I’d offer to hum a few bars. But then you’d stop following me on Twitter … dogs would howl. So instead, I’ll offer what came through loud and clear as the three most powerful themes of the ANA Masters of Marketing Conference.

Courtesy-AdAge_ANAPhoto copy
Courtesy: AdAge.com. ANA’s Bob Liodice and P&G’s Marc Pritchard

1. We Market to People not Consumers (or, God forbid, “Targets”)

If I didn’t hear it so many times, it almost wouldn’t seem possible that brands would be saying this. Of course we market to people. Yet despite all of the focus groups, behavioral insights, Personas and user-focused design marketers have steeped ourselves in over the years, it’s true that we tend to stop short of calling consumers “people.” Indeed – they have emotions, reactions and … actions. The success stories we heard from mega brands like P&G, Target, Cisco and Geico all showed what is possible when you find a human connection; and then, through the appropriate channels, involve the people who love your brand to grow a loyal following.

2. Purpose-Driven Marketing  

AdAge already did a great post on this (check it out). So I won’t add to much fodder to the mix. However, this is a fundamental idea. Organizations should be driven by purpose – either 1) as a way to clearly identify who they are and drive forward singularly in that mission, or 2) to align themselves with a cause, syncing their corporate mission with a greater purpose.

This theme was so universal, all of the presenting brands were able to draw a line to it. P&G talked about Tide Loads of Hope as well as their significant Olympics investment, which included sending 250 moms to the games to watch their children compete. Of being purpose driven, exiting Dell CMO Erin Nelson said, “Purpose isn’t just good for the soul, it’s actually really good for the bottom line.”

3. Marketing as a Culture 

Something else that seemed a common thread throughout the conference was the idea of making your marketing message a part of your culture. So many companies struggle with this. Marketing becomes a series of campaigns that employees eventually see and hear about. But if you become truly purpose-driven, marketing becomes so much more company-centric. It can (and should) permeate every layer of a company. It can define who they are down to every employee. THIS is where magic happens – when employees become ambassadors of a brand.

Lastly, I personally loved hearing the vision and the passion of Target’s Michael Francis, P&G’sMarc Pritchard, Kellogg’s Mark Baynes (“Teens smell sincerity like dogs smell fear”), and Cindy Gallop, who had one of my favorite sound bites “…an idea is only as good as its execution. The future belongs to people who make stuff. Make interesting stuff. Make mistakes. But for God’s sake, be making stuff.”

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