The Art of Marketing Conference

I have a confession to make: I love digital marketing conferences.

The sun was out and it felt like a homecoming of sorts with many of my familiar peers in attendance. The scene was set at the iconic Canada Place in downtown Vancouver. With five esteemed guests slated to speak, the potential was there for a day chock-full of digital marketing goodness. Of course, when your audience is comprised of natural born communicators who disseminate information for a living, the expectations are bound to be pretty high. The Art of Marketing promised cutting edge thinking on today’s most critical marketing issues. I’m happy to report, it didn’t disappoint.

The first speaker up was Dr. Robert Cialdini, New York Times bestselling author, and renowned expert on influence and negotiation in the business arena. He described the six principles of social influence used to increase the probability of people saying ‘yes’ to your marketing initiatives.

  • Reciprocation (people say ‘yes’ to people they feel they owe)
  • Liking (establishing a common rapport is key)
  • Consistency (establishes trust)
  • Scarcity (people always want what there is less of)
  • Authority (reduces uncertainty)
  • Consensus (people tend to follow the majority)

His talk delivered a number of takeaways, including the notion that you shouldn’t be afraid to lead with your product’s weakness (see Buckley’s and their horrible tasting cough syrup for inspiration).

Author, entrepreneur and educator Nir Eyal was up next. He had the audience considering how to develop positive habits within their customer base. He pointed out that technologies like Facebook and Instagram are becoming the cigarettes of our collective behaviour. Habits can actually enhance people’s lives and assist in discovering meaning. In designing the hooks and triggers that prompt action and investment, Eyal endorsed building the change you wish to see in the world.

It came as no surprise that celebrated author of the Desire Hunter and marketing detective Martin Lindstrom came prepared with a bevy of thoughts on the topic of branding through emotion. He emphasized that emotional connection is key in fostering the instincts so heavily relied on by consumers. I was inspired by Lindstrom’s focus on looking for clues, listening to the consumer and pairing your ‘small data’ findings with ‘big data’. He showed us a number of powerful examples where he was able to do this, which resulted in record breaking outcomes.

Author and consultant Jackie Huba connected with all the Lady Gaga fans in attendance by discussing the famed pop songstress’ savvy digital marketing efforts and the resulting legion of loyal fans around the world.

Standford Graduate of Business Professor—and yes, New York Times Bestselling author—Chip Heath ended the day with an incisive talk about improving business decisions through better processes. He offered the following 4 points to help work through good decision making: 1. Widen your options, 2. Reality time your assumptions, 3. Attain some distance, 4. Prepare to be wrong. In a day dedicated to uber-marketing strategies, Mr. Heath concluded things wonderfully.

As a marketing professional at our busy Vancouver web design and digital marketing agency, Forge and Smith, it is all too easy to get caught up in those client-centric bubbles we sometimes create for ourselves. It’s nice to step back on occasion to convene with like-minded individuals, to hear first hand from industry leaders, and to reacquire that one thing all marketers thrive on: perspective.

For more information on future conferences, visit