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  • Kris Howard

Brand Together 2022 (Kris' Perspective)

Updated: Nov 29



This week, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Brand Chain’s 2022 Brand Together event at Margaritaville in Orlando, Florida.


I shared the flight with Alyssa Alford, our marketing intern. We arrived in sunny Orlando around 9:30 in the morning, just in time to apparently miss all the Ubers! Instead of exercising some patience, we reached out to one of the newest members of our team, Amanda Cole, who happens to live in the area. This was a special treat for us! As remote workers, opportunities to meet teammates face-to-face are really refreshing. We took our time, grabbed some food at Tijuana Flats, and then headed off to the resort for check-in.


As the theme of this event was “Brand Together,” we partnered up with Emily Myers from BCSI to share a cottage and to showcase how our two companies work together to provide a solution. This event was a little different, with sponsors having a full cottage (basically, a condo in a neighborhood of other condos) they could theme and use to entertain and educate prospects as well as just continue to build on existing relationships. This was really an excellent opportunity from our perspective, since the nature of our business is software. While most of the sponsors there had super cool print, promo, and apparel to hold, touch, and feel, we were able to hook up to the large television screen and invite folks to have a seat on the couch and just ask questions and see visually responsive answers in real-time. This kind of experience would not have been nearly as impactful in a 10x10 booth.


Monday evening began with an opening keynote by Scott Stratten. He spoke about customer experience from a sales perspective. The biggest takeaway for me, personally, was a reminder to continuously be your authentic self and to treat your “customers” as your friends and partners. While they may be customers from a “transactional” viewpoint, ultimately your relationship with them is what makes you both better businesses. After his presentation, we headed outside on the lawn for some dinner and drinks and had the chance to begin the first of many hellos and introductions.


Tuesday morning began with breakfast (and more meetings and greetings) before heading off to a live "🌮Tacos with Jay & Jeff" show. On the show, they brought in folks from Vanguard, Peerless, and WHOOPLA who had some of the coolest marketing ideas to share.


After the morning’s presentations, the breakout sessions began. There were several sessions that went on at the same time, so I picked the ones that I felt worked best for my role and our company. On Tuesday, this included “Using Tech to Drive Customer Experience,” hosted by Jessica from ZOOMcatalog and Ashley from Spector & Co. I walked away from this session with some new tech tools that we can possibly implement internally and some references to share with our subscribers. Check out Sketchfab as an example!


The next breakout session was on Print on Demand (“POD”). We really missed Andrew Alford's presence for this discussion; he was scheduled to moderate it, but he was unable to attend. Emily Myers and Jeff Greenbury (npn360) did a great job with the sudden change in plans and got quite a few questions from people in the crowd. They talked about the complexities behind a POD program and the importance of testing.


After those sessions and lunch, it was time for the first day of the Solutions Village. This is when all the attendees got to go from cottage to cottage, kind of like an open house. This is when Liftoff had the best time to shine! At one point we had a full house, fully immersed and engaged in learning about our amazing platform.


The next morning began with an incredibly engaging presentation by Joseph Sommer from Whitestone, which went from a $1m business in 2013 to over $10m in revenue with 30 employees (entirely remote!) in 2020. He shared his ideas on adapting a growth mindset and some tools he’s used to help strengthen and empower his team to grow into what it is today. I can’t wait for Brand Chain to pass out the slides from all the presenters, because Joe’s were incredibly informative.


The first breakout session I attended on Wednesday was on Ecommerce programs, presented by Eric Granata from Brand Fuel and Michael Schubert from Meridian. They shared

some interesting strategies around starting, building, and growing programs, along with some informative slides that help break down the costs and show how $250k in product sales flows down into the costs of operating these programs. This was impactful for me because, while I am great at understanding what goes into the ecommerce storefronts, I’m not always aware of everything else that goes into the management of these programs. Kudos to our amazing subscribers and all that you do to manage these accounts!


The second breakout session I attended was probably the one that fed the most of my nerd energy: focusing on the metaverse. This was held by Hassan Seguias from Xureal. Now, before going into this session, I was solidly convinced that the metaverse is for the under-18 crowd or, at least, not an environment for professional adults. This was clearly a misguided assumption, as I was quick to learn. Instead, I left thinking about how our subscribers could work with a company like Xureal to create their metaverse, pair it up with an LMS and some gamification, and offer their customers points towards free swag on the ecommerce store. I haven’t spoken with Hassan yet, but I already have ideas on how we could partner with their technology to facilitate the order management process that goes along with the redemption of this swag.


On Wednesday afternoon, with about an hour left to explore the “Solutions Village,” I decided to take the opportunity to run around and visit all the sponsor cottages. Some of them I couldn’t get to until after they started to pack up, but most of the cottages were still fully decorated and happy to chat. I discovered some companies I haven’t heard of, saw folks I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for some time, and was even lucky enough to come home with a couple of freebies to share with my family!


Wednesday evening, everything wrapped up. There was more food than you could imagine, an awards ceremony, and a sweet donation to Give Kids the World Village.


After a (very full) flight back home on Thursday and catch-up on Friday, I was thankful for the weekend to digest all the great information I absorbed last week. It truly was a pleasure to have the opportunity to attend this event. Until next time…


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