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TL;DR: Top 5 Activate Summit 2024 Quotes

Marketers from a range of brands, industries, and roles flocked to San Jose, California, last week to join Iterable at Activate Summit. Instead of giving a long-winded recap of all the sessions, we wanted to give a quick list of the top five quotes from a variety of sessions.

If you do still want to get the full scoop, in addition to some brand new virtual-only sessions, register to join us on May 14th and 15th for Activate Virtual.

1. “Brand is What You Mean to People Outside of Your Functional Benefit”

In a fireside chat keynote with Iterable’s COO, Jeff Samuels, Liquid Death CEO, Mike Cessario, took to the stage on day three of Activate to share his perspective on what makes a good brand and give some background on how Liquid Death—the healthy beverage brand—came to be.

Photo of Mike Cessario on stage during his presentation. Mike and Jeff sit in chairs on stage, angled towards each other.

Liquid Death CEO, Mike Cessario, and Iterable COO, Jeff Samuels, take the keynote stage during the Activate keynote day 3.

In particular, Mike’s quote “Brand is what you mean to people outside of your functional benefit,” really stood out. For context, he was talking about how brands define themselves. He said, “I think people have this big misconception that differentiation means functional benefit or difference. But, the reality is, nobody can own a functional benefit or ingredient. ‘What makes your thing different?’ ‘Oh, well, we have more electrolytes.’ Ok well, as soon as you’re big enough, another company with more money can add more electrolytes, charge less, and you lose.

He goes on to explain how the fashion industry really understands this concept. He compares the functional differences between a Louis Vuitton handbag and a Target handbag—there aren’t any—before tying it back to emotion.

At the end of the day, the brands that stick are those that tap into what the customer feels.

2. “It’s Really Important We Think About Outcomes Rather Than Outputs”

On day two of Activate, Iterable’s CMO, Adri Gil Miner kicked things off by hosting a panel featuring Lena Waters, CMO of Grammarly, Angelique Jurgill, SVP of Audience Development at Dotdash Meredith, and Hannah Pscheid, CMO of Barre3. During this panel, Adri prompted, “What is your marketing pet peeve?” And asked the panel if anyone wanted to share first. Lena stepped up saying, “I’ve got a good one.” And boy, did she.

A photo of Lena Waters sitting next to Hannah Pscheid on a couch during the Activate keynote.

Grammarly CMO, Lena Waters (left), and Barre3 CMO, Hannah Pscheid (right), during the Activate keynote day 2.

My pet peeve is marketers who don’t know how to say no,” Lena started, garnering audible “oohs” from the audience. “We have this great portfolio of technology, of data, of tools, where we’ve got more things at our disposal than ever. I think we feel this crisis of confidence where we feel like we have to do one of everything. It’s really important that we think about outcomes rather than outputs.

You don’t necessarily have to participate in every channel, in every program, in every medium, and take every suggestion from everyone who thinks that they’re a marketer. This doesn’t happen to other departments.

We couldn’t agree more.

3. “We Were Data Rich, Access Poor”

Kashish Gupta, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Iterable Technology Partner of the Year, Hightouch, and Aoife O’Driscoll, AVP of Lifecycle Marketing at Whoop, presented on data activation—how using the data they already had access to helped customers unlock their fitness potential.

Aoife talked about the challenges Whoop was facing with accessing their data. Not only did it take a long time for teams to pull lists to inform campaigns, but their data was in disparate systems, making it difficult to get a holistic customer view. She said, “We were data rich, access poor. As Kashish says, we were in like a data jail—and we really were.

She continues on explaining how the data analytics team worked closely with the lifecycle marketing team to find the right tools to help Whoop activate their data and achieve their goals. Her presentation spoke to the opportunities two teams—like Iterable and Hightouch—can create for brands when layering their technological capabilities.

4. “Listen to the Market”

Three members of the IPSY team—Polina Akabas, Director of Lifecycle Marketing, Jessica Cox, Director of Lifecycle Marketing, and Carina Pedersen, Senior Lifecycle Marketing Manager—joined forces to present on the value of adding SMS as a marketing channel.

Polina shared the takeaways from the presentation. She said, “Listen to the market. Listen to your customers. Meet them where they want to be met next.

Sure, we’ve heard this before, the old “meet them where they are,” but in the context of SMS it’s especially important to consider. Not every customer will want to receive SMS messages. Maybe it doesn’t even make sense for your brand. Don’t add channels for the sake of adding channels. Listen to what is being asked of you.

5. “Land and Maintain”

Dillon Nuanes, Director of Retention and Lifecycle at ClickUp, spoke to the importance of preparing your brand’s lifecycle team for the future. In particular he took the classic challenge of “land and expand” and gave it a new twist, presenting opportunities for lifecycle teams to focus more on retention and less on acquisition.

He said, “As companies grow in ARR, what used to happen was all you needed to do was focus on landing that customer and then you could expand them, right? Cross-sells, upsells, all that stuff. What’s happened now is that the opportunity to expand has almost disappeared—especially as companies grow in revenue. So what you’re lucky to do nowadays is just to maintain that customer, to have the opportunity way further down the line to gain more incremental revenue from them.”

Dillon’s point rings true for most marketers and stresses the importance of a good nurture program that keeps customers engaged until just the right moment to convert.

There’s Still More to Come

These are just some of the quotes that stood out during Activate Summit in San Jose. Every session had a ton of useful takeaways so be sure to catch the replays and on demand, along with net-new content during Activate Virtual.

Register for Activate Virtual to get access to full-length Activate Summit sessions plus brand new, never-before-seen sessions—May 14th and 15th.

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