3 Story Telling Trends We Heard at the ANA Masters of Marketing Conference

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Last week, the Social Media Link team joined more than 2,500 marketers to discuss the changing landscape of building brands and driving marketing results at the ANA Masters of Marketing conference held at the Orlando World Center Marriott. We heard from CMOs at top companies like JPMorgan Chase, Cadillac and Lane Bryant, share ideas on how to use traditional and digital marketing tools, evolving technologies, content and data to reach target audiences. 

If you weren’t able to attend the conference, don’t sweat it. Here’s a recap of the top takeaways (you know it’s a marketing trend when almost every speaker mentions it). Plus, check out what attendees and presenters were saying with #ANAMasters

1. Have a Purpose

According to Arvind Raman, Senior Journalist at McCann Truth Central, 48 percent of people say brands need a strong identity and purpose, and 84 percent of people say brands have the power to make the world better. Almost half of consumers believe brands need to use their power for good, and for presenters at the ANA Masters of Marketing conference, that number is 100 percent. From P&G to Walmart to Lane Bryant, this was the most talked-about marketing strategy across brands. 

In “Brand Building as a Force for Good and Growth,” Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G shared his four main strategies for brand building. On that list was using ads as a force for good. Studies from Harvard Business Review have shown that consumers purchase products from brands they can connect with on an emotional level. Because of this, brands need to create ads that touch hearts and minds of their consumers and create a response. 

P&G’s goal is to promote issues that lead to a conversation. Conversations then lead to change and change creates action. A great example their new thought-provoking “My Black is Beautiful” campaign and “The Talk” video, which shows African-American mothers speaking to their children about racism. 

Another strong proponent of using brands for good is EVP and CMO of Lane Bryant, Brian Beitler. Beitler says his goal at Lane Bryant is to reshape the paradigm and change the conversation of how plus-sized women are portrayed in the media. One major way the brand achieved this was through partnering with Sports Illustrated to place a plus-size model on the front cover of its swimsuit issue for the first time in history. The brand now continues pushing for change through using plus-size celebrity influencers in campaigns such as #PlusIsEqual and #ImNoAngel

Emily Callahan, CMO of St. Jude, shared an easy strategy for marketers to put purpose-led campaigns into action. The first step is to start with research - make sure you’re asking the right questions and listening to what consumers are saying. Then, take the time to get the story right. As marketers, we need to make sure we’re hitting rational and emotional senses. Bottomline: know your audience and be a voice for the voiceless. 

2. Data, Data, Data and Knowing Your Audience

With huge technology advancements, it’s no surprise data was heavily discussed. According to Kristin Lemkau, CMO of JPMorgan Chase, big data is estimated to grow 45 percent annually, and the bar for quality content is continuously raising. 

Jim Lecinski, VP of Customer Solutions at Google, says consumers are looking for three main things from brands: “Know me faster, know me better, and wow me everywhere.” The ability to analyze data on a large scale allows marketers to know their audience better and create more quality and relevant content faster - something that’s extremely important to consumers today.

Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G, says AI will continue to grow as its capabilities allow marketers to gain a tremendous amount of consumer identity data and identify target audiences. For example, when a woman types into Google, “I am pregnant,” this immediately signals retargeting ads through AI. That same woman is now seeing Pampers ads and retargeted content from the initial connection through when the baby will be out of diapers. 

However, finding customer data may not be all in the technology. When it comes to knowing your audience and creating customer-first content, marketers need to focus on what consumers want. Beitler, EVP and CMO of Lane Bryant,  says “big data can tell you what she does, but it can’t tell you how she feels.” He suggests taking the “discuss in the office, decide in the store” approach. Beitler put this into action for Lane Bryant by going into retail stores and asking real customers questions about what they want and their experiences with the brand. 

3. Authenticity is Key

“What motivates the consumer to seek authenticity?” This is the question George Newman, Associate Professor at Yale University, posed during his presentation. The answer for most consumers is to find “connectedness” with brands and other people. To provide this experience for consumers, marketers must find an authentic way to tell their stories. 

Crane Kenney, President of Business Ops at the Chicago Cubs, and David Selby, President and Managing Partner at the SCC, shared how they created an authentic story for the Chicago Cubs. 

Before winning the 2016 World Series, the Chicago Cubs hadn’t won in 71 years - something Kenney used to his advantage for rebranding the team. Because of the team’s lack of winning, brand managers were tasked with a way to build customer engagement while simultaneously rebuilding the team and stadium. 

Kenney “didn’t let the crisis go to waste,” and instead turned it into an authentic story of the “Loveable Losers.” In doing so, the brand team focused on the players, not the fans and turned the Cubs not winning into a rally cry. When they did win, this made history. 

Did you attend ANA’s Masters of Marketing conference? We want to hear your favorite insights and learnings! Tweet us @sml360. 

Katie TakacsTwitterLinkedIn

Katie is the Marketing Coordinator at Social Media Link. She assists in the content creation and strategy for digital and social marketing efforts aimed at building awareness around Social Media Link’s offerings and impact.