AMELIA ISLAND, FL: Fearlessness, being open to failure and an emphasis on "marketing to humans" could all help brands make progress over the coming months, according to a leading executive from the ANA.

Bob Liodice, president/CEO of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), discussed this topic at the organisation's 2015 Digital & Social Media East Conference on Amelia Island, Florida.

And he suggested that taking advantage of the engagement and targeting power of digital and social media relies on far more than technological prowess.

"Because we have these media vehicles," he said, "doesn't necessarily mean that it turns and translates into great marketing. It only increases the potential and the capability for making that happen. (For more, including further examples, read Warc's exclusive report: ANA's best digital/social practices for 2016.)

One piece of advice offered by Liodice – inspired by the example of industrial conglomerate General Electric – was for brand custodians to remember that they are not just "business-to-consumer" or "business-to-business".

"We can't lose our focus on that: we're marketing to humans. Even with all the sophistication we have, we have to recognise what we're doing and how we're doing it," he said.

Along with a personal touch comes the need for "courage", "fearlessness" and experimentation. Start-ups such as accommodation platform Airbnb are often leading the way in this area.

"Marketers to have the freedom and the ability to try new things without having to worry about failure and repercussions that happen through failure," Liodice said.

In many cases, brands may also benefit from not trying to be all things to all people. Rather, as shown by Calvin Klein, building a passionate audience sometimes requires taking a risk and being willing to "lose some people along the way."

Leading marketers from organisations as diverse as food and beverage group PepsiCo and Progressive Insurance have similarly urged their peers to drive internal disruption before external rivals beat them to it.

Aligning around a clear purpose has proved an invaluable guide for numerous companies as they embark on such a process, Liodice continued.

"It's amazing how marketers have moved to the fact that we can, in fact, influence people's lives while building our brands simultaneously," he said, "that we can become more than just the product or the service itself."

Data sourced from Warc