Red Letter Day: A Marketing Conference Peggy and Joan Would Have Appreciated

Posted by Knight Stivender on Aug 8, 2016 5:34:11 PM
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In Don Draper's day, advertisers marketed to women with images like this one:


But unlike Don Draper, the ad exec who came up with this charming little homage to domestic abuse was a real person who thought he was actually connecting with real women.

The spanking ad was the first in a series of then-and-now examples featured during a session at last week's inaugural "Red Letter Day" conference organized by Brandwise marketing agency in Nashville. For a jam-packed day at Lipscomb University, speakers from a variety of marketing disciplines talked about ways in which brands and agencies can do a better job appealing to women.

The then-and-now ads were part of a session on point-of-view marketing taught by Courtney Seiter of Buffer social media tools. In Courtney's talk, attendees learned how brands with strong values can influence positive social change and subsequently drive consumer loyalty, engagement and sales. She compared the spanking ad to the Always "Like A Girl" series as an example of how to do this well.

It was a topic that resonated well with the audience of 250-plus mostly-female executives, which included a mix of brand representatives, agency folks, and creatives from industries ranging from healthcare to technology to education to consumer goods. 

Nine sessions - interspersed with networking activities, lunch and cupcakes - featured a diverse speaker. I was privileged to be part of the event as an interviewer / emcee. Here are some of my favorite takeaways from what each person had to say. You can learn more by checking out the conference hashtag, #redletterday2016, on Twitter.

Paula Froelich, Newsweek Journalist, Editor at Large at Yahoo, Host of “A Broad Abroad”    

broadabroad.jpgFrom Paula's speech on how the travel industry often ignores women: Women aren't getting married or remarried again as much as they once did. Women aren't choosing to have kids, or as many kids as they once did. Women are choosing to spend money - on luxury items, on travel (including solo travel), and on experiences - and they have more money to spend, than ever before.

So why aren't we listening to them, and creating programming and advertising that matches the trend?

Jamie Dunham, owner of Brandwise and creator of the event

jamie.jpgJamie presented new research on how brands as a whole are reaching women, and how much women are spending and receiving advertising messages. Her research opened the day.

Among the highlights: More than half of Millennial women who are giving birth these days are single, which means ad creative that shows "traditional" nuclear families with a father, mother and 2.5 children is not reflective of the emerging culture.

Emily Tucker, Marketing Director for Gigi's Cupcakes

emily.jpgEmily joined Gigi's during a time of much internal debate about who their customers were, and what sorts of product and methods of marketing would appeal to them. Her advice - to stop making assumptions and start with data - is near and dear to my own heart as someone who works at an agency focused on measurable customer insights.

I also love what Emily had to say about finding the courage to speak up in a boardroom full of men whose opinions were different from hers. Fortunately for the good of the company, she was rewarded for it. (This isn't always the case.)

Kerry Schrader and Ashlee Ammons, Founders, Mixtroz

mixtroz.jpgThis mother-daughter entrepreneur pair was absolutely delightful! Kerry - a former HR executive with decades of experience - and her daughter, Ashlee - a corporate events planner with a knockout resume - have created a mobile app that employs user data to help conference attendees connect with like-minded fellow attendees who have things in common other than the fact that they're all at the same conference.

Kerry and Ashlee told their startup story with candor and courage, and then conducted a live demonstration of their app.

Jamie Bradley, Content Marketing Strategist, Emma

jamiebradley.jpgJamie is a delightful public speaker, able to present research about email marketing in a way that makes you feel like you're laughing with friends over happy hour. My favorite little takeaway from her talk was a reminder of creating a quality onboarding campaign for new subscribers to your newsletter(s).

A gentle stream of welcome messages that offer good content and value is a must - as is an occasional, personalized ask of those who aren't engaging: Do you wish to remain with us? 

Stephen Rose, CEO The Peach Truck

stephen.jpgStephen and his wife, Jessica, own The Peach Truck and are a great example of using social media and email marketing to build brand awareness and sell product. They have invested 100% of their marketing budget into Facebook advertising, a product they feel very passionate about after having trained at FB headquarters for two days as a part of Facebook's Small Business Council. I interviewed Stephen about how The Peach Truck uses their growing email database (50,000 subscribers and counting) to create a data-driven lookalike audience in Facebook's ad tools. This is far superior to guessing at who their audience might be and - of course - a method we fully support over here at Alcott.

Liza Graves, Co-founder, StyleBlueprint

liza.jpgLiza and her business partner, Elizabeth Fox, co-founded the digital magazine StyleBlueprint as a way to keep local women up-to-date with new entertainment and retail news, as well as inspiration about local women doing interesting things in their communities. The platform became an advertising vehicle for small businesses who felt undermined by deal-driven email sites that were trending at the time, in 2008.

My favorite takeaway from Liza's talk: If you are true to your brand and approach content from the perspective of the reader - regardless of whether it's editorial or advertising copy - it is possible to find a win-win in the worlds of content marketing, advertorial and publishing.

For everyone who could not make it to Red Letter Day, I'd encourage you to sign up for the Brandwise newsletter on Jamie's website so that you know about upcoming events and opportunities.

For those who would like more information on data-based marketing and consumer insights, we have an awesome newsletter of our own that we'd love to share. Sign up at the link below.

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