On October 19th, FRWD joined the Midwest’s premier marketers and corporate partners at the 15th Annual MIMA Summit. The event featured presentations, talks, and keynote speeches on topics ranging from data, content, design, and integrations of all three. We heard from industry experts at SpinMedia, Live Nation, The Future Today Institute, among many others, and enjoyed rubbing elbows with our peers at the post-Summit happy hour.
Also, the beef wellington was the bomb.
Although most presentations focused on the industry’s current state or looked forward to its future potential, one of our favorite sessions involved a full measure of hindsight. Jim McKelvey, who founded Square in 2009, delivered the keynote speech Six Things I’ve Unlearned and offered thought-provoking insights on the meaning of wisdom in marketing and entrepreneurship.
- The first “myth” he debunked is that we should all seek opportunities. Instead, we should work to solve problems. It’s often difficult to identify an opportunity, but easy to identify a problem. Square formed, not based off a sought-after and found opportunity, but rather as a solution to the the problem that many small businesses and freelancers only had the capacity to accept cash. According to Mr. McKelvey, himself a freelance glassblower, money and achievement are weak motivators, but if you identify a problem that stirs your passion, no barrier will prevent you from solving it.
- Mr. McKelvey challenged that instead of shipping great products, we must be fast and good. Often, we hold ourselves to the standard that every market offering must be utterly and completely perfect. Perfection is absolutely a worthwhile endgame, but it shouldn’t preclude us from getting our products and services out there to the consumer. At some point, we all have to stop thinking and tweaking, and simply have to start doing and offering.
- We’ve all dreamed of minting an earth-shaking invention or idea. Rather than striving to invent, Mr. McKelvey suggests that we should assume technology. That is, assume that your concept already exists, but that it can be elevated and taken to the next level. That deficit in potential is where problems in need of solutions come to light. As we learned from Mr. McKelvey’s first premise, it’s problems, not necessarily “opportunities” that mechanize our work as marketers.
- We’re told to work fast, when we should really learn when. In such a speed-centric industry, sometimes shrewd timing is just as important. “Right now” is not always the best time to execute a strategy, and marketers should accept that timing is just as critical as messaging and targeting. It can make or break a campaign. At FRWD, we strive to blend fast action with good timing. One recent example that comes to mind: when we saw football star Allen Hurns compared to Wally Warhead on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, we acted in the moment to engage with him from the WARHEADS Twitter. Hurns engaged back, and the WARHEADS brand suddenly had visibility in an unexpected, and considerable, social audience. Waiting another day, or even another hour, could have been the difference between success and failure in this case.
- Rather than studying great leaders, we should strive to question everything. When we succeed, it’s tempting to think it’s strictly because we work hard (we do) or strictly because we’re smart (we are), but it’s critical to question the roots of success. Was there luck involved? Would a successful strategy for Brand A necessarily be as successful for Brand B? These types of questions keep us out of strategic ruts, and allow us to be the multi-dimensional partners our clients want and deserve.
- Don’t “be bold,” but humbly persevere. Mr. McKelvey made an analogy here to driving in a blizzard when you can’t see anything. If you just pull over and stay there, you’ll get run over. Keep going, even when you don’t receive positive feedback—after all, true innovation often doesn’t. At FRWD, we manifest this premise in our approach of making small moves every day. We know that big results are frequently the sum of a series of small wins. We believe in falling forward and trying new things without fear of failure or frustration.
— Carl Bliss (@ckbliss) October 19, 2016
Other takeaways from the FRWD team:
- Our job when working with influencers should be to connect brands to talent with shared values and figure out mutual benefits for both the influencer talent and the brand. -Grant Eull, Creative Director
- Sometimes the right timing can be the difference between campaign success and failure. With this in mind, marketers should consider how the timing of their advertising message might impact their efforts. -Fidelis Odozi, Assistant Media Planner
- In today’s tech. era, there’s no excuse for bad production (social, website, etc). Use your tools, learn your craft and get it out there! Stop thinking and just make a first draft. Creative, clients, media – everyone needs something to react to! -Gemma Wilson, Project Manager
— Gemma Wilson (@gemma_reed) October 19, 2016
We’d like to thank MIMA for 15 great years of insight and innovation. We’re looking forward to next year’s summit!
Special thanks to Bill Gaus and Emily Bathe for helping put together this article.