A F500 CMO walked in to our office with just a pen (but no paper). This isn’t the intro to bad joke, it really happened. If a CMO can be open, prioritize learning, and trust the world to freely share ideas (and a sheet of paper to write on), then as the Head of Strategy and Insights, or even as the Insights Analyst fresh out of school, you should too.
One of the easiest ways to learn and grow professionally is to attend conferences and webinars. It’s not enough to just be great at your role and manage and execute a stable of projects—and you definitely don’t get points for saying things like ‘system 1 thinking’.
Have no budget and no time allocated for conferences? Attend free webinars offered by virtually everyone with something to say (you can find CMB’s here). Have a small budget and a day per year? Sign up for the economically priced local chapter sessions (New England’s on May 18 and San Francisco’s on June 8). Can you commit to a larger format that takes more time away and offers more tracks (and costs more)? Participate in conferences such as the Insights Association’s NEXT or CRC.
Earlier this week I traveled to NYC for the NEXT Conference. What did I learn? Glad you asked:
- Science and Creativity walk into a bar—I loved the title of Pranav Yadav’s presentation but the content was even better: a great strategic summary of the neuro category (e.g., eye tracking, facial coding, galvanic skin response, belts/monitors, MRIs) followed by specific advertising examples of when the neuro element is tracking above or below average. Do you just roll ads that were tested on TV into your digital and other (e.g. billboard) content? Depending upon the channel, the ads should be recut. For example, iconic triggers work best on billboards and more functional use screens (iPads/tablets), whereas particular cuts of a longer ad should wind up in a shorter spot that’s rearranged for social media.
- The Control (Freak) Enthusiast–Michael Tchong decribes a trend among the US population that’s growing increasingly obsessed with having control over all things at all times. Think about how the control phenomenon has seeped into your life, too. You know exactly how far away your Uber driver is, every movement of your Amazon order, and when your pizza from GrubHub will be arriving—we’re all becoming Control Enthusiasts. What does this mean for your brand?
- Shark Tank Stories for dwindling attention spans—You have to make heads “turn” not “spin”. Don’t just revise your 50-slide decks. Instead, if you receive one of these monster decks, reply to the attached document simply saying “TL;DR” (too long; didn’t read) to disrupt your reporting and inspire a sea change. Insights NEXT scheduled a ‘shark tank’ session where four talented companies pitched their ideas and of the four, the pitch by Anders Bengtsson from Protobrand, won the shark tank portion.
Life is hectic and budgets are tight, but you can’t afford not to learn and grow. You can afford to send each of your team members to a few free webinars, a local chapter event, or to the next great conference where you can meet your peers, new vendors, and get exposure to the latest ideas and technology.
Kelsey Saulsbury of Schwanns summed up the conference imperative in a single phrase uttered by a squealing child on an Easter Egg Hunt at her cousin’s house, “Look everywhere!”
Julie Kurd thrives in hectic, dynamic environments full of shiny thinkers with snowflake personalities.