Five Things Every CMO Should Think About Coming Out of #IFA2024

By Ashley Mitchell, Eulerity Contributor

One of my favorite weeks of each year is always the International Franchise Association’s Annual Convention. It’s also one of the most exhausting – but in the best way! From the time your plane lands, or if you’ve already run into local franchise friends at your airport, it’s nonstop franchise fun. This year, Downtown Phoenix treated us to perfect weather, delicious food and drinks, driverless cars — yes, you read that right. We saw friends both new and old and, most importantly, gained tons of learning and connection. With so many great takeaways from the event, I wanted to share my top five highlights from this year’s event.

1. Be where your feet are.

Read that again — be where your feet are. **I had a busy start to my first day of IFA 2024 starting with the Women’s Franchise Committee meeting, then went right into the Annual Leadership Conference. Both events were astounding and I highly recommend each, but with so much going on, I wanted to make sure I was consistently putting my best foot forward and living in the present. With the change in schedule this year, I was worried about being too tired to really absorb what Deion Sanders had to share in his opening keynote, but I’m so glad I was wrong.

It was an engaging chat led by Wanda Williams, which made for a really entertaining and thought provoking discussion. While Coach Prime gave us quite a few nuggets of wisdom, my personal favorite – and the one I need to remind myself every day – is this one. Be where your feet are. As a CMO, it’s so easy to get caught up in the “what’s next.” We always have to be thinking about the next big thing, the next shiny object, the next breakthrough. It’s part of what we signed up for and we need to do it, but we also need to be in the NOW. Be present. With our teams, with our customers, with our families, with ourselves. Is it hard? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

2. AI isn’t going anywhere.

At this point, I’m sure everyone knows that AI isn’t going away, nor are people going to stop talking about it. We saw this in real-time with the AI workshop session being packed. It is crucial that we take the time to understand what Artificial Intelligence is and figure out how it can enhance our lives, simplify our processes, help our teams, and keep us on the cutting edge. It isn’t a buzz word that is just going to fizzle out — it’s here to stay.

I would estimate at least 90% of suppliers in the Vendor Hall had some sort of pitch that centered around AI. I can guarantee not all of them even understand what that means, but the ones that do know what they’re talking about and also know exactly how it can help your marketing efforts. When working with anyone, always make sure that they are using AI in ways that benefit you, your business and your franchisees and not just to say “we use AI.” A great example of a brand that has not only integrated AI, but advanced its clients marketing efforts with it is Eulerity. They’ve been disrupting the digital advertising industry for years, combining game-changing AI and automation software with human expertise. Their teams empower brands to optimize and scale with ease, making AI an asset and ally instead of just a possibility. Partners like Eulerity offer a seamless experience for brands that want to up their marketing strategy and gain a competitive advantage.

3. AI isn’t the only advancement we should be looking at.

As important as AI is, so is human connection and getting back to basics. I’ve been saying it for years, perhaps because I used to work for Disney and learned early on that customer service trumps all. Is an AI chatbot cool and can it save you time? Absolutely! However, if a customer that is already angry reaches out via that channel and gets a very obvious AI response or a standard “Call us between 9am – 5pm at this number”, do you think that will make them less angry? Hint: it won’t. We all need to find the balance between how AI and technology can help us, while also maintaining that personal touch. It’s not easy and I know I’m still working on it, but I know it can be done.

4. You’re probably thinking about diversity wrong.

When you think about the word “diversity” what do you think of? Probably race, age or sex, right? That’s not all that diversity is. During her workshop, Kelly McDonald made us think and realize that diversity is really anyone who is “not like you.” One has kids, one doesn’t. One grew up as an only child, one has five siblings. One works, one stays home. The possibilities of “not like you” are endless. How can we use our marketing strategies to allow all potential customers to see themselves in how we are promoting our brands?

5. Go to the party.

If you know me, you will not be shocked that this is one of my key takeaways. You might have even laughed when you read it. I love a good party and I love good people even more. I may or may not have committed to six parties in one night and I may or may not have made it to all but one of them. But why exactly do I make it a priority to go to the parties? Because they are more than parties.

These events are where the magic happens. Where introductions are made, and relationships are started. Where friendships are strengthened. Where business happens. That last bit is what some people miss. All of the things that happen at FranJam and other evening events? They lead to future business. You learn, you talk shop, and you get to know and understand each other. And really, isn’t that what franchising is about?


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