Marketing Week Live review

Last week I attended Marketing Week Live in London, a two-day marketing conference, focusing on all areas from promotions and direct mail, to digital marketing and social media. It was my first time attending the annual event so I thought I’d share my thoughts by writing a Marketing Week Live review.

I prepared for the conference about two weeks prior to the event and myself a schedule of talks I wanted to sit in on:

26th June:

  • Hoping isn’t good enough
  • Engagement through content strategy
  • What ‘Big Data’ can do for you, your company and your clients
  • Social media and PR fundamentals
  • Digital vs traditional marketing debate

27th June:

  • 21 ideas for your marketing
  • Managing your career
  • Stop wasting and start making money from your marketing
  • How Becks & Coke use live marketing
Marketing Week Live review

So there I am above (mug shot) with my plan in place, I was seriously looking forward to the talks and learning something new. I’ll be honest now, so you can decide whether you want to continue reading my Marketing Week Live review or not, but I was disappointed with the conference talks and I didn’t learn anything new. Neither of my personal objectives were met.

Hoping isn’t good enough

This leads me on to one of the main reasons why I was disappointed with Marketing Week Live – I didn’t feel the talks lived up to the discussion outline. On MWL’s site they had this talk outlined as being about – “when you’re making the leap to a management or leadership role, hoping you’ll be good, isn’t enough. This session will offer an insight into what it takes to be an effective leader and some tips to help you get there.”

From this I was expecting the talk to give some in-depth examples of what it really takes to be in a management role. In essence I wanted the nitty gritty, like what I get from some of my ‘how to get into advertising’ interviews. I wanted to hear the downsides, such as higher responsibility, stresses, longer hours and how to deal with them effectively, as much as I wanted to hear all the good things about working in management. Instead, I felt the discussion was a “flowery” outline of the perfect manager and what kind of manager not to be.

Key points listed were that, from a survey, 29% people stated they left their job because of their boss and a further 55% were considering leaving. The point in these stats being, be a nice boss and people will stay… that’s self explanatory isn’t it? Other topics discussed covered areas such as being able to empathise with staff, learning about yourself so that weaknesses can become strengths, to handle stress well and to keep calm under pressure. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that these are important factors from a manager, but  just felt it was all very obvious. Nor was it something I had to go all the way to London to hear about, pretty sure I look up “good manager qualities” in Google and read roughly the same thing. I was hoping for more depth from this talk.

Engagement through content strategy

Next in my Marketing Week Live review is a talk from Thompson’s Content and eCommerce Manager. Online, this talk was outlined as the following: “explore how the use of Content Strategy will help to future proof the business for multi channel distribution.”

It sounded a little vague but I was interested all the same, especially as such a large part of what I do is so heavily focused on writing and content. Ros from Thompson, opened her talk with a quick explanation about content strategy:

“content strategy plans for the creation, delivery and governance of the content delivery”.

In short, it isn’t about “this is relevant, so this is what I need to say to fill this gap”, but really thinking and planning what it is that needs to be said, why are you saying it, how and when will you say it, where will it be seen, for whom and how often? Once the copy is written and is out there for people to see, what happens next? Put a plan in place.

Where will it be seen is probably one of the most important questions you can ask about your content. 43% of queries to Thompson, now come through on a mobile device. Which means their content needs to be pleasing on the eye, easy to read and informative. Users shall be reading on a smaller screen, which means they don’t want to see paragraphs of text when they’re looking to buy your service or product. So when you’re writing copy, don’t just write for the web, write for mobile and tablet devices. Don’t write new pieces of content for different devices. This point is valid even more so now that responsive web is the way to go and less and less places are looking to create mobile-only versions of their sites.

Again, being that writing is such a big part of what I do, a lot of this I either already knew or felt it was a little self explanatory. However, I still found Ros’ talk to very interesting and motivating and made me remember just why I love writing and planning content.

Marketing Week Live review

What ‘Big Data’ can do for you

Coming from such an interesting talk previously, to a big come down. I don’t mean for this Marketing Week Live review to come across too harsh, but I will be honest – I have no idea what the guy doing this talk was on about. I don’t mean that in a “I was out of my depth, I couldn’t keep up way”, but just I didn’t think it was relevant. Maybe I was the wrong type of person for the talk? I don’t know. But from the description, I was expecting it to be about collating big data and how to break it down and how to use it to improve your marketing and your company, perhaps with some real-life examples. I don’t know what the guy ended up talking about, but it certainly wasn’t that.

I had my notebook at the ready, like I did with all the other talks, ready to take down notes I thought were notable and important. When I come across the heading for this talk in my notebook, that’s all there is on that page. The heading.

Social media and PR fundamentals

Although I wasn’t expecting to learn anything new from a “fundamentals” talk, I at least hoped I would feel motivated and inspired from it. Sometimes the best ideas in marketing are the simplest and that was my thought process for coming to this. I thought it might cover some of the obvious methods and tools that perhaps I have overlooked when coming up with marketing ideas. I also studied Advertising and Marketing at university and so only briefly brushed over PR, so figured there might be something new in that sense. Sadly there wasn’t.

The talk was by no means boring, but again, it just felt very obvious. Some of the key points covered were things such as: create a strategy first and to make objective-related SMART KPI’s. I know the title says “fundamentals” but at a marketing themed conference, where marketing professionals go, I didn’t think they’d be that basic. That’s something you cover with someone who has no marketing experience or wants to learn marketing surely?

Marketing Week Live review

Digital vs traditional marketing debate

Feeling deflated from my first day at Marketing Week Live, I was at least looking forward to this debate. I enjoy debates, I like hearing peoples views, opinions and their thought processes. Although the answer was obvious to me (both – make an integrated campaign), I was intrigued as to how someone can only solely back-up traditional and ignore all methods of modern, digital marketing.

There was a panel made up of two pro-tradition and two pro-digital marketeers, with a moderator running the show. There were a lot of good arguments brought up in this debate and I could probably write a separate blog post about this debate alone (perhaps I will), but some of the cases made were:

  • Music is downloaded, films are streamed, papers are being read online and nearly everyone has a mobile phone and uses social media. How can you say digital doesn’t have a place in marketing?
  • E-mail marketing can be a risk, because it’s so easy for the recipient to delete it, without even viewing the email. Direct mail may get thrown out, but at least it’s been handled and see first. There is something tangible about it. Another argument about this point was that e-mail marketing costs nothing to send, however direct mail does cost. This was countered with a response “if it produces a return, then it’s money well spent”.
  • A survey conducted by Adobe and Marketing Week found that 62% of people asked, said they thought online adverts were invasive or they’re seen as background noise. However, the same could be said for TV and print advertising.

But as I said above, there is no way you could solely rely on traditional or digital marketing. You need to use both and have a fully integrated plan. This is hardly new information, but I enjoyed the debate and found the discussions interesting.

Marketing Week Live review: day 2

So I didn’t enjoy my first day at MWL, but I was energised and ready for the second day, giving it the benefit of the doubt and looking forward to hearing some interesting talks and learning something new… who was I kidding?

One thing I did see over the two days that I thought was cool, was seeing ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, who had a pop up ‘idea shop’ so marketers needing new ideas for their marketing plans or campaigns, could go to Ogilvy with a brief and see what they came back with.

Marketing Week Live review

21 great ideas for your marketing

I sat down for this talk, got a free notepad and a free pen and was surprisingly pleased with this. But probably unsurprisingly, I wasn’t pleased with the talk. Much like the ‘social media fundamentals’ talk, I wasn’t expecting anything ground-breaking. But I thought it might awaken something in me that I had long forgotten about, that could be useful; at least something along those lines. Instead it just felt like a long sales pitch.

The discussion was conducted by someone who is heavily involved in promotional merchandising and that’s what the whole talk was based on, listing 21 “cool” products you can send out to raise awareness of your company and get new business. One of these 21 great ideas was having a branded pen! Really pushing the boundaries there. Not only were the 21 ideas all about promotional merch, but they also listed what exhibitors at Marketing Week Live were selling the products, so you could go and buy them after the talk. I wasn’t impressed.

One thing I did learn from attending this talk though is that on average, we drink an average of 1500 cups of tea / coffee a year. Ooh.

Managing your career

This was a talk I really did enjoy attending. Founder of The Marketing Academy, Sherilyn Shacknell, spoke about taking your career direction into your own hands, building your skills and knowledge and raising your profile, online and in your company.

Sherilyn discussed the importance of building relationships, both at work and outside of work. Asking for mentoring can make a huge difference to a career. I found her to be very inspiring and interesting. She was incredibly motivating and really made you want to get up and do something there and then. I think that’s what so many of the talks lacked – real enthusiasm and a bit of punch.

Stop wasting and start making money from your marketing

Again, without sending too negative (I’m just being honest), this is one of the talks I enjoyed the least. I thought the promotional merch talk was a sales pitch, that doesn’t even compare to this one. The talk briefly outline 7 big marketing mistakes, such as not putting a plan in place first, using social media for business badly and keeping “toxic” clients.

Then the last 5 minutes consisted of the speaker informing us that her talk usually lasts a full day, but we can still reap the benefits of her day long talk, as well as a magazine she writes for and a DVD she made all for a price. But of course a special discounted price, compared to the normal £2000 she normally charges for it. I was annoyed that her full slot wasn’t about the content and covering some real solid points, but that she had to condense it down even shorter, just so she could squeeze in a 5 minute sales pitch at the end.

How Becks and Coke use live marketing

Unfortunately I can’t tell you much about this talk at all because the first 10 minutes consisted of the speaker telling us about his company and the work they have produced for clients – not the reason I wanted to sit in on this talk.

I know you can’t blame what happened next on the speaker, but then his cable from his laptop to the TV stopped working so the TV lost signal. I then sat through a painful 5 minutes of silence whilst he tried to get it all working again, at which point I then walked out and got my train home.

I hope this Marketing Week Live review hasn’t been too negative, that wasn’t my intention. But to a certain degree I felt mis-sold by this conference and came away feeling very disappointed at the end of each day. I wanted to feel inspired and awakened, but sadly that just wasn’t the case here. I would never go out-right and tell someone not to attend next years, I think it’s something you have to experience yourself. But for my personally, I won’t be attending again.