Believe it or not – we’ve reached the end of another amazing SXSW! We had a busy day of packing, automobiles and planes to begin our journey back home – but couldn’t help but squeeze in a few more sessions to take with us on the road.
- I tried to work some variety into my schedule on the final day of SXSW, and in the session titled “Investing to Change the World,” a panel of bankers, investors and financial planners talked about how many individuals today are working to align their investments with their values. There are several individual stocks and mutual funds that fit the bill (humanitarian companies, environmental-friendly companies, etc.), and surprisingly, many are outperforming the market itself. The key is just like any other investment – look for companies who are investing in their own long-term success and are inherently resilient. Who wouldn’t want to invest in companies that produce returns AND are making a difference in our world?
- In “How One Visual Campaign is Fighting Homelessness,” the two creative agency representatives discussed what it takes to develop a successful, visual-first campaign. I appreciated the simplicity with which they broke down the creative process:
- When possible, lead with video (since 84% of the population simply skims written materials while 90% will readily watch a video).
- First answer three questions – why is there a need for this product/service, what does success look like, and who is the audience you’re targeting?
- Develop your “visual language” for the project up front – fonts, styles, and images – the things that will weave throughout each piece of content for a consistent look/feel.
- Focus each piece of content on a “three act structure” – identify the problem, highlight your solution, present a call to action.
- Finally, the panel of “National Geographic Explorers Changing the World” was extremely
impressive, as you would imagine, based on the talents and work history of the speakers. Ranging from Erika Bergman’s oceanic research as a “submersible pilot,” to Dr. Albert Lin’s work to find the tomb of Genghis Kahn (and his most recent challenge of losing the lower third of his leg), each panelist encouraged attendees to visit the Open Explorer website and develop our own projects as explorers. “We’re all in this together, seeking to make our world a better place, and its amazing what technology can do to bring us together and get things done.” That’s a sentiment that embodies the entire SXSW Interactive conference.
- I didn’t grow up with Donny Osmond on repeat, but I definitely know who he is and it was fun to see him join his son today for a session titled “15,000-Year-Old Marketing Strategy: Why It Works” focused on storytelling. Donny shared how he’s turned storytelling into a 50+ year career through song and showmanship, and he was joined by neuroscientist Shonte Taylor and Internet Marketing Association leader Jeff Marcoux, who each lent insight, respectively, regarding how the brain works and why the fundamentals of storytelling still matter. Some of my top takeaways included that stories – which engage the right side of our brain – blow fancy PowerPoint presentations – which engage the left brain – out of the water every time. The right-side brain wants to be creative and engaged emotionally, which causes a release of reward chemicals that inform the left-side brain that something good is going on and we should remember it. Also, memorable experiences with products or services create neuropathways in the brain and brands need to learn how to honor those experiences. This means not only engaging when things go right, but jumping in quickly when things go wrong so that the once positive memory doesn’t go negative too quickly or spread among customers. Donny shared a poignant story about when he tried dropping “Puppy Love” from his repertoire, as it didn’t represent the artist he was trying to become. Goaded by the crowd to perform it at a show, he did an impromptu “heavy metal” version instead. When asked by a fan after the show why he did it, he told her it was his song and he could do whatever we wanted with it, to which she replied that while he might have originated it, the song “belonged” to her in a way that represented fond childhood memories created listening to the song, and he had just disrespected those memories. It was a pivotal moment in his career (he sang the song proudly from then on…), and a great example of how telling a good story in the right way can get into the brains, and thus the hearts, of customers.
- On the heels of a session about storytelling, it was fun to learn the story behind Outdoor Voices, an active wear brand created and run by the 28-year-old founder from Boulder. During the conversation at “Fitness & Fashion: Creating & Scaling Lifestyle Brands,” CEO Tyler Haney shared a great story of showing up at an investor meeting with a black eye she had gotten that morning while running in the park when a dog dashed in front of her causing her to trip and fall. Talk about living your truth – she powered through the meeting rocking the black eye accessory, and used the story about the mishaps that sometimes come with an active lifestyle to her advantage. The name Outdoor Voices was inspired by the freedom that comes with being outdoors and having fun – when you can leave behind the quiet and controlled “inside voice” we’re required to keep during most times of the day and shout about how great it feels to move our bodies. That truth and storytelling nature is sure to take this young company far!