As the year is coming to a close, we’ve all got 2020 vision. Why not hit “pause” and use the holiday downtime to get some inspiration? Here are 6 of our favourite new and old marketing TED Talks that might help you sharpen your marketing focus, inspire a new perspective on your marketing creative, and let you see things through a new lens.

1. Seth Godin: How to Get Your Ideas to Spread

About The Speaker: Seth Godin is a godlike figure to many in the marketing pantheon, and deservedly so. In addition to launching one of the most popular blogs on the Internet, he has written 18 best-selling books! His most recent work, This is Marketing, was an instant bestseller. 

Brief Synopsis Of The Talk: In this timelessly fascinating TED talk, you get a fresh take on contemporary marketing. Seth implies that successful marketing is not so much about the product, but more about spreading ideas. We are living in a remarkable time when ideas can spread like wildfire. This possibility, where every company can be a catalyst, is a great equalizer. Do you have what it takes?

Why It’s a Great TED Talk: We live in a very cluttered world where there’s information everywhere. To cut through the noise it’s crucial to be bold and innovative when it comes to marketing. Seth Godin does an excellent job providing great real-life examples of marketing campaigns that did this really well and breaks down exactly how they achieved it. 

 Key Takeaways: 

  • Bizarre and possibly bad ideas are sometimes more successful than boring ones.
  • Don’t make generic marketing campaigns for everyone. Instead, find a group that really cares about what it is you have to say. Talk to this group and make it easy for them to tell their friends. 
  • The riskiest thing you can do in marketing now is being safe. He references Proctor and Gamble as an example of this. The whole model of being Proctor and Gamble is about delivering average products for average people. That’s risky. In today’s economy, the safe thing to do is to address the fringes, be remarkable.

2. Gaby Barrios: Why Gender-Based Marketing is Bad for Business

About The Speaker: Gaby Barrios is stirring up a storm in the business world. She is unapologetically pushing boundaries and expectations of marketing work, with innovative approaches to equality and inclusivity in her marketing campaigns. 

Brief Synopsis of the Talk: After personally witnessing blatant gender-based marketing while watching the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Gaby argues that gender as a basis for marketing activities is irresponsible and simply bad business. In this highly topical TED Talk, she challenges us as marketers: how will we do better for our consumers and be innovative without the crutch of gender bias?

Why It’s a Great TED Talk: Gaby lays down the negative impacts of gender bias in marketing, while also highlighting and allowing that sometimes it is needed. With a great view of both sides of the argument, Gaby details multiple alternatives to gender-based marketing and is still able to wrap up the talk with a hopeful message for the marketing community.

Key Takeaways: 

  • You can’t expect to have growth in your market without disrupting it. 
  • Delivering business growth using outdated models that play on outdated gender norms is doable, but is not the future. Do not underestimate your consumers – think beyond their gender. Bias is not good for business
  • Let’s stop doing what’s easy and opt for the ethical. The impact of your marketing is not just on your bottom line; it’s on society. 

3. Jose Miguel Sokoloff: How Christmas Lights Helped Guerrillas Put Down Their Guns

About The Speaker: Jose Miguel Sokoloff is an ad executive that’s changing the world. Working with the Ministry of Defense in Colombia, Jose’s ad campaigns have demobilized guerillas, reunited families, and put the war-torn country on a path to peace. 

Brief Synopsis of the Talk: Whether it’s for peace or a product, marketing matters to everyone. We are not all going to change the political dynamics of a country with marketing. He  suggests that if we approach every obstacle like we were going to change the world, our marketing success will increase dramatically. 

Why It’s A Great Talk: Jose expertly showcases that marketing has extremely transferable skills and practices everywhere, especially where you’d least expect it. He wants you to know what you’re doing matters, and you shouldn’t doubt the power of successful and poignant marketing and business practices. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Marketing is still one of the most powerful tools of change that we have available. You can change lives with marketing, and you may just have to get a little more creative than usual. 
  • Marketing is not just a business strategy. Given its extensive impacts it is a life strategy.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of successful and poignant marketing, advertising, and business practice. 

4. Lorna Davis: A guide to collaborative leadership

About The Speaker: Lorna Davis is a worldwide business and marketing mogul all about brand stories, goals, and expansions. She’s served as president of multiple consumer goods companies such as Kraft and Danone and is currently a global ambassador for the B Corp movement.

Brief Synopsis of the Talk: Zero to Hero is the way most of us think of our lives and business careers. This way of thinking –  that “Hero” being the penultimate goal – is a danger to positive marketing and business practice. Lorna Davis highlights the importance and ingenuity of collaborative leadership and the positive impact of dismantling the Hero Complex in the business community in this TED Talk. 

Why It’s A Great Talk: Lorna’s decades of experience make this talk extremely genuine and fact driven. Lorna’s goal isn’t just to change the business world as a whole – she wants everyone to alter the way they lead and collaborate. She shows us the positive impact collaborative leadership has with personal stories while ensuring that her call to arms on leadership reform is accessible to everyone. 

Key Takeaways:

  • You need to work collaboratively to solve shared problems and objectives. There is no need for the individual as the “hero”. 
  • Asking for and cultivating collaboration is not a sign of weakness in a leader, it’s a sign of strength. 
  • Interdependence is harder to master and manage than being the hero, especially in the setting of a business workplace. 

5. Beau Lotto and Cirque du Soleil: How we experience awe – and why it matters

About The Speaker: Beau is a decorated neuroscientist who uses his expertise on the human brain and love of theatre to bring complex and abstract ideas on human emotion to a level that is understandable by the average person. Beau has  written multiple best-selling books – including a highly 2020 relevant – Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently

Brief Synopsis of the Talk: Beau Lotto takes a magnifying glass to how we biologically experience the magical feeling of awe and how our brain processes it, highlighted by interpretive performances by members of Cirque du Soleil. His big challenge to business and marketing people: how will you draw awe from everything you absorb, and how will you project that back out into the world. 

Why It’s A Great Talk: Awe is a critical element of lasting, impactful marketing. Beau speaks to the technical aspects of wonder, while the Cirque performers spark it with their performance. Rather than getting into the nitty-gritty of inspiration and ideation, this TED Talk teaches us about the theory of wonder and awe as a whole, how you can create it, and how you can use it as a business and marketing tool.  

Key Takeaways:

  • If you want to shift from A to B, the first step is not to go from A to B directly. The first step is to go from A to NOT A — to let go of your biases and assumptions.
  • Awe gives us the ability and opportunity to overcome our shortfalls and hesitations. It empowers us to be active in achieving our goals and projects, and to keep moving forward in a positive manner. 
  • How will you use awe to inspire others? 

6. Derek Sivers: How to Start a Movement

About The Speaker: Derek Sivers is a TED Talk and business legend. After accidentally making one of the largest websites for selling independent music, Derek has dedicated his life to helping other entrepreneurs and musicians through mentorship, sponsorship, and marketing support. 

Brief Synopsis of the Talk: This one’s an oldie – but If you like shorter talks and haven’t seen it, this one’s for you. In this TED classic, Derek shares his thoughts on how movements start, how you can apply them in business, and what it truly means to be a movement’s leader. 

Why It’s A Great Talk: Derek Sivers is a joy to listen to, and you can tell he truly cares what he’s talking about. It’s hard to come by someone so genuine, and his thoughts on marketing and starting a movement exemplify it. It’s a talk that might seem a little quirky at first, but it has a deeply meaningful and touching message and stands as one of the most viewed talks in TED Talk history. 

Key Takeaways:

  • What and how you market will always make an impression, so make sure it’s a lasting one.
  • Don’t let your inhibitions get in your way of starting a movement.
  • If you find someone doing something great – even if different -, have the guts to be the first one to stand up and join in.

We hope you’ve learnt something from these inspiring marketing TED Talks. Here’s to inspired, innovative and responsible marketing in 2020!

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