Advertising Week NYC: Learning, Networking, and Evolving

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Last week, I attended Advertising Week NYC and found myself surrounded by some of the biggest movers and shakers in the advertising industry. There was so much knowledge sharing crammed into the AMC at Lincoln Square – you could feel the energy buzzing as marketers from all walks of the practice were learning, networking, and evolving our discipline.

The workshop

I was proud to host a workshop titled, “Influencing Influencers: Onboard and Activate Partners” in which I provided tactical recommendations to help attendees work with influencers. It was wonderful to see heads nod and pens write as participants leveraged the worksheets provided to create their own influencer criteria, walk through the pitching process, and take away actionable assets for their next campaign. If you want to download the components of that session, you can find them here.

Check out the full workshop here:

What I learned

Leverage your fandom

Fandom is an important part of every brand. Regardless of industry, having a community of devoted consumers who are ready to participate is key. Social media has revolutionized what it means to be a fan and how brands can engage their advocates.

That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind when tapping people that are living your brand’s lifestyle:

  1. Fandom begins at a young age. Create nostalgic experiences that resurface emotional anchor points.
  2. Building fandom into your business model will strengthen retention. Make every new touchpoint a chance to dive deeper into the branded world you’re building.
  3. Fans expect brands to actively respond and have a perspective. Standing for principles and ideas consistently is important for continuity and managing expectations, especially with your younger fans.
  4. Fandom is contagious. People want to belong, and if you can tap loyalists to invite others to the community you will find success.
  5. There are many reasons why brands can lose fans. This happens when fans think the brand has done something wrong, is missing something, or provides an experience that didn’t go the way they expected. If these things happen, the brand loses that sense of authenticity and purpose. Additionally, fans will leave a community if it’s negative or unsafe.

As influencer marketers, the challenge is to think of your superfans as influencers and to convert your influencer partners into (authentic) superfans. Combining these worlds will undoubtedly produce engaging content and great campaigns.

Less branding, more purpose

We know consumers are becoming more desensitized and ad-averse. This is forcing marketers to produce premium content, as opposed to endless short, product-forward ads that clutter consumers’ lives. With mixed media, diverse platforms, and a rise in exceptional (younger) talent, marketers can now tell stories unlike ever before.

As Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G said, “The advertising world is blending with other [creative] worlds.” It’s now combined with filmmaking, art, and driving impact – this is how you connect to the hearts and minds of the consumer. Especially as Gen Z gains more purchasing power, shifting from heavy-handed messaging to social responsibility and other emotive experiences will be vital.

It’s time for brands to get their brand purpose crystal clear, hire specifically for it, and live it every day through their products and services. Finding influencers to champion brand purpose is going to be important to move the needle.

As Pritchard suggested, understand what influencers deeply care about and they will go above and beyond for you. He made it clear that even with just a light branded touch you can accomplish your goals – especially through longer-form content, for which there is a growing demand.

By prioritizing purpose through storytelling, the brand can be positioned to be the hero, not the focal point, which is how P&G found massive success with its Global Citizen project.

Bring your whole self

Although a lot of strategies were discussed at Advertising Week NYC, I was also able to attend sessions about career growth and the talent economy. Speakers talked about how marketers, by the nature of the discipline, are forced to put their entire essence into their work.

When talent is motivated and truly lives the brand through quality experiences, amazing work can be done. However, because of the need to be 110 percent ingrained and the speed of the industry, an employee’s emotional well-being can become deprioritized which negatively impacts their output.

In 2019, we’ve seen plenty of headlines about burnout and how the agency model prioritizes product over its people. The good news is that industry leaders are taking this seriously and doing something about it. As a former agency staffer myself, I was intrigued to attend The Drum’s panel about how it is incumbent upon agency leadership to do more – to shift out of the ‘grin and bear it’ mentality and provide tools that encourage open discussion and self-improvement.

Danielle Reardon of The Well-Intended was on the panel and spoke from the heart about her time as an agency lead and drive to help reform the industry. To hear Danielle’s perspective, check out this podcast episode where she discusses her journey from advertising executive to wellness influencer.

Who I met

I’m a person that absolutely loves networking. At Advertising Week NYC, I bumped into former colleagues (which is always fun!) and met higher-ups at the speakers’ lounge and heard about their visions for the future. Most exciting though was finally meeting the team from Social Media Week!

As you may know, we’ve been presenting at the Social Media Week conferences for a while now – and will soon head to London to close out the 2019 season – but never had the chance to meet the team in person. If you haven’t been to an SMW event yet – get there. Great vibes, lots to learn, and overall a fantastic experience. Hope to see you in London at the end of October!

October 01, 2019
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