Marketing trends come and go, but there are fundamental ideas that continue to be the framework for successful approaches to finding, engaging, and keeping customers. Marketing talks available from TED are a great place to start to revisit these fundamentals for using them as benchmarks in your own business.
Here are eight gems from the TED archives that have marketing lessons that are still applicable and beneficial to your marketing philosophy and strategy:
1. Malcolm Gladwell: “Choice, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce,” (Filmed: February 2004; Posted: 2006).
Released over 11 years ago, this marketing talk still resonates in its messaging about how unique your customers and prospects can be, and why it is important to spend time getting to know them and providing numerous marketing choices for them to digest.
As author of The Tipping Point, Gladwell uses the example of psychophysicist Howard Moskowitz who helped change spaghetti sauce recipe’s for Ragu and Prego, as well as altered the taste of Pepsi and many other well-known products over the years. It was not necessarily what he came up with in terms of taste, more so than it was what he discovered about consumers and what they like; there is no one right answer to making the perfect product because there are many perfect products that will each make a different part of your audience happy.
It was from this discovery that horizontal segmentation was born along with the notion that marketers can make their audience happy by giving them choices and products that inherently represent an ideal that the audience craves.
2. Seth Godin: “How to Get Your Ideas to Spread,” (Filmed: February 2003; Posted: 2007).
Seth Godin knows the greatest thing since sliced bread was when companies started to figure out how to get in front of the right audience at the right time. He uses the example of the inventor of sliced bread to make his point. For the first 15 years after inventing sliced bread, no one bought it because no one knew about it or even thought about whether they would want to buy a loaf that had already been cut for them. It took Wonder Bread to figure out how to spread the idea that people really wanted sliced bread instead of whole loaves. After that, the world was changed forever.
In relation to companies, Godin says, “Consumers don’t care about you at all; they just don’t. And in a world where we have too many choices and too little time, the obvious thing to do is just ignore stuff.” That’s when marketing has to determine how to get products out there in a way where consumers can’t ignore and will actually care. That is the death knell for mass marketing, and is the shift to targeting those who were previously ignored but are actually the best audience choice–the passionate ones who listen, feel strongly about what you have to offer, and more than willingly share your message and product with others. Marketing starts and ends there.
3. John Gerzema: “The Post-Crisis Consumer (Filmed: August 2009; Posted: October 2009).
Brand and marketing executive, coauthor of The Brand Bubble, and author of Spend Shift, John Gerzema notes the importance of understanding the behavior of consumers after major economic downturns in order to respond appropriately with direct marketing efforts in ways that are relevant and compelling.
While he acknowledges that consumers are part of the problem that created the crisis of spending what they do not have, it is important to notice when their behavior changes. He uses the example of how Visa has identified a shift from credit card to debit card use, with people spend what they do have instead of resorting to credit.
Seeing that consumers have changed their thinking, Gerzema identifies four new values that are key for marketers. These values include living a liquid life which is living within our means, ethics and fair play with companies being transparent and socially responsible, durable living that involves the long-term rather than the "here-and-now” mentality of survival, and a return to the fold where trust and loyalty are important.
4. Derek Sivers: “How to Start a Movement,” (Filmed: February 2010; Posted: April 2010).
Often, it is the leader who gets the praise when a movement happens, but Derek Sivers reminds us that there is actually more to it—that is what makes a marketing movement truly incredible. In fact, while the first person may seem like a brave soul for standing up and doing something different, what is really fundamental in the process of starting a movement is that first person who decides to follow.
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That person then has the extraordinary task of getting others to follow and showing them how and why they should join in. It is, in fact, that first follower who turns that brave soul into a leader by creating followers for them to oversee. In this way, when a marketing movement is created, it is important to remember it is about the movement, not the individual.
5. Sheena Iyengar: "How to Make Choosing Easier,“ (Filmed: November 2011; Posted: January 2012).
While having as many choices as possible may seem like a good idea, it is not. If anything, it can be confusing and stressful to determine which one may be your best choice. Psychoeconomics researcher Sheena Iyengar suggests marketers can make it easier for customers by getting rid of alternatives that really do not matter, making the available choices more real, do further categorizing, and conditioning customers to the overall growing complexity of marketing of products and services. This allows both marketers and their audiences to become choosier and get the most from every choice.
6. Chris Anderson: "Technology’s Long Tail,” (Filmed: 2004; Posted: April 2007).
As the editor of Wired when he gave this marketing TED Talk, Chris Anderson leverages his extensive experience and knowledge related to emerging technology and the culture that surrounds it to explain how marketing has to understand and have a good sense of timing to be successful. He suggests marketers should look at all critical technologies as going through four stages of life that need to be understood so changes in marketing strategies can be adjusted in each stage. (Example: how a change in price can alter a technology and then how it impacts the environment and audience.) A marketer will want to watch for and try to predict these collisions and be prepared when they occur.
7. Molly Crockett: “Beware Neuro-Bunk,” (Filmed: November 2012; Posted: December 2012).
As a neuroscientist who studies how different chemicals in the brain impact how people make decisions, Molly Crockett finds much of today’s marketing that tries to sell products based on the ability to boost brain power or is connected to scientific evidence is a mistake. The message to marketers is do not oversimplify science to use it as a marketing tool because it is not a good business practice and detracts “resources and attention away from the real science.” The lesson here is to be honest and direct with marketing, rather than trying to fool your audience with half-truths. Today’s consumers are asking the tough questions and demanding evidence that substantiates marketing claims, so it is important to do the right thing or you may put your company’s reputation at great risk.
8. Dan Cobley: “What Physics Taught Me About Marketing,” (Filmed/Posted: 2010).
With experience as a former marketing director for Google and a passion for the sciences, Dan Cobley shows us how marketing as a science can be compared to other scientific laws and principles to gain new insights into customer behavior, how to craft effective marketing messages, and how to study the results of a marketing campaign. For example, in applying the second law of thermodynamics, which says that entropy, as a measure of the disorder of a system, will always increase, it is a good thing to have your brand become chaotic and out of control the more you disperse it. He notes, “This distribution of brand energy gets your brand closer to the people, more in with the people.”
This encouragement to embrace what may seem like disorder in today’s world of marketing is a good lesson for marketers struggling in more traditional marketing. Marketing is about letting it go and letting the audience take the message where it needs to go for.
These are all incredible marketing talks to have with your team and apply to your own marketing strategies, illustrating that while some things change, much about marketing also still holds true.
About Murray Newlands