AMA Q&A: Marketer’s Confidence, Leadership Opps & Pokémon Plays

As technology, culture, media and marketing converge, it’s an intriguing time to be a marketer.

If you’re wondering how other marketers feel about our industry right now, take a look at the Marketers’ Confidence Index.

Conducted by American Marketing Association [AMA] and Millard Brown Vermeer, the survey measures the degree of 1,028 U.S. marketer’s optimism as expressed through their organizational spending and growth. Survey demographics represent a range of levels, organizations and a mix of B2B-B2C marketers.

Thanks to Russ Klein, AMA CEO, for his take on the survey’s positive outlook, leadership opportunities– and even a few thoughts on what marketers can learn from Pokémon [hint: it’s not about finding rare monsters].

I’m curious – how does your marketing confidence compare?

Marketer’s Confidence Survey Demographics

AMA newsletter subscribers and followers across a wide range of for-profit and nonprofit industries were invited to participate in the survey.

What jumps out at you?

Marketer’s Confidence Survey Says Grow!

Marketers feel more influential and have greater spending power . .
• 60% believe the marketing function will grow in influence and power within their organization
• 40% feel as if customer spending will increase and 60% of marketers feel like this is the right time to invest
• 30% plan on increasing the size of their marketing budget over the next six months – more money will be put toward media placement, new product development, sponsorships, and market research and analytics

What are Marketers MOST and LEAST Confident About?

Marketers’ Top Three MOST Confident Areas
55% Able to preserve brand consistency as marketing goes digital
49% Collaborates well with all parts of the organization
46% Integrating and embedding digital within marketing functions

Marketers’ Top Three LEAST Confident Areas
33% Senior management sufficiently understands social and digital marketing
25% Receives sufficient training on marketing in a digital age
22% Have insight in the true ROI of all key marketing initiatives

ama-marketers-confidenct-2016-marketing team


What sounds familiar?

AMA CEO Russ Klein Marketer’s Confidence Interview

What’s missing in marketing right now?

Interestingly, one of the components of the Confidence Index is the knowledge void and lack of empathy among senior management as to how rapidly marketing has evolved and how it can contribute to the enterprise. The Confidence Index revealed gaps in digital marketing and SEO at the more experienced level of marketer. Marketers who are more senior can close gaps by taking continuing ed courses and attending industry conferences.

What one key finding in the study surprised you most?

I can’t say I was shocked by anything, but one of the more notable findings is the continued improvement in marketer’s confidence when there is instability all around the world. I found it to be particularly heartening to see the index improve slightly. I definitely believe behavior is predictive of future outcomes. Happiness is a choice. When people decide they’re confident, they behave in a providential way.

How do you see PR / influencer outreach reflected in the results – or do you?
[Note: that PR/Influencer outreach is not mentioned specifically in the index; however, it is a trendy tactic today.]

Influencer marketing is becoming extraordinarily sophisticated. There’s almost a land rush mentality. Does this cut its power?

When it’s so conspicuous for a brand, you begin to see diminishing returns. I would advise marketers to measure twice and cut once.

Influencer marketing is likely to get abused. You have to ask: in terms of appearances – are the influencers beholden to your brand? Are they honest brokers?

When you look at how fragile the relationship is between consumers and corporations, there is a danger of an influencer becoming the next objective of mistrust. It all goes back to being a values-driven enterprise.

“Combination of live events and online marketing – a complete interactive program”
is mentioned as one of the most exciting developments. Can you say more about how corporations and associations can realize this vision?

At the AMA, we have four strategic planks in our business. One is the digital fusion of conference events. Event marketing and the technology-enabled connectivity is a really powerful frontier that people are interested in.

You could look at the Pokémon app as the nexus of virtual, social, physical and geo fusion of sorts. Some people are cynical of mobile games as a fashion. Yet, underneath that fusion is an exciting mix for marketers.

Speaking for associations, we’re all on a journey – it’s not easy. The people who make it simple will be the winners. It’s not about whether you have the intellectual capacity. You want the experience to be frictionless, intuitive – and addictive.

What else do you think event marketers need to know?

The key insight is that there are two levels.
Marketers have two jobs: 1. be the voice of the customer and 2. manage stakeholder relationships.

Marketers need to stay on top of what’s possible and then figure out what’s relevant as it relates to tech and events. They need to convince stakeholders to support the necessary investments to help advance what they want do in terms of the customer experience.

How can people access AMA resources?

Answer is a great place to start.
We have an upcoming AMA conference August 4 and 5 in Atlanta where we’ll be discussing the seven big problems.

This will be the first substantial congregation of industry leaders and leading marketing academics. It should be a real blast for anyone looking to improve their knowledge base.

We’ll look at the tension between the sage/academic and the magician/marketer. It’s a very elegant tension that fuels innovation and drives advancement.

AMA “Seven Big Problems” Providing Content Context
1. Effectively Targeting High Value Sources of Growth
2. Role of Marketing in the Firm and the C-Suite
3. The Digital Transformation of the Modern Corporation
4. Generating & Using Insight to Shape Marketing Practice
5. Dealing with an Omni-Channel World
6. Competing in Dynamic, Global Markets
7. Balancing Incremental and Radical Innovation

Thanks again to Russ for his time and his insights! Follow Russ on twitter @KleinRuss.

I’m honored to have interviewed him and am delighted to introduce Russ to you!!

About Russ Klein, AMA CEO

As CEO for the American Marketing Association, Russ is charged with the transformation of the AMA to become the definitive force and voice shaping marketing best and next practices worldwide. Russ was once nicknamed “Flamethrower” by an industry publication for his managerial boldness and provocative advertising, but he now aspires to be the torch bearer for all marketers.

Russ Klein has led marketing teams for many of the world’s foremost brand names—holding top marketing posts at Dr Pepper/7UP Companies, 7-Eleven Corporation, Burger King Corporation, Church’s Chicken, and Arby’s Restaurant Group.

Russ has been named to “top marketer” lists spanning three decades, including his Burger King body of work that was recognized by ADWEEK as “The Advertiser of the Decade” for the 2000’s. Under his leadership, his teams’ work-product has received scores of industry awards for excellence with particular distinction for creativity, including a Titanium Lion at Cannes; Russ also led new product innovation teams with three products named New Product of the Year. Klein was responsible for the most highly recalled advertising campaign ever measured by Nielsen’s IAG Research; “Whopper Freakout”.

Russ was a leader in ushering in the age of digital marketing with the microsite “Subservient Chicken” that was recognized by the Wall Street Journal as the “Digital Ad of the Decade” for the 2000’s; and a groundbreaking partnership with Microsoft’s Xbox creating a suite of games featuring BK advertising icons that became the second best-selling suite of games in Xbox history.

Russ has had the rare privilege to lead marketing for three major business turnarounds generating record sales performance and profitability in excess of 600 percent combined returns for shareholders. Russ is the recipient of the Fisher College of Business Distinguished Alumnus Award from The Ohio State University and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.
About American Marketing Association (AMA)
The AMA is trusted by nearly 1.3 million marketing and sales professionals a year worldwide. It has more than 70 professional chapters and over 350 collegiate chapters throughout North America and select international locations. The American Marketing Association (AMA) is the largest marketing association in the world. AMA serves organizations and individuals who practice, teach and study marketing across the globe.  It serves as a forum for connecting like-minded individuals to foster knowledge sharing and relationship building; to be a trusted resource for marketing information, tools, education and training; and to advance marketing practice and thought leadership. For more information about the AMA, visit or follow the latest AMA news at @AMA_Marketing.

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