Minnesota marketing group’s event focuses on importance of digital communication

Developing programming for a professional organization can be like serving a meal to a crowd whose members are all on different diets. They’re all hungry — you’ve just got to decide what to feed them.

The Minnesota chapter of the American Marketing Association serves members ranging from small B2B firms to some of the nation’s largest Fortune 500 consumer companies. That makes continuing education a challenge, said Andy Chollar, president of the AMA’s Minnesota chapter.

But one thing is crystal clear today to any marketer: the importance of digital communication. That’s why the AMA is focusing on the digital space in the coming year’s programming, starting tomorrow night with the first of four events focused specifically on digital themes.

The AMA is also making digital the centerpiece of its annual conference on Nov. 8. The theme of the event, “Conquering Chaos,” reflects the conference’s goal of helping marketers make sense of the onslaught of new communication channels and strategies.

Although the AMA’s membership includes many big-box consumer marketers, more than half the members are in the B2B space, Chollar said. It’s important that the conference and other educational events recognize that.

“If we’re doing our job well, we’re going to provide them with the kind of programming that’s not just focused on the big boxes, the sexy Targets and Best Buys,” Chollar said.

“How do you speak to the majority of the marketers in this area, who are sitting in a B2B organization, not a national player? And they’re asking, does any digital media apply to me? And the answer is yes, and here’s how and here’s why,” he said.

“We’re offering programming that will confirm what those folks already know: one or two of these hundred things are applicable to me. And the others I know about and I can forget. And I can educate my boss, and we can focus on what we need to.”

The Nov. 8 conference features a full range of breakout sessions, with each topic having separate B2B and B2C tracks. Speakers include Minneapolis futurist and marketing strategist Cecily Sommers; Dan Hammer, senior marketing VP for Schwan’s; Andrew Ecklund, CEO of Ciceron; and many others.

For more information on “Conquering Chaos,” visit the AMA website.

On Nov. 16, the second session of the AMA’s digital series will feature a presentation from Rick Mathieson, best-selling author of “The On-Demand Brand: 10 Rules for Digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World.”

The digital push is part of an ongoing effort to reinvigorate the AMA, which has seen some of its thunder stolen in recent years by the rise of MIMA, the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association. But Chollar said the AMA won’t lose its focus on other areas of marketing.

“Continually, in our member surveys, there is high interest in strategy, planning, ROI,” he said. “These are the things that make or break the bottom line, and we’re not forgetting them.”

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by John Hallquist on 10/25/2010 - 10:56 pm.

    I just don’t think social media is as important as some other aspects of marketing. There is a huge appeal to do social media as a marketing avenue, but I still think that building personal relationships and meeting people in real life does a way better job of accomplishing that.

    I think social media is appealing because of the large number of people one is able to reach. I think a phone call is still way more effective than an e-mail. I’m not throwing social media completely under the bus, but it is the central focus of the AMA annual get-together.

  2. Submitted by Andrew Chollar on 10/27/2010 - 10:42 am.

    Certainly no one could disagree with Mr. Hallquist re. the effectiveness of the personal touch with a phone call or face-to-face as the ideal for building 1:1 relationships. And we at the MN AMA would never say that social media is the be all, end all of mass communication. As a matter of fact, while Mr. Hallquist might identify our annual conference as having a social media focus, I would argue that if it does, it’s only to the extent that we’re focusing on how and why social media is often NOT a magic bullet. Just look at the theme: “Conquering Chaos”. The whole conference is designed around helping present day marketers separate the hype (or put another way, the chaos created by said hype) of this explosive new media from the reality of what it truly can and cannot do for them and if/how it still has to “play nice” with the traditional vehicles that – in reality – we’re still reliant upon to do the majority of the marketing heavy lifting for the majority of the organizations in which the majority of us do our work. Just as we saw the .com bubble burst in 2000, make no mistake that the social media bubble will pop as well (just read any of the latest studies by some of the most respected industry research groups). We at the MN AMA are simply attempting to provide our constituents with the tools, awareness and foresight to be among those still standing (with a sensible marketing strategy for their respective organizations) when the dust settles… and depending on who they work for, social media will likely still be a part of that strategy in one form or another.

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