SXSW!

Lone Star, BBQ and Tex Mex aside, my four days in Austin were packed with lots to see and be inspired by. Here’s a quick recap on what I learned from Saint Bernard’s, a DJ, social psychologists, Snow White, Jimmy Kimmel and what Buzzfeed and Jessica Alba have in common.

Saint Bernard’s

Mophie showed up to the party and won. They used experiential marketing to the best by having Saint Bernard’s deliver their mobile phone chargers when you were on your last drop of juice.

WHAT THEY TAPPED INTO: Everyone’s phones dying at inconvenient times. People are huddled around outlets during keynotes, sitting on lobby floors between sessions and panicked to know if their phone went out, so did their trip. No Meerkat, tweeting, instaing or snapchating stories. Because in today’s world, if you don’t share it, it didn’t happen.

WHAT THEY DID: Posted arresting imagery, a picture of mountain dog in snow with a rescue symbol, in high traffic areas across the city. Seeing this middle of Austin in March makes you stop and check it out

HOW IT WORKS: You to take a screenshot of your dying phone, tweet a pic of it and your location to @mophie, and they send a dog out with a charger to you around its collar

WHY IT WAS AWESOME:

A dog delivers you free swag. Swag that you actually want.

Solves a real problem.

Makes the brand the hero.

And there were puppies to play with.

DJ’s and neuroscience

I went to a talk titled The DJ Brain: Learn from the Happiest Profession with a curiosity of what exactly that meant. It was a talk by a grey haired German DJ and a nerdy looking scientist. They explored the intersection between the virtues of DJing (the selection and mixing of music, the immediate feedback you get from the crowd) and the positive psychology concept of “flow” as defined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. What I learned was when you’re doing something you love, you’re in the ‘flow’. Hours can go by and you don’t realize. Happiness is contagious.

Social Psychology

My favorite keynote was by Daniel Pink. I haven’t read his books or watched his show on NatGeo, but I am quickly becoming a fan. He gave a presentation on how to use emotions to change behavior. Here’s a link to the recap, but most interesting to me were:

1. People come up with their own reasons to agree or disagree with you. So pose a question when the facts are on your side rather than tell someone what you want them to believe. Getting them to come to their own conclusions is more powerful.

2. Negative emotions result in a narrow focus, so use fear tactic when you want something specific to result.

3. Make it easy for people to do something. It’s harder to change people minds than give people an easy way to act. For example, you might not change people’s perception of food drives, but if you can get them to participate in a food drive that’s all you need.

When we try to predict people’s behaviors, we always over weight the importance of personality and underweight the importance of the context.”

Snow White and Airbnb

Names matter. I saw a session titled, What Snow White Can Tell You About Your Customers, and was immediately interested in what this talk was all about. I didn’t know what to expect but after the Director of Product for Airbnb started talking about how Walt Disney inspired their CEO, I knew the rest would be good. Disney’s most successful film, Snow White, was originally coined as “Disney’s Folly” with skeptics saying no one would sit through a full length cartoon, let a lone a fairy tale. But it was a success. And one that can be attributed back to storyboards which were invented to tell this tale. The CEO of Airbnb took this theory to his company and has implemented to showcase the their mission. They hired a designer from Pixar to storyboard a trip from start to finish — from the moment of the travelers moment of wanderlust and host story of prepping a part to their last day. It tells the story of their company in a unified way for all employees to wrap their head around who they are and what they stand for.

Here are why storyboards matter for brands:

1. Storyboards and vision process keeps you customer focused

2. Storyboards highlight where you are absent

3. Storyboards create a unified vision across the company

4. Storyboards force you to start with the vision and work backwards

Jimmy Kimmel and the death of TV

Aside from learning about an emergency health scare (his pee-hole closed up) getting fired five times in radio and having a license plate titled LATENITE, Jimmy has is just like us — struggling to stay relevant on TV. He asked how many people saw celebrities reading mean tweets. And then asked people to keep their hand up if they saw it on TV. More than half of the hands went down. His response, “Yeah, that’s not good.”In a world where TV doesn’t dominate, it was almost refreshing to hear brands aren’t the only one navigating traditional media challenges.

On an opposite note, Buzzfeed talked about ubiquitous media, driving to social rather than their site

Co-founder and CEO of Buzzfeed, Jonah Peretti, talked about their new vertical, BFF, which is focused entirely on publishing media not to Buzzfeed. Rather they reach people wherever they are. As simple as it sounds, it’s so smart. Go where people are. Don’t redirect them to an outside link. Don’t force them to view something they don’t want to. We’re living in a world where links, browsers, and desktop computers are increasingly less important.

Finally, what Buzzfeed and Jessica Alba have in common is they listen

This is sort of no-duh. But it was a reoccurring theme that continued to come up.

Jessica Alba talked about how her company is able to turn around product flops and introduce new line extensions because they listen to what their consumers like, don’t like and are missing. Their baby wipes were a total flop, so they remade them. And they’re coming out with a feminie line because customers keep asking. Your comments are heard and do matter. Similarly, Buzzfeed’s CEO talked about how they look at the words people use when they share their content, not necessarily what they’re sharing to understand how they’re relating to the content.

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