3 TED talks to help you focus and fulfill your marketing objectives

TED talks are an invaluable resource for marketers.

They can help you turn leads into sales or devise a campaign to target your most sought-after customer base.

Conventional marketing efforts of the past now serve as quaint reminders of when customers could be wooed easily. These days, consumers are savvier and more informed than ever, and they are acutely aware of the man behind the curtain.

[RELATED: Distracted audiences? Mind-numbing topics? Cut through the clutter with creative corporate writing.]

The following TED talks illustrate just how cerebral the marketing world has become:

1. Steven Johnson: “Where Good Ideas Come From”

Author Steven Johnson has spent his career probing the confluence of technology, science and user experience, and their combined effect on the way we live and think. His TED talk focuses on idea creation, a concept on the mind of most marketers.

Johnson ponders where great ideas come from and dismisses common tropes about eureka moments in the process. Truly brilliant ideas are not born of a single instance, but instead come from multiple channels (what he terms the “liquid network”). He uses examples as diverse as Darwin’s development of the theory of evolution to how modern GPS was created (by way of the Sputnik satellite and a few curious lab workers).

2. Sheena Iyengar: “How to Make Choosing Easier”

Do more choices result in more sales? Not so much, says Sheena Iyengar, a respected author and professor at Columbia Business School. Iyengar has concluded that more choices hinder decision-making, and she uses the example of a gourmet grocery store offering an abundance of jams.

Iyengar found that although consumers were glad to sample jams when offered 24 choices, they were less likely to buy any. However, when only six samples were presented, customers were 30 percent more likely to buy a jar. Iyengar posits that an abundance of choice fatigues consumers, which can disrupt decision-making.

3. Rory Sutherland: “Life Lessons From an Ad Man”

Rory Sutherland began his illustrious advertising career as a copywriter in 1988. During the ensuing years, he has gained key insights into the world of marketing, including the importance of perception. Creating perceived value for a product is a crucial marketing tactic, as it speaks to something deep within consumers that transcends need.

At the heart of marketing is persuasion; how do you convince a customer that your product is the right one for them? You heighten the perceived value, Sutherland says. He tells how Frederick the Great influenced Germans to make potatoes a staple of their diet by declaring them the royal vegetable and forbidding common people to eat them. Soon after, the German people were eating potatoes in droves, because they now had a greater perceived value.

A version of this post first appeared on the Metis Communications blog.

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