As Co-Founder and CEO, Ryan’s start at zu was a humble one, designing and developing for Saskatoon’s small businesses as he explored the uncharted territory of the Internet in 1995. His role today takes on many forms. Sitting on the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership Board and as a charter member of SaskTech, he promotes our growing industry and all of the innovation taking shape around us. Ryan is the steward of zu culture; he continues to make our office an inspiring place to work.
Top three lessons from day one of The Gathering 2016
Day One of #TheGathering2016 has been a whirlwind of inspiring and thought provoking speakers from some of the world’s best brands. While we take a moment to process the day’s events, we reflect on a few of our top takeaways so far:
Know who your monsters are. What are you fighting against? Is there a cause you stand behind, a misperception of your brand or business that you need to clarify? For Airbnb, the monster they had to tackle was the concept of “the stranger”. In order to overcome the hesitation that hosts and travelers have towards sharing space with someone they don’t know, Airbnb launched a campaign to make the scary familiar. By knowing what it is that keeps potential customers away, this opens up the opportunity for brands to combat it face on.
Build your brand on stories. Over the course of the day, many presentations touched on the power of stories. Keynote Speaker, John Moore, shared with us the story of Love146, previously branded in a dull and self-descriptive manner, they discovered their new deep and meaningful name through a trip to South East Asia (read all about it here). The name now provokes questions surrounding its origins, and provides the opportunity to launch into conversation and story.
On the same note, Eric Peterson of Lululemon shared that they encourage yoga classes by providing a budget for staff to attend. Not only does this see an increase in sales at the stores where staff are active, but it also provides staff an outlet to promote the brand – by giving them the ability to say “I’m at work right now” to a fellow yoga classmate, this starts the conversation around their product and what it’s like to work at Lululemon.
At the core of whatever our objectives are as marketers, it's really always about humans. No matter what business you are in or what you are selling – whether you are launching a new product, or trying to drive a new offer to existing clients – you need to be thinking of your customers.
Airbnb's Chief Marketing Officer, Jonathan Mildenhall, shared their interesting marketing journey over the past three years. Not only were they launching a new product, they were defining a brand new space that the world, quite frankly, was leery of. However, over the past three years, Airbnb has been busy breaking down barriers, and making it all become the norm.
In doing this, one of their key pillars for marketing was to strike an emotional chord with their audience. Their goal? Target human values to gain trust and deepen brand commitment. They launched a number of fascinating campaigns that featured unique locations – like really unique locations (think: yurts, castles, a gondola, treehouses) – and this captured the curious adventure-seekers who make up their target audience. Other campaigns followed an empowered single female traveler, globe-trotting and staying in communities around the world where she literally gained a place in the community as a neighbour and friend. Yet another campaign tackled social issues, and asked the question “Is Mankind?” The results have been astounding.
The learning we all came away from in this session was that marketing is not just about a product, or a sales goal. It is really about us humans. Creating meaningful connections for your customers – whether it is through advertising, front-line staff or unique experiences on your website – is important to gaining loyal and trusting customers. When done correctly, it has the power to change opinions, and create loyal brand ambassadors along the way.
We are just about to head to day two of the conference, so check back in a few days to see our next update.