YA CEO Chris Behrens understands that gaining, keeping and repairing trust between businesses and their consumers is a journey. Every interaction matters, and accountability is of the utmost importance.

Companies must remain vigilant in ensuring their customers are in good hands.

“It’s why people choose your brand and why they stay with your brand even in times of adversity,” Behrens said. “If you don’t provide that journey with trust, consumers will vote with their feet instead of their checkbook.”

That’s why this year’s Ignite 2018 marketing conference, produced by YA and the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, will focus on “Protecting Trust in Today’s Consumer Journey.” The conference, held Thursday, September 20 from 8 am-5 pm at the Carlson School of Management, will feature key-note marketing leadership speakers including:

  • Jamie Moldafsky, Wells Fargo Chief Marketing Officer
  • Gary Judd, global leader of Frankin Covey’s “Speed of Trust” practice
  • Leslie Gaines-Ross, Weber Shandwick Chief Reputation Strategist
  • U of M professors Melissa Koenig, Akshay Rao and Kathleen Vohs

Registration is open at www.ignitemarketing2018.com.

Ignite launched in 2017, offering a conversation about sparking action in marketing across all platforms. It received high marks from attendees, gaining a 97 net promoter score (NPS)—a testament Behrens attributes to a format bringing cutting-edge research and real-world business issues together.


The marketing industry is evolving at the speed of light, Behrens said, and professionals need to be ready to adjust.

“Students who attend this conference will not only learn practical best practices of today, they’ll get insight into what is next and how to tackle the industry’s toughest issues,” Behrens said. “The key learnings they take away will help them be more prepared to add value when they embark upon their professional careers.”

In today’s business world, there is perhaps no greater challenge or necessity than gaining and keeping the consumer’s trust. There was a time not long ago when compliance and data security were the two main areas of focus. Today, it is far more robust.

The potential for a breach of trust between a business and its consumers is constant. This conference will provide real-world advice and rich research on the topic so attendees can be better prepared for when it happens.

For students and young professionals, the placement of this event at the U of M—just minutes away from the downtown business community—is an important element that ties directly into the mpls downtown council’s 2025 plan.

Behrens, a member of mdc’s executive committee, understands the importance of attracting and retaining our best and brightest students in the metro area. Keeping them here in the market is pivotal toward business growth, and engaging students at the U of M—our state’s largest institution—is a big part of that.

It’s a two-way street, said Carlson School of Management Institute of Research in Marking program director Steve Goodyear.

“The Carlson School enjoys strong, long-term relationships with one of the country’s most vibrant business communities,” Goodyear said. “Ignite is just one more occasion where we can bring them all together. The students see current business practices and academic research intersect. Twin Cities business leaders get exposed to some of Carlson School’s best and brightest. It’s a win-win.”

That relationship between the U of M, students and the downtown business community is important to mdc and its members, so convening conferences like Ignite help make connections, foster networking and potentially build a bridge toward downtown employment.

“There is a lot of value in bringing current and future business professionals together at Ignite, not only to learn best practices but also to make connections,” mpls downtown council & Mpls Downtown Improvement District president & ceo Steve Cramer said. “We want today’s students to know there is a need for them in the downtown Minneapolis business community, and Ignite is a great opportunity to facilitate networking and learning all in one place.”

Behrens agreed.

“As a business and community leader, it’s about sharing and giving back in order to make it better for the next generation,” Behrens said. “Personally and professionally, we highly value our mpls downtown council partnership and the vision they have to continue to make our city better.”

For Behrens, the key to this year’s Ignite conference is understanding transparency is the key to maintaining trust.

“I believe actions need to speak louder than words,” Behrens said. “That’s why [YA’s] approach is to be transparent and authentic. We help consumers and clients understand the values of what we are providing on behalf of them and then strive to execute flawlessly. Our goal is, again, to manage the client and consumer journey of creating a positive experience with each and every interaction.”

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