Since Wednesday, March 19th, 2014, I haven’t been able to look at my career the same way. I was excited when booking myself a seat at the Art of Marketing Conference in Vancouver, BC – heck, Seth Godin was going to be speaking! I remember reading his book Tribes in university when completing my BA in Professional Communications. Seth was the one who introduced me to this notion of “community” online, but I realize that this was something I never really fully understood…until now.
At The Art of Marketing Conference it was as if Seth Godin, Nancy Durarte, Mitch Joel, John Jantsch, Brian Wong and Keith Ferrazzi gracefully came together to hammer it all home for me, sharing enough concepts and knowledge to last me a lifetime.
Let me share with you what I learned. To come: how I am going to apply it to my world… believe me, I have just a few ideas.
From the lineup of today’s greatest marketing and communications inspirations, Seth Godin, author of 17 books and known as “America’s best Marketer,” began the Art of Marketing Seminar by telling the tale of a modern revolution. Today marketing is no longer about flashing the “best” and the “cheapest” products in consumer’s faces – this is an interruption that the world has long come to avoid. Today it is about being different, being weird and separating from the masses. In recent years we have seen this trend swing into action. It is no longer effective to market to the average mass of people…the world demands better than average.
“The Beatles didn’t create teenagers, they just showed up to lead them,” and “Tribes” are a group of people, a subculture that are connected by a drive; they are people who want something to happen. As marketers we need to say “Follow me.” So why is this so hard? Seth explains that the human psyche is afraid to speak out because all our lives we have been raised to follow, do what we are told, abide by the rules, and maintain harmony and not chaos. Our biggest fear is to fail because we are hardwired to avoid it.
Guess what? “If failure is not an option, then neither is success,” AND “failing is cheaper than ever before.” Train the fear out so you can “throw yourself off the edge and grow wings on the way down.”
After a short networking break, Nancy Duarte, an expert presentation designer and TED speaker, showed us the art of presenting information through storytelling to create resonance with your audience. Nancy outlined some key points to keep in mind including “knowing what is in the hearts and minds of your audience” so your words resonate with them.
She also explained that like a story, your presentation or speech should always have a beginning, middle and an end, stating: What is, what could be, and a call to action. The ultimate result: new bliss. Nancy used Steve Job’s 2007 iPhone speech as an example to show the effectiveness of speaking with a sense of wonderment about a product that is much greater than the product itself. Steve Jobs’ passion elicited emotion from the audience. “What is a good brand? An emotional nexus between a products and it’s various stakeholders.” Nancy also used Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and Evita Parone’s passion for the poor as historic examples of how using powerful visual words to resonate with your audience can have such an impact on those who are moved by them.
President of Twist image and Author of Ctrl, Alt, Delete and the blog: Six Pixels of Separation, Mitch Joel roped us back in after the lunch break by announcing how important it is to “have sex with data.” After the audience’s laughter settled down, Mitch mesmerised us with how smart companies are already doing this – they are becoming intimate with data, and leveraging it to suit them. Mitch also stresses how chasing the crowd makes us do things that the crowd is already doing – we need to get ahead of the crowd and pull them in our own direction. He also claimed that “technology is removing technology from technology;” it is becoming so much a part of our lives that the physical and digital intertwine constantly.
Finally, Mitch knows that knowing your audience is everything, and he used a surprising example of this – her name is Bethany Moda. This teenage girl is the epitome of “knowing your audience,” and she knew it so well that she is now a billionaire for branding herself by showing her room to the world on YouTube.
Marketing consultant, speaker and bestselling author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine, John discussed internal structures of organizations and explained how important having a unique corporate culture is to your brand. He used the example of how a janitorial company took the lead in their industry by doing something completely different for their employees. Every time a new janitor was hired, they were given a coach to encourage them to go after their dreams and become something in life they had always wanted, but never had the opportunity to earn.
John also pointed out that in your basic B2B or B2C company the marketing and sales team are currently very separated. Sales professionals should be involved in endorsing their company’s brand through generating content and intriguing customers, not just at the end of the process, waiting to close the deal.
The Fresh Approach
Brian had just the energy and sense of humour that we needed at around 3 pm in the afternoon to keep us engaged. This thriving twenty-two-year-old modern marketing enthusiast, originally from Vancouver, BC made us howl at his jokes, but we took his passion seriously because what he had to say was revolutionary. Brian is the CEO of Kiip, a company that has developed a whole new concept of advertising in the Smartphone app world, and I believe he coined something remarkable. “I was sick and tired of ads that slapped me in the face every time I failed a level on a gamming app.,” he explained. “So, I thought, why not create a way for advertisisers to become involved in consumer’s gaming, workouts, and shopping trips by rewarding them.” Brian has all kinds of world renowned brands that engage with their audience by offering them a $5 off coupon for a new pair of runners, a free coffee, or 20% off next purchase at the perfect “moment” – right when the consumer beat a level playing angry birds, or hit their best pace on their 5 KM run with MapMyRun. This approach is achieving massive results and is actually making app users happier according to test results. Brian succeeded in kicking the negative connotation of pop-up ads to the curb by rewarding consumers in a positive way and using their emotional reactions to strengthen their relationships with brands.
Keith is an acclaimed author of Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back?, founder and chairman of Ferrazzi Greenlight, a research-based consulting and training company, and is a passionate activist and inspired entrepreneur.
Of everything I learned at The Art of Marketing seminar, I think Keith may have taught me the most valuable lesson of the day.
Sure, you can be smart with marketing by knowing your audience; you can use “ahead of the curve” tactics to reach and connect with them; you can develop a strategy that has never been used in your industry… but how will you do any of this without the right relationships with people: your colleagues, your boss, the president of your company…
Keith told a moving story of his life, and how he came to understand the importance of relationships and how to foster and secure them in a genuine way. He explains the importance of having a
“people plan” in life, not just a marketing plan or an annual revenue strategy. Good relationships do get you ahead in organizations, and you’re best off if you can develop trust with the right people, the ones who can help you achieve your goals.
Keith challenged us to write a list of three people in our professional worlds and three people in our personal lives that we know we could have stronger relationships with. “Build trust to get your ideas advanced in your organization,” and remember “at the pinnacle of great relationships is the willingness to be vulnerable – most people who act like jerks are protecting themselves.” Break these walls by being generous.
I hope after reading my re-cap of this inspiring event, you’ve been able to take some concepts and ideas away to apply to your professional career and/ or personal development. The 2014 Art of Marketing conference changed my thinking and inspired me to be remarkable. I am looking forward to sharing with you how I apply the knowledge I gained to my career in the coming months.
Thanks for reading,