Food for thought

The association de Marketing de Montreal (AMM) is improving attendance at its breakfasts/luncheons with what it says is an increased concern with the content of the speeches given by its guest speakers.'We try to invite company presidents to get a corporate...

The association de Marketing de Montreal (AMM) is improving attendance at its breakfasts/luncheons with what it says is an increased concern with the content of the speeches given by its guest speakers.

‘We try to invite company presidents to get a corporate marketing perspective on their business and industry,’ says Francois Morin, the 30-year-old public relations whiz who is president of the amm’s breakfasts/luncheons.

Local chapter

The amm is the local chapter of the Chicago-based American Marketing Association, which has six chapters in Canada and close to 100 in the u.s.

‘Last year, we focussed on the profile of the speaker to determine their appropriateness,’ says Morin, who is a project manager at Massey-Forget Communications in Montreal.

‘We want speakers to discuss their marketing problems and challenges, and share insights and strategies,’ he says. ‘We don’t want them just speaking about how great their company is.’

Greater interest

Morin says this has fostered greater interest in the association. Average attendance at last year’s breakfasts hovered around 80. The average number of participants this year is 150.

While Montreal’s largest marketing-related association, Le Publicite Club de Montreal, caters to mostly ad agencies and their clients, the amm serves the other branches of marketing, including promotion, sales and public relations.

Most recently, the amm featured Yong Quek, president of Procter & Gamble Canada, who presented his company’s vision of the global marketplace.

‘Sometimes the presentations may be more academic, but, generally, we try to get the speakers to discuss marketing strategy as part of their overall corporate strategy,’ Morin says.

‘We are trying to address audiences from all industries and reach people from beyond our membership, and it’s working,’ he says.

The Yong Quek/Procter & Gamble breakfast hosted 40% members and 60% non-members.

The amm also has a quasi-professional purpose.

Educate

It is trying to educate its members. The breakfasts/luncheons also give marketing types the chance to fraternize with peers, see the prospect one has been working on, and just generally hang out and ‘make the scene.’

The breakfasts/luncheons are kind of a Montreal marketing ritual, Morin says.

‘We meet every second Wednesday of every month. It’s a Montreal tradition, kind of like a [Montreal] Canadiens’ hockey game.’

Morin wants the amm to be as international in its focus as possible.

‘There are no frontiers in marketing,’ he says, adding he would like to bring in more speakers from out of town.

Morin says that although two of the eight breakfasts last year were in English, that was not important as ‘a lot more of them could be in English.’

Morin’s participation, like others involved in similar organizations, is not purely altruistic.

‘I sat right beside [p&g's] Quek during the breakfast,’ he says. ‘That was great, but I didn’t tell him what company I’m with.’

Holding an executive position in an association of this type clearly has its benefits.

The opportunity is great to meet businesspeople with whom it would, otherwise, be difficult or impossible to speak to personally.

And as an executive director, one is thrust into the limelight no matter how momentarily. The chance to make an impression is there.

Ice-breaker

While it may be hard over bacon and eggs to pitch aggressively how one’s company can help another, the breakfast conversation can serve as an ice-breaker and as a first step to meeting someone else in the company who might be interested in what is being offered.

There is also the publicity that comes with the gig. One’s name and photo appears in the newsletter, and one can always write for the newsletter.

This does not guarantee you will win an account inside of a year, but it does not hurt business development efforts.

Michael Judson is president of Montreal ad agency Publicite Judson Woods.