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Recap: MIMA Summit

Recap: MIMA Summit

A week ago, I received an email from MPLS Madwomen saying: “We have free tickets to MIMA Summit 2017! Enter to win.” I entered immediately, because I had been wanting to attend the Summit, but couldn’t afford to.

MIMA, for those who don’t know, is the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association. Every year, the organization hosts a Summit, where they bring Minnesota marketers and advertisers together to gather insights and listen to outstanding individuals share their stories, tips, and tricks.

This year, the keynote speakers were such influentials as:

  • Elizabeth Nyamayaro - HeForShe, U.N.

  • Morgan Spurlock - Director, Producer

  • Chuck Klosterman - Author

There was so much goodness that it’s impossible to fit it all in one blog post, but below is my attempt to provide a high-level overview of the day for those who missed it.

Photo courtesy of mima.org

Photo courtesy of mima.org

KEYNOTE 1

USING SOCIAL PLATFORMS TO MAKE AN ACTUAL DIFFERENCE

Gender should be a spectrum of beauty, not limitation.

Jana Shortal (Kare 11) interviewed Elizabeth Nyamayaro about the HeForShe movement, how it came to be, and what we can all do today to level the playing field for all genders.

The belief behind the HeForShe movement is that gender inequality is NOT just a women’s issue. But unfortunately, that is how it is often approached. When someone talks about gender equality, men often tune out. For years, we have polarized the issue thinking it is an issue concerning only women, and therefore an issue that can only be solved by women. HeForShe flips the script.

YOU CAN’T WIN IF HALF YOUR TEAM IS SITTING ON THE BENCH

The central theme throughout Jana and Elizabeth’s conversation was this: Men are already in a position of power, so if we want to see real change—if we truly want to create spaces where women are treated as equals among men—we have to include men in the conversation.

“Women can break the glass ceiling, but it’d be nice if the men removed it, so we don’t cut our heads trying to break through.”

I could (and probably should) write an entire blog post dedicated solely to this opening keynote. I learned so much about the HeForShe movement, about gender equality, the nuances of oppression, and how to be an activist from one of the most influential women in the world. The day was off to a fantastic start.

Photo courtesy of @lizgiel

Photo courtesy of @lizgiel

BREAKOUT SESSION 1

PAGE SPEED: THE LAST MILE OF EFFECTIVE SEO

The first breakout session I attended, presented by Rob Moseley (Cloudinary) and Josh Braaten (Brandish Insights) was about page speed and optimization. Admittedly, this session was a bit over my head, because I’m not an SEO expert, and I’m not a developer. I attended because the information I learned will be useful for my team at Olive & Company (we design a lot of websites!)

Some of the page speed statistics I found most interesting include:

  • A one-second delay can result in a 7% drop is sales

  • 79% of folks are less likely to repeat buy from slow sites

  • Halving page load time increases conversion rates by 9%

  • A one-second delay can lead to a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction

Rob and Josh shared tips on how to improve your site’s page speed, and one of the simplest ways is to decrease image size. I ran a quick test of my own website on testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com, and I have work to do!


BREAKOUT SESSION 2

STORYTELLING THAT CREATES RELATIONSHIPS: CONNECTING WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS THROUGH AUTHENTIC STORYTELLING

Presented by Steve Rudolph (Carlson School of Management), this session explored authentic storytelling—right up my ally.

What is authentic storytelling? It’s the sharing of someone’s authentic story, having NOT prompted them to say something specific, like a company tagline, but letting them talk about their experiences in a way that will resonate with consumers.

You see it everywhere; authentic stories are found in short videos that tug at your heartstrings. Interviews that make you tear up. Authentic storytelling is a way to get an emotional sell—increasingly, consumers want to hear from peers what they should or shouldn’t buy or engage with.

HOW DO WE ENSURE AUTHENTICITY?

Hey, brands! Let marketers tell your story. Of course, you know your product best, but authentic storytelling allows us to help you define what’s most essential. And don’t be afraid to share someone’s struggle or frustrations; stories that touch on the not-so-good elements of someone’s experience are more believable and more credible. They’re more realistic. And lastly, be willing to accept “good enough.” As creatives, we are constantly striving for perfection. Mediocrity is not an option. But you can’t script or edit someone’s authentic story. You can’t ask them to tell it again, but differently or better. When it comes time to share someone’s story, we have to be able to accept that good enough is good enough.


KEYNOTE 2

CREATING WORLD-CHANGING CONTENT, ONE STORY AT A TIME

Since I didn’t know I was attending the Summit until the last minute, I didn’t spend a lot (any) time researching the keynote speakers beforehand. So, when Morgan Spurlock walked out and began referencing his famous documentary, Super Size Me, I started to freak out. In fact, I even tweeted: “OMG THE SUPER SIZE ME GUY!” Super Size Me is the piece of work of his with which I am most familiar.

DON'T BE AFRAID TO DO THINGS PEOPLE MIGHT THINK ARE CRAZY.

Morgan had many messages to share, but most importantly:

NOW is the best time to be a storyteller because there are more homes for content and more ways to reach people now than ever before.

He also touted the importance of staying the course; to create world-changing content, you’ve got to have drive. You’ve got to have persistence. You’ve got to believe in your idea wholeheartedly, and find a support system that believes in it, too. Even if it’s risky, he says go for it.

“The more risks you take, the less risky things become.”

And no, he has not eaten McDonald’s since the making of Super Size Me.


BREAKOUT SESSION 3

KINDNESS & COMPASSION IN THE CREATIVE PROCESS

This was one of my favorite sessions throughout the entire day. Presented by Christopher (Toph) Clarke of Oath, the session focused on using kindness and compassion to fuel the creative process—and we even meditated as a group!

SITUATION: Marketing is hyper-competitive, fast-paced, and stressful. The creative industry demands excellence, and often, we are pressured to get it right on the first try. That said, Toph posed the question:

How might we use kindness and compassion to achieve creative excellence?

AWARENESS

Awareness is perhaps the post vital ingredient to success. We need to be aware of ourselves, but also aware of others and of the world around us.

And that’s what compassion is—an awareness of someone else’s stress.

CREATIVITY HAPPENS IN OPEN AWARENESS MORE THAN INTENSE CONCENTRATION.

This is why you might get your best ideas in the shower or in bed, just before falling asleep. Creativity needs space.

  • We can’t rely on concentration 100% of the time

  • Concentration comes at a metabolic cost; it’s nearly 10x more taxing than any other metabolic response our body has

  • When something is upsetting us, our brains naturally want to find a solution—that’s why our stressors quickly become distractions; we can’t think about anything else, because our brains are desperately trying to find a solution to the problem

To strengthen awareness and avoid emotional distractions, Toph says it is absolutely vital to minimize distractions, establish ritual, and meditate.

Our intellect tells us we are separate. Our deepest nature knows no such thing.

KEYNOTE 3

BUT WHAT IF?

VISUALIZING THE FAR FUTURE (ONCE “NOW” BECOMES “THEN”)

The final keynote speaker was Chuck Klosterman, an author, most known for his books “Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs,” and “But What If We’re Wrong?” It was the latter he talked about most at MIMA.

Ultimately, he wanted us to consider the idea that what we collectively accept to be true might not actually be true at all. In 500 or 1,000 years, what will historians say about the notions we believed and accepted?

WHAT MAKES PEOPLE WRONG?

WHAT IS IT THAT CONVINCES US CERTAIN PEOPLE’S IDEAS ARE THE “RIGHT” IDEAS?

Abstractedly, we accept that we might be wrong about things right now. If someone were to ask us, “Do you think our standards for measuring a ‘good’ president against a ‘bad’ president may look different in 500 years?” we’d probably all say, “Yea, that would make sense.” But once it’s no longer abstract—once specifics are assigned—people start hesitating.

What if this same someone said, “OK, it’s gonna be Lincoln.” All of a sudden, people don’t want to accept that one day, Abraham Lincoln may be viewed, collectively, as a “bad” president, because right now he is viewed, for the most part, as one of the best.

Chuck applied the same argument to music, literature, and architecture. Right now, we all accept that Moby Dick is a classic novel. We accept that William Shakespeare is one of the best playwrights to ever live. We accept that Frank Lloyd Wright was the greatest architect of the 20th Century.

But these opinions didn’t originate in our heads. Somewhere along the line, we all seemed to agree that these statements are true, but most of us have no expertise on the subject, or any way to backup these claims.

He ended with a final thought:

We tend to be wrong more often than we are right.


I feel so fortunate to have attended such a well-organized, powerful event. Clearly, each speaker brought a unique perspective to the table. The central themes woven throughout each keynote and breakout session reminded me we are more alike than we are different, we are all storytellers, and when we work together, we can achieve anything.

Here's hoping I can attend MIMA Summit 2018!

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