By Ken Grindall
The Colorado American
Marketing Association marks its 50th anniversary in 2009. Walk into
any of the organization’s dozens of events throughout its new program
year, and you’ll notice a celebratory air. Party hats, confetti
and other favors aside, however, this group does much more looking
forward than back.
For this “commemorative”
article in Advertising & Marketing Review magazine, a longer
glance over our shoulders may prove inspiring. After all, AMA’s
50 years reach back across fully half of our industry’s existence…
Where did marketing
in Colorado come from?
As a discipline,
Marketing truly emerged around 100 years ago in the early 1900s.
Advertising was a well-developed branch of business by then. But
we realized a need to understand more about the relationships and
behaviors involved in buying and selling.
found that careful strategy can dramatically benefit both buyers
and sellers. Until the 1950s, commerce essentially meant “sell as
much as you can,” with little or no regard for what a customer actually
needed (or wanted). Colorado, in the late ‘50s, was growing quickly—and
embraced the Marketing “revolution.”
A (selected) timeline
of Colorado history:
The Air Force Academy
opened its doors in Colorado Springs in 1958. Then, in 1960, Denver
saw its new Broncos football team play its first season. Between
those landmark events, the American Marketing Association formed
its inaugural leadership and membership in 1959.
A pair of Western
Slope meat packing companies were in court for unlawful buying and
pricing practices. Professional marketing work was relatively simple.
Campaigns involved basic “split testing” in snail mail, telephone
surveys, and demographic studies in key population centers.
Eight years later,
the Rockets (now the Denver Nuggets) came to town. In the ‘70s,
we saw the Eisenhower Tunnel open and Colorado schools went through
segregation along with the rest of the country. A business with
a budget could reach 80% of its community—and make true “brand fans”
of most—with as few as three TV commercials.
In 1976, as Denver
suburbs continued to explode, we chose not to host the Olympic games.
That same year, the Big Thompson River flooded and killed more than
145 people. Meanwhile our increasing mobility and individualism
met another explosion in the media. Globalization was a new force,
and the Internet was coming…
Colorado saw a coal
“boom” in the ‘80s. We also saw an oil “bust.” Energy and technology
have made this region a true, exciting frontier ever since. Along
the way, we built the Rockies baseball and Avalanche hockey franchises.
So, where are we
now as an industry?
options multiplied so fast that consumers, as a culture, began to
describe themselves as “overwhelmed” by the onslaught of messages.
Most communities can access hundreds of competing brands. Where
a majority of companies could thrive with little outreach just two
or three decades ago, now a majority of new brands fail to break
through the “noise” to even gain a foothold.
The modern “brand
skeptic” was born.
landscape looks much different from 1959 in many ways, but there
are also strong similarities. The American Marketing Association
was founded during a brief respite between two major recessions.
Since then, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) marks
eight significant recessions—including the current crisis which
began in December 2007.
Consumers are, largely,
more value-oriented again. AMA members are no exception. The rising
unemployment rate has not left the Association’s ranks untouched,
not by a long shot. And 2009 has already seen a remarkable commitment
from this organization to expand its service to the community of
Marketing professionals in Denver and Colorado.
a huge priority for our industry. Of course, we’ve always used the
communications tools within reach to touch our target markets. More
and more, we also use them to stay in touch with each other. Current
AMA members can now tap into what’s going on throughout the organization
using virtually any channel they prefer—including Facebook, Twitter,
Meetup and other social networks.
As this article goes
to press, AMA has just announced in-touch mobile as a new sponsor
for 2009. Members who read this will want to watch soon for news
on how this exciting sponsorship will make their experience more
engaging and effective in several cutting-edge ways.
thrive on content and community; AMA delivers both.
For 2009, Colorado
AMA leadership and volunteers have worked to add greater emphasis
to the “compelling content” members can leverage to enhance their
own marketing careers. The first two key monthly luncheons, held
in September and October at the Curtis Hotel in downtown Denver,
featured experts in online market research (Susan Petoyan, from
Walt Disney Studios) and social media (Colorado’s own, New York
Times best-selling author Joel Comm).
development events, which AMA calls its “Knowledge Series,” are
scheduled throughout the year at the University of Denver campus.
This series serves those Marketing professionals who want to explore
new tactical approaches to marketing and public relations solutions
for their clients. The Association has also developed another new
webinar series, called Digital Dynamics 2010: Rethink. Reinvent.
Recharge. Bright, dynamic minds in the field of digital marketing
will share their experiences and ideas, hoping to inspire AMA members
to new levels of creativity and success in the 21st century.
Special events can
show up on the AMA schedule, too. Last month the group partnered
with SDL, Inc. to co-host an International Round Table on Brand
Marketing. This free event saw attendance up about 150% over the
previous year. AMA’s 50th Anniversary Committee hosted a happy hour
after the event, and more than half the attendees stayed to network
Colorado AMA starts
its 51st year with a value-heavy membership drive.
The 50th Anniversary
year kicks off (right now) with a three-part value package for new
members who join by Friday, November 6, 2009. First, the Association
waives a $30 application fee. The real value, however, is again
in the form of content. New members get free access to a special
members-only webcast on “Building Brand Momentum” plus a $20 MasterCard
gift card or $200 coupon to any AMA conference nationwide (member’s
choice). Membership also includes access to member directories,
online marketing resource libraries, professional trade subscriptions,
special interest groups, and other benefits.
Across the pages
of this short article, the photos record quite a few Colorado AMA
members at events around the region. Thanks to Ken Custer and his
team at Advertising & Marketing Review magazine for helping
select these images and retrieve names and other information for
Most of Colorado’s
active marketing professionals can barely imagine what our jobs
would have been like fifty years ago. Many aren’t even age fifty
yet, and some are just beginning their marketing career. One thing
we can likely count on is that change will continue to accelerate.
The face and fabric of our industry will adapt and innovate to reach
each new generation using relevant methods and technologies.
the American Marketing Association on its 50th Anniversary. The
future of this organization, and of our industry, is certain to
be very exciting.
Ken Grindall owns
My Marketing Writer, a Colorado-based content delivery and consulting
service. For over 14 years, Ken’s content has driven test-besting
ad response and sales in the tens of millions of dollars for employers
and clients around the country. As an active member of Colorado
AMA, Ken also serves as a volunteer Social Media Coordinator for
the organization. Currently ghost-writing a fiction novel for a
client, Ken enjoys studying and practicing new marketing ideas with
his colleagues in Denver, across Colorado and around the world.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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