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Minneapolis Marketing & Comms Meetup, 2024

For professionals working at the top of their game, there’s nothing better than having a chance to meet their peers. On Thursday, April 4th, Opal hosted a marketing and comms meet up featuring ample time to network – as well as a panel discussion from innovative marketing thinkers.

With help from co-hosts The Social Lights marketing agency and Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA), we brought together 70+ marketers and communicators from exceptional brands. For the venue, we chose the boutique Hewing Hotel in the historic North Loop! 

More about Our Partners 

Opal paired with Minneapolis organizations to drive interest from local professionals – while creating the thought leadership content. These were our partners:

MIMA – The Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association is a volunteer-run, community-built by and for Twin Cities professionals who are leading the digital transformation in marketing and communications. They bring people together through educational events, professional growth opportunities, and social connection. 

The Social Lights – A social-first marketing agency headquartered in Minneapolis, The Social Lights specializes in both paid and organic social media that makes noise in the crowded social space. Their brand – and their approach to social media content – are defined by their motto, 

“We Make Things People Want to Share™”.

Making Connections & Having Conversations 

Countless instantly-recognizable brands call Minneapolis home. We were excited to have representatives from many of those legendary brands in attendance, including: Target, Andersen Corp, US Bank, Cargill, and UHG! 

They all came together on a beautiful April evening for the chance to make connections and hear unique ideas from other leaders in the field. 

Unique Atmosphere & Food

The Hewing Hotel is a historic space that has been converted to provide true modern luxury to guests. The vibe was classical-industrial-meets-modern-comfort. To us, it felt like a great representation of the classic brands in attendance discussing cutting-edge 21st century problems. 

For our food offerings, we opted for comfort food done elegantly. The slider bar offered a wide variety of different sandwich options, but the honey grilled cheese and the chicken sliders were the stars of the show.

Meet Our Speakers  

All of our speakers brought unique insight, inspired by their unique career journeys: 

Gemma Forbush – Moderator 

Content Strategist and President, MIMA

Gemma Forbush is a content strategist and digital translator with experience leading programs across agency, consulting, and corporate environments. Her super power is seeing the connections across paid, earned, and owned environments that will illuminate opportunities for useful, audience-first content to shine. Gemma is the current president of MIMA and leads the digital content strategy and SEO for a national retail brand.

Austin Verville – Panelist

Solution Consulting, Opal

By leading solution consulting at Opal, Austin has a front row seat to how the world’s most well-known brands go to market. During his early career, Austin worked in social content creation at GM. 

Kelsey Dahlager – Panelist  

Sr. Director of Social Care & Engagement, The Social Lights

A marketing and operations leader with 10+ years of experience in retail, health and wellness, and nonprofit. Enhancing processes and decision making with strong data, smart tools, and people-centric strategy. Also, a lot of fun.

Alyssa Greve – Panelist

Director of Social, Influencer and PR, Red Wing Shoes

Alyssa Greve is a seasoned marketing professional championing the world for a better future.  Spending the majority of her career in social and digital marketing, Alyssa brings a blend of manufacturing + retail experience, perspective on culture, and the always-shifting landscape to champion the world for a consumer-first experience. 

Ponara Eng – Panelist

Digital Marketing Director, Hearth & Home Technologies

Ponara is a marketer with over 20 years of experience across a variety of brands and channels.  He’s currently leading a digital marketing team focused on driving revenue and growth via national brand awareness, influencer partnerships, and lead generation for the fireplace business unit of HNI.

Panel Discussion Summary 

Our panel dished out insightful marketing and comms wisdom and conversation for nearly an hour. We can’t recap every nugget of wit or wisdom, however, we’re highlighting the standout moments: 

  • As social media marketing has reached maturity, the expectations the C-suite and leadership put on it have expanded as well. This brings opportunities as well as the expectation to make an impact. 
  • Don’t chase trends in social marketing. Instead, use trends as a lens through which to look at your work. 
  • Social media can be a tool to foster content creation. An influencer can create a spot that can be repurposed into paid on YouTube and retargeting. 
  • Technology can enable cultural shifts within a marketing organization that break down silos and bring people together.
  • Legacy brands in the 21st century need to honor the past, while being relevant to the future.
  • Having creatives who are just dedicated to social media is necessary to create messages that actually resonate. You can’t just slap your billboard creative on social anymore and call it done. 
  • Marketers need to broaden the definition of an influencer. It’s no longer just a social media person, but it can be almost anyone that has a story to tell.
  • Social media marketers need to balance quantity with quality – while preventing burnout on their teams. 
  • Giving teams the space they need to be creative – while ensuring leaders stay in the loop is critical. 
  • A marketing source of truth is a central hub for all pieces of marketing to come together.

Up Next for Opal

The entire year of 2024 will see us bringing the vision of Opal to marketers, communicators, and leaders throughout the country.  

In May, Opal will be at the Transformational CMO Assembly in Chicago giving a keynote presentation. We’ll be sharing our vision of the marketing landscape, highlighting the biggest challenges facing nearly every marketing organization, and cementing Opal as the solution to those challenges! 

Stay tuned to hear this story and to watch video from our keynote moment!

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