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The top 6 takeaways from Marketing United 2016

There are a lot of things that get us fired up about Marketing United: meeting a seemingly endless number of smart marketers, introducing them to our amazing city, spreading our borderline obsessive love for hot chicken… the list goes on. Here are just a few of the highlights from this year.




But we especially enjoy soaking up as much knowledge as possible from our speakers. These folks are some of the best of the best in the industry, and we love coming back to the office armed with inspiring takeaways and actionable strategies we can apply to our own marketing. So without further ado, here were some of the most impactful lessons we learned at Marketing United 2016.

1. People don’t share things, they share emotion.

During his opening keynote, UnMarketing’s Scott Stratten shared the story of Joshie, a stuffed lamb left by a child at a Ritz Carlton in Florida. When the anxious father contacted the Ritz about getting Joshie back, not only did they find the lamb – their staff also took a series of incredibly cute photos featuring Joshie enjoying his vacation. Then, they shipped it all back to the family free of charge. Because of his incredible experience, the father shared the photos online… and they went viral.

Scott’s point? Create amazing experiences for your customers, and they’ll do your marketing for you. We trust strangers more than we’ll ever trust brands, and at the end of the day, people respond best to things that stir up an emotional response.



2. If you took your logo off your marketing, would people still know it’s yours?

Ann Handley’s talk centered on a call to arms for marketers everywhere: Go bigger, bolder, and braver. So much of the content marketers are putting out there is the same, and quantity is winning out over quality. So it’s essential that every brand find their own unique voice and have the guts to do things in new and different ways.

Her winning formula? Culture x Story x Empathy = Tone of Voice. Take out any of the elements of the equation, and your brand’s voice will fall flat.

3. Do some good.

Scott Harrison told the story behind his amazing nonprofit organization, charity: water, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. The biggest takeaway from his talk was simple, but powerful: While it’s easy to get caught up in ROI and metrics and all the other things marketers obsess over, it’s important that we also remember to do some good for others. Brands have the power to truly make an impact, and they should use their platform and audience to support the missions they believe in.

4. Slow down and do it on paper.

Aaron Draplin gave one of the most energetic talks at Marketing United 2016, and he certainly brought a fresh perspective to the conference. Peppered among his tell-it-like-it-is, uncensored stories were a few pieces of advice that really resonated. One that stuck with us? People need to slow down and stop making things more complicated than they need to be. Do quality work. Do work you’re passionate about. Do work for people and causes you care about. Then – and only then– will you produce something great.

5. Most email really sucks. Yours shouldn’t.

Email extraordinaire Justine Jordan of Litmus gave us all a ton of great, useful tips for crafting better emails. Email is not, she argued: JPG, PPC, SEO, a one-page website, or a way to blast as many people as possible. It’s a personal medium, and as such, you should give it the respect it deserves. Some of our favorite tips she dished out?

• Develop an “any inbox, any device” email marketing strategy.
• Make it CRUSTY: “Context, Relevance, Useful, SimpliciTY.”
• Create fluid, consistent experiences.

6. Customer service is the new marketing.

During his closing keynote, Jay Baer spoke about the topic of his latest book, Hug Your Haters. At least 1/3 of all customer complaints go unanswered, according to Baer, and “people are sick of being ignored." Even when brands do respond, they are often not meeting customer expectations in terms of response time. For example, while 40% of people who expect a response in social media expect it within an hour, the average response time from brands is almost 5 hours.

“It’s 2016 and while everybody assumes that everybody is good at customer service, turns out they’re not,” says Baer. His solution and the mantra to Hug Your Haters? “Answer every customer complaint, in every channel, every time.

We're already gearing up for Marketing United 2017, and we can't wait to share all the latest with you! Sign up to receive updates on the Marketing United website