3 Marketing Truths– Learned the Hard Way

Here are three takeaways from a recent executive digital strategy summit in New York City.

Executive marketing leaders look to strategic conferences to get the inside track on the tactics that their peers are working through. The best executive strategy conferences aren't just about inspiring presentations. Executives also want ugly examples, tales from the trenches and even horror stories from their peers. Learning opportunities through storytelling is what generates some of the best takeaways from these events.

I recently attended the Digital Strategy Innovation Summit--a two-day digital marketing summit that brought together top brains and brands in brand marketing. Here are my top three takeaways and trends from the presentations, case studies and networking sessions:

The alternative to 'creepy' social media is to just be genuine.

Many of the sessions focused on social media practices and policies. They included the typical enterprise examples of social media implementation that featured challenges around compliance and centers of excellence. One executive even held social media events in the corporate headquarters lobby to assure employees that the ban on social media had truly been lifted.

Being genuine was a big trend among the social media sessions, as well as many questions on 'how to not be creepy.' A simple prescription from one executive was to always remain genuine. In my experience, I find this to be a simple truth with social media marketing.

Create engaging content with products at the core.

Keeping products at the top of mind among content marketing campaigns was also a big trend among the executive conversations and presentations. The leading example of engaging content was the Epic Split video from Volvo trucks. This video featured Jean-Claude Van Damme doing splits between two Volvo trucks.

Sure, it was a great idea that developed engaging content. But the trucks and their precision steering systems were the real heroes of the video. There was even a clear 'credits' section at the end of the video that clearly described the featured product. The Volvo video and other examples reminded the executives to not just focus on engagement, but also feature products as the hero or co-star of the content. This video earned more than 20,000 media mentions and articles that featured engaging branded content with the product on the center stage.

Activate expert employees to generate great content.

Another trend among the executives at the summit was inspiring stories of motivating expert employees to develop content. This isn't just applied through social media, but also through the company blog, news area or online community. One executive mentioned during a panel session that, "enabling inside experts and employees to build personal brands can develop consistent, great content that also deepens the brand message."

Your employees are your experts. Allowing employees to demonstrate expertise and build personal brands is a symbiotic relationship between the employee and the brand.

While presentations and case studies can offer concrete examples and takeaways, the real inside tracks, in many cases, came during cocktail conversations with other peers and executives. Among the many executives I met, this was the primary reason they gave for regularly attending these conferences. New York is the marketing center of the world, and events like the Digital Strategy Innovation Summit offer these opportunities to cross paths with other executives who are able to give insights you just won't find outside these speak-easy conversations.

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