9 TED Talks Every Modern Marketer Needs to Watch

June 18, 2020 Chloe Kelsch

Time is that wherein there is opportunity, and opportunity is that wherein there is no great time”, Hippocrates once noted. That being said, we are currently in a great opportunistic time. Although things are beginning to normalize, the impacts of the global pandemic will certainly have lasting effects for many years to come, we are also being given more time to learn how to live and work in our new “normal”. We don’t yet know all of the ways that this pandemic will change the way we do business, but what we do know is that we will communicate differently, and we will need to be flexible and creative in the days ahead. To help get you on your way to renewed vision and fill in the gaps between the latest Netflix series, here are the top 9 TED Talks every Modern Marketer needs to watch! From the importance of storytelling to how boredom can lead to the most brilliant ideas, here is my must watch list…

1. Seth Godin: “The Tribes We Lead

“This is Marketing: You can’t be seen until you learn to see” best-selling author and marketing expert, Seth Godin, asserts that the old tactics of mass marketing are no longer effective in today’s digital age. While the internet was supposed to unite us all into one, he argues that it has, instead, paved the way for an influx of tribalism, with channels of interests to which specific groups of people flock.

“To effectively lead a tribe, you don’t need everyone”, Godin explains; “you just need a handful of dedicated people who care enough”.

Why it’s important: Godin delivers ample means for digital marketers with his advice on how to tell a story to people who want to hear it, how to engage with people who fiercely want to be engaged, how to lead a “movement”, and how to fundamentally design change that both drives your brand forward and delivers value to your surrounding community.

2. Steven Johnson: “Where Good Ideas Come From

In this TED Talk, writer Steven Johnson looks to answer to the question: “What environments lead to unusual levels of innovation and creativity?”. Johnson explains that great ideas often come out of chaos, more than rigidity and are formed more readily in communities, rather than solidarity.

Why it’s important: As digital marketers endeavor to produce concepts that help them resonate the most with their audience, Johnson helps us understand the value of linking ideas to best capture the attention of our target market.

3. John Gerzema: “The Post Crisis Consumer

While this TED Talk explores John Gerzema’s ideas on the upside to the 2008 financial crisis, it is becoming vastly relevant for our current time of navigating the COVID-19 epidemic and highlights the opportunity for positive change. In this talk, he identifies four major cultural shifts driving new consumer behavior and shows how businesses are evolving to connect with thoughtful spending.

Why it’s important: We are in a time where thoughtful spending is and will be of the utmost importance, as well as the necessity to communicate in a relevant way – which leads me to my next top TED Talk on the importance of telling a great story.

4. Andrew Stanton: “The Clues to a Great Story

Storytelling is how we connect to each other. The most secure and thriving attachments are built by the ability to convey clear and cohesive stories about our own lives to our children or one another. This connection and ability to piece together our own stories in a way that clearly conveys us to our audience, makes us relatable, trusted and builds the foundation for lasting connectedness.

Why it’s important: Your story is the foundation of your brand and being able to convey your values through storytelling is essential to building advocacy among your audience. We all have a story to tell, especially coming out of the current COVID-19 crisis, and we have to be cognizant of how to best tell it and how to connect in an empathetic way to our audience, as we navigate this new territory.

5. Manoush Zomorodi: “How Boredom Can Lead to Our Most Brilliant Ideas

Podcast host and author, Manoush Zomorodi, takes the idea of filling the gaps of users’ digital experiences to a cerebral level as she examines how consumers fill the cracks in our days and how those things impact our minds and behavior. Our digital lives have nearly annihilated the presence of boredom, instead, provoking us to fill the voids of our days with scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, or Pinning new diets and workouts from our digital devices. She questions the potential consequences our chaotic lives can have on our creativity.

Why it’s important: It seems that in recent times, not even the daily dose of insta-social-feeds are filling our voids. A global IBM study identified creativity as the most crucial leadership competency for future success. This couldn’t be more true for digital marketers because much of their success in keeping their brands on the cutting edge relies on their ability to think innovatively.

6. Malcolm Gladwell: “Choice, Happiness & Spaghetti Sauce

The New Yorker author, Malcolm Gladwell, gets inside the food industry’s pursuit of the perfect spaghetti sauce and makes a larger argument about the nature of choice and happiness.

Why it’s Important: If you’ve read such acclaimed and poignant books as the “Tipping Point”, “Blink”, and “What the dog saw”, you know Malcom Gladwell has a keen eye for discerning the importance out of every-day human behavior and what appears to be coincidence. This TED Talk focuses on the restaurant industry, however, takes a much broader look at the human condition, our pursuit of happiness and what we can do as marketers to achieve said goal with our audience.

7. Sheena Iyengar: “How to Make Choosing Easier

Just in time for a world drowning in options, Sheena Iyengar delivers exactly what we need to know all about making it easier for our consumers to choose us!

Why it’s important: We all want customized experiences and products, but when faced with 100s of options, consumers freeze up. With fascinating new research, Sheena Iyengar demonstrates how businesses (and others) can improve the experience of choosing.

8. Gaby Barrios: “Why Gender-based Marketing is Bad for Business

Companies often target consumers based on gender, but this kind of advertising shortcut doesn’t just perpetuate outdated stereotypes, it’s also bad for business, says marketing expert Gaby Barrios. In this clear, actionable talk, she explains why gender-based marketing doesn’t drive business nearly as much as you might think and shows how companies can find better ways to reach customers and grow their brands.

Why it’s important: If you single out only one gender in your marketing plan, you risk losing a considerable part of your market. It’s better to market to the behavior you want to evoke and/or change, than it is to cut your audience in half.

9. Seth Godin: “How to Get Your Ideas to Spread

In a world of too many options and too little time, our obvious choice is to just ignore the ordinary stuff. Marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes to getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones.* (excerpt from TED Talk Summary).

Why it’s important: It’s time to take your new ideas and put them into action. Godin does a fantastic job of relaying the concept of how to create advocacy through the spreading of your ideas in his 16-minute TED Talk. In Marketing, it is our job to create vision for the future, have the tenacity to see it through and spark inspiration in the masses.

Take this time to kick off your shoes and brush up on your professional curiosities in the comfort of your own home. Who knows, you may be the next TED Talk presenter with the newest ideas on marketing post COVID-19. An interesting note: outside of Gaby Barrios’ “Why gender-based marketing is bad for business” in November of 2019, there has not been a TED Talk on Marketing since November of 2017. I would say there’s a recognizable gap that needs to be filled, so hopefully this article will inspire some of you to act and at least, fill the gaps we have newly found in our #QuarantineLife.

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About the Author

Chloe Kelsch

Chloe is a Sr. Client Engagement Lead with Tegrita. With 18 years of strategy and marketing experience with large brands across multiple industries, she is results driven, and her ‘strategy first’ mentality helps in delivering success for her clients’ short- and long-term marketing vision and organizational goals. Chloe helps her clients implement innovative strategies to solve challenges. Outside of her professional experience, her interests include Neuropsychology, Volunteering for LD, Autism, and Cystic Fibrosis non-profit programs, Arts & Music and finding creative ways to entertain her toddler.

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