7 things we learnt at InTech 2017

For those who were torn between breakout rooms (or missed it altogether), here’s a quick run-down of seven of the best bits of InTech 2017

In 1928, London was devastated by the worst flood it had ever experienced. The swelling of the Thames was so severe that a 25-metre section of Chelsea embankment collapsed, the Tate Britain was flooded, and many JMW Turner paintings were destroyed – other consequences are too dire to mention. But since then, by the grace of God, the capital has experienced relative meteorological peacetime.

Until the morning of InTech 2017, that is (at about breakfast time, just before the Danish pastries were put out). Those who survived the unprecedented flash flood were amply rewarded with a day’s access to the latest technology marketing strategies, delivered by those at the forefront of the industry. For those who didn’t, here’s a quick run-down of a few of the best bits.

1. We need to go beyond personas   

Whether you’re in B2B or B2C, sales or marketing, there’s one thing that’s constant: people. Admittedly, the whole ‘people buy from people’ truism is about as original as cucumber water, but Louis Fernandes takes it further. 

Get too bogged down with segmentation and you’ll forget about the individuals behind the buying decisions. Personas won’t account for their day-to-day problems; the metrics they use, internal politics they face, or whether they fear losing their job. With an internal aligned value chain, sales can unlock this information.

2. We need to work out the ‘why’

Most can explain what their organisation does, some can explain how it does it, but very few can explain why it exists in the first place. ‘Why?’ goes beyond the usual spiel of revenue and profit; it addresses the more existential areas of mission and purpose.

Buyers will gravitate towards marketers who can solve their problems and address their latent demands. Simply put: people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

3. We need to up our copy game

Learn from the mistakes made in this blog and don’t be self-indulgent. Earn the trust of your reader by giving them what they want quickly – aim to do it within 20 words. Assume the reader has less time than you – it’s easy to get carried away with the authoritative tapping of a keyboard.

“We sell all things to all people” is ostensibly the most indirect way to target your audience. Don’t tell people you’re an expert, show someone how to do something. (My introduction was 128 words.) 

4. We need grit for high growth

An excellent product doesn’t guarantee high growth; it also needs excellent people delivering it. When recruiting with growth in mind, remember it’s about mindset more than background – you can’t change a person’s mindset. 

Cultural fit is important too, but employers should consider ‘stage fit’ – many people are unused to working in fast-paced organisations and will crumble under pressure. 

5. We need to differentiate… more

The industry is so cluttered with buzzwords and jargon that, no matter how good individual products are, firms are blending into one. We need to lose the homogenised tech-speak: everyone is talking about how ‘innovative’ and ‘transformative’ their products are, and as a result aren’t solving any problems. 

Voice and tone are two separate things; it’s important to use the right tone for each client while maintaining a consistent voice. Refrain from overusing buzzwords and don’t overemphasise your features and functions. Sales people want to be armed with a unique value proposition to offer the customer.

6. We need to be brave for Agile 

In the spirit of Agile, you have to be open and honest – if what’s being produced is shit, say it’s shit and address the issue quickly. If a campaign is performing just ‘okay’, efforts needs to be multiplied by three or you should move on altogether; the ambition will encourage you to break new boundaries. 

When you’re recruiting an Agile team, the right person will be resilient through turbulence. It’s about having a mindset to deal with the cognitive dissonance of working on projects that are utterly shocking one moment and absolutely brilliant the next.

7. We’re entering a post-modern era 

Pre-modern was the ‘60s advertising agency, modern marketing is a fusion of different technologies and the post-modern era will reshape the way we market to customers and prospects through artificial intelligence.

Just as AI cognitively clusters our friends’ faces on our iPhones, soon it will power our individual customer’s journey. ‘Cognitive’ marketing clouds will think like humans; on a case-by-case basis they will collate data, select relevant content, and suggest the actions we take based on successful past campaigns.