Jun 04, 2013 • By

What makes marketing remarkable?

You can’t have remarkable marketing without a remarkable product or service.

That’s where it starts, according to Mark Addicks, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at General Mills. He spoke at the Minnesota American Marketing Association’s annual conference last week.

I attended his keynote at the “Marketing in the New World” event. Mark was the perfect speaker for the marketers and students in the room, considering the changes he’s overseen and the campaigns he’s led at General Mills.

The foundation for his talk, “The Plan for Remarkable Marketing,” focused on the opportunities companies of all sizes have today, provided their companies and brands have remarkable products or service to talk about.

“This is the most exciting time to be in marketing,” he said. “Marketing can amplify. It adds fuel and fire to great brands and products and experiences. But without that, don’t waste your time.”

Mark said once a business has remarkable products or service experiences, “you can really innovate and have fun with how you bring it to market.”

For example, he told the group that Fiber One’s “Magic Brownies” online campaign in 2011 – which featured Cheech and Chong – was certainly a unique way to spread the message that as you get older, “you might need a different kind of brownie” in your life.

Mark also spent some time in his talk noting that General Mills has evolved its thinking about a brand promise (a truth or point of view that a brand cares about passionately) to also developing and embracing a brand purpose (a brand’s commitment to its belief).

“We believe that the difference between a brand and a product is a purpose. This has really driven our business,” he said.

He highlighted Pillsbury’s belief – “The ability to make is in everyone’s hands” – and its purpose, to “Inspire and empower the makers in all of us.”

Mark also said he advises marketers for our brands to “think like a startup” to better adapt to the changes in the marketplace. Meaning, they should get serious about the concept of testing campaign ideas and learning from them. He said it’s about “embracing experimentation” and what he calls “good enough.”

“Get things out into the marketplace, don’t make them perfect. Let people use them and then observe and listen. It’s not about working longer and harder. It’s about working faster and smarter,” he said.

Mark pointed to what Yoplait did to showcase how they listened to consumers, made changes to the product, and then did marketing around that change (Watch “Sparked by a post”).

Mark closed his talk, encouraging attendees to take advantage of the changes in marketing happening right in front of them.

And, to have fun.

“Think big,” he said. “Ask ‘What could that look like? What could that feel like? What could we do?’ You’re seeing small companies think very, very, big, and big companies that aren’t thinking big enough. So have fun, because you know what the idea is, and you know where you’re going to play and you know it’s remarkable. So make it as fun and as engaging as you can be.”