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Why It’s Time To Send Someone to the NAED AdVenture Conference

Why It’s Time To Send Someone to the NAED AdVenture Conference

By Scott Costa
, Publisher, tED magazine

One of the nice things about working on tED magazine is I get the chance to be a part of the NAED AdVenture Marketing Conference every year.  At this year’s event, which begins on August 10, we will hand out 47 “Best of the Best Awards” to distributors and manufacturers in categories that include “Brand Awareness Campaign,”  “Print Campaign”, “Digital/Social Media Campaign”, “Website”, and a new category this year, “Video”. 

But before that happens, we are going to talk marketing.  And that’s where I am a little troubled.  I get the opportunity to talk about marketing not just to one NAED member company, but to many of them.  And I get to have follow-up conversations with marketing departments throughout the year. 

At last year’s AdVenture Conference, we had an excellent speaker named David Meerman Scott, who is a marketing and sales strategist.  If you took a poll of the 150 or so people in the room while he was speaking, 150 or so would say that the guy is brilliant.  And they would add that they are headed back to the office to start implementing the strategies that he discussed. But when I got the follow up from the attendees a few months later, many struggled with the implementation because they were the only person for the company that attended, and they couldn’t get the executives and sales staff on board. So, the AdVenture Conference delivered this great opportunity.  And now it’s lost.  That’s a problem. 

The second problem is this comment that I received from a marketing department employee in the supply chain.  I am not identifying that person, but I am betting many of you can identify with what was said.

“Many people in this business have been here for a long time and just see us (the marketing department) to give out stuff to customers or make up a flyer for a promotion.  They are not realizing if they grew the department, we could do much more for the salespeople, and do more target marketing.  It would be great to explain the different aspects of the roles and their importance.”

This is the part where I am hoping upper level management of both manufacturers and distributors in this supply chain are reading this.  I get the human nature of the industry.  When most people think of a sales team, they think of money coming in.  When they think of a marketing department, they think of money that must be spent.  It’s pretty easy to have a favorite of the two. 

I know there are many local, regional, and national sales managers who are going to say that they disagree with that statement.  I know there is also a high percentage of high-level, c-suite executives who also disagree.  You might say your sales and marketing teams work together. But I can’t say that I have talked to many sales managers or c-suite executives while I was at the AdVenture Conference.  That’s probably because nearly all of them aren’t there.  There have been a few, and I have talked with them, so they don’t need to call me to remind me.  But you have to admit I won’t be getting very many phone calls. Can you really say you are committed to your marketing team if you aren’t there to understand the strategies they are learning?

Here’s what is planned for this year’s AdVenture Conference. It starts with a presentation on getting your marketing and IT departments working together.  We are hearing far too often about frustrations between manufacturers and distributors that are unable to come together on projects and strengthen partnerships.  In this session, your sales managers will learn how the marketing and IT departments are trying to communicate better, making for longer relationships and stronger sales.

After that is the topic “4 Actionable Strategies for Elevating Your Content Marketing Programs”.  You are going to get 4 strategies.  They are going to be about all of the marketing materials your sales staff can use to influence the decision makers to buy your products.  If your sales staff or c-suite executives don’t attend, you are leaving it up to your marketing department to go it alone on this one. This would be a great session to get everyone on the same page.

The third session of the first day is our Marketing and Branding Toolkit session. What branding data do you want for all of the industry to see?  Who are the main contact people when there are questions or a need for more information?  We are starting a new toolkit that will make your branding much easier throughout the supply chain, which we know is important for all sales departments.

The first day ends with the tED magazine “Best of the Best” awards presentations. You can find the best marketing in the industry right here.  See what works and what may work for you, then you can discuss it at dinner after the awards event is over.

Day 2 starts with the groundbreaking research from NAED and Dirk Beveridge on “Rethinking Distributor & Manufacturer Relationships in the Age of Rapid Innovation.” If you haven’t heard of this research project, I can tell you this:  91% of the companies that responded say they need to re-imagine their supply chain partnerships.  Marketing plays a role in your new partnership plans. But so does sales and executive leadership. This is a session for all areas of your company.

It is followed by a panel discussion, “An Inside Look at the Future of E-Commerce” that will allow you to ask questions to the panel about how they are handling the e-commerce needs of your customers. 

After the lunch break, Guy Blissett of Deloitte Consulting will host a session on “Digitizing Wholesale Distribution”.  Guy will discuss how technology is creating challenges not just for your marketing department, but also for your IT and sales departments.  The session will focus on how the sales department can work with marketing to “accelerate cross-sell and up-sell”.

Friday’s opening session will also work well for your IT, sales, and marketing departments by looking into loyalty programs with Steve Damerow of Incentive Solutions.  His topic examines how to increase revenue by having your salespeople working directly with the marketing department.  It’s followed by an important session on “Internal Marketing – Selling to Salespeople.”  John Lorince, an outside sales representative at Leff Electric, once was in the company’s marketing department.  This is a chance to learn how marketing and sales should be working together from someone who has done both jobs.  And the conference ends with “Strategy Building in ROI,” when Michael Marks looks at how successful members of our supply chain are shifting their focus away from sales and toward marketing.  Marks will examine how both departments can grow together.

That’s the agenda for this year.  Not sending anyone means you will miss out on all of this strategy.  Only sending one person from your marketing department means you are asking for a lot of translation when that person returns to the office.  This is a real opportunity to show an investment in sales growth by using all of the resources that you already have.  And as a C-suite member of this association, it allows you to oversee the best practices being presented at AdVenture first hand.  I strongly suggest you come, and bring some of your sales managers so you can begin strategizing toward a successful end to 2016.

To register for this year’s NAED AdVenture Conference, you can click here.  If you have additional questions about the event, you can contact me directly at scosta@naed.org or 314-812-5311.


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