Festival of Marketing 2015 returned to the historic Tobacco Docklands to interrogate and celebrate all things marketing related. The atmosphere buzzed with excitement as Lord Sugar kicked off proceedings, telling the audience they were a room full of ‘marketing tossers’ which certainly set the tone for a more casual conference! Following Lord Sugar’s insightful revelations, choosing from one of 12 tracks covering everything from Insight, Data and Analytics to Personalisation and Tech Trailblazers proved difficult. And demonstrated the sheer breadth of specialisms that fall under marketing.

Keep a sense of the undone…

A number of talks stood out for us Relishers. In the Personalisation room, Asa Caap and Neil Chivers of Our Vodka brought a unique perspective of entrepreneurial vs. franchise partnerships where big company investment was traded for entrepreneurial spirit. Certainly an interesting business model, especially so in terms of the sustainability of delivering to the vision on a longer term basis and keeping their local entrepreneurial partners engaged. One to watch! Over to the Realising your Potential room for an engaging and inspiring session with Didi Hopkins on Making your Speech Extraordinary and Memorable. As seen from a number of talks, this session proved we have a lot to learn from those outside of marketing. Didi, a Senior Trainer of the National Theatre, provided breathing and muscle relaxing techniques that we could all apply during those important presentations. Our key learning was to always remember an open solar plexus! Day One was rounded off with spellbinding astronaut storyteller Colonel Chris Hadfield, who told us to dream big, always stay curious and ‘keep a sense of the undone’ to drive an unwavering desire to learn. An ethos close to our hearts at Relish.

Start and end with insight…

Day Two kicked off with headliner Anthony Thompson of Metrobank, telling us:

‘if you are in control, you’re not going fast enough’

Anthony eloquently reminded us of the value of using data and insight – while other banks thought their customers wanted the lowest price, Metrobank used customer insight to understand what they were really after: value. Focusing on customer happiness, rather than sales targets, meant customers could feel valued and get value out of their banking experience. One of the most awe-inspiring and fascinating sessions was Kate Dale of Sport England discussing the insight behind the #thisgirlcan campaign. Kate used social not to ask questions, but to listen to the tone and language women were using when discussing sport and exercise. From this came the insight around the main barrier women face: fear of judgement. Instead of worrying about what stereotype we don’t live up to, Kate wanted to help women enjoy themselves and use their bodies as they should – for fun, for sport, for a healthier life!

Sliding over to the Data and Analytics room, we saw Julia Porter of the Guardian discussing the challenges in creating a data driven culture. Starting with step one, creating great insight, helped the Guardian realise the diversity within their readership. They could, therefore, tailor their website to provide a personalised experience for every Guardian reader.

Be the best version of yourself you can be…

Back to the Realising your Potential room for a brilliant lesson from Sherilyn Shackell, from The Marketing Academy, on living life to the fullest. Sherilyn taught us that it’s all in your perspective, context is king, and making positive moves in your career, relationships or life all start with you taking 100% responsibility for making those changes. A fitting sentiment for marketers operating in a VUCA world. Steve Bartlett from Social Chain then aptly demonstrated how a bunch of digital natives can rewrite marketing rules, and use social media to its full potential. On social media, you have to use the ‘Jab, Jab, Hook’ mention in talking about brands in a fun, casual way to help connect with your audience.  The final day was rounded off with an eye-opening talk by Monica Lewinsky, who reminded us of the humanity behind the social. It can be easy to dismiss someone online, or allow them to be shamed, but as in real life, we should apply compassion online and see the person behind the social media. The standing ovation Monica received is testament to her bravery, eloquent and fitting message.

Overall, Festival of Marketing was a diverse, engaging and above all fun conference. The importance of great insight, created from a wealth of data sources, was really driven home with so many successful campaigns beginning with a true insight into the customer.