Here’s a question for all the marketers out there: What’s the most effective approach to fostering loyalty with your product or service?
Answer: Provide users with an unforgettable experience.
This seemingly straightforward question and answer recently became a reality when the Toronto Chapter of the American Marketing Association, in collaboration with the AMA Professional Chapters Council (PCC), organized the first international leadership regional retreat in Toronto, Ontario. And this event left an indelible mark on its participants, myself included.
I believe exceptional experiences engage all five senses: Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste, and Touch. The Toronto Regional Retreat managed to encompass all these elements and more.
Sight: Toronto’s iconic skyline, with its awe-inspiring skyscrapers overlooking Lake Ontario and the CN Tower’s majestic presence served as the backdrop to this event. I had the privilege of personally experiencing the skyline from street level to the tower’s observation deck. The impression I got of Toronto’s skyline is an enduring memory I won’t soon forget.
Sound: The voices of marketing leaders are genuinely distinct. For instance, Bennie F. Johnson, CEO of AMA National, shared his insights and experiences during the event, offering a unique perspective. This auditory experience was complemented by the vibrant atmosphere of marketing leaders engaging in discussions, brainstorming, laughter, and knowledge sharing. The collective hum of creativity that filled the air throughout the AMA Regional Retreat in Toronto is an experience that will remain etched in my memory.
Smell: Perhaps a bit symbolic, but AMA Madison embraced the sweet scent of success in Toronto. Each fall at the Regional Retreat, the PCC announces the chapter excellence awards, and Madison proudly emerged as a merit winner for leadership and communications. The sweet scent of success is truly unparalleled.
Taste: Thanks to the generosity of Mondelez, attendees at the regional retreat had the opportunity to savor Cadbury chocolates, including Dairy Milk minibars and Caramilk bars exclusive to Canada. The distinctive flavors of these chocolates, combined with the exclusivity of the experience, added to the unique charm of being in Toronto.
Touch: There is a certain vitality in getting out of your seat and actively collaborating with peers that is incomparable. The hands-on exercises, involving brainstorming on post-it notes and physically arranging ideas, create an entirely different dynamic than virtual meetings or digital collaboration tools. The tactile experience of jotting down ideas on paper, tearing it, affixing it to a surface, and moving it around cannot be replicated in a similar digital format. The tactile experience of handling paper and the physicality of maneuvering our ideas made these actions genuinely special. The experience of physically engaging with our creative thought process in Toronto is something I will carry with me as I continue to lead AMA Madison.
This retreat left a lasting impression on me and served as a testament to the power of creating extraordinary experiences that engage all your senses. The memories of Toronto’s skyline, the sound of insightful voices, the aroma of success, the unique taste of the chocolate, and the tactile engagement of brainstorming will continue to resonate and inspire.
Carrie Brown is the current 2023-24 President of the American Marketing Association Madison Chapter. She has served in various other volunteer capacities since 2019. Her ‘paid gig’ as a Marketing Manager for an ancillary employee benefits start-up keeps her busy daily. Carrie is also a proud alumna of Columbia College Chicago and Roosevelt University, as well as Professional Certified Marketer. You can find her on LinkedIn enthusiastically posting about marketing and cheering on her network in comments across the platform.