From one Midwestern state to another, I am in Des Moines, Iowa for a work conference! I flew in from Cleveland, Ohio on Sunday night for three days of learning and networking! Originally, we were planning on staying in Ohio for three days, but our trip got cut short because I had this great opportunity to attend a conference tailored to my job role.
I’ll be sharing what I wore each day to the conference, as well as a few presentations that I really liked and thought might be useful for others, whether or not you’re in marketing.
During my time in Iowa, I stayed at Surety Hotel, which is where the conference was held. Located in downtown Des Moines, it boasted gorgeous views of the Polk County Historic Courthouse right outside my window. The hotel was designed with a nod to midcentury modern elegance – very boutique!
Conference for Account Services in Marketing and Advertising
I attended AMIN’s Leading from the Middle; hence, the name of this post: Leading from Des Moines! The Advertising & Marketing Independent Network (AMIN) is an alliance with 50+ other agencies around the world, and the conference was for people in similar roles as mine on the account service team at an advertising and marketing agency.
CliftonStrengths by Gallup
Prior to the conference, we had to take a 177-question assessment by Gallup to see what our strengths were. In order, my strengths – which really resonated with me – were strategic, responsibility, restorative, focus, and significance.
- Strategic – I create alternative ways to proceed and faced with any given scenario, I can quickly spot relevant patterns and issues.
- Responsibility – I take psychological ownership of what I say I will do. I’m committed to stable values, such as honesty and loyalty.
- Restorative – I am adept at dealing with problems. I’m also good at figuring out what is wrong and coming up with a solution.
- Focus – Taking direction, following through, and making corrections are what I do to stay on track. I prioritize and then act on it.
- Significance – I want to make a big impact. I’m independent and prioritize projects based on how much influence it has on my organization or the people around me.
Also, my three top core values were accountability, loyalty, and honesty, so having responsibility as my second strength was no surprise.
Day 1 of Account Service Marketing Conference
For the first day of the conference, I decided to dress in all black since I wasn’t sure how formal or informal all the other attendees were dressing. You can’t go wrong with a bodysuit, trousers, and pointed-toe flats! I also brought a pullover sweater in case it got cold during the conference.
Leading Great Strategy
In the presentation, the CEO of Sasquatch Advertising, Ken Chitwood, shared how to come up with a great strategy. It’s easy to get an objective and strategy mixed up, along with other terms. In my previous position, I had to come up with marketing strategies when onboarding new clients, and I tended to get them mixed up with business objectives. Laying out these definitions helps differentiate each term and can lead to coming up with a great strategy:
- A goal is a broad primary outcome.
- A strategy is the approach you take to achieve a goal.
- An objective is a measurable step you take to execute a strategy.
- Best practices may influence how you implement your tactics.
- Key performance indicators (KPIs) are how you measure the success of your tactics.
- Random thoughts are incomplete or incoherent pieces of insight that may or may not have any validity.
A goal without a plan is just a wish.– Charles Kettering
Dirty Little Secrets of the Creative Mind
This presentation was given to us by John January, co-CEO of Signal Theory. With a background as a creative director, he explained the definition of creativity and how to get on our creative team’s good side, ha. The presentation talked about the creative process and how a creative brief can be taken in so many different ways. As a blogger and someone who fell into a creative rut a year ago, I really enjoyed this presentation.
One of the most memorable quotes from the presentation was, “When we say tomorrow, we mean the end of day tomorrow.” He also explained that by end of the day tomorrow, it’ll most likely be the morning of the next day, because no one checks emails at the end of the day for review and approval. Ha, this cracked me up because it’s true! Don’t deny it.
Another thing that really resonated with me is that eureka moments can happen anywhere at any time! It can happen when you’re walking your dog, taking a shower, or sitting by the pool. I find that a lot of my ideas come when I’m not fixated on the problem.
For example, being a blogger and sharing quite a bit of my life, sometimes I run out of things to blog about. I’ve had several eureka moments when I’m simply driving to work or watching a movie! Now, I’m constantly coming up with new post ideas, so I always have to carry a notebook around with me.
Day 2 of Account Service Marketing Conference
For day 2 of the marketing conference, I dressed in all neutrals! I also brought a khaki color sweater for when I got cold during the conference.
Realize Your Potential in Leadership, Speaking & Life
Public speaking can be daunting, and luckily for us, Mike Acker’s presentation helped overcome that. The main takeaway I learned from this presentation was to practice! Practice speaking in the mirror for two to ten minutes every day. This helps you see your body language and the way you speak.
He also shared 10 skills to practice to enhance your speaking skills:
- Pause and Long Pause – Be comfortable with taking pauses – especially long pauses – when you’re speaking.
- Articulation and Enunciation – Speak clearly and, if you tend to mumble, practice speaking slowly and with a wider mouth.
- Eye Contact and Steering – There’s a difference between eye contact and eye scanning. You want to make eye contact for connection!
- Cadence and Pace – Change your pace when speaking because this will help keep your audience engaged and on their toes! Switch from being loud and slow, to loud and fast, to quiet and slow, and quiet and fast.
- Workbooks and Slides – Reminder: you are the focus! Don’t let your supporting materials, such as workbooks and slideshows, overpower you during your presentation.
- Posturing and Positioning – With our world becoming more digital, it might be hard to position yourself during a Zoom call. The speaker recommended staring into the camera when speaking!
- Gestures and Movements – Too much movement can be distracting, so when using your hands to talk, stay within a certain parameter around your body. Moving outside of these parameters might be distracting!
- Rule of Clarity – Mike did not elaborate on this; however, he said it’s in his book.
- Brick Wall Obstacle – Same reasoning as above.
- Art of Bunny Trail – Same reasoning as above.
Leading Toward Consumer Trends
Presented by Dotdash Meredith, this was one of my favorite presentations because I love learning about consumer trends! I love seeing what everyone else is up to and, as a blogger, I found this pretty interesting for my own personal use. We focused on health, finance, style, lifestyle, and grocery.
Some key highlights I learned:
- Since COVID, people are more concerned with their health than ever. Consumers are also changing their perspective on their health and updating their lifestyles to be more active and healthier. They’re trying to focus on preventative care! Focus your brand on education and solutions to health concerns.
- For many people, the pandemic raised some financial concerns. The Trump Administration waived student loan interest, and COVID rent relief was signed into law. Investors shifted their high-risk investments into more conservative ones. We saw an uptick in people looking for freelance or side gigs.
- Consumers are quickly shifting back to how things were pre-pandemic. For example, during the pandemic, we saw people looking up “DIY nails at home,” but with things going back to normal, consumers are going back to the nail salon for their services.
- Being comfortable is the new norm! Business casual has taken a new meaning and sneakers have become work attire appropriate. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of this, as I love dressing up, but I can see how this is a huge win for many.
- Consumers are resuming their lives and moving forward with huge milestones that had to be put on hold due to uncertainty. This includes getting married, growing families, and retiring!
- It’s no secret that we’re seeing an increase in the cost of groceries. Consumers are looking for budget-friendly and healthier food options. Additionally, there is an uptick in the “less is more” approach when it comes to cooking. This means less time for preparation, fewer ingredients, and minimal cleanup.
- During the pandemic, everyone was doing DIY home renovations. With mortgage rates increasing, more and more people are investing in their current homes. Along with people cooking at home more frequently, we also see people remodeling their home kitchens!
This was another favorite presentation at the conference. Christopher Proskey is an attorney at Brown Winick Law and his wife was one of the attendees at the conference! We learned a lot about all the legal aspects when it comes to marketing and advertising.
Talent Contracts in Commercial and Advertising
One of the commercials we watched was Verizon’s “Can You Hear Me?” and Sprint’s “Can You Hear That?” For nine years, actor Paul Marcarelli was Verizon’s “Can You Hear Me Now?” and after his contract ended, he switched over to Sprint’s “Can You Hear That?” This was a major discussion about non-compete, non-solicitation, non-disparagement, non-disclosure, and many more!
Are Public Murals Copyrighted?
We also learned about public murals and whether or not they are copyrighted. There are so many things that go into it – what is considered inspired by or stealing? A great example we learned was the Starbucks lawsuit filed by artist Maya Hayuk – she has also sued Coach and Sara Bareilles. Maya Hayuk is not someone you want to mess with. Yikes!
What the Font?
Another great thing we learned is the usage of fonts! Are fonts protected? The rules and regulations are still unclear, but using free font websites, such as dafont, fontsly, font space (just to name a few) is very dicey. Nothing in life is free and you should expect the same with fonts!
Is Artificial Intelligence-Produce Content Copyrighted?
As much as I love technology, artificial intelligence (AI) is a bit frightening. Since AI is still relatively new, there aren’t many rules and regulations around content produced by AI. Who owes these rights? Is it the person or organization that created the AI?
The U.S. Copyright Office has rejected a request for copyright protection on a work created by artificial intelligence. The reasoning behind this is that it “lacks the human authorship necessary to support a copyright claim.” Does this mean that AI-generated content cannot be copyrighted?
There are too many unknowns and too many risks. Regardless of how much cost is being saved by using AI-generated content, it’s best that we don’t touch this until things become clearer.
Everything presented by Attorney Christopher Proskey is for educational purposes and not legal advice!
Day 3 of Account Service Marketing Conference
For the last day of the conference in Des Moines, I wore my bright pink Lilly Pulitzer sweater with white pants. I felt so guilty wearing white after Labor Day, but I love this outfit. Someone at the conference even complimented me on it!
A World in Digital Transformation
For the last presentation, I had heard nothing but great things about the speaker, so I had high expectations. Tim Frank Andersen was the presenter, and he did not disappoint! We learned about his top 10 tech predictions for 2022 and how the metaverse and AI will affect marketing and advertising, as well as society as a whole.
Virtual Models and Influencers
One of his tech predictions that stood out to me was virtual humans being more common! This was interesting because, at my last company, my former CEO told me that instead of doing influencer marketing, we should create influencers. He never mentioned using computer-generated models, but I can see the path of where he was going. Using virtual humans can cut out talent costs and non-competition in advertising.
We’ve seen celebrities advertising for one brand and then using their competitor’s product. For example, Britney Spears became the spokesperson for Pepsi but was caught drinking Coca-Cola by the paparazzi! Using computer-generated models would eliminate those worries since they’re owned by the company itself.
While I do see a lot of benefits for brands using virtual humans, I do feel like there still needs to be a human element to it. You can’t replace emotions and feelings with technology!
Escaping to the Metaverse
Another topic that stood out to me was the discussion of the virtual world. Tim Frank Andersen showed a commercial about escaping to the virtual world. The opening line was something along the lines of, “When there’s nowhere left to explore, explore the metaverse.” This was absurd to me, because I feel like there are still so many places to explore on Earth!
Even with my personal goal of visiting all 50 states, if I visited 5 states a year, it would still take me 10 years to accomplish – and that’s only in the US. I suppose there are a lot of limitations to traveling, but a few people in the audience expressed their worries that those living in poverty-stricken places might escape to the metaverse and not try to improve their communities.
Unfortunately, I cannot seem to find the commercial, so there is a possibility that I didn’t hear it correctly. Regardless, it is a little frightening to me.
Advertising in the Virtual World
One interesting thing I learned was brands are starting to advertise and market in the virtual world. For example, you can purchase a virtual, digital-only Gucci Dionysus bag for $ 4,115, which is over $700 more than the real physical version of the same bag! Unfortunately, I do not understand this but to each their own.
Another example is Nike’s marketing on Roblox. Nike launched Nikeland, where you can purchase clothing from Nike for your avatar. I think this concept has been around for a while. I’ve played games like Stardoll, where you can purchase clothes for your avatar with real money, but it’s definitely new with brands coming into the virtual world market.
Pros and Cons of Technology
As with all things, there are pros and cons. Tim Frank Andersen did an amazing job with his presentation showing where technology is headed and how that will affect marketing and advertising, as well as society as a whole. He ended the presentation with the thought that while technology is helping us advance the world, there are some things that should be left untouched.
“Digital ethics is doing the right thing, even when nobody is looking.”– Tim Frank Andersen
Whether you love technology or not, it’s going to be part of our lives if it hasn’t been part of yours already. The question is – just because we can create it, should we be creating it?
Sight-Seeing in Des Moines, Iowa
I had such a great time learning so much at the conference, and with the little spare time I did have, I wanted to optimize my stay in Des Moines, Iowa. There were two places that I wanted to visit, which were the Pappajohn Sculpture Park at the Des Moines Art Center and Principal Riverwalk – recommendations from my Uber driver! Unfortunately, I only had time to visit one and the Pappajohn Sculpture Park was closer to the hotel.
Pappajohn Sculpture Park at the Des Moines Art Center
The Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened in 2009 with 24 sculptures and has expanded with four more sculptures since then. It was named after John Pappajohn, a local venture capitalist, and his wife, Mary Pappajohn. The couple gifted the sculptures – valued at around $40 million – to the city of Des Moines. All the sculptures were originally from Pappajohn’s private collection that they displayed in their yard.
Now, this iconic Des Moines attraction is considered “one of the most significant collections of outdoor sculptures” in the country! The Pappajohn Sculpture Park does offer free audio phone tours. At each plaque of the sculpture, there is a phone number and a 3-digit code you can enter to hear the audio track. Since I was on a time restraint, I wasn’t able to partake in the audio tour!
The sculptures were beautiful, and I definitely wish I had more time to explore and learn more about each artwork. Who knows, maybe one day I will come back to Des Moines!
From South Dakota to Ohio to Iowa, I have a few more traveling plans coming up. Originally, I was supposed to go camping in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, but being the Arizonian I am, anything under 70° F is simply too cold for me. That is something I want to do in the future, though.
Next on my travel plans are Los Angeles and Las Vegas with my girlfriends!