KCDMA Kicks Off Symposium with a Morning of Powerful Speakers, Case Studies

Blog Contributor: Natalie Fieleke

The 2018 KCDMA Symposium held on January 25 offered both guidance for today as well as an insightful glimpse into the future for marketers of all career stages.

For me, attending the symposium was an excellent crash course in updating my marketing knowledge, which has languished juuuuust a little bit since I graduated from journalism school 11 years ago. When a friend shared information about the symposium on her page, it piqued my interest. I’d never heard of the Kansas City Data-Driven Marketing Association, but I would come to learn that the KCDMA has been a driving-force behind many marketing initiatives for 70 years and offers monthly educational and networking opportunities. This was just what I needed to bring me up to speed. Apparently, there are also more than 400 members throughout the area. This opportunity to learn and network confirmed my desire to attend.

My reasons for attending were twofold: I wanted to learn more about SEO for my personal blog. In addition, my husband is in the process of starting his own dermatology private practice, and I’m helping coordinate branding, online presence and print materials. So clearly, marketing matters to us. The symposium was so helpful to me as I think about attracting search engines to my personal musings (content marketing!), and as we put the foundation in place for marketing our business to our local audience.

I’m going to share some of my take-aways in this, part one of two posts.

Focusing on The One

Ian Baer, Chief Strategy Officer at California-based ad agency, Rauxa, challenged the audience with his opening message “Focusing on the One.” For brands, it’s no longer enough to focus on speed, ease, service and friendliness, Baer said. Companies that understand that change equals survival are the ones turning the tide.

“Successful brands pinpoint the one thing they can change with the greatest leverage,” Baer said. “It could be one perception standing in the way of success, one pain point, one incremental behavior.”

To illustrate, Baer offered multiple case studies.

Best Buy and Burgers

Best Buy stayed relevant to consumers and combatted Amazon’s market domination by changing consumer’s perception. The electronic giant slashed prices across the board and instituted online price matching. It combined its brick-and-mortar stores with its .com operations, re-imagining their stores as online distribution centers.

“They found a way to take the fact that they were a brick-and-mortar store, a disadvantage, and make it an advantage,” he said.

Five Guys Burgers did away with the belief that fast food is low-quality and cheap, realizing that customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. The chain uses fresher, better ingredients, pays employees more and rewards them for making customers happy. Turns out, an overflowing French fry bag and peanuts while they wait equals customer satisfaction. Alongside Chick-Fil-A, Five Guys is rated top in fast food restaurants for customer experience.

For the future, marketers should take a cue from TGI Friday’s efforts to create a frictionless customer experience. Friday’s utilization of a mobile app has made customers’ dining experience more integrated and interactive. The app with a master guest profile that recognizes customers through every channel is helping seal the deal on purchases. It has increased customers’ completion of mobile app purchases threefold.

Retail brands may also want to more deeply understand and capitalize on ‘webrooming’ – the idea that consumers may go between several locations and devices as they consider making a purchase.

Baer wrapped up his presentation with an idea echoed by subsequent speakers throughout the day: Tapping into consumers’ mobile experience, becoming a part of it, is essential in today’s marketplace.

“We think of a mobile device as the extension of the customer,” he said. “If I have a relationship with the phone, I have a relationship with the customer.”

KCP&L and Hallmark

Final morning speakers Erica Penner and Darren Bruner presented a detailed local case study describing the unique partnership between KCP&L and Hallmark.

KCP&L’s empowering of customer service representatives (CSR) to send Hallmark cards following a customer interaction has had an overwhelmingly positive response for all parties.

For the CSR, it provides an additional opportunity to connect with customers. For the customer, it’s a thoughtful gesture that goes above and beyond what they had expected of their utility company. Surveys have shown that 81 percent of customers who have received a card think much more favorably of the organization, and 90 percent said it improved their overall satisfaction with their experience.


Morning case studies revealed that, for businesses and digital marketers, connecting with customers in a meaningful way requires we use a data-driven approach and meet them where they are. This could be interfacing with tech-savvy consumers as they spend their time debating a purchase in-store and at-home. It could be offering them a better burger with extra fries. Or it could mean taking a minute to send a snail-mail card. It’s the thought, and the strategy, that counts.

headshotNatalie Fieleke is a freelance copywriter and editor from Lee’s Summit, Missouri. She blogs about eats, self, soul and style at her lifestyle blog, Lovely Inside Out. She’s helping launch Cornerstone Dermatology, scheduled to open in July 2018. To connect with her, email natalie@lovelyinsideout.net