Last week, I was up and on the coach before sunrise, heading to London for TFM&A 2014. The Technology for Marketing and Advertising conference is an annual event for professionals in the marketing and advertising industry. It provides presentations about new and upcoming technologies and innovations, information on products and services and networking opportunities.
Why did I go? An excellent question! My main reason for attending was to learn more about the digital marketing industry from a real-life perspective. While I did work in advertising, it was only for a quick 2 years and I am far from a digital expert. Also, being back in the classroom only provides a theoretical view of how to understand analytics or design a digital strategy. The professionals at TFM&A not only understand what has been, they are also the ones predicting what will come in terms of social media trends, the evolution of brands and the next “big thing” in technology. So, I wanted to surround myself with these people and pick their brains for information.
What did I learn? More than I can put into one blog post, that’s for sure! But let me summarise some of they key takeaways I discovered:
1. Social media has changed our lives: Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the others out there, you can’t ignore them. Social media outlets aren’t just for posting pictures and keeping in touch with long-lost high school friends anymore. They have changed the ways in which consumers consume media and how the media generates and provides information to their consumers. I attended a keynote given by Anthony Simon, Head of Digital Communications, Prime Minister’s Office & Cabinet Office, who told us how the Prime Minister uses Facebook to provide people with emotional content, such as updates on the current UK Flooding. A few years back, this information would have most likely been disclosed in a press release but thanks to the evolution of social media, the day of the press release may be coming to an end. You may not have seen it coming, but how we communicate has, and will continue to, change.
2. Master’s degrees aren’t what they used to be: At one point during the “Panel debate: The future of marketing – have Gen X and Gen Y got what it takes?” keynotes, I started to have second thoughts about pursuing my master’s degree. One of the Gen X panel members make a comment about how he could care less if a future employee had some “fancy MBA” or other degree. You can probably imagine my face changing from a smile to one that showed pure horror. Fortunately, other people on the panel weighed in on the topic and said sometimes it matters, sometimes it doesn’t. But, HR departments still see it as an impressive accomplishment, which can help candidates land an interview. They also said that a master’s degree is more about the experiences one took to achieve it. Those experiences are what a future employer wants to hear about in an interview and those experiences are what will set up apart from the rest.
3. Passion outweighs everything: You can be good, heck, even great at something, but if you don’t have passion for it, you might as well pack your bags. Passion and curiosity are the key driving forces to becoming a successful marketer. Without them, you’ll probably be out of a job. The marketing and advertising industries are progressing before our eyes every day and you need to be ready and willing to evolve with them. You might not know what the changes are, but that’s OK. As long as your curiosity drives you to get out of bed every day to do something you’re passionate about, you’re going to make it.
These are just some of the many insights I gained at TFM&A 2014. I could go on and on about statistics and data I picked up, but in the digital world, that information is probably already out of date. However, the above takeaways are ideas I can put in my marketing toolkit and use in the coming months as I look for a job, and in my future marketing/advertising career.