If you attended the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference (MDMC) in Saint Louis this week, you’ll know this year’s event brought together some of the brightest stars in digital marketing from the Midwest and beyond. Our proverbial minds were blown by the sheer amount of knowledge shared over the two day event. The conference had numerous talks, panels and workshops ranging in topics from branding, entrepreneurship, artificial intelligence, key metrics, SEO, social media and digital strategy.
Year after year, the organizers of MDMC, UMSL Business, have curated an event that expands the programming while improving the experience for attendees, speakers, and exhibitors. Great attention has been put into making the best use of the cavernous Union Station, flowing attendees between the session rooms and the exhibitor hall, creating natural intersections and interactions. Everywhere you looked, volunteers were at the ready, guiding attendees and checking in with exhibitors and speakers to make sure things were running smoothly.
Our only complaint was there was so much quality programming we couldn’t get to all of the sessions we wanted to attend.
Trends and takeaways
Big data, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, voice recognition and automation continue to be the hot topics of digital marketing in 2018, and it was no exception at MDMC. Speakers from IBM Watson and Pandora talked about how they use data insights to deliver meaningful experiences for their users. We met several companies, including digital publishers and programmatic ad buyers, who were leveraging AI even more in their product offering, providing better insights into customer behavior.
Another trend we noticed was large content/production shops restructuring their services to offer more nimble digital content packages for companies of all sizes, creating a lower entry point for companies to leverage rich media in their digital marketing playbooks. As things like video and podcasts continue to fuel brand growth, it is encouraging to see digital content creators think about small to medium businesses in their models.
It was also great to hear an emphasis on branding at several of the sessions we attended, including one by our own creative director, Joe Duffin. The brand is typically where Spry starts with any engagement, making sure all business goals are aligned with brand values, so it was great to hear that message reinforced over the two day event.
Leading with strategy
Speaking of sessions, we hope that you were able to attend Joe’s talk, “Beyond the Tactics: Integrated Marketing Strategy for New Product Launches”. In the session, Joe spoke to several points you should consider when creating an integrated marketing plan, specifically: knowing the brand, knowing the product, and knowing the audience (or thinking about all of the potential audiences as personas).
Joe pointed out early in the presentation that at the offset of any marketing strategy planning, there are items that you know, items that you don’t know, and items that you don’t know you need to know. Joe reassured that it’s okay to acknowledge the unknown, and why it’s important to set these expectations early with the client, knowing that you will work to bring clarity to issues through the course of the engagement. Joe then shared tactics for working within an organizational structure to affect change and create positive results.
We gave away some stuff...
Spry, who were silver sponsors of MDMC, hosted a contest where we gave away an Amazon Echo on each day of the event, along with mugs with a digital strategy theme. While this created a good deal of buzz at our table over the two days, more importantly, it allowed us to talk shop and share stories with many who came for the Echo, but spent time getting to know our agency and people.
We appreciate everybody that took the time to stop by our table and participate. It was a blast talking with you all and we look forward to crossing paths with you at an event again soon.
When it was over, we were exhausted yet inspired by the people with whom we interacted and the sessions we heard. We are thrilled that St. Louis, a city with a plethora of marketing talent and learning institutions, is in the national spotlight a few days during the MDMC (rated a Top Marketing Conference to Check Out in 2018 by Forbes). It’s obvious there were more attendees than ever from outside our fair city, telling of the conference’s growth over its five year existence.
Congratulations to UMSL Business and all of the organizers, speakers, sponsors and volunteers that made it go off without a hitch. We will see you in 2019.