What our team took away from Future Midwest

Part of what we pride ourselves on here at Fluency Media is our diversity.  Each of us sees things from a different angle, based on our own experiences and roles.  This diversity of thought allows each of us to bring something unique to the table, and helps us assist our clients in the best way possible.

Some of our team recently attended the FutureMidwest conference in Royal Oak, MI, and true to form, each of us took something different away from it.  Read on to see what it is that each of learned:

Tim – Chief Executive Officer

  • Jay Adelson was right.  Boundaries are dangerous and need breaking for innovation and significant changes to be achieved. It’s like my ski coach used to say, “if you never fall, you aren’t going fast enough”!  Try and fail.  Try again.  Repeat – you will learn, grow and win.
  • Need is king.  Decide what the need is and then set the strategy.  Tactics will follow.  I learned a lot about this from my ride with Chris Wilshire from eggstrategy.  They say each product and service category has a few jobs; a car must make someone feel more confident, keep them and theirs safe, express their style or status…  Then the marketing has to convey the story of how the thing does the job of filling the need.
  • Sam Valenti‘s presentation was the exemplification of ‘an essential human truth about engagement’ – expressing your passion deeply and sincerely without reservation will engender deep, sincere and authentic engagement in return.  While it was mentioned repeatedly through the conference I finally felt it in my bones when Sam did his thing with site, sound and story.


Ivan – Chief Marketing Officer

  • Detroit: We have a lot to be proud of in Detroit. There are so many of us that “get it” and the energy of so many of us in one room was fantastic. As proud as I am of the work we’ve done for Michigan, I was equally proud for Ford, GM, and the other natives who are really making the transition to marketing in the new world.
  • Integration: Yes, we talked about integration but so did everyone else. Even if it wasn’t overt in other discussions, integration was present everywhere. It’s what Tim said: social forces integration and I think we see that happening. Of course, there’s a difference between doing it and doing it great. A lot of folks are trending toward the latter.
  • Video: Video is on the verge of a major revolution. Both Blip TV’s discussion & Ford’s Fiesta Movement campaign are the tip of the iceberg. Could crowdsourcing mean the end of ad agencies as we know it?

Stan – Vice President of Marketing

  • Social Media is a “retention” tool with long-term implications for “Awareness” interruption advertising. While Awareness is (and will remain) a critical component, the benefits of empowering existing customers is too great to ignore.  Joe Jaffe nailed it and it was great getting the chance to hear his thoughts on this (and other great topics) at his Tweetea.
  • Fortune 500 companies have a real stake and advantage in this space.  It’s incredible watching Ford and GM charge into this space using their specific competitive advantages.  For decades, automakers have relied on mega-budgets to force awareness, now I sincerely believe they “get” that the landscape has changed and power lies in the hands of their customers. Ford’s “guerilla” social videos showed that a Fortune 100 can scale the benefits of social media to a gargantuan scale.  GM is staying right with them with a consistent voice that resonates on all their social platforms.
  • The “conversation” is still long on theory but short on quantifiable and repeatable results.  Ken Burbary did an incredible job adding some teeth to the metrics conversation but by and large we are still in the “evangelism” stage.  With that said, I felt that the participants in Future Midwest are incredibly close to crossing the chasm with Social Media.

David – Vice President of Operations

  • Joe Jaffe confirmed our beliefs – it’s time to flip that funnel. I found myself nodding to a lot of Mr. Jaffe’s presentation.  He put it into terms far more eloquent than I could ever achieve, but we’ve been operating under a lot of the same fundamentals:  Retention is the new Acquisition; acknowledgement of and dialogue with your customers can be really profitable.
  • Ford and GM have embraced social in a big way. I was truly impressed with how the car companies are deploying shoestring budgets to significant effect.  Scott Monty (@ScottMonty) from Ford showed off elements of an online-only campaign for the new Ford Fiesta as well as some really hilarious viral video spots.   Chris Barger from GM reiterated the old adage:  You have two ears and one mouth – use them in proportion.  This has never been more true than in the social media space, where GM is doing a nice job of one-on-one customer service.
  • Michigan in general, and Detroit in particular, are on the verge of a tech renaissance. FutureMidwest demonstrated in so many ways why I feel confident that down-and-out Michigan is due for a serious comeback. By refocusing that work ethic and scrappy attitude that once made us the Car Capital and the Arsenal of Democracy, and as long as we can maintain and nurture the creative class, we are capable of building a serious tech community on par with anywhere in the world. I’m so glad to be here.

Susy – Executive & Sales Assistant

  • Common message: Listen to your audience, THEN define your goal and objectives
  • EXECUTE (One action is better than no action at all – not a new concept, yet easy to forget)
  • Focus on the influencers of the communities/audiences you are trying to reach as they will help you get to the goal line faster
  • It is ok to dream BIG– the field has been leveled. We now have access to many free digital tools to make it happen.

Trisha – Online Marketing Coordinator

  • I was right to stay.  After college, I made a choice to stay in the Detroit area, when so many of my friends left.  This conference reminded me why I chose to stay – there is a raw passion here that you can’t find anywhere else.  I’m excited to be a part of the renaissance.
  • People matter again.  It seems that for a while there, the advertising/marketing world lost sight of the fact that there were real people on the other end of the sales cycle, and had them reduced to numbers. Those people have real thoughts, feelings, and circumstances that drive their actions.  It’s nice to see the focus shift to understanding and listening to people, and finding real ways to address their needs.
  • Being honest and real in every communication goes a long way.  I was nervous about this conference – I had been talking with so many other attendees and presenters online for months, but wasn’t sure what to expect when meeting them in person.  I was pleasantly surprised to find each one to be just as kind and generous as they were on Twitter and Facebook.