5 Insights from America

An Insight from AMI Future Leader 2014, Sarah Jade Mathews.

I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Austin, Texas this week at the American Marketing Association (AMA) Annual Inspired Marketing Conference as the AMI Future Leader for 2014.

The very first thing I learnt is that consumers love listicles (yes, that’s an article in the form of a list for the uninitiated). With the internet’s most shared articles being picture lists, I thought I would put it to the test. It’s fair to say this post should, according to my leanings at the conference, be click bate y’all just can’t resist. Let’s see…


  1. The value equation has changed

    Word Press Image_1

    Kate Pomeroy’s take on the new value equation

We are no longer influenced by just functional and emotional benefits over price. We now have additional considerations: According to Pomeroy the new equation is: Functional, emotional and participative benefits over price.

Throughout the three days we were reminded that participation is essential. Consumers are seeking ‘experiences’ from brands and are walking away from companies that don’t customise individual brand experiences. 74% of online customers get frustrated with content that appears to have nothing to do with their interests (via Grayson). This shows, now, more than ever, we need to be customer-centric, taking a holistic view and co-creating experiences with our customer rather than focusing on our products and services alone.


  1. Conceptual consumption: values that create value

We have been talking about storytelling through content marketing for some time but what underpins this is a consumer desire for conceptual consumption opportunities. Toms one-for-one philosophy and Ben and Jerry’s transparent political views have people around the world consuming the ‘brand concept’ beyond the product. The good news is that this has relevance to brands beyond the social marketing or activism space. Regardless of the organisation, we can all draw from our values to create value for our consumers.

We were reminded to be clear on what we stand for, have conviction and tell a story that touches your audience. Have an opinion and use this to form your own unique tribe.

  1. Pain mapping and innovation

We are always trying to be ‘innovative’, but innovation requires new insights which can be challenging to obtain. A strategy offered by Pomeroy suggest pain mapping. Where there is pain there is potential value creation opportunities for your brand. Identify the pain points for your customer, create new value by addressing these points with new uses for your product, refinement or additions.

  1. Branded content.Word Press Image_3

A research study just completed by AOL has revealed that integrating your brand message into the content you create does not, like previously thought, have a negative impact on the consumers experience with the content or the brand. In an over saturated market where anyone can create and distribute anything, consumers are seeking information with some level of expertise behind it. The message: don’t shy away from clearly branded content!


  1. Visuals talk.

The brain processes visual information 60,000x faster than text, we understand a Word Press Image_4
visual in 1/10th of a second and retain only 20% of what we read, and 80% of what we see and hear. Lisa Larson-Kelly reminded us how much we need to use visuals to support our communication efforts, particularly on social media.

Some other key tips I’ll be implementing: 70-100 words per image is optimal (the sweet spot), embracing info graphics on Twitter and ensuring the correct re sizing every graphic for every channel.

Guy Kawasaki Bonus tip: Don’t let the Bozos get you down.

Guy Kawasaki presented The Art of Innovation TED talk which if you’ve seen it before, features 10 steps to innovation. We got the 11th. Kawasaki explained that there is always someone who says it can’t be done. First, don’t listen to them, launch your idea, push ahead. Then listen well. Take on the feedback you can make use of, that which makes your idea better but not that which holds you back.

This point was reiterated by many speakers and was a key point that underpinned the conference. Innovation in our industry is beyond essential. This involves doing more than improving on the last product, it means jumping to the next curve, focusing on how our sector can address pain points, be more accessible and create new value in the life of the customer.

Three days of inspirational marketing insights, a warm evening air,
Texan BBQ, live bands on every corner and donkeys that deliver
drinks at the AMA cocktail party. Well played AMA and thank you
AMI for the opportunity!

7 things I’ll be implementing next week:

What’s next? And how was the AMA Inspired Marketing conference going to improve my work next week…

  1. Seek opportunities for participation and co-creation at all stages of the customers journey with our product; education, pre-consideration, purchases, implementation, ongoing training,
    Word Press Image_5

    Yes, this is an image of Sarah Mathews collecting a Corona from the sadle-bag of this little guy at the cockatail party

    product refinements.

  2. Refine our voice and tell our story. With a clearer handle on our voice we can empower the whole organisation to use our values to create value for customers.
  3. Create a pain map. Consider all stages of the customer interaction and define both the potential and pain and pleasure opportunities.
  4. Ensure deep brand integration with content marketing efforts and diversify content types: Inspirational, knowledge, comfort, connection, feel good, entertaining etc.
  5. Use Canva to simplify the design process – this free cloud-based software will support our non-designers’ to create branded visual content for a range of purposes, in the right file type and to current best practice guidelines.
  6. Focus on mobile. Focus on mobile. Focus on mobile.
  7. Be mindful on the outcome of our product rather than the product itself. Always keeping the customer benefit as the first priority may mean that product innovation is no longer necessary when there is a new curve to consider.

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