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3 Key Learnings from Digital Summit Atlanta 2015

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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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