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Old marketer, new tricks. 5 Festival of Marketing brand takeaways

This week I took a couple of days out to attend the Festival of Marketing. It’s always hard to carve out the time to attend industry events and yet it’s always worth it.  Now approaching 50, I’m more conscious how easy it would be to stop learning new marketing techniques, or new applications of classic ones in really different industries. 

Here’s the top 5 tips I picked up from other brand professionals on day 1:

1. Finding space to do diagnosis is the first lesson: Mark Ritson, Founder MW mini MBA

Brand diagnosis – really interrogating the back-story and heritage, speaking to real customers – is what sets marketing strategy and tactics up for success. In a new role, it can take up to 6 months to really get under the skin of the brand to drive the right shift in strategy you’ll need.

Top Tips: Treat the founder as a data-point not the only opinion, and remember that the definition of a brand is to be anti-generic!

2. Keep your brand campaign live for longer than it feels comfortable: Sam Day, CMO confused.com

Brand campaigns need time to breathe to have impact. Yet balancing the long- and short- term objectives can be tricky with internal stakeholders, and in fact was the key challenge for most CMOs speaking over the 3 days.  Sam acknowledges the temptation to stop sharing what you’re doing, why and how, but that destroys trust.

Top Tip: Talk about the art and the science of marketing, show you have process and controls as well as creativity.

3. Structure your plan around the outcomes, not the inputs: Sarah Bennison, CMO Nationwide

A compelling story for what happens when you have a campaign about to launch, and then Covid hits and your messages aren’t relevant and your call to action (pop in) is impossible.  Sarah shares how executing against the plan outcomes, not always sticking to the same tactical inputs, is what allowed Nationwide to pivot quickly.  

Top Tip: analyse which un-necessary steps are removed in a crisis and how that liberates a marketing team to do their boldest, best creative work.

4. Allow people to bring their inner consumers to work: Meghan Farren, CMO, KFC UK&I

A really open presentation sharing the research that highlighted how KFC were out of touch with modern ideals for fast food, and how that led to a total transformation.  It’s so easy to think that’s an advertising problem and solution, but the key changes behind the scenes – the menu, the restaurant design – are what gave the brand something really different to talk about. Meghan shares how allowing the staff to bring their inner consumer to work – rather than just think like employees – helped them get there.

Top Tips: changing brand perceptions is a business transformation not just a marketing strategy. And never underestimate the power of imagery and metaphor when trying to change hearts and minds.

5. Create a plan with room for complete punts: Ross Farquhar, Marketing Director, Little Moons

What a wonderful, honest story of what happens when a side experiment by one employee, gets unexpected traction.  Little moons suddenly had an international, viral campaign on TikTok on their hands, when one employees’ own video compelled people to share their joy in finding and eating these ice-cream treats. Ross shares how important it was to stick to the strategy of their plan (keeping focused on who would buy) but flex the tactics when something new took off.

Top Tip: Make sure your marketing plan has room for some little punts – one of those could surprise you.

Thanks to all the speakers and Festival of Marketing for these tips and insights.

Jill Pringle is a published author and brand marketing consultant. She uses her musical and marketing training to help smaller services businesses create marketing strategies to grow.

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