The Triangle AMA High Five Conference is a place for marketers and creatives to meet and find inspiration in each other and the work being done in the Triangle area. I was fortunate to be able to attend the keynotes and workshops and learned much about teamwork, partnership, and collaboration in new and unexpected ways. So, I’ve compiled my 10 most important lessons learned at this year’s conference.
1. Smaller conferences offer more intimate networking opportunities. I was able to meet several of the keynote and breakout session speakers as well as local leaders and peers. Large conferences have thousands of attendees and making connections can be difficult. High Five was local, highly affordable, and had a very compelling agenda. And it was even more relevant because it was composed of people in my community. I was surrounded by a few hundred other creative thinkers craving collaboration to make new ideas happen, just like me. Roundtables allowed attendees to get up close and personal with the keynotes.
2. Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. Most, 90%, of the information sent to the brain is visual. Ekaterina Walter spoke about how the open rate for cartoons is 45% versus a typical 5–8% for stats, data, and newsletters. Infographics get a 12% higher view rate than posts without infographics. This helped to reinforce the value of the work I do on a day to day basis and gave me inspiration to keep pushing forward. It’s always nice to have stats to back what you believe to be true.
3. Word of Mouth. This drives 5 times more revenue than paid advertising, accounting for 13% of total sales and leading to 15% more sales. Spike Jones spoke about building a community because it creates buy-in; brands should stand for something bigger and delight in the community’s surprise. 90% of word of mouth marketing happens offline.
4. Do what matters to you the most. “Be passionate” and “have fun” are my main takeaways from the The Power of Creative Practice workshop with Noah Scanlin. Do more of what makes you happy. Noah taught us that limits are good. Find materials and then problem solve how to create something. He shared that putting your work online makes it collaborative and that you should welcome that feedback and collaboration.
5. Workflow ideas. Organizations are getting flatter, therefore we should assemble spaces for elastic workgroups. We can have a shared language by using personas in creative briefs (business user, power user, etc.). Share your brand book with all new hires. If a task is performed more than 3 times, create a template.
6. Agile marketing. Use “sprints” to break up projects into smaller, more manageable parts. Invite people on a journey. Ask questions like, who do you admire? Who are you as a citizen leader? What does your adventure look like? What is the setting and characters? Then draw your magazine cover based on their answers. Keep moving using style tiles or mood boards to give an early glimpse of the future. Use storyboards to unfold the adventure. Sketch and prototype, or make interactive websites.
7. Become a fan of your fans. Spend less time talking about the brand and more time reaching out and becoming a fan of your best and loyal customers. Make them ambassadors. Give customers tools and create a small barrier of entry by emailing them and asking why they are a fan. Mail a package with a special product. Give them logos to use for their own site. Each fan has their own fan number. For instance, Facebook has a timeline app that says when you became a fan.
8. Make commitments, not promises. When managers pay more attention to commitments, they generate momentum. They find that having the courage to say “yes” or “no,” and to stick to their promises over time actually decreases their workload and increases their impact.
9. If you’re not failing, you’re not learning. Johnny “Cupcakes” Earle shared his successes and lessons learned from failures. Come up with original, clever ideas and make sure you’re doing at least 12 things different from anyone else in your business category. If you don’t give people something to talk about, then no one is going to talk about you.
10. Stand out. Be yourself. Think differently. The recent Academy Award speech for screenplay reminded us to, “stay weird.” Perfection is overrated and unachievable. Be confident enough to make a fool of yourself. Make snowballs by creating many of the same things and sharing—people will share and you can always make revisions. Good packaging does not get tossed; it acts as a mini-billboard forever. Your vision is what makes you unique. Once the vision has focus, then the processes become paramount.
I found the High Five Conference inspiring and informative. The combination of marketing and design was unique and the networking was great. You can read more about each session on the High Five blog. I highly recommend attending the Triangle AMA High Five next year.