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Blast PR, the agency of record for The CMO Club, was thrilled to have another opportunity to attend one of the most exciting events in marketing strategy and executive development, the CMO Club Summit 2015 in Santa Monica, California.

The CMO Club is the most engaged and inspired community of Senior Marketing Executives who help each other solve their biggest challenges within a candid, trusted and sharing environment.

As a first time attendee, I was truly inspired by the incredible depth of topics and discussions that occurred during the event. I felt the positive energy amongst this group of esteemed CMO’s who are genuinely propelling change. Walking into the event Day 1, I was welcomed by the sounds of Nashville based group, Chris Weaver Band, who entertained and delighted the crowd throughout the event. Pete Krainik, CMO Club founder, was a seasoned host who knew how to keep the energy up and the audience engaged. On a beautifully decorated and welcoming stage (complete with a rotating cast of bartenders), Pete interviewed an inspiring group of speakers who touched on an array of topics from social media to social good.

Throughout the two-day summit, I attended various seminars and workshops that were geared toward collaboration, listening, insight and problem-solving for some of the nation’s top brands and Chief Marketing Officers. I was specifically interested in the recently launched CMO Club Cares program as well as the influencer and digital marketing sessions. Below I have highlighted my key takeaways from each session.

Brands and Influencers in Today’s Digital Ecosystem

Guest Speakers

  • Greg Benson, Mediocre Films
  • Matthew Patrick, Creator of YouTube Channel’s “The Theorists”
  • Meghan Rienks, YouTuber, Actress, Lifestyle Influencer
  • Larke Paul, VP Partnerships, MOFILM

This session highlighted key ways in which brands can effectively work with influencers in the digital realm. For the most part, the challenge for brands is to understand how the partnerships with the influencers they are working with can deliver the highest ROI. Influencers should stick with a formula that works and not stray from what their current audience responds to, at risk of losing their voice. Content should be presented in a way that is fun and engaging, while the survey/voting format seems to be the most successful way to get audiences involved. In addition, the speakers stated that marketers should pay attention to new formats arising, such as Snapchat, which is turning influencers into “internet celebrities,” and live streaming, the most interesting new trend in the market.

Breakout Session with CMO Club Cares and Various Charities

The expansion of the CMO Club Cares initiative brings CMO’s together with deserving charities in order to discuss real world solutions to take their nonprofit initiatives to the next level. As CMO’s huddled around tables with charities like K9s For Warriors and First Star, there was a sense of inspiring change and camaraderie to advance the causes they care about. First Star looked to the CMO’s to give advice on how they could help get the word out. The CMO’s suggested developing a marketing advisory board and using a donation-matching program with like-minded corporations. The Program for Torture Victims was looking for ways to share their mission and vision, and the recommendations from the CMO’s at the table could not be more on par. Their suggestions included tapping college students as volunteer resources to help spread the word on a grassroots level, leveraging a known celebrity who has a vested interest in their cause. As an example, they could speak to how Malala Yousafzai triumphed from tragedy.

One of the most interesting discussions came from the K9s For Warriors table. Suggestions from the esteemed CMOs ranged from a more fitting and appropriate charity name to creating a video that would take the viewer through the eyes of the dog from birth to present, getting viewers attached to the work that these dogs do with the veterans throughout their lives.

Branding, Social Media and Content Influencers: Whats Really New?

Guest Speakers:

  • Omar Epps, Actor, Songwriter and Producer
  • Sean Finnegan, Co-founder of Brandish
  • Adam Lilling, Founding and Managing Partner, Plus Capital

This session focused on brand building beyond the product and highlighted ways in which brands must incorporate the traditional endorsement with the experience vehicle. Omar Epps gave the example of Red Bull, a brand that moved beyond the product endorsement in marketing and advertising to focus on the lifestyle of the Red Bull athlete and consumer. All three speakers emphasized the two most imperative points brands are looking for in partnering with an influencer: engagement — how much the influencers talk with their audience, and authenticity — making sure the influencer matches with the culture and vision of the brand they are representing. Another point I found interesting during this session was that in the future, brands might run into the problem of a celebrity endorser not needing these types of partnerships, as they start to find ways to integrate their own products into their brand and become more entrepreneurial at heart (see Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop).

The CMO Club Summit 2015 was truly a thrilling event and one that I was honored to be able to attend. I walked away not only feeling inspired, but with a deep sense that in life, nothing happens without collaboration!

-KristinAnn Janishefski