Gartner Marketing Symposium 2024: Three Lessons Learned

June 2024
By Tara Daly, Director of Product Marketing, Beam

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Walking through the Gartner Marketing Symposium Exhibit Hall in Denver with my colleagues, we began counting the 40 odd booth backdrops for mentions of AI. “38 booths,” predicted a new exhibitor friend. Surprisingly, he way overshot that prediction despite an agenda bursting with experiences and research of our increasingly automated world. 


Below are three lessons learned from Gartner Marketing Symposium 2024; AI, process, best practices, pitfalls, and all.

The seduction of automation can lead to investments without preparation

ChatGPT debuted while I was on maternity leave in November 2022. Sure, I expected to return to work 12 weeks later with a little corporate rust. But even 12 weeks’ time was enough for AI to change the entire narrative surrounding my role, our products, and our customers.  


“The genie is out of the bottle. We’re not going back,” wisely stated Melissa McClary, Sr. Global Brand Marketing Manager at Leatherman Tool Group as she detailed her team’s experience with Microsoft Copilot for Campaign Creation.  


Gartner research put numbers behind the burgeoning adoption of AI technology, revealing that 7% of CMO’s budgets will be spent on AI this year, while they expect to see a ~27% increase in productivity in the next 18 months as a result. 


For McClary, adding AI technology took several of her team’s tasks from weeks to days, adding explicit value in time savings. That success story did not go without trial and error. 


Change management entered the chat. Choosing AI technology is a strategic decision that can feel like simple plug and play to implement, but the reality is, true value lives behind the skills, workflows, and processes that empower these technologies.  


AI has the potential to bring exponential value to your team and business. Don’t lose out on that value by not preparing your business to support that change. 

Let thought workers be thought workers

I work in technology. I read about technology. So, it was refreshing to have Iterable CMO Adriana Gil Miner aptly remind us that marketers create the emotional connection that AI cannot. Leatherman’s McClary similarly touched on this point, urging us to remind our teams that we are all thought workers. The creativity and emotional intelligence of the human mind simply cannot be replicated. 


Or at least, I hope it can’t. The future is a bit scary in that way.  


When untouched by the human mind, AI is prone to creating the “sea of sameness” that marketers sail to avoid. 


That is not to discourage AI adoption in creative roles. Even the best content writers and designers hit creative roadblocks, and AI can be that nudge or inspiration that keeps us moving to our destination. 


I’ve always understood automation and technology to be a tool that reduces or eliminates manual or tedious work, freeing us up for high-impact work. Even more compelling is the concept of thought workers as the emotional connector between product, service, and consumer. If we empower those thought workers with AI, we reach new heights. 

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Brand distinction is achieved when people, process, and technology promote brand consistency

On the topic of the sea of sameness, UnitedHealthcare’s VP of Global Brand and Global Marketing Beth McGuire found through research that brand distinction and misattribution was a pain point. A staggering 65% of research respondents misattributed ads in the health insurance category. 


Her team seized the opportunity to stake their claim in the market with a clear, consistent, and compelling position, only made possible by first learning how members felt about UHC and health insurance. This research fueled a new tagline, “Make it Matter,” which was wrapped in stories of real members whose lives were impacted by UHC’s health insurance.  As a result, UHC became the only insurer with a significant lift in brand health. It observed 3x higher brand linkage than the nearest competitor, while tracking over 5 million “moments that matter.” 


Additionally, over 200,000 visits were made to UHC’s Brand Center, built by Beam, making it the second most visited site behind employee benefits. UHC’s Brand Center was a tool critical to the success of the brand, as it became a destination for its distributed workforce to learn about the brand, download brand assets, and see what’s new.  


At Beam, we believe the connection between brand and people is the most powerful brand enabler our brand teams have. We exist to create that connection. 


And the number of AI booths we counted? 12. 


“We were trying to be different by NOT mentioning AI,” said a tech vendor who just finished explaining their cutting-edge AI technology to me.  

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