The big lessons we took away from Ad Week Europe

The most important ideas – and how to apply them on LinkedIn

May 20, 2016

The major marketing festivals are always filled with big ideas. There are the lightning rod issues that every speaker and delegate wants to talk about, the big themes that seem to spring from so many sources simultaneously, the new strategies that become buzzwords overnight.

The challenge that every marketer walks away with is what on earth to actually do with all this new thinking once the dust settles. Can you turn it into a game-plan that will deliver benefits to your brand and the bottom line?

I decided to take a closer look at the most high-profile new ideas to come out of one of the biggest marketing events of the year: last month’s Ad Week Europe. Once the dust had settled, what could marketers like me actually do to apply these lessons to their strategy? How should they change their tactics? And how could LinkedIn help?

On May 31st at 10am BST, I’ll be hosting a webcast to present the results. Together with my colleagues, I’ve picked out what we believe are The 6 Most Important Lessons of Ad Week Europe. And we’ll be explaining how you can put that thinking into practice on LinkedIn.

So what were the Ad Week Europe themes that we considered most important? Here’s our list – and a quick topline view of some of the ideas and strategies we’ll be looking at in the webcast:

Brand purpose is the source of competitive advantage

It’s no longer just a warm, fuzzy concept or a euphemism for CSR. The evidence is mounting fast that clearly defined and imaginatively expressed brand purpose is a vital source of competitive advantage. The Insights2020 research that LinkedIn supports, and which we presented at the Ad Week Europe B2B Forum, found that 80% of successful customer-centric businesses link everything they do to a clear brand purpose – it’s the characteristic that consistently divides winning businesses from the rest.

How can brands more effectively define and execute against their brand purpose? We’ll talk through ideas for using data to explore the intersection between what you do and what matters to your audience, and how you can use employees and thought leaders to humanise your brand.

B2B choices are more emotive than B2C ones

It was one of my favourite quotes from the whole of the week: “If you buy a pair of trainers and don’t like them, you can always take them back,” explained Interprise MD Laura Milsted at one of our panel discussions. “In B2B the implications are a lot bigger – and therefore the choice is a lot more emotional.”

As buying decisions become more complicated, and buyers and influencers navigate more of the journey on their own initiative, having a brand that appeals to them as human beings, reassuring and inspiring, is a big advantage. We’ll look at the strategies that some of the most effective B2B marketers use to build and manage such brands on LinkedIn.

Marketing’s use of technology needs to put the consumer first

I doubt any marketers walked away from Ad Week Europe thinking ‘ad blocking is just a storm in a teacup that will quickly blow over’. Speakers lined up to warn that this is a consumer reaction against marketing’s unrestrained use of technology that has only just started disrupting the digital landscape.

What’s the answer? Moving away from lazily pursuing consumers wherever they go, and focusing on the destinations where the brand is relevant – and where an audience expects and appreciates a personalised approach.

Brands need new ways to build trust with consumers

Once upon a time, the simple fact that your brand was advertising on TV was a basis for people to trust you. Today’s consumers are far more demanding. In an age of personalised, one-to-one experiences, we need new ways of building trust.

That doesn’t mean that we can do without the traditional creative skills of advertising – but a strong and emotive brand is now just the starting point when it comes to demonstrating your value and relevance. We’ll look at how the art of building and managing trusted brands is evolving.

Marketers should focus less on producing content, more on measuring content

It was a key theme of the expert contributions in our Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing, which we released last month, and a key theme across Ad Week Europe sessions as well.

The path to effective content marketing doesn’t start with producing more content – it starts with setting a clear framework of objectives that clarifies what you are trying to achieve, why you are trying to achieve it, and what the most relevant metrics for success therefore are. And as LinkedIn’s Keith Richey explained in a memorable panel discussion, the real-time content opportunity makes this even more important.

We’ll look at brands that have made a success of content marketing by working out exactly where their content sweet spots are – and how to measure and optimise their efforts.

Storytelling increasingly involves story curating

From JK Rowling to Vice, the world’s top content creators are increasingly taking a curation-led approach, providing a ‘story universe’ and framework, and then inviting others to create content within it. From millennials to B2B audiences, co-creation often holds the key to building credibility and enabling audiences to take ownership. We’ll explore strategies for unlocking this potential on LinkedIn.

In our 6 Most Important Lessons of Ad Week Europe webcast we’ll discuss in detail what each of these big themes means for brands, and share actionable plans for putting them into practice on LinkedIn. Click here to register for the webcast on May 31st at 10am BST. I look forward to seeing you then!