Takeaways From Now and Later — Wrapping Up the 2018 KCDMA Symposium


Three writers set out from their cozy midtown agency (heaters turned to full blast in a losing battle against the January chill) to explore emerging – and tried-and-true – marketing trends at the 2018 KCDMA Symposium, “Marketing Now & Later: Planning for the Future.”

Hmm, I could use this for a feel-good screenplay.

Lizzie, Lis and I each came away from the event with a unique list of highlights and learnings.

So here are the golden nuggets I hope will help you now…AND later. (If you can’t take the pun, get outta the kitchen?)

  • In the opening keynote “Focusing on the One,” Ian Baer described how “webrooming” leads customers and constituents to expect seamless navigation between platforms, and information on the same areas of interest across channels. So, forming a cohesive brand and brand voice. Always important, yes?
  • Quinn Tempest, a fellow content marketing maven, was speaking our language. She recommends all organizations spend at least 10 minutes optimizing content for web search…because “the best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of the Google search results.”
  • Quinn went on to say, “long gone are the days of the marketing department working in its own silo.” Pulling knowledge from all areas and departments inspires exceptional copy.
  • Angie Read, conductor of research and co-author of a new book on Generation Z, shared insight into what motivates the first generation of true digital natives.
    • Members of Gen Z choose companies that align with their personal brand and values.
    • “If you’re going to market equality, you better be sure your organizational model backs it up.”
  • Heather Physioc of VML shared what’s to come in voice search. “If you’re not answering real human questions with exceptional content, you’re veering off the path of righteousness.”

I have quite a bit to chew on from this event. And that’s not even taking into account the dozens of Now and Later candies lining my coat pockets.

Did you attend the KCDMA’s 2018 Symposium? What are your highlights?

Key Takeaways from the Washington Nonprofit Conference

It was my first time as a presenter at the DMA’s Washington Nonprofit Conference, and all in all, it was a great conference.

Energy was high, and the mood was positive (markedly different than just a couple of years ago).

I had the honor of sitting on the “Last Word” panel that highlights key themes from the conference. Here are a few that stuck with me:

1. Stop talking about integration and figure out a way to do it. Organizations like the Holocaust Museum and National Law Officers' Memorial offered simple and effective ways to get the job done, encouraging conference goers to start small, start early and put intra-departmental teams together.
2. Storytelling still reigns supreme, but boring, overcomplicated stories won't work. Ever. Simplicity of message is key. In fact, Freedom from Hunger was able to boost ROI in certain segments simply by as much as 72% by doing away with the use of program names and instead focusing on the activities of the program.
3. The jury is still out on the long-term effects of using premiums. The American Red Cross held firm in their belief that premiums are just too expensive, while Boys Town offered a compelling turnaround case study on the use of bundled premiums for maximum results. Fascinating debate.
4. Message matters in some places much more than others. Copywriter Tom Gaffny told the audience that 90% of the success of copy comes from 10% of the words. My favorite quote of the conference—"don't bother to battle about paragraphs 4-10; they're not worth the fight."
5. Challenge how you analyze. Kevin Moran of Integral encouraged the group to look at data from the donor perspective not just by channel. Figure out channel drivers, donor composition and then make your predictions.

When Marketing is Last on the To-Do List ...

DMA CEO Larry Kimmel spoke to the KCDMA this past week. Great presentation full of stats on DM and the high tech future.

"The future is here—it's just not evenly distributed," he hailed.

His point: incredible levels of sophistication are currently in play ... just not by most people. Certainly true among many nonprofits, who in addition to marketing, are faced with wearing dozens of other hats.

"We can't keep our head above water, much less keep up with the marketing," I hear a lot. Marketing is one more unchecked box on the to-do list.

But it doesn't have to be. Some simple advice if the thought of implementing the latest and greatest marketing is giving you night sweats:

1. Start small - Resist the "all or nothing" urge. If you're sending a single generic version of a fundraising letter, start with the goal of segmenting your audience into 2 or 3 groups. You may not need a complicated matrix of messaging.

2. Newer isn't always better - I like new technology, but that comes at a price, literally and figuratively. I waited in line for the iPhone 4, only to find out it was poorly designed and I couldn't hold it by the antenna band (oh yeah, by the way, that's right side!). Sit back a little bit and see what's going to stick and what works well before investing your time and energy, especially if both are in short supply.

3. Get help - (not a shameless plug, really!) - If there's a major learning curve to some part of your marketing efforts, find someone who has already done the heavy lifting. I always wanted to have programming skills. Problem is, I don't. And I don't have the time to learn those skills. The best move I ever made was just to pick up the phone ...