As the saying goes, “Board members who learn together grow together”, and that’s exactly what the American Marketing Association, San Francisco Chapter (AMA SF) Board did this past weekend. Along with all the other AMA Professional Chapter Leaders across North America, the AMA SF Board participated in its annual AMA Leadership Summit, a forum to share insights and best practices, practical ideas for building your marketing community, and chapter successes and challenges. Because of the global health crisis, AMA, along with all other organizations with planned in-person, went digital which allowed all board members to participate from the comfort of their own couch.
This year’s AMA Leadership Summit theme is Elevate. Elevate is more than a vision, it’s an opportunity. When we elevate our chapters, boards members, experiences and skills we change what’s possible. Together, we can navigate challenges, find new approaches and reach peak performance.
Bringing together marketing leaders across the nation to discuss everything from strategy to planning to program operations and everything in between, our board of directors will come away prepared to make a bigger impact within our membership and the marketing community. From keynote speakers to Board in the Box sessions to LOUDtables, this two-day training was packed with creative ways to engage you, as our members, build community, and raise awareness about a profession that touches marketers across all organizations and industries. At the heart of the AMA SF is our mission:
The AMA SF accelerates professional development of our members by helping them achieve marketing mastery within a supportive community.
The AMA SF is a board run by volunteers who are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about marketing. Each hour spent in training, in/out of board meetings, at events and on the job strengthens our identity as marketers, enhances our skill sets and gives us the opportunity to make improvements in our marketing programs. Below is a sneak peak at what goes on behind the scenes with the AMA SF Board during AMA Summit and some practical advice and knowledge you will likely see us incorporating into future programs.
Six key takeaways from AMA Summit:
Inspire non-obvious thinking: Opening keynote speaker, Rohit Bhargava, marketing strategist at Leo Burnett and Ogilvy, spoke about four non-obvious mega-trends that marketers can do to inspire creative ways of thinking, develop innovative marketing strategy and tactics, and stay relevant — especially during times of uncertainty. It’s the non-obvious thinkers who show empathy, think outwardly and pivot quickly who will be able to adapt to change and overcome the most extreme circumstances. Bhargava offers five ways for marketers to elevate their thinking:
- Be Observant: See what others miss
- Be Fickle: Learn to move on
- Be Elegant: Craft beautiful ideas
- Be Thoughtful: Take time to think
- Be Curious: Always ask why
“The people who understand people always win,” says Bahargava.
How do you become a non-obvious thinker? Having spent over ten years of researching and making over 100 past trend predictions, Bahargava shares one practical way that marketers can begin shifting their mindset and expanding their trove of knowledge. Bahargava tells marketers to read and go outside of their industry. People don’t always deep dive in other industries outside of their own. The smart ones will dive into other industries before they have to and stay on top of their news sources. Apps like Feedly and GetPocket App can help.
Find your inner strength with the three S’s: Consultant, Patient Advocacy and Motivational Speaker, Wendy Booker shared with us an inspirational story on how to discover beautiful moments beyond disappointment when you embrace a new day and a name mission. Her day-to-day struggles with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) as she trained for a marathon has been an uphill battle. However, her advice: “You don’t give up on a goal when it’s difficult. You change the way you get there”. As the world faces this pandemic and suffers steep unemployment rates, you need to find a way and a reason for tomorrow. “It’s about trying a little harder, taking a little longer, digging a little deeper” says Booker. To help her find her way, Booker recommends following the three S’s:
- Serendipity: Embrace the good things that come along when you don’t expect it. It is a lesson in your life. Things come into your life and you need to learn to grab it and look for those “aha” moments. Open your heart and mind.
- Stubbornness: To propel you forward, it takes strength and stubbornness to keep yourself going against the odds.
- Self-Discovery: What will life look like when you face a challenge?
It’s about building mental toughness and resilience, and finding people who motivate you like you never expected.
Lean into your values: Community, commitment and growth are a few of the values that keep our volunteers motivated to serve their chapter and stay fully engaged. These values instill trust in one another and call on board members to approach marketing with a higher purpose. Nurturing leadership skills, mentoring board members and connecting them with chapters in different regions is central to building stronger, more fearless marketing leaders. The AMA supports its board members and inspires them to lean into their values by providing limitless resources and tools to educate board members and help them become more capable leaders in their community. They pair chapter presidents with past-presidents and advisors to develop the needed skills for personal and professional development and growth. They host retreats for chapters to cross-pollinate, share ideas and build new relationships. Becoming a board member has never been more encouraging.
“I’ve never worked so hard and had so much fun doing it,” says Angela Brutsche, Former President of AMA Austin Chapter and Volunteer of the Year.
Set clear, measurable goals: Running and managing your chapter and board comes with great pride and responsibility. It calls on leaders to look inwards and ask themselves why they signed a commitment letter to serve on the AMA Board of Directors. As many chapter leaders can attest, only if your values align with your chapter’s mission will leaders have the ability to set clear, measurable goals for their chapter and achieve continued success. Mihali Stavlas, President of the Professionals Chapters Council shares a four-pronged approach to goal-setting that will grow and extend your chapter’s mission.
- Natural Goal states an aspiration you’ve been heading towards, but haven’t achieved yet
- Continuing Excellence Goal continues to uphold actions you do well
- Epic Goal aspires to do something you’ve never done before
- Wild Card Goal claims bold action to meet a secondary objective, but only as time permits
What types of goals have you set for your board, chapter and membership? Who inspires you to stay on course and hold yourself accountable to your chapter’s vision and mission? What are you doing to accomplish these goals and reach further and higher?
Turn up the volume on membership and highlight member value: When it comes to building your brand and creating a good membership experience, exercising the principle of good communications and tying it to your chapter’s strategic plan is key. You want to connect everything you do to driving membership value. From your emails to newsletters to programming events and networking, your prospects and members join you at various stages of the marketing journey. As you plan your program, Robin Tooms of the Houston Chapter and Suzanne Buzek of the Cincinnati Chapter recommend asking yourself these six questions:
- Who you are talking to?
- Why do they care?
- How will you reach out?
- When will you reach out?
- Where will they be?
- What do you want them to do?
Answering these six questions will reinforce who your target audience is and help you keep your eye on the ball when it comes to creating member value.
Put muscle into programming and networking to improve membership experience: Networking events and programming are the hallmark of the AMA and key to creating connected membership experiences. Especially during these times of uncertainty, it can be difficult to continue building engaging membership experiences and creating value. While all face-to-face meetings and in-person events have come to a halt, there are still many ways for your chapter to help marketers stay relevant to their profession, connect people with resources and amplify member value. Zakiya Johnson, Former AMA SF President and Program Lead recommends diversifying program offerings to include panel discussions, lunch and learns, member-only events in addition to expert-led discussions. She also recommends mixing up your networking events by exploring themes, tying them to national holidays and significant events, hosting career fairs and more. And if you really want to take your programs to the next level, consider:
- Forming partnerships and alliances with other nonprofits and organizations: The AMA SF partners with PRSA and SFBig to host joint events
- Identifying relevant conferences in the area and promote their events: The AMA SF works closely with Growth Marketing Conference and Rakuten to advertise their event to the marketing community and offer membership exclusive discounts
- Creating membership-only events to find ways to improve and build upon future programs
- Inviting recruiters to the event: The AMA SF collaborates with Creative Circle and The Creative Group to discuss the career landscape, offer resume review workshops, conduct mock interviews, etc.
- Hosting trademark events, signature events that your marketing community knows you for: The AMA SF offers its annual Career Accelerator event, awards banquet and holiday party.
Creating value during the global health crisis can be particularly challenging, but don’t forget to use the AMA brand to help your chapter create that digital marketing footprint that can help members connect with one another, access valuable online resources and engage virtually from the comfort of their own home.
With the AMA Summit going digital, it gave all board members the opportunity to join and actively participate. The AMA SF takes pride in growing and learning together, so we can create a more engaging experience for our membership and marketing community. We look forward to incorporating these six key learnings into our upcoming programs. If you have any comments or suggestions, or would like to volunteer, please contact us.