Digital Marketing Innovations, Insights & Strategies at MRA 2016


The digital agency is becoming a more critical partner in business in today’s world. As such, it holds digital agencies to a higher standard. One in which they can execute on large, standout projects that requires nuanced understanding of the business climate and audience. A digital partner that can feed business insights and even drive business performance is crucial in today’s competitive climate.

IMI attended the 2016 Insights & Strategies Conference held in New Orleans in May to stay on top of marketing strategy and innovation. We were glad to hear other brands prioritizing marketing innovation in their organizations.

IMI has since launched an agency wide Innovation Lab to prioritize creative solutions in a space outside of our day-to-day operations. We are taking these ideas, incorporating the following tips from the MRSA Insights & Strategy sessions, to help provide tips on innovation and how to approach innovation in your organization.

Marie Wolfe, Consumer & Market Insights Director of Research Innovation at Unilever, had an inspiring presentation where she shared these great takeaways:

DO and READ Random Stuff

You never know where you will find inspiration, and a lot of the best inspiration comes from applying a principle, approach, or truth from another field into your primary area of focus. Take a class in genetics. Read a book about kite makers. Take a MOOC data science course.

Know Your Breakthrough Innovation “Tell”

Understand your personal “tells” for when you hit a breakthrough innovation. A common “tell” of achieving this breakthrough is that people get VERY dismissive or uncomfortable.  

Prioritize and Cultivate Talent Over Tools

You need people who can be flexible and solve in a fast, collaborative and efficient way. Tools can only do so much to overcome obstacles. They can’t help you overcome obstacles at all, if you don’t have the right people operating those tools and feeding information back into the organization in a collaborative fashion.

Accept the Adoption Curve

Every organization has one. Whether it’s your organization or an external organization, you need to find your spotlights – your early adopters that help you highlight WHY it’s so great – so that the adoption curve can catch up.

Martie Woods, Strategic Lead, Thought Leadership, shared about “The Rise of Context Comfortables” and talked about how data collection, data gathering and data sharing can help drive innovation in marketing.

Remember Your Job

Brands often develop new products and solutions to solve one problem for consumers. However, during the development, it gets off track by trying to add too many bells and whistles that seem “cool” but don’t help solve for the core job your audience is trying to get solved.

Understand Adjacencies & Overlays

Most digital activities have an adjacency or overlay. Understand how likely your audience will participate in other activities at the same time as your digital activity. Adjacencies include paying your bills online while you’re at work or browsing the sports score while you’re waiting for your order to get finished at the deli. While most people at a rock concert are not doing adjacent tasks that take them out of the moment, there are overlays that enhance their experiences – 78% text, 68% send or take picture and 65% use social media. Understanding how adjacencies and overlays are being used can help you more effectively connect with or activate your audiences.

Steve Nollau, President & Chief Strategy Officer and Andy Ford, Senior Director, Group Leader, Insight & Innovation – both from Brädo Creative Insight – spoke on The Future of Insight-Led Innovation.

Effective Products and Campaigns Transform

A truly powerful creative insight helps transform the way you look at a problem. An insight has the ability to transform the brand, understand a unique benefit and “click” with the behavior you really want them to take. Nollau highlighted Dove’s insight that only 2% of women across 10 countries considered themselves beautiful – and that they could use this to help transform how women saw themselves through their Real Beauty campaign. The result was so authentic that it changed not only how people related to the product, but also the entire dialogue we have around beauty.

At IMI, we value innovation and insights through incorporating audience strategy early in our planning and developing our own, internal innovation lab to incubate digital marketing transformation.  

What are you doing in your business or daily life to add strategic insights and drive digital transformation?

Leave a Reply