How a Master’s degree student like me would treat herself after completing her final exams of the semester? Attending Seth Godin conference is the answer, but that candy didn’t turn out as sweet as expected… Let me unwind the salient facts of the day.
The “Journée Infopresse 360 avec Seth Godin: Saisir les nouvelles opportunités d’affaires ” started out with an introduction by René Vézina (Journal Les Affaires), followed by conferences of Marcel Côté (Secor Conseil), Jacques-Hervé Roubert (Nurun) and Tony Chapman (Capital C).
The introduction gave us a sneak peek at the economical context. M. Vézina indicated us statistics that are encouraging for the market in Quebec: Montreal’s unemployment rate is for the first time in history lower than Toronto’s. I enjoyed his conclusion where he shared with us an endearing analogy. He compared the economic crisis with the winter on the Anticosti Island where about 20% of the deers don’t survive, leaving all the green grass of spring to the strongest deers. OK, maybe it didn’t give you the same effect, but to us, proud Quebecois, that comparison made it stick in our minds.
As for M. Côté, he informed us that 8% of the Fortune 500 companies will disappear because of the crisis. He also listed out 3 winning strategies to adopt in order to perform during the troubled environment:
- Frugality: Save. Stuff up your drawers. In all, scrape some money together.
- Agility: Be more flexible, be ready to adapt to changing situations.
- Opportunism: Be insightful and fast to act, because excellent occasions are appearing.
Afterward, M. Roubert presented an aesthetic keynote about how the crisis can be a catalyst for innovation. He showed different types of innovation, ranging from costs reduction to truly revolutionary innovation. I understand that it is not only a matter of introducing new products, but innovation also means harmonizing your business model in a more optimal way. He also gave a list of ideas to keep in mind during crisis:
- Promote on a daily basis the concept of innovation among the employees. Every little gesture counts.
- Understand the evolution of consumer behavior.
- Adapt the company’s offer and philosophy to the economical context.
- Optimize the investment in marketing communication without reducing it.
- Remember that the marketing of innovation is as important as innovation itself.
He later concluded with a memorable quote of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel:
“Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”
Furthermore, M. Chapman took the relay, and in a brilliant way. He convinced his public to stop advertising and start socializing. Charismatic, he transposed his ‘joie de vivre’ right at the beginning of his presentation. I must admit that he won me over with his first slides with these optmistic words “FEELS so great to be alive”. More than a keynote with beautiful pictures, he managed to use remarkable buzz words to justify his message. Here some of them (Even though my dear friend on my right managed to spill his glass of water, I couldn’t help him, because I didn’t want to miss a single word.):
- RUDDERLESS, values and purpose
- SATURATION, brands and media
- SHOUTING, “He who shouts loudest wins?”
- ECONOMY hits the wall
- FREE FALL confidence
- MEANING do I really need this
- CONSUMER, all about me
- COMMUNITY unleash army of David’s
- LET your brand go
There were more than 50 slides containing amazing illustrations about the fall of advertising and the rise of social media. M. Chapman then showed us his impressive marketing stunts: viral video “Bride has massive hair wig out” and the Nissan Hypercube, first car to launch without a dollar of advertising.
Finally, he gave us a patriotic speech about how Canada could lead the world. Indeed, being such a multicultural country, Canada could become the laboratory where we create all the new models to meet the needs of the new sophisticated consumers. Obviously, it would require a great deal of choreography. M. Chapman also confessed that if Canada finds a politician worthy enough (i.e. who speaks fluently 3 languages and understands the power of Internet) to lead this country, he would be ready to follow and back up this chosen one.
Personally, I believed him, he seemed truly sincere. Even at the period of questions, he succeeded in answering them impressively. I totally liked his idea of introducing web cams in the Nike sweatshops in order to deal with the accusations. Overall, M. Chapman really convinced me that with courage and conviction, the results will come.
Now, the ‘pièce de résistance’, M. Godin, mentor and principal reason for the majority if not the aggregate of the crowd. After a quick lunch, he dashed out from his table (yeah, I kinda stalked him since I sat at a table next to his). At first, I thought that it was to prepare his presentation. But come on, how long does it take you to plug a MacBook?
Maybe we are way too demanding as die-hard fans of THE guru, but several of us expected somehow more from THE Seth Godin. Don’t get me wrong, his presentation wasn’t awful, on the contrary, there were enough images to make us feel and understand his ideas. But if I had to summarize it, I would say that he simply recycled the material from his 6 books. On the other hand, I can understand that maybe this conference wasn’t for those who had read all of his books and blog posts. As a result, we didn’t feel ‘refreshed’.
To compensate that, we would have forgotten this non-refreshment if he had giving out autographs or had accepted to take some pictures. But no, not only he didn’t take the time to sign books or pose for photos, he totally ‘humiliate’ the woman who questioned him why he won’t allow comments on his blog. After answering it mechanically, he asked the crowd “Is there any other more interesting and productive question please?” Ouch you say? Ouhhh we said… as he rolled his little hand luggage rapidly towards the exit to catch his plane.
Anyhow, we witnessed the clash between the agressive-not-so-empathic criticizing way of the typical American Idol judge VS the more-constructive-empathic Canadian way. Risquy observation and generalisation I admit, but these were only the thoughts of a frustrated fan who didn’t get a photo with her idol.