Hello. My name is Alison Jones and I am the online blog and content editor for marketingSHOWCASE…
I also happen to be married to Steve Jones, the Managing Director of Framework Media who organise SHOWCASE events. Under current circumstances, like many others, we are both working from home: myself upstairs and Steve downstairs. It never struck me before how suitably ‘Downton Abbey’ that positioning is! Our cat (Daisy Duke Jones) stalks comfortingly between us like some kind of feline Carson, except we have not yet taught her how to make and serve drinks and sandwiches periodically throughout the day…
But I digress! (So easy to digress when you are at home). What I really wanted to talk to you about was a milestone for us and the SHOWCASE team. This milestone took place on the 22nd and the 23rd of April when we hosted our first virtual (online) Marketing SHOWCASE events.
Strategic and executional pivot
When your business model has been based on successfully delivering real world, face-to-face, regional, B-to-B events for over 30 years, going virtual was a huge strategic and executional pivot for us – but pivot we did!
What were to be our Birmingham and Newbury-based marketingSHOWCASE events were hosted online with virtual exhibition stands, meeting opportunities and online webinars from our billed speakers.
Although I do not often attend our live events, this virtual pivot delivered me a golden opportunity to attend the events, just like any of our much valued event visitors. Let’s face it, we can all acknowledge that many of us currently have a little more time to embrace virtual activities, whilst fully appreciating the efforts of those that cannot.
Turning up virtually
I attended the events (virtually) alongside over 300 other delegates across the two days. Importantly, our thanks go out to those wonderful, curious people who turned up and logged in to listen and learn from the amazing talent we had to showcase. Incidentally, you do all know that the World is run by people that turn up, right? My favourite borrowed wisdom.
What was my experience of the Marketing Showcase virtual event ? Well, I can only speak for myself, but I truly hope other attendees experienced the same vibe I did, particularly via the webinars.
Three words, my holy trinity
Engagement, energy and empathy were the three words I would use to describe my experience. (I would add another ‘e’ for education, but that spoils my blog headline in which I am already too heavily invested, and education is hopefully a welcome given for events of this type.)
Not only did we have the engagement from our lovely visitors but our virtual exhibitors did not disappoint.
Without exception, they put their passion, knowledge and intensity into their presentations. This was no mean feat when the technology did not really enable them to see and feel their audience reactions. We thank them all wholeheartedly for taking part and not just energising us in the current climate, but also reminding us that there will be a post pandemic world for which we will all need to be prepared.
Brand and marketing warrior
For example, Emma Humphrey from Genius not only made me laugh out loud when she confided it was good to be wearing a clean shirt and make-up as she was on camera (as I contemplated my own ‘casual’ attire and ‘naked’ face) but she was also brilliantly animated when challenged about what to do if your boss was cutting all your marketing budget because of the pandemic: “Tell him that sucks,” she exclaimed, but then went on to provide the necessary ammunition to help us argue for sustained marketing budgets to protect brands now more than ever as we eventually emerge into the post pandemic world. I hope we can host Emma again soon – she is quite simply a brand and marketing warrior.
Tour de force
Also, during the Q&A sessions which followed each webinar, the dynamic Adam Oldfield of Force24, was asked how he maintains his energy and positivity during challenging times. “It’s my job” he replied, and went on to explain the high value he places on igniting energy and positivity in his organisation and the personal responsibility he takes for this to enable his team to do their best work. (Oh, he also does PE with Jo Wicks every morning). Adam’s webinar is a tour de force and if you haven’t seen him in action, I would urge you to do so at our future online events.
Empathy, a common theme
Our speakers presented on a wide range of marketing topics but some common themes emerged. One of which was empathy – the ability to feel what others are feeling. An important concept such as this may have passed us by in more hectic, face-to-face environments but I genuinely believe that during this more reflective time in which we find ourselves, we can better digest and understand concepts of this sort.
For example, I found BrandClear’s Sean Masters brilliantly intense when he talked about the kind of brand messages that matter to people now and post lockdown. He predicted there will be different challenges and responsibilities for marketers, particularly around brand authenticity and the tone of voice that will be required in communications to satisfy raised expectations of empathy and humanity in your audiences. Sean’s intensity is mesmerising – don’t miss it when he’s next in our webinar programme.
Understanding empathy in marketing was echoed by Nick Boddington of LetsRunSocial. I got the impression that what Nick doesn’t know about social media is probably not worth knowing. But his brilliance is based on a simple premise: We may neatly categorise media as BtoB or BtoC, but Nick reminded us to take a step back and remember that our target audiences, including ourselves, are all just people consuming messages that interest us, irrespective of where we receive them. This may be a wake-up-call for those late to the party in embracing social media as a ‘business’ medium, but let Nick’s webinar walk you through this one soon while you still have time. I promise you are in safe hands.
Who mentioned the C word?
Who would have thought we would find empathy in a presentation about GDPR? Andy Smith from Corpdata renamed his usual presentation “Direct marketing under GDPR” to “Direct Marketing under GDPR…er…no…Covid-19”. Firstly, big-up Andy for using the C word (!) but secondly, I thought it was a mighty achievement that his measured clarity and easy humour led his audience gently through necessary data regulation practices but finally reminded us to “respect and love our data subjects”. I was struck by these words and his view that there was little point in tricking or misleading individuals for some nebulous short-term data gain that would not serve your company’s longer term evolution. Andy is now my “favourite GDPR man” – three words that I did not see myself ever using. Make him your favourite next time he presents.
Einstein et al.
We also heard from Third Light’s Michael Wells, a renaissance man providing a glimpse into the future of digital asset management (DAM). Once again, his presentation was incredibly accessible and even though I didn’t understand every word, I was amazed how much I did. I had a similar experience attending a lecture by astrophysicist Professor Brian Cox. I left the arena feeling I understood Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. I may still need to consult a textbook every now and then to renew that knowledge and you can do the same with DAM by consulting the human textbook that is Michael Wells at a future event.
Having neatly shoe horned Einstein into this piece, I’d like to mention Tony Humberstone from Vooba who beautifully summed up why most of us were probably attending this virtual event in the first place via an Einstein quotation: “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”. I think Tony inspired us to act where we could, ensuring we were either re-strategising to adapt to current circumstances or if significant adaptation just wasn’t possible for some, then focussing on the things we can control. Tony’s advice was practical and accessible, his tone both accepting and reassuring. That said, he had me at Einstein…
Until next time
There you have it, a quick tour round two virtual days of marketingSHOWCASE webinars. Engagement, energy and empathy. I loved it and we hope you will too. Look out for our forthcoming virtual events.
Now I’m off to put on a clean shirt and some make-up.
Online blog and content editor, Marketing SHOWCASE.