Beehive sponsored the Minnesota Marketing Summit this week, which allowed us to learn, network and share our story with nearly 400 marketers from around the region. We explored topics including social media strategies, content marketing, customer experience and how to build successful client-agency relationships. After spending the day with these savvy communicators three things stayed with me:
- Having the right hashtag is shockingly important
- When it comes to brand love and loyalty, customer experience is where it’s at
- Minnesota marketers love their tacos
The day began as most good conferences do, with the host inviting attendees to tweet and tag the event. When the hashtag was revealed this crowd took the invitation to heart, starting a Twitterstorm about… the hashtag. All 25 characters of it. Not exactly nimble. After publicly sharing their opinions – ranging from amusement to outright horror – on #MinnesotaMarketingSummit, the dutiful audience proceeded to post, comment and tag away, supporting the event and its panelist with professional enthusiasm. The lesson here, as it often is, is know your audience and craft your communication (including your hashtag) accordingly.
Beehive’s own Lisa Hannum moderated a panel on brand love and loyalty. Five panelist, including Denise Mallery from Pohlad Companies, Andrea Benzschawel from Buffalo Wild Wings, Andrea Ponto from Lifetouch, Lana Slygh from TCF Bank and Michelle Schoenecker from Thomson Reuters spent an hour debunking popular branding myths and exploring the role of customer experience in branding. A few of the questions they explored include: What is the branding myth you’d most like to debunk? Lana elegantly refuted the idea that marketing owns the brand, building a case that customers own the brand. Companies that enjoy brand loyalty are good listeners who are inspired to anticipate their customers’ needs. Michelle busted the myth that branding is only important in B2C, for B2B brands to be considered more than a commodity, creating brand loyalty is essential. Myth or fact, customers are most loyal to their “first love” in a category? The panel was divided on this question. Andrea Benzschawel said the key to making it a fact lies in maintaining a brand’s core values for comfort and consistency, but innovating to keep things fresh and interesting. Lana said it’s a myth. Innovation is too tempting today – consider the change from yellow cabs to Uber and Blackberry to Apple as cautionary tales. What’s more important to creating brand loyalty – meeting practical needs or creating an emotional connection? The majority of the panel, including Andrea Ponto, leaned toward making an emotional connection, referencing Simon Sinek’s TED talk on Starting with the Why. Denise took the counterpoint, discussing the importance of earning the right to play in a category as an essential precursor to earning loyalty.
So, what about tacos?
As part of the branding panel, Beehive polled the audience on questions related to the topic, creating real-time opportunities for panelist to engage with the room. One question asked “What is the most important strategy in branding?” The results were displayed in a word cloud as the audience shared their thoughts. Not surprisingly, engagement, experience and listening were among the top responses. And then there was one, tiny word: tacos. Tacos? One of the panelists saw it and commented that she may have a new BFF in the audience because no matter what the question, tacos are always a good answer. Others in the audience chimed in, making tacos the leading strategy in branding, according to our esteemed audience of Minnesota marketers. A little levity in what was a long and heady day. When the conversation jumped to Twitter, tacos outpaced #MinnesotaMarketingSummit as the most talked about topic of the day. It was an excellent example of what happens when a community is engaged and a social conversation is allowed to flow, not to mention a real-time case study that was discussed at the post-Summit happy hour.