3 Key Takeaways From The ANA’s 2018 Masters of Marketing Conference

Alexis Lovett, Director of Marketing at M/H VCCP, made her way to Orlando a few weeks ago to attend the 2018 ANA Masters of Marketing week. Aside from enjoying the balmy weather, here are her top three takeaways:

1. The in-house trend is real, but one size doesn’t fit all.

78 percent of client-side marketers have in-house agencies—but the general sentiment is that it’s important to understand the strengths and limitations in any agency partner. Clients who know what their agencies do well and deploy them accordingly is more the trend than a move away from outside partners in general. There’s room for both in-house agencies and external agencies to co-exist and help build the world’s most powerful brands. Just ask Intel and Staples.

“A lot of the noise about in-house agencies is just that: noise,” marketing consultant Avi Dan told Ad Age’s Brian Brailer. “There’s certain work that doesn’t make sense to push outside and give to agencies. But I haven’t seen one brand-building campaign that came from an in-house agency.”

2. Marketing isn’t a crutch for bad business.

John Dillon, CMO of Denny’s, emphasized that fixing a brand and its business is crucial before turning to marketing to solve problems. In replaying Denny’s own attempt to use a Super Bowl spot to stop declining sales, his candor in recognizing that some problems require more firepower than marketing alone is capable of, is what stood out. Denny’s ultimately faced a product and perception issue that forced them to transform the business on the inside, before they could ask customers to think differently about their offering.

3. Being successful requires taking risks.

Jeff Charney, CMO of Progressive, praised brands that take risks. In fact, he believes this market requires it. As marketers, it’s our job to help clients take calculated risks in service of building their business. It can be a scary leap, but look at Nike, who experienced a 31% increase in online sales following their Kaepernick campaign. Or Patagonia, who rejected mass consumerism by donating 100% of sales on Black Friday to environmental organizations. Both are proof that the reward is worth the risk.

While there was so much more to cover, these are the learnings that we’re taking with us into the rapidly approaching new year.