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3 Key Learnings from Digital Summit Atlanta 2015

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DS2

Digital Summit Atlanta, a gathering of some of the most forward thinkers in digital marketing, took place this week and I was proud to make it my 3rd time in attendance. Each year I have been able to discover new topics and discuss the next trends in digital marketing.

Overall, each year has followed its own theme as digital marketing as a whole evolves so quickly. In 2013, trends in how social media was changing for brands was explored in a lot of sessions. Last year it shifted to a major focus on content marketing and SEO. Now, at #DSUM15, the next stage in UX (User Experience) design seemed to be the key focus.

And with that, here are three key takeaways from the conference as it can relate to what we do in the experiential space…

1. Humanizing UX

Many of the sessions at Digital Summit really focused on UX as we were challenged to think of what was next in the field. For example, how do we run UX more lean and understand better, powered with ‘big data’, how to humanize someone’s digital experience. When we map out the consumer journey – remember that each user is an actual person with problems and needs.

When you look at bring a consumer through a brand experience for experiential this line of thinking makes a lot of sense, right? It is our expertise to bring brands to life in a way that they can interact with consumers as people and not anonymous IP addresses. However many activation designs we see in the field could do a better job from at the ideation stage to keep in mind that once launched, these are people with their own objectives who will walk through our ideas.

So when thinking through your consumer experience idea, map it out. Literally draw out each stage of the activation UX and use this tool to identify where the gaps are or more importantly, where it can be more streamlined.

2. Millennials are mobile-first…and are starting to earn a lot of money

When you hear the word “millennials” – how old of a person pops in your mind? Probably an early-20-something with new student debt maybe? Well consider that millennials are were born starting in 1980 and now are entering their mid-30s. Sure there is probably a healthy amount of debt still lingering – but this generation is now entering over a $Trillion in buying power and loves to spend.

So with all of this data we now have on the ‘Connected Generation’ – what have we learned about marketing to them? It’s a long answer but here are two quick tips from @annieg from StumbleUpon.

First, “6 is the new 60” – as in the 6” phone is more important than the 60” TV. Now that doesn’t mean the generation is consumer less video – in fact it’s more than ever. But reportedly 33% do not watch any broadcast TV.

Second, it seems obvious that millennials are connected to their mobile devices, sure, but how many experiences are being built mobile-first? When we consider social, if you stop to think why they are so effective with the connected generation it’s not just because they are social – but because the most popular experiences are mobile-first. Snapchat, Instagram, Vine…some of the most powerful platforms for the younger Millennials have excelled by being native to the 6” screen. So consider mobile-first experiences to connect and make an engagement that this group wants to use. After all, it is why the younger Millennials are now being known as Social Natives.

3. The Entrepreneur Wants to Solve a Problem

I heard a great line this year and it came during a keynote speaker Chris Brogan, whose content I highly recommend. To summarize:

Stop chasing innovation, which aims to just do something.

Be an entrepreneur, which aims to solve someone’s problem.

While this is absolutely a trap in creating the latest in digital experiences, it is also a trap in experiential marketing. Brands and agencies alike all want to innovate and create and truly great new things are activated in our space every year. But when coming up the ideas for the experience on the front end, don’t just try to chase an innovation for the sake of doing it. Instead, identify an audience’s problem and solve it. That is where the entrepreneurship mindset excels and where experiential marketing can truly make an in-person impact on someone.

If you are ever free in May, I highly recommend Digital Summit. This is only a small snipet of content from the 2-day conference. I still have to go through pages upon pages of notes but in the meantime, enjoy the learnings and feel free to find me @BradMEpstein if you want to go through my timeline where I shared some more real-time leanrings!

Bonus! PowerPoint is where data goes to die!

If you work with data (you should!) treat it as a living, breathing source. PowerPoint it becomes static and if 2015 taught me anything – is that static is kryptonite for the modern marketer. So learn new tools that keep you agile and keep your brand’s marketing velocity as fast as possible.

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Employee Appreciation Day

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EAD

One of our favorite traditions here in Atlanta is our annual Employee Appreciation Day, which just took place on Thursday, April 23rd. This day is a welcome diversion to take a load off and as Team Epic’s Melanie Hatcher put it: “play hooky while AT work.” More than anything, it is a way to stop and appreciate all of the good people who make this one of AJC’s Top Workplaces!

The day started with free Chick-Fil-A for breakfast, which is always the best way to start a day in Atlanta, home of Chick-Fil-A. From there, everyone signed up for a complimentary massage and car wash.

Once noon came around, lunch was served outside on a beautiful afternoon from one of our favorite mobile food services: fresh Woodfired Pizza. You can find S & J Woodfired Pizza at festivals around Atlanta and so it’s a pleasure to have them cater a unique lunch experience for everyone in the office.

For the late afternoon, it was time to win some prizes with bingo, raffles, basketball, and beer. Up for grabs were multiple gift cards, free Reebok shoes, and even new free 42” televisions!

Finally, it wouldn’t be an Employee Appreciation Day recap without the inaugural psLIVE Darts Championship, help from 9am and coming to its dramatic conclusion around 6pm. Featuring 22 [mostly] talent dart throwers, each round proved to be as much fun to watch as it was to participate. When the dust settled and all of the bullseyes were hit, Matt Barth emerged victorious to cap off what was, once again, a great day for everyone to feel appreciated!

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MKTG Holiday-Party Hilarity

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NEW YORK
MKTGNYC Holiday

This year’s holiday party proved once again that the New York office really knows how to “shake things up.” As guests stepped into our snowglobe-themed party space they stepped inside the wintery world of an MKTG snowglobe. Glittering gobo snowflakes fell from the ceiling while polar bears posed for selfies, loving coworkers pelted each other with fake snowballs, and the snowmen of IT mosh-pit the red-hot dance floor. In a word: face-melting.

ATLANTA
Atlanta

psLIVE Atlanta hosted its Ugly Sweater Party on December 18th, utilizing our very own expansive warehouse space, and it was a huge success! Our annual traditions were intact—volunteering at the Salvation Army in the morning, a heated Bingo competition, Secret Santa gift exchanges, and our awards ceremony.  We were spoiled with a southern style BBQ dinner before the awards which gave us the energy to celebrate all night! We crowned our very deserving award recipients as well as our Ugliest Sweater victor and moved out on the dance floor.  With so many talented dancers, an impromptu dance-off went down and it epic!  Victors were crowned and moments were forever burned into our memories.  It was a great night of fun and camaraderie with friends and colleagues alike.  We can’t wait to do it again next year!

CHICAGO
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The MKTG Chicago holiday party took place on December 11th in the covered patio of Stella Barra Pizzeria. The team enjoyed countless snacks, fancy seats, the company of special guests such as Ron Burgundy and Storm Trooper, homemade ice cream, and a very exciting White Elephant gift exchange. The team finished off the night with some extreme karaoke and a second feast of leftover pizza.

View the Beautiful Memories Slidely Slideshow here.

CINCINNATI
Cin Holiday Party

The Cincinnati office gathered for an ugly sweater & cookie exchange day! Some folks made sweaters, others borrowed and sadly – a few even owned. Our VP of Creative has a special name for these “ugly sweaters” and refers to them as “Holiday Awareness Sweaters”. She claims to own none. A fun day was had by all and even those too lazy to bake (the men) were lucky enough to get a few leftover cookies of their own. Merry Christmas from Cincinnati!

LONDON

MKTG London celebrated the holidays with some new friends this year.  With Charlie Horsey and Matt Manning making appearances we were kindly invited to the psLIVE Christmas party.  The celebration started with a quiet team lunch at a French Brasserie in the new neighbourhood in North London.  We then headed down to the psLIVE office and got a tour of the new digs and had a cocktail hour to meet some of the new team.  The party then made its way to Shoreditch House in East London to carry on the festivities.  The memories came rushing back from 2012 and the Olympics activation as we made our way up to the rooftop.

Great views, great food and great company made this end to 2014 one to remember for MKTG London as we move into a new era in 2015.

SAN FRANCISCO
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The 12 Days of (an SF) Christmas
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my favorite clients gave to me:
12 blank event credentials,
11 custom workout kits,
10 photo booth templates,
9 menu tastings,
8 approved signage plans,
7 Hangout meeting requests,
6 custom playlists,
5 stage renderings,
4 program managers,
3 consumer journeys,
2 coffee options in the kitchen,
And an IT ticket filed electronically!
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Written by Stephanie Rudnick
Stephanie Rudnick

January 7th, 2015 at 1:15 pm