Initiate GJ Conference Recap

By Blog Renaya Demarest

Growl Principal, Libby Olson, and Marketing Specialist, Renaya Demarest, were invited to attend and present at the first annual Initiate Grand Junction Marketing & Public Relations Conference. Initiate GJ was an excellent experience for networking and learning. At Growl, we love embracing our community and continually improving to serve our clients better.

We are grateful to have had the opportunity to attend and speak at the 2019 Initiate GJ Conference, check out some of our favorite highlights below.

Initiate GJ - DAY 1

After spending the morning hosting one of our clients, we were able to spend the remainder of the day attending various sessions & networking.

Convergence of PR & Marketing was a huge kick-off topic presented by Colorado Mesa University professor, Elaine Venter. Venter gave a great discussion on how marketing is evolving with a relationship and reputation focus, which have traditionally been critical areas of public relations. Venter emphasized the importance of companies (small and large) connecting the two departments to achieve the greatest ROI. An interesting note from Venter’s presentation was to see the varied degree of response. Depending on industry and experience, some organizations converged PR & marketing some time ago. We love the idea of convergence since much of marketing (especially on social media) is not only about the financial outcomes! Overall, we enjoyed sitting in on Venter’s session. It was a great way to start the conference.

Tracking & Reporting was an informative session on web tracking and using Google Analytics to your advantage. Google Analytics is an immensely valuable tool in helping track digital ROI. You can use Google Analytics to view click-through rates, bounce rates, time on site, ecommerce assistance and even set goals. Google Analytics is a great tool to track and report data to better understand your online presence.

BrandYou, a session on the foundations of a brand discussed three Cs to passionate branding: consistency, contagious and confirmed. Consistency is key. A brand needs to be consistent across all of their marketing materials. At Growl, we emphasize the importance of consistent brand styles, voice, colors, type, personality, and presence. Brands cannot become known when their various outlets cannot be connected. Contagious branding is where a brand is so passionate about their why, that it sticks with everyone else. Lastly, confirmed is the key to earned media, as a confirmed brand is one that is involved with its community, responsible and present. At Growl, we believe it is important for brands to be authentic in their offerings and committed to their cause. Too often brands will change who they are to expand what they do. Powerful branding is essential for strong marketing, relationships, and longevity.

Cooperative Campaigns brought the discussion on the power of partnerships to maximize your marketing dollars.  Powderhorn partnered with the City of Grand Junction to take advantage of state grant funding to drive awareness, media attention and ultimately tourism dollars to the Grand Valley.

Brand & Reputation Management highlighted the under-recognized importance of employer brand management.  Advanced companies realize that managing your brand includes managing the brand experience itself, and the essential role employees have on the brand experience. Employer brand management at its best is coordinating all of the parts that make up a positive brand experience.

Day One was an impressive start to the conference. Outside of our sessions, we were able to network with local non-profits, small businesses like the Photo Lab Bar, and Colorado Mesa University’s marketing team.

Initiate GJ - DAY 2

The second day of Initiate GJ began with Experience Marketing. The session focused on the importance of being human in marketing by being vulnerable, knowing your audience, and connecting through technology. Successful human-marketing begins with being more than just a sales-driven brand and creating emotional connections and experiences through the five senses. We loved these concepts, as human-marketing is an essential aspect of what we do every day at Growl. Our methods are focused on connecting people, emotion and experiences to develop relationship driven brands. Following the keynote, Libby had the opportunity to answer attendees marketing questions on the Marketing Panel.

Hot Topics on the Panel

  • Synergy—connecting and collaborating effectively with all stakeholders
  • Communication—spreading ideas to all parties, even if they aren’t directly involved in the project
  • Take risks—expand strategy by taking risks and making sure all parties understand the strategy and are on-board
  • Network & embrace relationships (even if they are competitors)—focus on things your brand is good at, networking can allow you to find help where needed
  • Use social media appropriately—create campaigns, look at data and most importantly use platforms that make sense to your brand, and not everyone needs a blog

During day 2, Growl presented during all three break-out sessions.

Email Marketing was one of the most popular session topics led by Libby. Email marketing is still relevant today, but you need to adapt to modern technology trends. When participating in email marketing, companies should have a human mindset and mobile first approach. Email voice and calls to action should be contextual: “order now,” NOT “click here.” Using subtle gifs and video is also a great way to gain viewer attention. Need to improve your email marketing? Download Growl’s email audit.

Marketing Automation, Libby’s second session, focused on how automation can help improve and direct client communications. Automation can be used to funnel prospects into either general newsletter or buyer groups. Libby’s presentation included a hands-on workshop for the audience to create their automation flows.

Social Media Marketing, the final Growl session taught by Renaya, gave an overview of how social media can be used as a marketing tool. The four main platforms for business—Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter—were analyzed for pros and cons, analytical data, key usage and organic vs. paid posting. Renaya also chatted about measuring ROI for both financial and non-financial outcomes, as social media is the best place for brands to connect with consumers. Download Growl’s social media audit.

Growl is honored to be part of the Grand Junction community and have these fantastic opportunities! We’re excited to continue supporting the valley and the conference for years to come.

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