – it was fun to watch viral communication spread within hours of my postings! (Social media value added in an instant!)

It was clear Brand Manage Camp paid attention to every detail for every aspect of the conference. From the quality of the speakers and location, to the accommodations, food and beverage for the attendees – it was worth every cent of the investment. If you’re looking to be inspired, learn and be energized in the world of branding, you should check it out!

If my takeaways above spark questions, comments, agreement or disagreement, chime in!



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