If you saw photos of a bunch of marketers partying in early October, you got half the story.
97th Floor's Mastermind is an annual marketing leadership conference located in Park City, Utah. This year, from October 3-5, marketing leaders spent two days at The St. Regis Deer Valley participating in expert-led discussions on marketing strategy, listening to keynote speaker Ryan Holiday, and collaborating with peers.
There may or may not have also been a cooking challenge, some painting and hiking, and delicious food all against the stunning background of Park City’s colorful fall mountains.
We’ve pulled together 8 lessons from the bright minds of our attendees. Note that because each discussion leader took a different approach to their topic, each write-up will read a little differently. Here's what you're in for:
- Balancing Brand & Performance Marketing | NBCUniversal Director of Digital Sales Sean Michael Colee-Addington and Account Executive Tatiana Fabregas
- How to Build High-Performing Marketing Teams | 97th Floor CEO Paxton Gray
- SOPs are the Lifeblood of Well-Oiled Systems | Ahrefs VP of Marketing Sam Oh
- Turning Loyal Customers Into Brand Advocates | HubSpot Principal Marketing Manager of Offline Community and Advocacy Christina Garnett
- Establishing Your Company as a Thought Leader | TAB Bank VP of Marketing John Huntinghouse
- Creating Highly-Targeted, Persona-Based Content | 97th Floor VP of Marketing Danny Allen
- Tools & Tech You Can’t Live Without | 97th Floor Head of SEO Trent Howard
- Keeping Teams Innovative Through Formal Brainstorming | 97th Floor Account Director Michael Witham
Balancing Brand & Performance Marketing
Brand-marketing-adverse leadership are armed with one argument: You can’t prove ROI. Sean Michael Colee-Addington and Tatiana Fabregas from NBCU dissolved this argument in their discussion on balancing brand and performance marketing.
4 Reasons you need to make room (and budget) for brand marketing:
- Emotionally connected customers have a 306% higher lifetime value for your brand.
- CTR is dropping, time on site is dropping, and it’s increasingly difficult to accurately measure the success of performance campaigns in a post-cookie world where consumers want extreme data privacy.
- Impulse shopping because of an ad is not happening much anymore. 80% of Gen-Z are researching before they buy. Sean Michael shared, “They want to research you. They want to find out what your brand is about. They want to know your values and if they align with their own values.”
Brand marketing communicates essential purchasing messages that consumers need before making a decision. Sean Michael warns that brands with insufficient brand marketing will miss out on millennials, gen Z-ers, and high-value spenders in the marketplace.
- Haley Riemenschneider, 97th Floor Head of Advertising, adds that “if you have strong performance marketing already setup, you can only go so far with that. Branding is how you fuel your performance marketing.”
But what about tracking? Tatiana is confident that the “data is getting there to give you the ROI" for brand marketing. Brand marketing can be measured; it’s just measured differently through awareness, education, values, introduction, and sustaining a competitive edge.
Get creative and think about what other tangible metrics could be driven by brand marketing.
You may not see any movement in revenue for the immediate next quarter, but you can see lift and trust that budget spent on brand marketing will pay out with increase in the future.
Do This: Reevaluate what percentage of your marketing efforts are branded—if high-funnel, branded campaigns aren't receiving any budget, allocate a small portion of budget to test your ideas and establish a system for measuring value.
How to Build High-Performing Marketing Teams
97th Floor’s unique team structure isn’t the only thing that makes us the best choice for our clients - it’s also the leadership values and style we practice in the company.
97th Floor CEO Paxton Gray led a discussion about how marketing leaders can develop a productive team. We’ve pulled key takeaways from those who participated.
- Carve out ownership for everyone on your team.
- Don’t take away an opportunity to learn or grow by just doing something yourself.
- When hiring, it's not about finding a culture fit, it's about finding a culture add.
- Embrace a diversity of approaches for the diversity in your team.
- When working with your team, be involved and mirror the passion of what excites them about the work.
Do this: Evaluate your team's feedback loops—how does each team member see and understand the impact they have on the company's bottom line? Build a system for more frequent and thorough feedback.
Why SOPs are the Lifeblood of Well-Oiled Systems
Sam Oh, Ahrefs' VP of Marketing, led a discussion about developing standard operating procedures that will:
- Empower and bring confidence to your team
- Share your company’s goals for marketing procedures
- Guide you through non-negotiable processes
- Answer frequently asked
Here's his team's internal process...for creating processes:
Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a “perfect” system. Train your team to proactively notice blockers in your systems and propose optimizations.
A strong foundational systems that should free up individual contributors' time and attention to be more creative. Scaleable creativity comes from defined systems that get modified and improved on in documented, measurable ways.
Do this: Using Sam's flow and as a marketing team, take 15 minutes to create a documented system for one task your team performs regularly. Set a date for when you'll reevaluate and optimize that process.
Turning Loyal Customers Into Brand Advocates
Christina Garnett is Hubspot’s Principal Community Manager for Offline Community and Advocacy. Her discussion group benefited from learning Christina's 3 ingredients for turning customers into brand advocates.
- Create a core memory.
Christina shares that “People fall in love during core memories. It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be grandiose, it just has to lodge in their brain.”
Consider, how will I make my customers feel special?
Christina recommends interacting with customers on social. By highlighting customers online, you make them the hero. “They’re gonna feel special, they’re gonna feel loved, and best of all it makes your content not about you.”
- Make it feel human.
Advocacy and community managers must find a balance between what is automated and what is done by humans. Christina explains that “the strategic advantage of advocacy is rawness and intrinsic honesty.”
Consider, where are the customer interactions that you need to do “by hand” to create a human feeling and interaction? What is one place where you can remove automation to create a more meaningful experience?
- Understand your customers' different levels of need.
Christina compared customer care to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, explaining that most brands never travel too high up the pyramid. Your brand supplies survival when you meet expectation, safety when customer support is your front line, and love and belonging when you acknowledge positive word of mouth and social. Most brands never reach up to offer their customers esteem and self-actualization.
“The bare minimum is doing what you said you would do and what they paid you for. Then you can move up. And the beautiful thing is it cannot be transactional.”
Christina advises replacing transactional things like gift cards with something that could mean more to a customer and is free. These are usually experiences. Can you offer a chance to talk to your product team or leadership team? Can you use a customer in a commercial? These things are core memories.
Do this: Think about core memories you have with brands. What do these memories inspire you to do for your customers? Hold a brainstorm with your marketing team on how your brand can create core memories.
Establishing Your Company as a Thought Leader
John Huntinghouse, VP of Marketing at TAB Bank, pulled from proprietary 2020 research to show the importance of thought leadership for decision-makers.
Here's some of the juice:
Put your content through these filters to determine if it will be valuable thought leadership for your space:
- Beyond generating awareness, what business objectives will your thought leadership achieve?
- Who exactly is the target audience?
- Are you focused on timely issues affecting your customers right now?
- Will your content teach customers something they don’t already know?
- Is the content overly sales-y?
- Who else can enhance the story you want to tell?
- Who will be the face of the thought leadership?
- How will you stand out from the crowd?
- Do you have the necessary measurement tools?
Do this: Use John's questions to evaluate your upcoming content calendar—it's not too late to pivot (or even scrap) content that doesn't meet standards.
Creating Highly-Targeted, Persona-Based Content
97th Floor’s not-so-secret sauce for every campaign is an undying commitment to understand our client’s customers before we do anything else. Danny Allen, 97th Floor’s VP of Marketing, discussed how to use personas to create content.
- Only 5% of the content created in the past 12 months generated 90% of the engagement.
- Marketing budgets have increased by 50% over the past 12 months (from 6.4% of a company's total revenue to 9.6% of a company's total revenue) per Gartner.
- 20-30% of marketing budgets are going into content marketing.
- It seems marketers have important decisions to make (see pie chart below).
We can either (a) make the pie bigger but maintain the current ratio of successful content as-is or (b) focus on increasing the tiny 5% slice with a greater focus on the content that performs.
Ultimately, the group concluded that greater depth in our personas (truly understanding the humans we market to) will lead to a greater increase in effective content.
Creating this content can be risky for marketers and hard to pitch to leadership. Our confidence in more in-depth personas will make it all possible to push through (both for ourselves and for our leaders).
Do this: Check out this 5-Step Guide to Creating Consumer Personas to guide your content.
Tools & Tech Your Can't Live Without
In 2022, there are 9,932 marketing technology solutions available. That’s a 2,737.71% increase from ten years ago. At this pace, there is probably a marketing tool out there that can address a problem you don’t even know you have. The more you implement these tools and tech to carry the heavy, slow work of marketing, the more time you have to be brilliant.
Here are 3 recommendations that Trent Howard, 97th Floor Head of SEO, rounded up during his discussion group.
Sparktoro - 97th Floor's tool-of-choice for audience research, Sparktoro pulls from "millions of public social and web profiles to reveal demographics, behavioral traits, discussion topics, and other crucial audience research in seconds."
Gong - Gong analyzes your own customer interactions to learn the language and buying patterns of your consumers, helping sales improve conversation and win more revenue.
Triple Whale - Triple Whale's dashboard brings together all the channels you're working on - Facebook, Shopify, TikTok, Google Analytics and more - so that you can see ROAS all in one place and close some tabs.
Do this: Evaluate your current tools—were you there when they were adopted? Do they still serve you? What pain points do your experience most frequently and is there a tool to address a portion of that pain?
Keeping Teams Innovative Through Formal Brainstorming
Creativity, along with trustworthiness and intentionality, is a key value at 97th Floor. And our teams consistently live up to that value, delivering creative, brand-driven, and out-of-the-box (or sometimes in the box campaigns - in the rage cage, that is) campaigns.
97th Floor Account Director Mike Witham was the perfect guru to get Mastermind attendees brainstorming how to brainstorm.
He shared an 8-step process for leading energizing and productive brainstorms.
Do this: Download our brainstorming process PDF and try it out in your next huddle.
And there you have it - almost as good as being there.