The Top 7 Takeaways I Gained from Collision Conference
“Entrepreneurship is passion solidifying into form, where visions become visible”.
Last week I had the privilege to attend the nation’s top start-up and technology conference in New Orleans, Collision, whose attendees included 3,750+ CEO’s and comprised of 69% Senior Management.
I use the word privilege intentionally because as a young black male the opportunity doesn’t come around often to be a part of these spaces that have prohibitive barriers to entry for people of color.
Even though diversity was a prevalent theme in the conference, through conferences panel selections, along with the demographics of people walking the floor, it was in your face that the industry still has a long way to go. A clear sign was the many panels on the topic of diversity that lacked people of color on the panel.
Unlike many of those who attended, or so I assume, my perspective heading into the conference was through the lens of a young aspiring entrepreneur aware of the differences and obstacles for those like him but also thirsting for a taste of knowledge, to learn and be inspired by some of the greatest minds in the industry.
By the end of the conference I found a certain sense of belonging. In this space, where I first felt like an outsider not only did I belong, but I could contribute to the conversations. There isn’t anything that separates me, or even you, from those who exhibited or spoke in the conference. Through the experience I gained a new-found confidence, in myself and in my entrepreneurial ability.
Each talk that I attended, and each speaker presented an amount of value that I can not only directly apply but also can share and give to the world — either through the things that I create or the words that I share.
I was inspired, and I hope you will be too. Here are the seven takeaways that I gained from Collision Conference:
1. Marketing has a role in creating a more just society.
The first talk that I attended was titled, “The truth about bias and prejudice” and presented speakers from top brands such as Johnson & Johnson and Bank of America. Being a marketer and also an advocate for equality and social justice, the intersection of the three always intrigued me.
There is a rise in prejudice in our society as the number of hate groups has increased for the 3rd year in a row — but a statistic that hit close to home was the fact that 36% of African-Americans get fewer callbacks than white applicants.
Discrimination and prejudice is a vicious loop and brands play a vital role in stopping it. When brands use vast platforms and strong voices to combat hate, they will help drive the needle and create real change. When our government turns a blind-eye, it is up to brands to come together in a meaningful way.
However, change must start at the top of the organization and initiatives of equality must be authentic and a reflection of a brand’s core values.
2. Esports will be bigger than traditional sports.
As an athlete this one was a bit of a shocker to me. Over the past 8 years, the industry of gaming has been on an increasingly sustainable growth trajectory.
This is an audience that is highly engaged and super young (average age is 26) and brands are now recognizing the opportunity and global impact by giving out sponsorship deals to individuals and teams.
What makes esports viable is that it is an enjoyable spectator sport where viewers have an emotional spirit and can watch from anywhere around the globe. On some levels, esports is bigger than traditional sports, such as the NFL, for metrics such as:
· Dollar per fan
· Cost per hours watched
· Revenue per hours watched
Gamers are making real money, and anyone can make content for free. This has created opportunities and a structure that doesn’t fit into the traditional models of sports entertainment.
The stigma surround gamers are starting to fade to where even musicians and rappers such as Drake, have embraced gaming. It has become okay to play video games and even be considered an athlete where you have mental, sports and nutrition coaches.
3. If people love your brand, they will forgive you.
Brand building is the essence of what separates you from your competition and also the willingness of lost-customers to come back to your brand, “people will walk away from companies but will forgive brands”.
A brand is a promise of an experience delivered, it solves a problem, and is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Brands are an emotional value that allow you to ask more for the product you make — it’s what separates you. When it comes to brand building the long-term vision will determine the viability and success of any brand.
How do you measure the success of a brand? If people love your brand they will forgive you and come back if they have had a bad experience with your product.
4. An overnight success can be years in the making.
As an entrepreneur, day-in and day-out you is a constant hustle where the long-term results of your daily work becomes blurry. In times when you may not feel like there is any traction it is important to keep moving forward as success is always right around the corner. The trick is to place yourself in the position to turn the corner, being in the right place at the right time.
In the talk “What brands can learn from the golden-age of hip-hop” featuring the co-founder of Roc-a-fella records, Kareem Burke, there was a line that instantly hit home, “the only genius thing we did is never quit. When there was no door open we created our own”.
Don’t give up, a line for myself, and hopefully it inspires you.
5. Diversity remains an issue.
A lack of imparity is a cause of the imbalance of power in industries such as entertainment, creative services and technology.
Diversity, or the lack thereof, in creative spaces is a pain point that must be solved not only for inclusion of underserved groups but for the survival of those spaces. Our society is a melting pot, diverse and filled with differences that connect us, rather than separate. Yet, it isn’t reflected in both the input and output of creative industries due to the white male power structures that are in place.
The issue of the lack of diversity is a backwards facing loop, people hire and mentor those who they look like or who they see a bit of themselves in. Those creating, don’t reflect the culture, and thus the culture lacks representation in media, entertainment, and tech. A more inclusive workforce is a more innovative workforce and it might take a cultural revolution to break the structures of white male dominance.
6. Creativity on mobile is different than creativity on TV.
The new reality is that we live in a mobile first world and for brands that means to adapt or die. Brands such as Heineken, are realizing the importance of mobile, and it is reflected in their media budgets. For example, Heineken has set an objective to spend half of their media budget in digital by 2020.
As brands adopt to mobile they must also adopt their creative to fit the platform(s), as there are different dynamics, capabilities, and user-interaction. To be successful on mobile, these are 7 principles of mobile first creative for Facebook and Instagram as outlined by the Director of Marketing for Heineken:
1) Instant attention
2) Brand link
3) Business objective
4) Think sound off
5) Highlight what matters
6) Retain interest
7) Frame for mobile
Mobile allows for brands to tailor their messaging, providing a personalized relationship with potential and current customers/audiences.
7. Social is human.
At the heart of social media are the users who interact and engage on each channel. These users are more than just numbers or impressions they are humans. Brands must be human. This includes providing human-relatable content that is relatable, topical, and as native to each platform as possible.
The guiding force of all content on social is human truths, as it is the connection of both the heart and mind.
Although these are the seven things that I took-away from the conference as a part of this post there are many other things of value and of concern from my two days as an attendee. I hope you enjoyed my personal recap of my experience and are able to apply some of the things that I learned to either your career or entrepreneurial projects!