Wind Up Inspired: 5 Takeaways from IDSD 2017

IDSD takeawaysInteractive Day San Diego (IDSD) took place on May 12, 2017 in the East Village and Downtown neighborhoods of San Diego focusing on this year’s theme: Wind Up Inspired.

This year’s IDSD provided inspiration, motivation, and a whole lot of education. Unlike previous years, this time the event spanned across many different downtown locations. Our morning began at the historic Balboa Theatre, but spread between the San Diego Public Library, a few, local creative shops and East Village’s Quartyard. There’s no better way to #windupinspired than to have 2012 Speaker Hall of Fame recipient, Sally Hogshead, kick off the day with an amazing talk about what makes us fascinating.

#1: Fascinate!

Sally defines fascination as a trigger to intense neurological focus that can set you apart. She further explained how creativity is a “messy thing” that when combined with data can produce truly original ideas. Prior to the event, SDX provided us with a complimentary personality matrix to help us assess our primary and secondary advantages.

The matrix features several qualities, (innovation, passion, power, prestige, trust, mystique, and alertness), that when combined, helps explain not only how we see the world, but how the world sees us. The result is a unique archetype featuring adjectives that make up the source of differentiation. By understanding the data and developing more of your strengths we gain a competitive advantage and gain control over the qualities that make us most fascinating. In turn, this improves how well we can bewitch and capture our audience. As far as my personal brand, the results were a complete surprise: Mystique – the ‘Secret Weapon: nimble, unassuming, independent.

#2: It’s Good to Be Better, But It’s Better to Be Different

Distraction, competition, and commoditization are three disruptive forces that can derail your marketing. It’s not what we do, but rather how well we do it. Sally defines this as the brand’s ‘anthem’, a.k.a., what does the brand do differently and what does it do best.

In order to provoke discussion, brands need to target the needs and priorities of their audience. It’s not enough to be the best if nobody notices or cares. So by contributing specific benefits and over-delivering in a specialty, we can provide the type of value that better connects and retains our customers.

#3: Doing Things Right vs. Doing the Right Thing

One of the themes of the event was transformation. In Sally’s talk, she narrated her transformation from trying to be “perfect at speaking” to “giving fascinating talks.” The process she described outlined the following steps:

  • Customize the message to something highly relevant
  • Figure out who likes you by segmenting your recipients
  • Convert the people who like you the most into advocates
  • Create fascinating experiences from the data collected

Critical thinking and common sense seem less common than ever. Instead of trying to be all things to all people, it’s more important to fight for what you believe. Even if it is not the popular or profitable thing, it is essential to protect your integrity and credibility above all other qualities. 

#4: Create Value

How can we open the door to meaningful conversations where brands can add value and avoid being boring? “Why Old Marketing is The New Thing” was an insightful talk given by Susan Pitt from General Mills and Amy Winhoven from hosting agency i.d.e.a. Having grown up with popular characters like the Green Giant, Betty Crocker and the Pillsbury Doughboy, I was very interested in understanding more about how content is all the marketing we have left.

Starting from the premise that 65-90% of everything we create, videos, print, websites, etc., is useless noise that sadly goes ignored because it fails to connect with its intended demographic. In order for our efforts to have traction and relationships formed, we need to engage and inspire our audiences by adding value to their lives. Here are some of Amy and Susan’s examples:

  • The Guinness Book of World Records was created as a means of settling disputes over the “biggest and greatest.”
  • John Deere’s Green Magazine was published exclusively for farming enthusiasts.
  • Shows like My Little Pony and G.I. Joe were created by Hasbro to build affinity amongst younger audiences while establishing their brand voice.
  • The soap opera genre was originally created to entertain housewives while their husbands went off to WWII. Soaps like Guiding Light, were first released on the radio, but quickly pioneered the golden age of television (1940-1950s).

We can provide value in different ways in different ways:

  1. Inform  – Educate
  2. Entertain – Offer a unique experience
  3. Inspire – Give hope
  4. Connection – Bring them together
  5. Assembly – Motivate groups
  6. Help – Change people’s lives for the better
  7. Deal Finding
  8. Facilitate Transaction

In short, it is up to us to contribute to our customer’s conversation by content that is both different but relevant and useful in our customers’ lives. Ask how we create value for the customer. Stand for something and focus those who share overlapping values. And, play to your strengths – it’s not what you say or do, but how you can make them feel.

#5: For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn

My favorite talk of the day, “How to Prove the Value of Design and Creativity Through Neuroscience” was hosted by Adam Morgan. He began by asking, “Do creative ideas work?” and then proceeds to list the 4 most important elements to making a pitch work:

  • Be engaging – Make it sticky
  • Be credible – Believe in your brand
  • Be remembered – Establish a brand preference
  • Create brand loyalty – Via memory traces

Creative ideas in this context should appeal to our emotions. Basically, facts tell, but stories sell, and as a self-proclaimed “Central Brainer,” Adam describes the left side of the brain as the area in charge of denotation, or the literal meaning of things. It is slower to process information, focused on cognitive operations, (decision-making), and most rational thought. 

On the other hand, the right-side of the brain is in charge of connotation, or the figurative meaning of things. This area responds best to the connection of meanings, emotions, and creativity – like figuring out the punchline to a joke, this region is faster at processing information, and responds to emotion and instinct, both of which can also be addressed by the ‘Modes of Persuasion’ as Pathos and Ethos. Meanwhile, the left side would respond better to information in the form of stats, figures, or other data that target logic, known as the artistic proof, Logo.

It is imperative for us to communicate to both parts of the brain. Furthermore, it’s the need for humans to feel emotionally invested that Adam instills into the core of effective marketing.

One of Adam’s more interesting examples of how we can create emotional connections includes a short anecdote involving Ernest Hemingway and a bet he hedged with his fellow writers that he could create a novel using only 6 words; “For sale, baby shoes, never worn.” These words bring a lot of meaning and narrative, illustrating how simple word combinations can become very powerful tools of persuasion.

Rather than choosing between emotions and logic, it’s more important to combine our strategy and creativity. This balanced approach can make us stand out as an anomaly that our brain can pick up on rather than just taking the data at face value, or make messages shorter or punchier. By restructuring the creative process into phases of immersion, connection, incubation, and Eureka, we can them reproduce these anomalies that when combined with emotionally charged messaging can render higher engagement, ample memory traces to hold attention and remain in the consumer’s psyche, and therefore, build a stronger sense of loyalty and trust within our audience.

Speaking of creativity, innovation, and value, have you read our recent Agency vs. In-House: Breaking Down Cost vs. Value post?

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