What do the brilliant minds behind today’s most successful brands share in common?

Quite simply, they know their role reaches far beyond longstanding definitions of the word ‘marketing’. Indeed, the fearless leaders at the helm of the world’s top brands know that rabid fan engagement, loyal interaction and ongoing customer devotion requires much more than a shiny new product or service and clever ad campaign.

Today’s most renowned marketers are taking on tasks rarely labeled as marketing, replaced instead with imperative realms of culture and community management, user experience and customer service, earning them a rightful seat at the decision-making table. Economic conditions be damned — those boldly embracing the most innovative ideas and implementation techniques are not only surviving, but thriving.

 Those boldly embracing the most innovative ideas and implementation techniques are not only surviving, but thriving.

PrintThis radical, ongoing shift is rapidly transforming the structure, direction and budgets of marketing departments big and small, and will be explored in depth by a handpicked collection of the most visionary thought leaders behind the most coveted and cult-like brands on the planet from February 3-4, 2016 at The Gathering in Banff, AB, Canada.

Among those luminaries and brands to be honored at The Gathering are theCHIVE, Converse, Vice, Molson Canadian and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), in addition to Airbnb, Lululemon, Movember and Carhartt. At The Gathering, figureheads from each of these brands will share their insights with attendees, and be awarded for their achievements at a gala celebration.

Herewith, the top six tips from some of The Gathering’s revered thought leaders for fellow marketers to internalize and adopt in 2016, in order to stay relevant in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace:

1. DO SOMETHING REMARKABLE

yMjVYi82olLeyh1Aeq_CpY_vmmtwXI7_GxecveUbbikExtraordinary brands deliver products, services or experiences in ways that attract attention by igniting word of mouth. They make a value promise that gets consumers talking and they deliver on it. Marketing teams must be present at the decision-making table, with a strong voice in establishing and meeting a brand’s large scale, long term business goals.

“Molson Canadian’s most remarkable efforts have centered on hockey and the role the brand can play in the lives of hockey obsessed Canadians who would do anything for the game. Winning with this group required the brand to do things that had never been done before, no matter how challenging or impossible they might be.”Scott Cooper, Chief Commercial Officer, Molson Canadian

2. LEAD WITH PURPOSE INSTEAD OF PROMOTION

Leading brands know people are motivated more by a brand’s higher purpose than what it makes or sells, and they must give people something to care about. It’s imperative they engage internal and external audiences in their story as they strive to achieve their noble brand cause.

“Airbnb’s purpose is to create a world where, through the power of human hospitality, one day all seven billion people will be able to belong anywhere. In fact, our “One Less Stranger” campaign was our first step in eliminating strangers around the world, asking our community to take a gifted $10 and put it towards a random act of kindness within their community. It was wonderful to see the impact this initiative had on our community, with everyone highlighting their random act of kindness, showing us that our mission was a success.” Jonathan Mildenhall, Chief Marketing Officer, Airbnb

Leading brands know people are motivated more by a brand’s higher purpose than what it makes or sells

3. INSPIRE FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 5.12.28 PMInternal audiences are a primary target for leading marketers who are acutely aware that consumers won’t believe them if, first and foremost, the organization’s own people don’t.

“The best, most cult-like brands are really just communities of people who share an affinity for whatever the brand is offering. Marketers should rewire their thinking so that they are not hawkers of products or services, but rather hosts to amazing communities of fans. As such, they need to listen as much as talk, ensure everyone is involved, and constantly come up with new ways to not only make sure everyone feels welcome, but highly valued.” Chris Kneeland, CEO, Cult Collective and Author, Fix: Break The Addiction That’s Killing Brands

Marketers should rewire their thinking so that they are not hawkers of products or services, but rather hosts to amazing communities of fans.

4. BE RELATABLE TO CONSUMERS ON A HUMAN LEVEL

Relatable brands make their values and personality present at every touch point. They behave in human ways because their goal is to relate with humans in an incredibly honest, authentic and accountable way, even if it occasionally means admitting fault and owning up to mistakes.

“The primary differentiator between theCHIVE and other media companies is our ability to connect with our core audience. On the surface, most people think of theCHIVE and Chivers (our devout followers) as those focused on ‘Humor’ and ‘Hotness,’ but it’s the 3rd ‘H’ in our equation — ‘Heart,’ that really resonates with our readers.”Dave Novick, Chief Marketing Officer, theChive

5. CO-CREATE WITH CUSTOMERS

Collaborative brands invite participation and feedback from customers early and often to give them a sense of ownership and control over the brand. They listen and respond.

“A business needs to lose its self-interest and become selfless. The marketing game today is less about making a great product and more about helping people become great. Once a business understands how they help people be great, then they are in a better place to share those stories across whatever landscape exists.”John Moore, Author, The Passion Conversation

The marketing game today is less about making a great product and more about helping people become great.

6. ENVELOP CONSUMERS’ LIVES

2014_Toronto_Raptors_fans_Air_Canada_CentreBrands who command extreme loyalty know their customers well. They show up where consumers expect them to be, and sometimes where they don’t. Embedding a brand into consumers’ lives in meaningful ways creates an emotional bond.

“The tipping point for the (Raptors) brand was unquestionably the online debut of the We The North video/campaign. It was launched in conjunction with the Raptors return to the playoffs in 2014 and our fans owned it immediately and it went viral right out of the gate. It has evolved from being a great ad campaign to a movement. It has truly taken on a bigger meaning and speaks to how our fans and many Canadians view themselves.”Shannon Hosford, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE)

Passes are on sale now for The Gathering 2016, with limited spaces remaining for marketing leaders wishing to further the conversation and propel their brand to new heights in the year ahead.

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