Sara snaps a selfie with decorations at a business conference

Marketers Are Humans, Too: 7 Tips for People-First Communications

Ear­li­er this spring, I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to attend my first Nation­al Agri-Mar­ket­ing Con­fer­ence. This annu­al event, host­ed by the Nation­al Agri-Mar­ket­ing Asso­ci­a­tion (NAMA), spans mul­ti­ple days and brought togeth­er sev­er­al hun­dred atten­dees from across the nation to con­nect, learn and inspire. And it did just that. With pages of notes and a stack of busi­ness cards, I returned home from Kansas City feel­ing inspired by the peo­ple I’d met and sto­ries that had been shared. 

While there are so many nuggets I’d love to share, here, I’m high­light­ing sev­en take­aways from the con­fer­ence that are applic­a­ble to busi­ness­es of any kind – not just for those in agri-marketing.

For Busi­ness Professionals 

Whether you’re lead­ing a team or in a sup­port­ing role on a team, there’s val­ue in these take­aways for you at work (and, in gen­er­al, in life!). 

  • Pri­or­i­tize big-pic­ture strat­e­gy first. To max­i­mize capac­i­ty in a vase, you first have to fill the con­tain­er with big rocks, then fit in the small­er ones where you can. If you start with the small ones first, there won’t be room for the big ones. This take­away came from a fel­low attendee, as she shared about a ses­sion she attend­ed that focused on how to help small mar­ket­ing depart­ments thrive. To me, this speaks to the idea that as mar­keters and strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tors, we need to pri­or­i­tize big-pic­ture strat­e­gy first, then fill in with addi­tion­al tac­tics where we can. 
A colorful poster illustrating encouragement to grow professionally without burning out
  • “Play the game of now, not the game of some­day.” Entre­pre­neur and author Suneel Gup­ta deliv­ered the first keynote, and this phrase res­onat­ed: “Play the game of now, not the game of some­day. Take action and let the courage catch up along the way.” While there are times when we need to have some of the build­ing blocks in place, it’s impor­tant to remem­ber that we don’t always have to feel ready to jump in and try.
  • “Be open to the pos­si­bil­i­ty that you could be wrong.” Lorin­da Lewis is a busi­ness train­er with more than 25 years of expe­ri­ence, and in her break­out ses­sion, she shared words that also are a valu­able reminder when work­ing to oper­ate from a curios­i­ty mind­set: “Be open to the pos­si­bil­i­ty that you could be wrong.” Whether work­ing with a peer, client, part­ner, intern or any­one in-between, keep­ing this in mind pro­vides our brains with a unique per­spec­tive to be open to dif­fer­ent ideas and ways of think­ing – all we have to do to access this brain space is check our egos at the door. 

For Sto­ry­tellers

We’re all sto­ry­tellers. From PR to HR and every­thing in between, each of us has a sto­ry to share and an audi­ence we are try­ing to reach. Keep these in mind to max­i­mize the impact of your storytelling.

  • “Don’t put your­self first, put the audi­ence first.” A reminder that feels it’s always worth not­ing for con­tent cre­ators came from a pan­el with four com­mu­ni­ca­tions pros: “Don’t put your­self first, put the audi­ence first.” While it can be easy to want to focus on all the amaz­ing things your brand or prod­uct is doing, think like your audi­ence. What will make them care about your brand or prod­uct? How can you enhance their life? The audi­ence comes first when cre­at­ing con­tent and messaging. 
A colorful poster illustrating the process of consumer behavior
  • Keep per­spec­tive in mind. For mar­ket­ing expert, pro­fes­sor and author Mar­cus Collins, who pro­vid­ed the sec­ond keynote, it all comes down to cul­ture. Our per­spec­tives, which are shaped by our cul­tures, cre­ate our views. “We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” Collins dis­cussed how it’s so much eas­i­er to try putting con­sumers in dif­fer­ent buck­ets, but the real­i­ty is that cul­ture is root­ed in iden­ti­ty, and iden­ti­ty is com­plex. As com­mu­ni­ca­tors and mar­keters, we need to tru­ly want to under­stand peo­ple and their per­son­al iden­ti­ty – and their needs and expe­ri­ences. We can’t just put them in a demo­graph­ic box. Often, peo­ple may not change, but as brands, we can change and our per­spec­tives can change. Accord­ing to Collins, this is where mag­ic and brand suc­cess can happen. 
  • Under­stand the human ele­ment of the sto­ry. Clos­ing keynote speak­er Alyson Van Hoos­er is an author, pod­cast host and lead­er­ship expert who spoke about how sto­ry­telling helps shape how peo­ple see us and our brands. While this may seem obvi­ous, her per­spec­tive goes deep­er: We need to under­stand the per­son and human ele­ment of a sto­ry – who we are, not just what we are. Like Collins, Van Hoos­er chal­lenges us as mar­keters and lead­ers to go beyond tidy box­es and under­stand how to speak to audi­ences as peo­ple – not just demo­graph­ics. This also can take some vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, to share our own per­son­al or brand sto­ries to build trust and under­stand­ing. When we have shared under­stand­ing among our team­mates, clients, part­ners and any­one else we work with, we can find deep­er con­nec­tion, bet­ter com­pro­mise and a more ful­fill­ing way of work­ing and living. 

For Humans

We are humans, not machines. And we need to care for our­selves. Con­sid­er these tips to help care for your own well­be­ing and avoid burnout.

  • Prac­tice rhyth­mic renew­al. In addi­tion to a pletho­ra of inspi­ra­tion, Gup­ta also shared that a major­i­ty of the work­force (60%) con­tin­ues to lan­guish, expe­ri­enc­ing high stress and low ener­gy. He rec­om­mends peo­ple prac­tice rhyth­mic renew­al, which can include ideas he shared such as:
    • The 55/5 mod­el. Com­plete 55 min­utes of work and then have five min­utes of rest.
    • Start meet­ings at five past the hour. He’s found that try­ing to wrap them up five min­utes ear­ly rarely works, but start­ing five min­utes lat­er offers peo­ple a chance for small rest.
    • Max­i­mize quick breaks, because tran­si­tions are key. Even if you have just 30 sec­onds, take a few deep breaths with your hand over your heart.
    • Keep an ener­gy jour­nal and track lit­tle moments that are pos­i­tive in your day. Pay­ing more atten­tion to pos­i­tive moments helps make us more resilient when we inevitably face neg­a­tive experiences.

Want to hear more about these insight­ful speak­ers and con­ver­sa­tions or learn about NAMA and what the con­fer­ence expe­ri­ence is like? Please reach out

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