18 October 2023

Festival of Marketing 2023

Braden MacDonald
Senior Account Executive

7 Key Lessons from the Festival of Marketing 2023

7 Key Lessons from the Festival of Marketing 2023

As a professional in the public relations and marketing industry, attending the Festival of Marketing 2023 was not just an event; it was an opportunity to dive into the heart of this dynamic field, learn from experts, and gain insights that would shape my journey to help me understand where the industry stands and where it’s heading. Here are seven valuable lessons from my experience

1 - Remove barriers when it comes to disability and inclusion

Shani Dhanda, an Inclusion & Accessibility Specialist, opened my eyes to the importance of inclusion and accessibility in marketing. Inclusion and accessibility aren’t checkboxes; they are integral to fostering a culture of empathy and understanding.

Her experience highlighted that by removing barriers, we create a more inclusive and equitable world. By addressing and representing the unique needs of individuals with disabilities, marketers can tap into an often-underserved market segment and demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility.

2 - Ensure your workplace has a wellbeing initiative

The session with Dr Julie SmithWill Herrmann (CSO, CALM) & Cate Murdern (CEO, PUSH), on workplace wellbeing highlighted a critical shift in the modern workplace. Employees are no longer asking for support; they are demanding it. The impact of employee wellbeing on productivity and retention cannot be overstated. This lesson serves as a reminder that a happy, healthy workforce is an invaluable asset.

Employee wellbeing is not solely about offering perks like gym memberships or company socials. It encompasses creating a supportive environment where employees feel valued, heard, and empowered. Wellbeing initiatives, like re-evaluating company values or integrating mental health services (e.g., Self Space, Unmind, and Spill), are investments in an organisation’s long-term success, not costs.

3 - Find the consumer-driven disruptions

Helen Edwards (Director, Passionbrand) delved into how consumer behaviour is a driving force behind industry shifts. The rise of veganism, for instance, has not only transformed lifestyles but also influenced markets, from food to furniture. Marketers must adapt to these evolving consumer preferences and behaviours to stay relevant and competitive.

Consumer-driven disruption is a reminder that marketing is a dynamic field where success hinges on staying attuned to trends and being agile. It’s about proactively seeking ways to align products and services with shifting consumer values and desires, rather than reacting after the fact.

4 - Navigate uncertainty with confidence

In a world of constant change, mastering the art of navigating uncertainty is crucial. The super-cool Katherine Templar-Lewis (Uncertainty Experts) emphasised the importance of adaptability and transparency. She explained how acknowledging fears, learning from mistakes, and understanding emotions are essential for effective decision-making and avoiding burnout. It’s about proactively preparing for change, fostering a culture of open communication, and nurturing resilience. By embracing uncertainty as an opportunity for growth and innovation, organisations can thrive in volatile markets.

5 - Learn to embrace AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI), yes that old chestnut, is no longer a distant concept – It’s reshaping marketing. Julia Pilkes (Senior Marketing Director, HubSpot) lamented AI’s accessibility in levelling the playing field for businesses of all sizes. Contrary to fears of job loss, AI enhances human capabilities, improves efficiency, and fosters creative thinking. In the marketing world, data is the new currency, and AI is the key to unlocking its potential. By harnessing AI-driven insights, marketers can make more informed decisions, optimise campaigns, and deliver personalised experiences. And it shouldn’t be treated as a fad.

6 - Embrace the introverts

The “Being an introvert in an extrovert environment” session with Carol Stewart resonated deeply with me as a self-identified introvert. It emphasised that introversion is not a hindrance but a superpower. By embracing authenticity and connecting genuinely with others, introverts can thrive in the workplace, contributing unique perspectives and strengths. Introverts bring invaluable qualities to the workplace, such as deep listening, thoughtful reflection, and a knack for building meaningful relationships. The lesson here is not just about introverts adapting to extroverted environments but also about organisations recognising and leveraging introverts’ strengths.

7 - Always remember the importance of authenticity

The cherry on top of this year’s Festival of Marketing was listening to showbiz-legend Rylan Clark and MarketingWeek Editor-In-Chief, Russell Parsons, talk about all thing authenticity. Acknowledging imperfections in the marketing world can often be seen as taboo, especially in an industry which highly prizes perfection. Rylan’s charisma shone through as he stressed the importance of learning from mistakes. If there’s a sentiment most important that I’ve taken away from this year’s event, it’s that authenticity is a powerful catalyst for building trust and loyalty. In marketing and branding.
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