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18 Apr, 2018

Event Recap: 2018 SMPS NERC - MERGE

Michael Knowles

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Read time: 1 minute, 51 seconds

The 2018 NERC was so full of inspiring and useful information that if I did a complete recap, this would be about ten pages long. So I decided to just pick my top three takeaways from MERGE and recap those – in the order they happened.

Jen Hebblethwaite of Graceworks Inc. set the theme for me when early in her program she stated, “The foundation of communication is focusing on the other person.” This was a common theme in several sessions including Carla Johnson’s presentation entitled Start Showing. Quit Telling. As marketing professionals it’s very easy, and common, for us to get caught up in telling clients about our favorite subject – us. However we must never lose focus of our client and what their needs are, and then be able to demonstrate how we can help them.

Marketer Know Thyself by Johanna Hoffschneider, ALEP and David Lunken was rather eye opening for those who attended. Prior to the session, those of us who registered were asked to complete a Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment. We were given our results at the session and it provided us each with an insight as to who we are, what motivates us, our effectiveness as a team member and our value to both internal and external clients. It also provided information on how to communicate more effectively with different team members and clients. The Predictive Index (PI) tool was very accurate and eye opening – I highly recommend doing this if you have the chance.

My last highlight of MERGE was a brand new concept that SMPS DC members Jessica Gillette and Susan Dawson had been working on for the last two years called The Big Pitch. Simply put, it’s similar to Shark Tank but on an SMPS level. Those of us who volunteered were teamed up and had to come up with an invention. Each team then gave a five-minute presentation to a select board of panelists and the conference attendees. I was lucky enough to be teamed with Ali Panditrao of Dewberry and we went head-to-head with two other teams. All three teams had really great ideas and gave the judges a tough time in selecting a winner. The winning team was comprised of Erin Bullard, CPSM and Nathan Reyna for their idea named VIP (Versatile Infographic Portfolio). Congrats to them!

Final thoughts from going through my notes a few days after the conference - I came across two quotes scribbled in my notebook that are great for discussion within your marketing team and firm:

  • How can we communicate more persuasively?
  • How can we measure beyond the hit rate?


While the 2018 NERC is now in the past, the ideas and information provided will continue to inspire each of us to a better tomorrow.