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3 Marketing Takeaways from &THEN Annual Event

Mon, Oct 23, 2017
I recently attended the &THEN® DMA Annual Conference in New Orleans, where our company exhibited and we took advantage of the many experiences, events, speakers, and content. I was inspired and motivated to take action on a number of ideas and perspectives that were shared with us at the two-day conference.  There were several common themes which I've captured here that I felt were compelling and actionable for marketers.

Theme 1: Use data to both drive and inform creative and strategies.

The DMA’s annual event is titled “Where Data Transforms Marketing” and this theme was apparent in the majority of the sessions' and keynote presentations’ titles, which had the word “data” or “data-driven” in it.  We are aware that marketing today is both an art and a science, with strategy and creative fueling the art, and data and technology fueling the science.

Alan Schulman, Managing Director, Brand and Creative Content, Deloitte Digital presented “Creative Loves Data” and shared 3 data-driven characteristics for creative:

  1. Personalization: leveraging data that you have about a customer in an appropriate manner has 24% higher engagement and 9% higher conversion.
  2. Real-time relevancy: Delivering personalized content in the moments that matter result in 3X greater engagement over traditional methods.
  3. Make it emotional: Since the majority of our decisions are made based on emotion, you gotta make it emotional, and by using behavioral and psychographic data to help shape emotion-based messaging, it will be more apt to appeal to your customers.

Data should be used to inform and validate ideas. He outlined the role of data in the communications process, in which data informs at the development phase (the who, what, and why), and data drives decisions at the channel and optimization phase (the where, when and how).

I also found this data research finding very useful from a Canada Post study, who presented at the conference:

direct mail stat-1.jpg

Theme 2: Master the moments.

Consumers are more empowered than ever, and as these stats prove, they literally have the world at their fingertips.

catalyzing change-2.jpg

The good news is that as marketers we have lots of data to fuel the transformation of our craft in ways where we can master the moments that will enable us to effectively connect our product/service with our consumers. Ronalee Zarat-Bayani, Head of Integrated Marketing & Digital Advancement, Hershey Brands shared her perspectives on this topic in her keynote presentation “Catalyzing Change: The Power of Data”. It’s not enough that we have the data, but we have to sift through the mounds of noise within the data and uncover the key insights that will ultimately inform sound decision making.

The traditional model of marketing is gone, and we have to quickly adapt or find ourselves losing in the marketplace and worse, completely obsolete. However, the fundamentals of marketing are still there: customer centric insights, an ownable brand strategy, and your brand story. The experiences, expressions and engagements with your brand can provide valuable insights culled from the data.

An example of this was when Hershey was introducing Reese’s Pieces Cups, which was one of their latest product innovations. However, it was leaked in social media before it was available. They leveraged data technology to understand what consumers were saying (they were very excited about the product to be available) and harnessed this in their favor to develop the “cupfusion” campaign, shown here, and harnessed this energy further to increase demand for the product.reeses-1.jpg

Another great perspective on mastering the moments is to be in the future of our customers to spot emerging needs or trends, says Naveen Rajdev, CMO, Wipro in his keynote presentation “Tomorrowcasting: Prepare your brand today to dominate tomorrow”. He shared that although print is generally considered a medium that has lost favor, they saw a burgeoning trend they dubbed “print precious”, in which print is seen as somewhat unique and more valuable, given the digital world we live in. They recognized that publishing a magazine about Data, Design & You, which they called WOOL, reflected the persona of their company. This created a community and a great engagement tool with their customers.


Theme 3: Be agile.

In today’s world of “immediacy”, fast and real is better valued than perfect and polished. Whether it’s a trending topic or a cultural insight, being fast blows minds. If you can’t be fast and nimble, you’ll be left behind. Ronalee Zarat-Bayani, Hershey Brands hit on this point in the Reese’s Pieces Cups example above; as they were able to pivot quickly to take advantage of the pent up demand for this new product.


Marketers need to adapt to this customer-empowered environment and develop practices to iterate and improve work through collaboration among content, digital, and social teams; to be prepared to experience fast, experiment fast, and dump it quickly if needed. Keep it quick, brisk and shallow. In order to do this, teams need to be empowered to make their own decisions and innovate.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and bots were mentioned frequently as well, as they present a great opportunity to distribute and scale content, while also extracting actionable insights from all the right data at astonishing speeds (remember IBM Watson?).

Check back for more insights and tips from the conference that I’ll be sharing very soon. 

Universal Wilde is a leading full-service provider of data-driven, technology-enabled marketing communications solutions. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for more news and insights.


Categories: marketing, advertising, personalization, direct mail, direct mail conversions, trending, Data Science, statistics






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