On Mar. 17, 2017, JMMA (John Molson Marketing Association) hosted its annual Creative Marketing Conference; a day-long event which includes different speakers, workshops and networking events that revolves around all aspects of marketing. I got the opportunity to attend the event and I enjoyed every minute of it!
Even before it took place, the marketing around this event really pushed the fact that marketing is more than you think and #morethan223 (which is sort of an inside joke for JMSB students, because 223 is the code of the introduction to marketing class every student is forced to take, regardless of their major.) The goal of this conference is to clear up the misconceptions about marketing, showing people it lives all around us, and discovering this industry in new ways.
The event was split up into three sections: Conferences, workshops and a networking cocktail. There were multiple ten minute breaks between activities, as well as snacks and dinner were provided. Here is what went down during each section of the event:
The first speaker of the day was Carlos Fogelman, founder of Hip and Bone a Montreal fashion brand. His conference really focused on branding and his difficult path as an entrepreneur. After a few years of not finding a job despite his business degree, he decided to start a line of clothing called Hip and Bone with the help of his family’s textile business. His brand is so cool because it started with the concept of “welcome to the one percent;” every t-shirt you would buy from him would come with a little gold pin and a black envelope which gave you access to a private blog explaining the conspiracy theory illustrated on the tee. He believes that “art is one of the first forms of marketing” and he also explained how, at all times, you are an extension of your brand and you must act accordingly. A great quote from this speaker which I will finish with is “being excited about everything you do is so essential to success and fulfillment.”
The second speaker was Richard Fraser from Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. I know what you’re thinking: why is a tobacco professional speaking at a conference mainly aimed at students? Well, it was actually quite enlightening. Marketing is not only about the look of a product and the way it’s advertised to the world, because if it were, the tobacco industry would be dead.
Fact is, this is a multi-billion-dollar industry and the people who currently smoke will continue to do so as long as the product is available. After receiving many questions from those in the room, Fraser’s conference shifted from new product development to the ethics of selling cigarettes, which was just as interesting, if you ask me. One thing that really stuck with me was when he said that “people at the company are not all smokers, but we do believe in consumers’ freedom of choice, and their right to be fully informed.” Through his years with Imperial Tobacco, he learned that it is always best to take the high road early as an industry – that means fully disclosing risks of a product even if it were not asked of them by the government. Another interesting thing we learned is that the company plans on expanding into the Vape industry once the legislation has passed.
The final and keynote speaker of the event was Priya Chopra, president and founder of 1Milk2Sugars Inc. During her talk, Chopra really focused on the process of starting your own business and split it up into a timeline explaining that the first three years of any company are generally horrible, discouraging and extremely unprofitable, but then the fourth, fifth and 6th+ years make it all worthwhile and there is no limit to what you can accomplish. Some really practical information she gave us are the financial materials we should pay attention to in class because they actually are crucial in telling a company’s financial health: Statement of cash flows, profit margins, and earnings before taxes. She then went into talking about the problem with today’s generation when it comes to writing: people have forgotten how to spell. Some great advice she gave to us is to proofread everything before we send it – really, truly proofread – as she says “nothing is more insulting than a spelling mistake.”
The first workshop I had the chance to attend was with Konstantin Kostychuk and Leo Gamayunov, the founders of TTBA Group, a digital marketing agency in Montreal for small businesses. Their workshop involved learning and applying this knowledge in a pitch. They taught us that a successful brand must contain 3 aspects: resonance, differentiation, and trust. The minute one of these is missing, people will not be willing to buy. Kostychuk and Gamayunov then proceeded to splitting the room into teams and giving us each a brief for Toronto Dominion (TD), one of their clients. I really enjoyed this workshop because I had the opportunity to use my creative skills and work as a team to come up with a solution for the client, and then pitch to two professionals in the industry. It was really fun!
The next workshop I attended was that of Dulcedo, a talent management firm for models, celebrities and influencers in Canada. The two professionals running the workshop were Benjamin Carter and Shari Nowroozi, who are in charge of the influencer division. As you could imagine, they focused this workshop on influencer marketing, the new and extremely effective way of promoting brands. Influencers consist of web personalities, mainly from YouTube or Instagram, who have a large following of individuals who truly care about their life in terms of where they go eat, what makeup products they use, how they take care of their skin, etc. This is why this method of marketing is so effective: you pay the influencer to use your brand and many of their followers are likely to buy the product. An interesting thing we learned from this workshop is the methods used to track influencer conversion: the number of clicks on the bitly link in their bio and the uses of the promo codes they offer. So if ever you were wondering what the point of those were, it’s to know how efficient the influencer is at converting views into visits to the website!
Finally, the last workshop of the day was by Arda Ozcan from Radiance Media and Anthony Gagnon from Substance Strategies. These are partner agencies, who both focused on digital marketing – Substance being more based on content, and Radiance being more based on strategy. Their workshop focused on teaching us the differences between both agencies and the social media platforms best for each company’s objectives. Some great advice we received from them is to do certifications which we do not learn at school on our own time, such as Facebook Blueprint and Google Adwords. These would really help us in the job application process as many employers look for these certifications although no schools tell us about them.
After dinner we headed into the room where the networking cocktail was taking place, and I was really impressed! There was a live DJ, nightlife atmosphere, and complimentary wine! One of the sponsors, Videotron, had also set up an awesome photo booth where you could dress up and they would create a fun gif of you and your friends. Most of the speakers from the event were present at the cocktail, in addition to some recruiters from Imperial Tobacco Canada and Concordia MSc and graduate program representatives. During this cocktail I had the opportunity to network with professionals and ask them any questions I had about their past, as well as if they had any internship opportunities! Another great part of this cocktail was talking with JMMA’s executive team, as they launched recruitment for the 2017-2018 team that evening.
Overall, I had a lot of fun at this event on top of learning about so many different aspects of marketing! I also made friends I plan on keeping in touch with throughout the rest of my degree at JMSB and I made many connections in the marketing industry which will grow my professional network! I recommend this event to anyone who has an interest for marketing, communications, media, entertainment and/or public relations, and you can count on finding me at CMC 2018!