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Reviewing AMA’s Executive Insights Conference

Last week, I attended the American Marketing Association’s Executive Insights Conference in San Diego. Besides the obvious benefit of being in San Diego in January, the conference delivered a handful of good nuggets that I’ve already started putting to work back at the office. The next few posts will talk about each of those nuggets in a little more detail. I’ll cover what was said and my take on why it matters to your business.

Here’s a little preview of what’s to come:

  • Some research findings presented might give the old guard a rock to hide under
  • Finding and reaching a specific target market when testing concepts may just be a big waste of time and money – this is good news
  • Two easy ways to become the hit of the conference

As for the conference itself, the crowd was fairly small, maybe 175 or so. Declining conference attendance isn’t news in the market research world, but this is among the smallest turnouts I’ve ever seen. On the upside, the smaller crowd provided a much better opportunity to actually connect with other attendees. Attending conferences like this has always been about connecting with people I probably wouldn’t otherwise meet, so the relatively intimate atmosphere was good for me.

The venue was everything you would expect of a boondoggle – high end resort on a golf course in a warm climate in the winter. The program was fairly well organized, and competently executed by AMA staff. They did try something a little novel in conference organization – probably because of the low attendance. Rather than run a few parallel topic tracks, as seems to be the norm, the tracks were run in sequential blocks. This approach seemed to work reasonably well.

The upside was that it allowed for a block of free time during tracks that weren’t of interest to keep up with life back at the office or meet informally with others at the conference.

The downside?

Sitting in the same room all day made me feel a bit more stir crazy than I usually feel at these events.

As is typical for this type of event, the quality of the individual presentations ran the gamut from excellent to not so excellent. Of the presentations I attended (about 2/3 of the total), there were 3 or 4 standouts, one or two sales pitches, and a host of ok, not great, efforts. The standouts included:

  • Mike Moran, author of Search Engine Marketing Inc and Do It Wrong Quickly, who spoke about the importance of social media and blogging in the marketing mix
  • Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, presented a well-delivered keynote about how her company has prospered using almost exclusively word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Om Amir, Assistant Professor of Marketing at UCSD, delivered a great summary of academic research he has been doing in the field of behavioral economics. The content here was one of the great nuggets I’ll be writing more about later.

Next time, we’ll dive into research findings presented by Sandra Eubank and Huw Griffiths of OMD on the nature and scope of word-of-mouth.

About the Author

Ed Erickson is the President of Erickson Research, a Chicago market research consulting firm. You can find Ed on LinkedIn and .

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