The Silicon Beach Conference was held at the Pavilion Dance theatre situated right by Bournemouth beach. Such a great location over the sunny two day conference which was jam-packed with inspiring speakers and a relaxed environment to meet like-minded marketers in the industry. If you missed out this year, it is definitely one to look out for in 2015. It was a pleasant surprise that the overall theme was based around people, humanising brands and collaboration. Ensuring people are the main focus of the business and enabling creativity to thrive amongst a happy and engaged workforce within an agency. A topic in which we definitely believe in at theblueballroom!

Here are a few personal highlights:

Design for serendipity

A great content strategy must be flexible to change right up until the last minute. If you have flexibility in your approach, true greatness can be delivered to the client. The younger generation already has a different way of thinking when it comes to producing great content or “visual storytelling”. Their ease on social networks like Instagram and the ability to create, edit and produce quality images at a fast pace gives us an insight in how experienced our future Creative Directors will be. We must design for serendipity not data. Create wonderful images and memories that are relatable to the target market and be open to learn new skills.

Keeping creative professionals engaged at work:

  • Recognise good work and give credit where credit is due
  • Keep projects accountable. Larger teams will assume others are accountable and the ideas will be few and far between
  • Inspire the department with creative sessions. Don’t just draw from industry ideas. “It’s not where you take an idea from its where you take it too”
  • Prove as a Creative Director that you can do it
  • Share opportunities and trust the management team
  • Free people from desks! Measure excellence from ideas not bums on seats. Thinking time outside the office is invaluable
  • Give clear feedback and defend your staff
  • Hire people who scare you. Someone who can challenge your thinking and drive you to push the limits is by far a better investment.

An interesting quotation from Ed Catmull from Pixar, “A hallmark of a healthy creative culture is that its people feel free to share ideas, opinions and criticism.” This statement links nicely with the talk from Danielle Newnham (@daniellenewnham) who discussed how side projects should be encouraged within agencies because they give employees a chance to learn new skills and share ideas. Side projects can often lead to producing some of the agencies best work which can be showcased to gain new business. Having at least one day a week aside for creative side projects can stimulate the creative juices and produce excellence. Did you know that Twitter originally started as a side project?

Collaboration and company culture

In order for the agency structure to work more efficiently departments and roles need to start to “smudge”. It is important to bring the focus back to people. Once this focus is clear, project briefs will come together quickly. From account management, content, new business to the design team, communication needs to flow throughout. Everyone needs to feel as passionate about the end result and the client feedback.

Looking for talent in unusual places is the mind-set we should take when wanting to create effective collaborations. The UK has a wealth of expertise and specialisms, however how often do we look outside of our region to seek collaboration opportunities? If we start to build broader networks for collaborations the inspiration, ideas and resources are endless.

A company culture can be made of the following people characteristics: humble, empathetic, resilient, engaged, determined, and human. These are the same characteristics you should have in mind when communicating the brand message.  Danielle Newnham (@daniellenewnham) shared an interesting formula to create a superb company culture. It shows how a perfect blend and balance of the 4 Cs can build an engaged workforce:

Curiosity + Creativity + Collaboration + Communication => Culture

A new way of pitching?

Doug Kessler (@dougkessler) explained a new way of thinking when pitching for new business, “Insane Honesty”. It is a technique that changes your focus from constantly enforcing your agencies strengths and starting the pitch with your weaknesses. It has been proved that “putting your worst foot forward” can surprise, signal confidence and build trust effectively.

Could you live without email?

Claire Burge (@claireburge) gave an inspiring talk on how she has personally ditched email. Putting email communication to a halt and swapping to project management systems and social media, she has increased productivity from 18% to 87%. When you next come back from your annual holiday and find your inbox full of thousands of email, you may be tempted to change your way of working to!

Inspiring adverts

Jonny Watson (@Jay_Wizzle) showcased some truly inspiring advertisements which are useful to their target audience.

Resources to look out for: 

  • Guide on how to measure the effectiveness of social media: newmr.orf/ipasocialworks
  • Brands need to move away from blindly commenting on every event as it unfolds, and prevent piggybacking off the back of other campaigns. The Twitter moments tool helps marketers plan their content calendar. It uses keywords to show activity and helps you work out when to schedule your content at the most interactive and opportune moments.

Follow @SiliconBeachUK for more insights and links to cool illustrations created on the day. To find out more about the speaker biographies and twitter handles visit the silicon beach website.