MarketMixNW 2013 Offers Up A Valuable Mix Of Marketing Information

SEATTLE—There weren’t any Grumpy Cats like at SxSW or half-naked Argentine Creative Directors like at Cannes, but the MarketMix 2013 Conference sponsored by the Puget Sound American Marketing Association did prove worthwhile, at least from this copywriter’s perspective.

The key to these types of conferences is to pick some sessions on topics you don’t know much about. Although many speakers seem to be pimping their own companies or books, others can be really insightful. And this conference, which is geared more towards client-side marketers than creatives, turned out to be more valuable for me than some social media or awards show-related wankfest.

I’ll hit some highlights:

In one session, the partnership of the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center and Seattle ad agency GreenRubino was spotlighted. A major fundraiser was launched with the theme “Be Breakthrough” and highlighting some of the Fred Hutch researchers. Here’s a sample spot:

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center – Jim from GreenRubino on Vimeo.

But the campaign (see one spot below), with its vanity URL and message “When you give to science, science gives back,” wasn’t as successful in raising money and awareness as a subsequent, more direct message featuring local TV personalities and the idea that donating money saves lives. I suppose when the desired response is “give money,” the appeal needs to be more straightforward. It was also quite interesting to see agency and client make a serious pivot mid-way through the year-long campaign, although the agency’s reaction to switching things up wasn’t discussed.

I also saw a great presentation on crowdsourcing from POSSIBLE’s Mike Reeder and local food & travel blogger Jennifer Chiu, who leveraged the audience of her “Roll With Jen” blog by turning to Kickstarter to launch her web TV series:

While the crowdsourcing of ideas and creative work has been discussed at length in the ad business, crowdfunding is an exciting possibility for fledgling brands and entrepreneurs. Mike and Jen brought that notion to life for the attendees. Jen also noted that positioning herself as a “Female Anthony Bourdain” helped boost traffic and donations to her Kickstarter.

Another interesting presentation was from AllRecipes, which has worked its way to become one of the world’s most heavily trafficked sites. They’ve been at it for 16 years, so it didn’t happen overnight. Having a mobile-optimized site is key for them, but they demoed their Video Cookbook app, which highlights recipe directions while we watch the food being prepared.

Clearly, they’ve got a devoted following: According to Allrecipes’ surveys of their users, 50% use the site on a mobile device. And of that 50%, half use it while they’re at the grocery store. While the presenters were a little cagey about trying to partner with advertisers to reach people right at the point of purchase (I’d say they’re not quite there yet), I’m sure some marketers, somewhere, are salivating over the idea of using NFC technology to hit consumers right in the aisles.

Of course, what the conferences do well (if you’re willing to chat with strangers) is allow me to meet folks I’d never meet otherwise, which can also be insightful. I have one good example.

In a casual chat, I met one marketing director for a local Seattle utility. They have 1.7 million customers. So how many of them use Online Bill Pay? Only 20%. I would never have guessed a figure that low. And it’s why she still values ways to reach customers through (gasp) bill stuffers. Try using that statistic the next time someone in your agency says, “no one pays their bills through the mail anymore.”

There were also some presenter shout-outs to Uber, the car-for-hire service that’s caused a splash in many cities. It’s quickly becoming the case study/example du jour of digital marketing disruption among marketing conference speakers. Does this mean fewer people using Zappos as an example? We’ll see.

You can get a sense of all the chatter at the conference by looking at #marketmix on Twitter.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.