Marketing Success

8 Key Takeaways from the Minnesota Marketing Summit

For the second year in a row, the Minnesota Marketing Summit left us with many insightful takeaways. As mentioned in our pre-conference post, 15 Marketers You Need to Know Before Attending the Minnesota Marketing Summit, we were prepared to hear from some impressive humans.

Here are a few key things we learned (in no particular conference order):

1. Most Natives agree, Minnesota is the best state

I am surprised we didn’t all rush out of the room to pick up our I <3 Minnesota t-shirt after the first panel. Loaded with a bunch of stellar Minnesota brands, we were all singing Minnesota’s praises after hearing from this group. From Sun Country Airlines renaming all 22 of their planes after our lakes to Sunrise Banks being a certified B-Corp, we are a just a bunch of eager marketers (passive aggressively) beaming with home state pride.

2. Millennials continue to be an elusive bunch

Slightly surprising, marketers are still talking about engaging millennials! No mention of Gen Z in ear shot. Clearly, this audience of 18-32 year olds are still elusive to many marketers – especially when it comes to advertising and getting them to pay attention to anything that might resemble “BS”.

3. Social media should be treated as word of mouth on steroids

Many marketers have a personal love/hate relationship with social media. While it has taken years to become a b2b tool worthy of investing precious capital into, the days of social media are here forever. The majority of large companies not only have a paid, earned, and owned social strategy, they are looking for social to help make their brands human by sharing customer stories and connecting 1:1 with their buyers.

4. We need to think like gymnasts when it comes to content – be prepared, yet nimble

Having a content calendar is not only smart, it is imperative for marketing success. That said, we might as well be robots if we aren’t willing to adapt to current events or recent happenings around our brands and the industries we serve. As we learned, for many b2c marketers especially, content is created to augment experiences and tell their customer stories.

5. Listen, analyze, and then act when it comes to your customer experience

Data is seeping out of our pores these days. Both a blessing and a curse for marketers, we need to use what we know and take the time to sift through all of this information before acting. Better understanding data will enable us to create more relevant content, solutions, and products for our customers.

6. Agencies and brands can live in harmony (not just some of the time)

Likened to any other relationship, brands and agencies can live in harmony together if they are open and honest with one another. A true partnership leaves agencies feeling like an extension of the team they are supporting. As Dave Schneider of Red Wing Shoe Co so eloquently stated, “you don’t need to be the biggest client for an agency, but you want to be their favorite.” After all, we are Minnesotans, we should know how to be nice.

7. You can do well as a company by doing good!

You caught us. We may or may not have jumped out of our seats in sheer joy when Amanda Brinkman of Deluxe talked about being able to do well as a company by doing good. Conference attendees agreed with our sentiment. The twittersphere went crazy with quotes from Amanda. One marketer even tweeted that Amanda should be every marketer’s spirit animal. No argument here! Teaser: Amanda will be featured in a later blog where she will share more with us about her personal mission. We can’t wait – stay tuned!

8. Marketing to Minnesotans may require extra space in your store footprint

It is no secret that Minnesotans are passive aggressive, but we also learned from the VP of My Burger that Minnesotans appreciate extra space upon walking into a fast casual joint. Not kidding. For b2c brands, the in-store experience is extremely important and something marketers should not look past. For example, The Beverage Brand Director (yes, that is a real job and we are jealous) from Buffalo Wild Wings shared their marketing strategy revolves around loving the sports fan. They rotate beers based on the local favorites of the store location. Michael Schwandt of BauHaus Brew Labs takes the approach that “being different is better than just being better”. Beer is fun, so marketing around beer should follow.

If you attended the conference, we would love to hear some of your favorite takeaways! Please Share below. 

Marketing Brands You Need to Know Before Minnesota Marketing Summit

15 Marketers & Brands You Need to Know Before Attending the Minnesota Marketing Summit

As many of you know, DoTopia is headquartered in the lake lovin’, Prince obsessed, Mall of America famed city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. We aren’t just a map dot, friends. Along with social and cultural intrigue, the greater Twin Cities area is home to one of the highest concentrations of Fortune 500 companies in the country (17 to be exact). Some of the most skilled, well educated, and passionate people filter into the city every year which is why it is logical to host a Minnesota Marketing Summit to bring together these brilliant minds for a day. The state is crawling with damn good marketers, eh?

Leading with the tagline “Good Ideas Matter”, IC Summits facilitates a yearly event at the Hyatt Regency downtown Minneapolis. For one day, marketers from across the state and surrounding areas attend this summit for an opportunity to hear from all levels of brand marketers, digital and social minded professionals, PR/media specialists, and even strategic growth officers. With the Summit just one week away, we wanted to highlight some of the marketers we are excited to hear from and the good their brands are doing in the world (because we can’t help ourselves)

Becca Morris Hoeft – Sunrise Banks @Becca_Morris

Becca will be kicking off the day on a panel discussing the “Minnesota brand”. As an SVP, Director of Communications and Marketing at Sunrise Banks, she will be answering the question: “What is the Minnesota brand, and what is its relationship to yours?”

Sunrise Banks #DoGood Stat: Sunrise Banks is an active and responsible corporate citizen by focusing on a triple bottom line – people, planet, and prosperity. Volunteerism and corporate giving are core tenants for Sunrise Banks. Last year, Sunrise employees volunteered over 8,100 hours in the community!

Kelsey Dodson-Smith – Sun Country Airlines @KelsDodsonSmith

Kelsey will also be joining Becca on the panel for the Minnesota Brand. Her expertise as the Vice President of Marketing at Sun Country Airlines will shed light on any turbulence in airline industry marketing and how Sun Country has become known as “The Hometown Airline™”.  

Sun Country Airlines #DoGood Stat: As of December 2016, Sun Country launched a comprehensive in-flight organics recycling program. This would jump-start the airline to be one of the first in the nation to start composting onboard food waste in addition to recycling cans and bottles.

Dannon Hulskotter – MN Vikings (SKOL!)

Sports marketing is always a fan favorite among our peers. Many of us dreamed to plan sexy and experiential marketing campaigns for our favorite sports teams at one point. Dannon, VP of Marketing and Fan Engagement, will be discussing ways to optimize the customer experience. With the Super Bowl coming to Minnesota in 2018, we are excited to learn about all the new ways Dannon is engaging the Vikings fans to build upon this excitement!

Minnesota Vikings #DoGood stat: The Vikings are teaming up to give to #HurricaneHarvey relief efforts this year. Both the Wilf family and the Vikings will give $300,000 in total to the relief efforts.

Jill Renslow – Mall of America @jrenslow

As the SVP, Business Development and Marketing of the Mall of America, Jill will also participate in the customer experience panel. As previously stated, Mall of America is the single reason why a number of international tourists flock to Minnesota. We know Jill will have some engaging customer experience examples up her sleeve.

Mall of America #DoGood Stat: Mall of America opened a pop-up store in May, Shop for Kindness, that features 14 cause-related brands supporting philanthropic efforts worldwide. It is open until mid-September and we recommend checking it out when you have some free time.

Monica Wiant – US Bank @monicawiant

With the plethora of social media channels available, what is the right approach for your brand? Monica, VP, Social Media Director at U.S. Bank will share some of her social media strategies. With a number of big banks having a large presence in Minneapolis (Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, Bremer Bank, TCF, BMO Harris Bank, Sunrise Banks, etc.), you can bet these marketers will be in attendance with open ears.

US Bank #DoGood Stat: US Bank is all about the environment and economic growth. They have invested more than $15.5 billion in environmentally beneficial business opportunities over the past several years!

Jennifer Alcott – Best Buy

Remember the headlines from a few years ago? Along with similar competitors, Circuit City and Radio Shack, industry reports were anticipating the downfall of Best Buy. Plot twist! The retail behemoth has instead nearly quadrupled stock price and doubled dividends from just 5 years ago. We are excited to learn from Jennifer, Director of Social Media, how marketing and social media has played into the company’s recent success.

Best Buy #DoGood Stat: Hubert Joly, Best Buy CEO, recently signed the CEO Pledge for Diversity and Inclusion. He will join 270 other CEOs to promote a trusting, inclusive workplace at Best Buy.

Jenifer Hagness – Caribou Coffee

Minnesotans love their Caribou Coffee. It’s something about the cozy, “cabin-vibe” you feel after stepping into a coffeehouse. The success of Caribou has led to a number of acquisitions from their holding company. Most recently, Caribou bought breakfast chain, Bruegger’s Bagels. We are excited to hear from one of the marketers behind this iconic brand at the Summit. Jenifer is the Sr. Director of Marketing and Product Innovation. She will join the content marketing roundtable and share tactics she has used when telling the brand’s story and creating active and engaged customers as a result.

Caribou Coffee #DoGood Stat:  Considering DoTopia’s tagline is “Do Good. Better.”, it was only fitting to highlight Caribou Coffee’s Do Good approach to sustainability. Do Good focuses on sourcing coffee sustainably while addressing recycling, water, and energy issues within their coffeehouses.

Kara Wallace – Mortenson @KaraLWallace

As the Director of Strategic Marketing at Mortenson, Kara will be joining the content marketing panel by providing her unique expertise in construction and real estate development. After visiting the Mortenson website, it is obvious that Kara and her colleagues lead with direct, visual, and engaging content for their prospects and customers.

Mortenson #DoGood Stat: Mortenson leads with the tagline, “Let’s Create Some Positive Energy”. It’s hard to argue with this goodness as the construction brand works to create clean energy through wind, solar, and maintenance services.

Cynthia Henry – RedBrick Health

Cynthia, VP Corporate Marketing, is speaking on our personal favorite topic: Beyond Branding – how brands live their purpose. Navigating one of the most difficult times in healthcare, RedBrick focuses on the consumer experience and overall health of a person through technology-enabled enterprise solutions. We would be hard-pressed to find a more purpose-led organization than RedBrick.

RedBrick #DoGood Stat: Redbrick recently partnered with Retrofit to help employers tackle obesity and disease prevention.

Karen Kozak – Cargill @KarenKozak

Karen is the Global Brand Director at Cargill. She will also be engaging in conversation around the need for brands to authentically connect with their audience. As one of the most powerful privately held organizations in the world, Karen will share how Cargill is committed to “helping the world thrive”.

Cargill #DoGood Stat: Cargill aims to be the most trusted partner in agriculture, food and nutrition. Their four priorities for a sustainable future include: climate change, land use, water resources, and farmer livelihoods.

Dave Schneider – Red Wing Shoe Co. @dave_schneider

“Build Brand, Drive Demand”. We love a marketer with his own tagline! Dave is the VP, Chief Marketing Officer, of Red Wing Shoe Co. who will be sharing ways to build a successful brand/agency collaboration. Red Wing Shoes are iconic in the land of 10,000 lakes. Founded in 1905, this brand has bucked any fleeting shoe trends by honoring their mission to make truly good shoes.

Red Wing Shoe Co. #DoGood Stat: Giving back is in the DNA of Red Wing Shoes Co. 1955 was the year Minnesota passed a law providing the framework for corporate foundations, so 1955 was the year the Red Wing Shoe Company Foundation was developed. Since this year, the company has supported many community organizations including giving over 2,000,000 to the YMCA.    

Justin Conzemius – General Mills @JustinConzemius

If you haven’t heard of General Mills, you are living under a rock. If you haven’t eaten a snack made by General Mills, you are living under a bigger rock. Just sayin’. Justin is the Marketing Director, Snacks Strategic Growth, who will join Dave in the panel around a successful brand/agency collaboration.

General Mills #DoGood Stat: In light of school starting for many students this week, it is appropriate to highlight the iconic Box Tops for Education Program. This program was one of the most successful philanthropic programs run by a brand earning more than $100 million for 82,000 schools. Now that is impact! We believe in this program so much that we recently wrote a blog post on a few ideas we had to keep this program thriving today…

Mary Hennen – The Tile Shop

If you have recently redone a bathroom or kitchen, you understand the importance in choosing the right tile. VP of Marketing and ECommerce Maven, Mary Hennen, works to make the digital experience seamless for The Tile Shop consumers. She will join the session on Meaningful Digital & Mobile Engagement to share her knowledge on creating experiences for her customers.

The Tile Shop #DoGood Stat: In 2016, The Tile Shop partnered with Spaces of Hope to makeover the kitchen at the Colorado Outward Bound School. It was even promoted on Designing Spaces®, an award-winning home improvement show in December 2016.  

Jay Sivasailam – UnitedHealthcare @JaySivasailam

Joining the digital panel with Mary will be Jay, VP, Digital Strategy, from UHC. Parent company, UnitedHealth Group, is the largest health insurer in the country and based in Minnesota. In an industry that makes up almost 17% of the Nation’s GDP, finding a way to engage members and garner the right data from the various segments is not a job for just any marketer!

UnitedHealthcare #DoGood Stat: Leading with the mantra, “Do Good. Live Well.”, UnitedHealthcare promotes grassroots community volunteer efforts to help reduce need (hunger), restore health (obesity), and renew hope (military & veterans).

Andrea Benzschawel – Buffalo Wild Wings

With a title like Beverage Brand Director, you are sure to be the life of the party! Andrea will close out the day on the “Marketing a Good Time” panel. Representing a brand like Buffalo Wild Wings, creativity and entertainment is the name of the game. We are looking forward to hearing about Andrea’s experience behind the BWW’s beverage marketing.

Buffalo Wild Wings #DoGood Stat: Buffalo Wild Wings teamed up with Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) to help more kids play team sports. By 2020, their goal is to give more than $17 million to the organization through corporate and Guest donations.

Key Takeaways

Uff-Dah! This is just a short list of all the impressive marketers and companies who will be in attendance at the Minnesota Marketing Summit this year. Congratulations to all of these local companies who are promoting missions beyond just profit. To say we are proud of our home state companies would be an understatement.

If you are attending the summit, we hope this post gives you a teaser into the impressive panelists. We are looking forward to speaking with these marketers and learning more about how they tie their marketing initiatives into their overall sustainability promises.

Engage for good is good for all

Engage for Good is Good for All

As many of you know, we love conferences at DoTopia. Most recently, I had the opportunity to venture to one of my favorite cities, Chicago, to represent DoTopia at the Engage for Good Conference.

The purpose of Engage for Good is to work at the intersection of cause and commerce. Engage for Good provides brands and nonprofits the practical information and connections they need to succeed. A lovely and actionable goal. Originally founded as The Cause Marketing Forum in 2002, CEO David Hessekiel, does an impeccable job keeping the organization relevant by engaging leading corporations and nonprofits alike.

Most recently, The Cause Marketing Forum rebranded as Engage for Good and has continued to be a leading force for social impact. The Engage for Good Conference is a two-day event bringing together philanthropic brands such as PwC, WestJet, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Target, Allstate, Planet Fitness and many more corporate all-stars. Nonprofits like WE, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Boys and Girls Clubs, and a plethora of others rounded off the attendee list. Inspirational corporate giving stories were shared that left even the host of the conference teary eyed while nonprofits and corporations bonded over shared goals.

With many great speakers and content shared in just two days, I wanted to provide some highlights from these powerful change agents. To recap, here are 10 short musings from the social impact gurus – hopefully one or two of these ideas will resonate and help you in designing your own program.

  1.     “Organizations need to move from transactional to transformational. Rethink how you address partnerships, the customer journey and your overall organizational mission.” – Christina Alford SVP Development, Susan G. Komen
  1.     “Make a shift into a movement of awareness into one of action” – Christina Alford SVP Development, Susan G. Komen
  1.     “Sustainability and wellness shouldn’t just be for the 1%. We should democratize and bring wellness and sustainability to the masses.” – Jennifer Silberman, Chief Sustainability Officer, Target
  1.     “Price and quality being equal, consumers would prefer to buy a good in support of a socially important cause.” – Jennifer Silberman, Chief Sustainability Officer, Target
  1.     Care about the causes your employees care about. Tito’s allows every one of their employees to suggest organizations for the company to support. As a result, Tito’s supports 5,000 charity events per year. Choice in giving truly defines the brand’s mission. – Amy Lukken, Joyologist, Tito’s Handmade Vodka
  1.     Don’t say your seasoned brand cannot lead with social good. Allstate, an 80+ year old organization, is truly revolutionizing the corporate philanthropy space. Here is one way they are leading. “A Single Act Can Create an Endless Ripple.” – Victoria Dinges, Senior Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, Allstate Insurance Company
  1.     “Purpose should always be your north star. What makes you special? From there, connect your company purpose with your causes.” – Shannon Schuyler, Principal, Chief Purpose Officer & Corp. Responsibility Leader, PwC
  1.     “Brands that mean more, make more.” – Bill Doyle, Performance Research. The ProSocial valuation model is Holistic (measures outcomes not outputs), Universal (Applicable across multiple categories) and has a Single Currency (translates everything into one single currency). – Lesa Ukman & Bill Doyle, Performance Research
  1.     “What can be measured, can be justified and what can’t will get cut.” – Bill Doyle, Performance Research
  1.  First rule to live by with young people: “Forget about the Cause.” One specific thing young people care about is EVERYTHING. Find a way to create a campaign around every cause. That is how you can ensure you will be relevant with this group. – Marley Leighton, Manager, Growth & Partnerships, DoSomething.org

This is a small sample of the inspirational quotes, ideas and learnings corporations and non-profits generously shared during the conference. Transparency and authenticity led conversations as organizations reminisced on some of their darkest days. Ironically, even the biggest mishaps provided brands with an opportunity to reset and redefine a more strategic purpose to engage their brand in new forms of good.

I am grateful to work for a company and industry where social impact is our compass and inspiring all people to give is our guiding north star.

I am thankful for David Hessekiel at Engage for Good for spending the last 15 years promoting social storytelling and pro social corporate behavior as opposed to hiding it. It matters in our world today. As Vicki Dinges so eloquently stated, “The bad things in life can’t stop us from doing good.” Not now, not ever.

Yours in Giving,

Sami Decker

DoTopia Evangelist

Embracing Your Inner Millennials

Millennials, known as the generation with an infinite amount of studies, articles, podcasts, video series and television shows aren’t going anywhere. Expected to make up over 50% of the workforce by 2020, it has never been more critical for companies to get on the Gen Y bandwagon and truly embrace their way of working, living and communicating.

Whether you find yourself a member of this generation or not the key to your business success will be to embrace your inner millennial. Age is just a number, right?

This is the generation that wants their work life and social life to coincide with little to no effort. Their mantra is life is work – work is life.

A Desire for Social Consciousness

A major contributor to Millennial’s definition of work life balance is the desire for social consciousness in a company and the need to be contributing to the greater good. The millennial generation cares and they want to be making a difference.

DoTopia is here to help. DoTopia is a powerful, pro-social giving platform that allows users to donate to the causes they care about most. We partner with corporations, establish strong engagement programs tailored to achieve company-wide goals and objectives and support them through DoTopia’s Enterprise Customer Success program.

It has never been easier to engage with your millennial employees and to give them one of the key benefits that research has proven to be so important to them: Social Impact.

Here are three proven methods DoTopia can utilize to actively engage your millennial employees, contribute to your business’ overall effectiveness and pave a successful path for years to come:

  1. Personal Giving Account: Think of it as a personal checking account for employees to manage all of your philanthropic transactions. Personal Giving Accounts enable employees to give anywhere at anytime. Employees can monitor their giving history for planning, tracking and tax purposes and also set personal goals to maximize their giving.
  2. Employee Match Program: By matching your employees’ charitable contributions you are supporting their pro social footprint and demonstrating to them that you care about the causes they care about.
  3. Incentive Rewards: Incentive rewards can motivate employees to continue or increase participation in your company’s giving initiatives, wellness programs and overall business objectives. They also can promote a sense of achievement, team building and presence within their communities.

DoTopia is here to partner with you, positively engage your employees and make the world a better place.

We make giving easy and engaging and in doing so inspire more givers to give more.

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