Of course you’ve heard of TED Talks, those concentrated doses of inspiration and insight delivered by industry professionals in 15-minute speeches. But how many have you watched? Some viewers unfairly dismiss TED Talks as being overly simplistic or lacking in real substance – but in marketing, we know that key rethinking of how we approach our work is more than enough substance.
The forum that originally began to bring together thought leaders in technology, design, and communications (hence TED) has transformed as the talks and speeches, many of which are posted online, have reached a wide fan base who won’t pass up an opportunity to discover what new trends and innovations are changing the world. For marketers, TED Talks provide a new approach to old problems, and an invigorating sense of purpose for the industry at large. Learn to love your job again by watching these thrilling TED Talks.
1. How to Make Choosing Easier
One of the most universally-applicable TED Talks out there, Sheena Iyengar’s “How to Make Choosing Easier” outlines the problem of “choice overload,” giving a common problem within marketing and sales a thorough examination with actionable advice. Also called the “paradox of choice,” the problem of having too many options – and therefore choosing none of them – is a common issue faced by consumers when brands believe that more options automatically means more revenue.
Iyengar paves the way for businesses to make actions easier to take for consumers, ultimately benefiting everyone in the process. Iyengar’s influential research on choice has cemented her name as a choice thought leader. She is a psycho-economist who has published many works on the business of choice, currently teaching at Columbia Business School.
2. 404, The Story of a Page Not Found
On its surface, this humorous and engaging TED Talk by Renny Gleeson is centered on the frustration customers experience when stumbling upon a 404, or “Not Found” page online. By arguing that this setback is actually an opportunity for daring brands to fill their 404s with engaging content, persuasive copy, and an olive branch to customers, Gleeson captures a sentiment applicable to all of marketing – any disappointment, when you apply creativity, can be turned into a chance to excite your customer base.
Gleeson’s talk is incredibly entertaining, and a quick view at 4 minutes in length. An expert in social media and viral marketing, Gleeson helps brands push the envelope and continue to innovative their messaging and methods. Gleeson is the co-founder of the PIE tech accelerator in Portland.
3. The Post-Crisis Consumer
After the devastating financial crisis in 2008, consumers reshaped their purchasing habits and the way they navigate the market. Though this TED Talk was recorded in 2009, the uncertainty that hangs today makes its message more relevant than ever to marketers. Gerzema argues that the dollar means more to the consumer, and that, when devising a marketing strategy, brands should be aware of the tendency of consumers to align their purchases with their values.
Gerzema’s emphasis on innovation as a tool to reach the post-crisis consumer is a lesson every marketer should take to heart. Author of “The Brand Bubble” and “The Athena Doctrine,” Gerzema is a successful CEO and a frequent columnist who focuses on the impact that corporate culture has on consumer behavior.
4. Design and Discovery
In a sea of copycat corporations, how can your brand focus on individualism to set itself apart? In a world that’s becoming more technological and impersonal by the day, how can your brand inject needed humanity into your strategy to forge real connection? These are the complicated questions that David Carson tackles, bringing his signature style combining aggression and panache to make for one truly memorable TED Talk.
Carson helps marketers redirect their thinking by encouraging brands to not think of themselves in a vacuum, thereby boosting revenue and customer trust. Carson is a renowned graphic designer whose experimental style revolutionized his industry during the ‘90s. Carson is a notable designer you should follow.
5. What Physics Taught Me About Marketing
When you’re an expert in both marketing and physics, it’s safe to assume that you’re a bold thinker and a lover of interdisciplinary thought. Dan Cobley utilizes his background in physics to link important rules of marketing to advanced laws of physics like the Heisenberg Principle. You don’t need a Ph.D. in physics to understand the message: by connecting marketing and its strategies to your interests and passions, you can understand organically how marketing works and how consumers behave.
Here’s one example of the nuggets of knowledge within that seem obvious and wise at the same time: the larger your brand, the more difficult to reposition it. Cobley is a marketing director at Google, and before that was the Vice President of branding and marketing for Capital One. At 7 minutes, his TED Talk is a great investment of time.
6. On Glamour
Virginia Postrel is an undisputed authority on glamour – not just in the history of the industry, but in the holistic sense of the word – what is glamour? And how does it apply to marketing? In this informative and thought-provoking talk, Postrel first defines the core concept of glamour (any calculated, carefully polished image designed to impress and persuade) then dissects how we as a culture react to glamour, and what you as a marketer can do about it.
Virginia Postrel is a journalist and cultural critic who, at various times, regularly published columns in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Bloomberg View. Postrel is well-known for her non-fiction books, including “The Power of Glamour” which delves into topics explored in her TED Talk.
7. What Consumers Want
Ultimately, isn’t that the answer we all seek? What do customers want? Joseph Pine explores the phenomenon of customization being applied on a mass scale in the consumer market, and how, ultimately, infinite customization still generates a manufactured experience. So, if a customer seeks authenticity in the 21st century, how can brands deliver an authentic experience is such a thing doesn’t exist?
Pine’s TED Talk will open your eyes to new concepts you may have not considered, and remind you that you shouldn’t waste time seeking an unobtainable goal. Pine works as a consultant to executives and entrepreneurs who want to utilize his methods of providing authenticity. He is a best-selling author of several books, including “The Experience Economy.”
8. How to Start a Movement
Most marketing professionals have felt an urge to do more, to accomplish more – what if, instead of just selling your products to customers, you could start an entire movement behind a concept or idea? Derek Sivers breaks down exactly how movements are sparked and sustained – all in just over three minutes. A choice quote: “It was really the first follower that transformed the lone nut into a leader.”
A movement isn’t just something that happens – it’s a chain reaction, as Sivers demonstrates. Sivers is an entrepreneur who founded and was the former president of CD Baby. In the last few years Sivers has launched new companies MuckWork and Wood Egg.
9. Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce
In his now legendary examination of spaghetti sauce companies’ quest to create the perfect product, Malcolm Gladwell tells how psychophysicist Howard Moskowitz used data to determine that you can’t create one perfect product for everyone, and must align your goals for products with buyer personas that are carefully constructed by your company. By delving into what customers want, choice (but not too much choice, as Iyengar would point out), marketers can boost sales through niche markets.
Gladwell is a natural storyteller, and his delivery is enthralling from the first moment. Gladwell is an author, journalist, and frequent speaker. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, Gladwell has authored five best-selling books, including “The Tipping Point” and “Outliers.”
10. How to Get Your Ideas to Spread
Seth Godin is the undisputed champ of TED Talks. While his TED Talk The Tribes We Lead is also worth a view, How to Get Your Ideas to Spread taps into the novelty of bad or bizarre ideas – and why they’re so much better at capturing an audience’s attention than if you played it safe. If you’re looking for a TED Talk to wake you up to the infinite possibilities of marketing, this is it. By doing something remarkable, Godin argues, you can convince consumers that your brand, and your product, is unique. What can be more valuable?
Godin gets his ideas to spread. Godin has authored 18 books about marketing, leadership, and change. He founded Yoyodyne and Squidoo, and writes one of the most read blogs online. He was inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame in 2013.
Catch these TED Talks during your lunch break to rediscover all of the ways you can change the world, one marketing campaign at a time.
Top image by Monkey Business Images