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“The Digital Marketing Event of the Year,” Connections 2016 flowed with waves of stirring thinkers—from U.S. Representative John Lewis to NASA Astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain Scott Kelly—and thriving brands, such as Instagram, Fanatics and theSkimm.
Six of us from TrendyMinds headed to Atlanta for the annual Salesforce event last week to explore the latest in digital marketing from breakout and keynote speakers on the front lines of marketing innovation. Each piece of knowledge advocated the vision that today’s audiences—whether businesses or direct consumers; whether in tech, retail, finance or healthcare—crave and expect personalized, one-to-one journeys that smoothly fit into their lives.
What we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, and a princess . . .
Wait, wrong line. Let me try again.
What we found out is that each one of us is a digital marketer with a unique perspective. As client service specialists and account executives, designers and a CEO, we all walked away from the conference and boarded the plane back home with Scott McCorkle’s concluding statements—and the Atlanta Falcons’ drumline beats—thumping in our ears. But it seems that even though we attended the same conference, our journeys weaved entirely different paths.
If our haiku doesn’t sum it up enough, here’s what else we learned from Connections 2016.
Trevor Yager – President & CEO
“Themes that reflect today’s society—those of equality, perseverance, work ethic and ingenuity—shaped Connections this year. Breakout sessions around the Salesforce Marketing Cloud tools were specific to unique industries but were applicable to many verticals. As a firm that supports global brands, we understand the importance of bringing together unique views to create solutions that impact our future.”
Joellyn Detjen – VP, Client Service
“The session by Jay Baer, called Hug Your Haters: Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers, offered me the greatest takeaways. Two simple, actionable statements stuck with me:”
Give customers more than they expect.
Answer every complaint, every time, in every channel.
“The first one addresses a mindset shift. We have to enter every situation with the intention of exceeding expectations. One simple way to do this is to end every conversation by asking, ‘What else can I do?’ Additionally, exceeding expectations requires preparation and foresight, even for simple meetings and phone calls. If we approached every situation in our day with this mindset of giving, it would literally change our world. For me, this insight took me beyond thinking about our customers, beyond our work at TrendyMinds.
“The second statement is just a solid, actionable takeaway. Make sure you have a plan in place to handle every complaint. Identify the people who will respond and how they should respond in maintaining your brand’s voice.”
Daniel Luke – Designer
“I’ve always understood the size of Salesforce, but attending Connections really offered a bigger perspective. Seeing the customer success stories and the excitement around their products really made me proud to work with them. I enjoyed how Instagram discussed interaction with their audiences using visual media, a form of communication that’s becoming more and more popular among young and old audiences alike. Visual communication is not just for ‘millennials.’ All of the ads and posts—illustrations, cinemagraphs, looping videos, photos and gifs—were customized for each audience and were intended to drive engagement and more business.”
Jess Bradway – Designer
“Whether selling beauty care, camping gear or running a well-known social media site, each company's main goal is to connect better with each customer and create new strategies to guide distinct customer journeys. The same philosophy is true for my goals as a designer. Connections allowed me to experience the Salesforce brand firsthand and see for myself how their products work and who’s using them. Even though I’ve worked on design projects with Salesforce since I started working at TrendyMinds, I had never truly seen their products in action. Seeing demos in the expo hall gave me that insight into their products. I enjoyed learning how they interact with their customers because in the end, that’s who I’m designing and creating content for.”
Brooklynn Moor – Account Executive
“The way Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin built the now credible and popular business, theSkimm, with no knowledge or experience in email marketing was an amazing startup story. I learned that taking chances, asking as many questions as possible and trying new things to build something different is within everyone’s grasp. The cutting edge of the future of news consumption and integrating news into a calendar was amazing to hear about.
“Robin Roberts had another inspiring insight that caught my attention: ‘Make your mess your message.’ This was the notion Robin related to her life and career up to this point—that people can use their flaws as positive driving forces rather than obstacles. Her message to ‘dream big, focus small’ was another key idea in her speech. She offered the motivation to maintain big goals while realizing that reaching those goals might mean starting from a small platform. This is exactly what she did in her career and something I hope to apply to mine in marketing.”
Nick Pasotti – Account Supervisor
I feel a little pompous quoting myself, but here goes nothing.
“I could say that my second Connections experience was formulaic—the keynotes are precise; there’s a method to every word and an expectation that Bryan Wade and others will announce new products and features in the already extensive Salesforce portfolio. But defining it as ‘formulaic’ undermines the nuances inherent in the event. What amazes me is how people who have seemingly nothing to do with digital marketing, such as U.S. Representative John Lewis, can have such relevant insight for digital marketers.”
You just have to believe that somehow and some way, by working and pulling together, we can save each other, we can build a beloved community, we can build a society at peace with itself, we can look out for all humankind. We can do it. We must do it.
“As an account supervisor in digital marketing—in fact, as anyone in digital marketing—and with a goal to create meaningful interactions that build strong communities around brands and causes, isn’t advice like John Lewis’ applicable? Isn’t that a vision for the world worth exploring in our marketing efforts? I most definitely think so.”
All in all, Connections 2016 wasn’t just another conference for us. It wasn’t just a showcase of new products and features. It was, instead, the embodiment of what digital marketing means for both brands and individuals. It was a glimpse into how digital marketing can actually bring people together to change lives, now and in the future.
Thanks, Connections. We’ll see you next year.