Stand out from the Crowd: 3 key takeaways from BCAMA’s 2013 Vision Conference

What do we love about conferences? The energy. The connections. And the inevitable transformational experiences that happen when you tap into the minds and insights of great leaders.

On May 22nd, team Smart Savvy attended BCAMA’s 2013 Vision Conference and came back with a twitter-load of “moments” we don’t want to forget. The theme was “Explore the Crowd” – how to break through marketplace noise and make your brand #standapart.

In case you missed it, we thought we’d share our top 3 tweet-aways from the day:

@smartsavvy A passionate creative leader never loses sight of the vast human potential around them@cirque#bcamavision

Leave it to Cirque’s Director of Creation, Lyn Heward, to frame ‘recruitment’ in the most poetic terms we’ve ever heard: “Treasure hunters seeking the most precious of pearls.”

But yes, that’s what recruitment’s all about. Heward gave an inside look into the business-side of Cirque – without dropping an ounce of the wonder and inspiration we love about their shows.  For example, Cirque doesn’t just cast, they “treasure hunt.” And they look deep into their organization to capitalize on the remarkable, engage and facilitate in collective creativity and, ultimately, build a successful business.

We were left wondering: what are we doing to build a “stimulating and inspirational playground” within our own organization? How can we better turn challenges into a catalyst for creativity?

Other great lines from Heward’s presentation: “Technology is there to support people not replace them” and “You must trust your sense, your intuition and yourself.”

RT @b_radley Imagine the future you want today then engineer and go get it @retailprophet@bcama

“Is your business High Fidelity or High Convenience?” That’s what Dough Stephens (aka the Retail Prophet) and his talk “The Future of Retail,” set out to ask. Are you delivering rich experiences or is your M.O. cheap and easy?

Stephens revealed the many pain-points facing retailers today in the wake of ever-changing mega-trends: demographics, economics, technology, media. “Too often,” he said, “companies make the mistake of reacting purely to what’s going on right now, instead of understanding what’s going to happen.”

For example, if you’re a brand still measuring success in square-foot sales, it’s time for a major update. Retail, as Stephens describes it, “is becoming Phyg-ital. A cross between physical and digital retail.”

Thanks to Stephens, we’ve got a new litmus test for whether or not we’re pushing the envelope: “If a new idea doesn’t scare you a little,” said Stephens, ”it’s not innovative.”

But our big take-away was how naturally his ideas apply to our interest in brand “You.” When you interview, when you meet someone in a networking environment or when someone searches for you online, are you an experience or are you just trying to sell something in a narrow space with shortsighted vision?

RT @bcama: “its never been easier to have people talk about what you’re doing” @RyanHoliday #bcamavision #standapart

Yikes, we’ve been to the “dark side” of marketing and can never come back.

Ryan Holiday has a theory. He calls it “Trading up the Chain.” In a nutshell, he explains how you can leverage commonplace media and story-scooping practices to work your news story up the blog-chain into major, national coverage – somewhat easily.

But once you master that, and get everyone talking, watch out. Holiday warns that we live in “a backlash culture.” And when it comes to media outlets, “readers aren’t the customers, advertisers are” – and the outlets are loyal to them.

Holiday’s tips on how to survive a monster attack are to respond quickly and make your response more interesting than the accusation. And remember, in a week, no one will care.

We think this is pretty good on-the-job advice too. If it’s “never been easier to have people talk about what you’re doing,” then do something worth taking about. But know yourself. Holiday cautions that risk tolerance is relative to the company – and we say it’s just as relative to individuals. If you’re going to take a huge leap and circulate an operations-imploding memo throughout your company, make sure you’re prepared not just for the glory, but the backlash too.

Now it’s your turn: what were your top lessons and insights from BCAMA’s Vision Conference? What did you think of the speakers? How valuable are networking/industry events, like this one, to your career?