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As a product marketer, a big part of my job is to bridge the gap between our product and marketing teams. This helps ensure that we're delivering best-in-class software solutions that brands can use to engage their customers. I have the privilege of working with many different marketers with a wide range of expertise - thus I am always looking for powerful marketing wisdom that we can apply in practice.

That's why I was very excited to have attended the Art of Marketing conference in Vancouver recently. The fantastic event featured some brilliant marketers and thought provoking presenters - and they all shared valuable insight that all marketers will find useful.

Here's a summary of 6 pieces of wisdom from the conference:

  1. Marketers should embrace the "weird" and lead their "tribes." (Click to tweet)

New York Times bestseller Seth Godin (@ThisIsSethsBlog) - author of Linchpin, Tribes, and Permission Marketing, among others - spoke first. Seth's main point is that weird people have taken over the world. "Weird" is now the new normal, according to Seth: Those who were once considered to be on the fringes have the power, as society values new ideas more than ever.

But being weird doesn't mean being a loner. Seth also said that humans are hardwired to belong to a tribe: we crave to be connected by a common leader, goal or ideal. The marketer's job is not to invent the tribe but rather to lead the tribe.

  1. To create great stories, marketers must make the customer the protagonist. (Click to tweet)

If you'd like to create a movement, then you need to create something people will remember, according to Art of Marketing speaker Nancy Duarte (@NancyDuarte).

Using several famous speeches in history as examples - including Steve Job's world-changing "iPhone Launch" presentation, Martin Luther King Jr.'s powerful "I Have A Dream" speech, Richard Feyman's "Gravity" lecture, and Evita Peron's famous "Balcony" speech - Nancy showed that great storytelling is about structuring it to maximize resonance with your audience.

The speeches that Nancy used followed a similar structure: they are powerful because they treat their audience as the main character of the story.

Marketers should be telling stories that are memorable. And the way to do this is by putting the spotlight on the people we're trying to reach instead of putting the focus on our own offerings.

  1. Technology has removed technology from technology. (Click to tweet)

Marketing should create value and utility. That's the main message from Mitch Joel (@mitchjoel), author of Ctrl Alt Delete and Six Pixels of Separation. Mitch's provocative talk focused on creating a new brand narrative. To achieve this, marketers need to have "sex with data," according to Mitch, and combine linear data (information that is explicit: specific selections made by the customer) with circular data (information that is implicit: transactional or behavioral data that indicates customer preference) to enhance the customer experience (i.e. Amazon behavioral tracking to streamline the path to purchase).

Technology was also a huge topic in Mitch's speech. We're now living in a one-screen world - a world where the most important screen is the screen in front of you and where consumers expect a seamless experience across smartphones, tablets, TVs, and desktop devices. "Technology has removed technology from technology," Mitch concluded. CMOs need to become adept at IT and technology to remain ahead of the game.

  1. Marketers should work with sales people and use their expertise on the customers. (Click to tweet)

The fourth speaker, John Jantsch (@ducttape) of Duct Tape Marketing, spoke about the reality of selling to today's customers. "Creating loyal customers is about you choosing the right customers," he said during his speech.

John also talked about what he called the marketing hourglass: a visual representation of the different stages that people go through before buying from brands. Citing a CEB stat, John revealed that 57% of a typical purchase decision is now made before anyone ever speaks to a salesperson.

Most importantly, John urged marketers to work with their sales counterpart. Marketing, according to John, should be using the knowledge and expertise of sales about their customers. With insight from sales, marketers can better understand their clients and become more effective at listening, teaching, sharing insight, telling a compelling story and connecting with the customer.

  1. In marketing, moments matter. (Click to tweet)

Vancouverite Brian Wong (@brian_wong) took the stage to urge marketers to rethink how their tactics help create moments for people. Recognize moments of joy and "reward customers before they buy," he said during his energetic talk.

But why focus on moments? Brian said it's because moments indicate intent and they elicit emotion. For example, when customers engage with their phones, that's usually because they're in a moment of need. That's a very emotion-driven action that many marketers overlook.

  1. To grow as a marketer and as a person, we all need to have a people plan built on generosity. (Click to tweet)

Do you have a people plan? That's the main question posed by the conference's final speaker, Keith Ferrazzi (@ferrazzi), author of Never Eat Alone and Who's Got Your Back.

Once the youngest CMO for a Fortune 500 company, Keith spoke about the importance of nurturing personal relationships. We have work, family, financial and other plans, but according to Keith, most professionals are missing a people plan. To have a people plan means identifying individuals in your life who will always be in your corner. It means having a plan that is both deliberate and genuine: in order to grow, marketers need to nurture their personal relationships by caring deeply about the people they meet.

Together, these six pieces of wisdom illuminate two crucial principles that drive today's smartest marketing teams. First, smart marketers realize that marketing is first and foremost about people. It's about developing the tribes, narratives, relationships and moments that make people feel connected to one another and to your brand. But you can't make those kinds of connections unless you deeply understand the people you are marketing to: your customers and potential customers. That's why the marketers who are most successful at connecting with people are the marketers who have a rigorous system for obtaining customer insight.

Second, marketing can no longer live in its own silo. It's most effective when it's tightly integrated with sales,and when it leverages the rich sources of data available throughout the enterprise. Transactional data, customer input from insight communities, feedback from social media - these are data that marketers should use to make better-informed business decisions.

the value of insight communities

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