After 2009's Business Marketing Association conference I posted an article admitting my initial skepticism about the event's "Unlearn" theme. It never seemed like the right message to attract people to what should ideally be an incredible learning environment, particularly in the decimated conference marketplace last year.

The conference's content, however, changed my mind about "Unlearn." The presenters were so on-target in communicating the critical need to walk away from tired old marketing strategies and re-orienting ourselves as innovative marketers, the event's theme suddenly made all the strategic sense in the world!

Because of last year's experience, I'm eagerly anticipating the rich texture unfolding around this year's "Engagement" theme for the BMA conference. While customer and employee engagement s a critically important concept, it teeters on the edge of becoming so over-used as to be rendered nearly meaningless.

Going in to this year's BMA conference, "Engagement" speaks to me about a customer or employee's emotional connection with a brand. It's affiliation. It's the preference that drives one to not just seek a brand out, but to want to expend additional personal resources (time, money, advocacy, etc.) on the brand.

That's what I'm thinking today, before "BMA Engage" begins. My strategy is expand and re-shape this definition throughout the conference. Through the benefits of social media, you can challenge your perceptions on engagement too, even if you can't be at the conference. So join us, and see what we all think about engagement at the conference's conclusion on Friday! Mike Brown