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Three Awesome Insights from the San Diego Art of Marketing Conference

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At thinkPARALLAX, we’re always eager to continue evolving our skills and gain new perspective (see: PARALLAXploration). This past Friday I attended the AMA Art of Marketing conference in San Diego, where speakers covered topics ranging from social media to branding, big data, grassroots campaigns, and more. In the constantly evolving world of digital/social media, I love being able to continue learning and finding new ways to see what I do from a different angle. Here are a few of my key takeaways from the event:

1. Social media creativity means far more than composing witty Tweets.

Ada Juristovski from Hootesuite (@HootAda) hosted a session discussing how businesses can use social media in strategic—and creative—ways to build audiences and engagement. She emphasized that “conversations on social media should reflect conversations in real life,” meaning that you shouldn’t just be spitting out Tweets about yourself, but that you should be having conversations with your audiences and meeting them where they are. She gave an example of a donut company in Vancouver who set up a geo-targeted search on Twitter for anyone tweeting “breakup,” “worst day ever,” or other words/phrases that indicated a bad day. Then, they reached out to them, offering a free donut. The effort resulted in favorites and retweets—and more business to the shop.

While we’re not in the business of driving retail sales, this example emphasized the value of thinking outside the box, putting yourself in the shoes of your target audience, and engaging with them in ways YOU would want to be engaged with. Ada outlined the Rule of 15: For every 15 posts, 10 should have nothing to do with your company (i.e. retweets of interesting stories or posts, relevant information, or info your audience would appreciate etc.), 4 should be “soft landing pages” (i.e. blog posts, videos, photos, etc.), and only 1 should be a direct landing page (about your brand/business, sending people to your URL). This ensures that you’re engaging your audience and not being spammy—which is what we all want, right?

2. Targeting audiences is far more than segmenting demographics.

If you’ve ever tried to convey a message to an audience of any kind, you know that it helps a lot to know whom you’re talking to so you can shape your message accordingly. Most of the time we segment our audience demographically—for example, if you want to sell diapers you’d target females, age 18-40, with children. But as Julie Lyons (@Julie_Zenzi) of Zenzi Communications explained in her session on values-based marketing, we need to know more about the psychology of these mothers in order to convey our message in the right way. She’s worked with psychologists to develop what she calls the Social Values, which take a step beyond demographics and seek to categorize audiences by what they value. There are six categories of people: Pleasure seekers, Freedom seekers, Purpose seekers, Tradition seekers, Prestige seekers, Security seekers (Take a quiz on her site to see which one you are… I’m a Freedom seeker, apparently ☺.)

So regardless of what type of message you’re conveying, knowing the psychological group your of target audience will allow you to better craft your messages and find the tactics/channels that are best suited for that audience. For example, a sustainability message would sound a lot different if we knew our audience was made up of purpose seekers (i.e. language would focus on making a positive impact, or contributing to the greater good) vs. prestige seekers (i.e. language would focus on being the premier choice for people who care, etc.). While it might not always be possible to figure out where your audience fits, this concept offers a fresh perspective on shaping messages for different segments.

3. Branding is far more than logos, color palettes, and fancy fonts.

Well, we know that. But what most of us don’t think about is our personal brand. Kaplan Mobray’s (@kaplanmobray) keynote, “The 10Ks of Personal Branding,” emphasized that regardless of the business we’re in, our interactions with others—our bosses, colleagues, current or potential clients/customers—shape the way we are perceived, and those perceptions shape our future. When people walk away from a meeting with you, what do they think? He emphasized that we should all know what we want to be known for, that we should consistently exude those qualities, and know how to communicate our value to create opportunities for ourselves (and our company). This applies both on a personal and business level.

When we meet new people, we should be able to succinctly tell them who we are, what we do, and how we bring value—in a way that feels genuine. When you see McDonald’s you think fast, cheap food. After people meet you, what three words do you want them to think? Kaplan emphasized that those qualities should be incorporated in how you talk about yourself, and that your actions should then consistently reinforce that brand. By building your personal brand and being known for something, you’re ultimately creating more opportunities for yourself and your company.

Thanks @SanDiegoAMA for a great event!

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