5 Takeaways from IC’s Minnesota Marketing Summit

By Jessica Disch


A couple weeks ago, we attended the IC (Industry & Community) Summits Minnesota Marketing Summit. IC promises “really good conferences,” and it didn’t disappoint. It put together rockstar panels with agency, brand, and nonprofit representatives to discuss a range of topics. The panels were engaging, entertaining, and insightful. And lunch hit the spot—always a plus.

While there were dozens of key insights from each panel, here were some of our main takeaways:

  1. Create authentic content.
    Minnesota brands have really tapped into our state’s collective identity over the last several years to create products, services, and communications campaigns that clearly resonate throughout the land of 10,000 lakes. From Sun Country Airlines to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, brands are speaking with Minnesotans in a language that us northerners understand.
    Lesson: Be authentic in your content, with your clients, and everything you do as a brand. Customers crave authenticity. Tell your true, authentic story, and you will connect with your audience in a real, meaningful way.
  2. “Sometimes you have to sound like a 4 year old…ask “Why?” and “How come?” for everything.
    There are no “instruction manuals” in marketing. And if someone says they have one, they’re lying. There is experience, best practices, intuition, and wisdom. Part of that wisdom is questioning everything—from word choice to measurement tools to dollars spent on creative assets.
    Lesson: Review your work, process, results, etc., like you are your own worst enemy. Scrutiny is everywhere. It’s better that it first comes internally instead of getting external criticism (that you could have avoided) if you had questioned early and often.
  3. Measuring sentiment in your social listening can be an effective tool to understand what consumers are thinking and feeling about your brand, beyond quantities of likes, mentions, etc.
    Social media is evolving, and metrics are as well. It no longer suffices to just look at the numbers and ask, “Are we in the conversation?” Of course that’s important and necessary, but we also need to ask, “How are we in the conversation?”
    Lesson: While social listening can be a large investment in resources, it can also be done without the snooping tools of, say, the CIA. Spot check your social channels and see how people are talking about your brand, what they’re responding to and what is behind the 140 characters.
  4. Building a successful brand/agency partnership: “Be UBER clear on expectations for success.”
    In our industry, collaboration is paramount. It’s not uncommon for more than 20 stakeholders to weigh in on a single project, and everyone has an opinion.
    Lesson: Both sides, the agency and the organization, need to make expectations of communication, process, results, measurement, etc., uber clear. Like fine crystal stemware. Like the waters off the coast of Bali. Like, you get it. Just trying to be clear.
  5. “Client relationships are like marriages. Add RFPs to the mix and it’s like waking up to a threesome.”
    I wish I had said this, but it was Neil White, President and CEO of BBDO Minneapolis, who also had a host of other LOL-worthy quips. The funniest thing about this statement is that it’s true. While we totally get the necessity of RFPs (trust us, we solicit vendors for estimates as well), an agency can be humming along in perfect harmony and then bam, it’s all hands on deck to successfully respond to an RFP, often times with very little chance of winning the business.
    Lesson: Dedicate the time and resources to put together a rockstar RFP response when the project is right up your alley. If it’s not a perfect fit, or you don’t have time to put together a quality proposal, skip it. And when soliciting vendors for RFPs, do so with empathy and an awareness of the tight bandwidth most creatives are operating under nowadays.