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Marketing United brings digital marketers from around the world under one roof to learn, network, and get inspired by some of the smartest minds in the industry. In 2017, brands like Netflix, Pixar, and Nike joined experts like Jay Baer, Scott Stratten, and Ann Handley to help marketers find breakthrough ideas to tackle their toughest challenges. And they didn’t disappoint. Here are the 10 most impactful takeaways from the best Marketing United yet.


The number one rule: be human.

Despite the rapidly growing number of tools marketers have to choose from, it isn’t technology that makes great marketing: What people fundamentally want from brands is a personal, human connection. No matter what channel you choose, the point is to engage your audience with relevant messaging, personal interactions, and genuine conversation.

  • Marketers who use manipulative tactics are the problem, not the technology.

Oli Gardner Unbounce


You have to dig deeper than vanity metrics.

The pressure to produce a massive quantity of content is so high that quality naturally suffers. You have to think about what all that content is actually doing: Sure, it may be producing likes and views — it may even “go viral” – but is it moving people further down the funnel? Strip away the vanity metrics and drill down into what’s truly driving results for your brand.

  • We tend to think marketing is EVERYTHING, but really, it’s all about changing my mind or making me do something.

Scott Stratten Unmarketing


Without a good story, your message falls apart.

While only 5% of people remember stats or data, a whopping 65% remember stories they’re told. Stories are most meaningful when they’re memorable, impactful, and personal. Make people feel something genuine, and you’ll create lasting brand loyalty for years to come.

  • Whether you are a global brand or a smaller brand that’s just getting started, the rules still apply: You have to make me feel something.

Matthew Luhn Pixar


Stop telling people how great your brand is.

People often become skeptical when a company is selling to them, but they trust the opinions of other consumers. Great marketing happens when you’re able to create something that amplifies the voice of your customers: Think user-generated content, case studies, interviews — anything that allows your customer to share their story and champion your brand for you.

  • At this point, there’s no excuse for any brand not to be plugged into the voice of the consumer.

Curtis Midkiff Southwest Airlines


Understand your audience before you do anything else.

As a marketer, your job is to be the bullhorn for the customer. People want to be understood, and our challenge (and the great opportunity we have) is to uncover the data that helps us do just that. Knowledge of your customers’ desires is a tremendous competitive advantage. The magic happens when you meet both your customers’ and your business’s needs.


Analyze your customer experience, then make it better.

Industry breakthroughs occur when you kill common pain points and improve UX. Take time to break down every part of the experience you (and the competitors in your industry) provide. Then, come up with some ideas on how it can be improved. Test, test, and test those ideas until you’ve created an experience that sets you apart from the rest.

  • Most people are scared to change the way they do business. Find someone in your organization who isn’t — they’re going to challenge your process like no one else can.

Mitch Lowe Netflix


Email is a central part of any successful marketing strategy.

Email provides the highest ROI (3800%) of any digital marketing channel. And for 69.7% of internet users, email is their preferred method of communicating with businesses. Plus, we’re all addicted to it: When someone provides you with their email address, they’re inviting you into their daily life. Use it wisely.


Don’t start with a deadline. Start with an audience.

Only 32% of marketers focus content on the interests and needs of their audience versus the needs of their brand. “We need a piece of content for X campaign” isn’t the right way to approach marketing. Start with what your audience needs, what they’re looking for, what would be helpful to them – then build content around that need.

  • Go narrow, not broad: We have a tendency to think ‘If I go broad, I’ll capture more people.’ But the more tightly you define yourself, the easier it is for YOUR people to find you.

Tamsen Webster


You can’t solve a product problem with a marketing message.

There is no bad brand for good companies. There is no good brand for bad companies. What matters is closing the gap between how we want to be seen by consumers and what we really are. You have to get the basics right (a great product, fantastic customer service, etc.) if you’re ever going to do successful marketing.


Be transformative, not transactional.

As a marketer, it’s easy to get bogged down in meetings and campaign briefs — but it’s important to elevate your marketing from the day-to-day. If we keep our imaginations strong, agile, and nimble, we can find the most creative solutions to our problems. Avoid “doing things the way we’ve always done them,” and use your platform and voice to create change in people’s lives.

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