This year RelationEdge was able to send five members of the digital marketing team to attend SDX, or Interactive Day San Diego, to get current on best marketing practices and network with peers in the industry. My name is Nikki Carter, and I’m a Content Strategist at RelationEdge. The other four attendees were:
- Elishia Ortiz, Senior Account Strategist
- Brad Hattendorf, Director of Business Development
- Taylor Peterson, Social Media and Communications Specialist
- Sam Stone, Content Strategist
The event was held on May 17 at the Hilton Bayfront San Diego, and the theme this year was “Collide with Tomorrow.” The main purpose of the event was to gather leaders in the branding, marketing, tech, and digital spaces to discuss the future of the industry.
The SDX sessions were split into four tracks: Human(ity), Mastery, Story, and Machine. There were also four keynotes that everyone was able to attend. After attending, our team gathered to share our highlights from the day and thoughts on the different speakers.
- Bloody Hell and Everything Else My British Mum Taught Me
- Your Values Have Value l Redefining What it Means to be a Brand at Brandless
- Stop the Bullshit l Reclaiming Pride in Marketing
- We All Want to Go Fast: An Employee Impact Story
Our team’s two favorite and most-attended sessions were “Bloody Hell and Everything Else My British Mum Taught Me” and “Your Values Have Value: Redefining What It Means to be a Brand at Brandless.”
In “Bloody Hell and Everything Else my British Mum Taught Me,” the speaker shared anecdotes from his childhood growing up with his traditionally British mother, and connected her colloquialisms to marketing practices he uses today.
Sam shared that she enjoyed how the speaker walked through digital interactions with brands and showed specific examples of moments when a customer’s experience was interrupted — through a poorly timed pop-up ad, for example. This demonstrated how companies can easily lose customers if they fail to think about context and the why behind their marketing efforts.
This talk also reminded us to never discount the impact of seemingly small details — at one point, the speaker revealed that he is a loyal customer to a specific hotel because they put a teddy bear on each bed. It may seem like a small gesture, but it made the hotel stand out to him.
Another team favorite was the Brandless session, “Your Values Have Value: Redefining What It Means to be a Brand at Brandless.” Prior to this event, Taylor had received ads for the company but didn’t know much about them. I had also seen ads in passing, and I was so inspired by Jen Talk’s presentation that I placed an order the very next day!
Jen Talk focused on values and why she believes being transparent about them is important, both as individuals and as a company. Elishia wrote down the three steps Brandless uses to create authenticity:
- Find your purpose.
- Know your values.
- Put people first.
At the end of the day, people are what really matter. It’s most important for a company to create a community of people — not just a transaction. Brandless supports this by sending handwritten, ad-lib style, thank-you notes to their customers. Again, it seems small, but it sets Brandless apart from competitors.
Brandless also volunteers together as a team once a month and donates a portion of sales to causes that are important to them. This resonated with us; one reason we love working for RelationEdge is because of the company’s commitment to volunteering.
It’s also important to us as individual consumers to give our money to brands that are socially responsible and conscientious. Taylor explains, “Consumers want to be good and conscious in their consumption, so when they can make guilt-free purchases from a company, knowing their money is going to good deeds, it makes it that much easier to remain loyal.”
Even after SDX ended, we’ve continued to think about values and how they influence our work. Back at the office, the Inbound Marketing team met to discuss what we feel are our top two personal values and how these can help us better understand each other at work. We’re excited to see how these insights help us better relate to each other and collaborate more effectively.
- Making the Jump to Creative Director
- The Reworking of How Work Gets Made
- Two Sides of the Same Story: A Tale Between Agency and In-House
- Agency of the Future
Taylor attended the last two sessions of this track and felt both were engaging and thought-provoking. The speakers reiterated the importance of including a discovery process at the beginning of a client relationship, which was affirming because this is something we already do at RelationEdge.
The sessions also covered the importance of treating a client relationship like any other relationship in your life: You want to get to know them on a deeper level, learn about and meet their needs, guide them as needed, and re-evaluate your relationship from time to time to make sure it’s still moving along the way you both want.
This spoke to Taylor because RelationEdge is built on a foundation of putting value in relationships (“Relation” is the first word of our brand!), and we are always looking for ways to strengthen relationships both with our clients and our colleagues. Sessions like these help our team come up with new ways to better cultivate our professional relationships.
- Welcome to Scary Town
- Breaking Rules to Create Brand Relevance With Youth Culture
- National Hometown Brands
- Going to the Dark Side
Sam attended “National Hometown Brands,” which featured a panel of local companies speaking about their experiences starting and growing businesses in San Diego. She loved that there were a diverse group of brands represented — the San Diego Padres (a beloved sports team), GoPro (an active/tech brand), Perfect Snacks (formerly Perfect Bar; representing food/consumer packaged goods), and Wrapify (a tech platform).
Sam enjoyed hearing from successful brands based in the city. She said it was clear when listening to them that these brands are proud to be from this city and represent San Diego. Being a San Diego-based brand ourselves, she was interested in their unique perspectives on some of the benefits and challenges of being a startup here and growing and expanding outside of San Diego. Since 2013, we have expanded to 12 locations, so the growth stories felt both familiar and encouraging.
- Building brands in the age of AI
- Wild Wild West of VR
- Innovations in OTT Advertising: Make Your Campaigns Smarter
- Cracking the Code: Making the Algorithms Work For You
Elishia was intrigued by some of the machine track sessions, where she learned a lot about brand Artificial Intelligence (AI). Essentially, brand AI is made up of:
- Sight, sound, smell, taste
- Example: Reading facial expressions and emotions via camera
- Example: When you log on to Netflix and it gives you recommendations
- Example: Apple Watch reminding you to get up and walk around
- Example: Using a Chatbot to check-in for your flight
- Example: Japan has AI models to replace having to use actual “real” models
- Artwork created by AI that people are purchasing for millions
There’s no doubt that AI is changing the world. Other examples of AI given were: Hologram Barbie, Google Assistant, and video advertisements that change based on your detected gender and age.
Our entire team recounted that the four keynote sessions at SDX were especially strong and engaging. We asked them to share what they enjoyed most about each one.
Opening Keynote: “Hello Fear”
The opening keynote by Michelle Poler inspired me to start saying “yes” to more new things, as well as sit down and flesh out a 10-year plan and work toward some big goals. This felt scary, but motivating!
Poler also had all of us stand up and dance for a few minutes, which was a great way to get out of our comfort zones and into our bodies.
“Podcasting Went Mainstream in 2018: Where Do We Go From Here”
Brad enjoyed discovering the power of the podcast medium, in terms of the sheer number of podcasts and downloads. The power of podcasting as an advertising platform is staggering, and it’s something our entire digital marketing team is keeping a close eye on as we plan our future efforts.
“Fireside Chat” with Oren Aks (Best known as the Creative Director for FYRE Festival’s social media and brand identity)
This interview with Oren Aks prompted me to reflect on just how powerful visuals in marketing can be. Fyre Festival sold the promise of an experience without anything tangible to back it up, but the visually compelling marketing made people want to be a part of something.
Brad said he especially liked being able to hear a perspective on an event that most people would only know about through documentaries. He was intrigued to hear Aks’ firsthand account of how earnestly he believed in the event and client, until he landed on the ground himself and realized that it wasn’t real.
Closing Keynote: “The Power of Purpose”
Afdhel Aziz was an impactful speaker and this closing keynote was a highlight of the day for several of us. Aziz spoke about the power we have as marketers and our responsibility to ensure there is a purpose behind our messaging. He gave examples of companies that employ this, like Adidas with their Parley shoes and Microsoft’s Seeing AI app for the visually impaired population.
Aziz reminded us of the power and influence that corporations and brands can have when they make it a conscious priority. Running a profitable and successful business and making a positive impact are not mutually exclusive. We found it validating to see how the data shows that a brand doing “good” is a smart business decision; consumers are attracted to that and willing to pay more.
Personally, I was again encouraged by the push toward values and knowing that it’s important to millennials to spend their money with brands that take a stance and give back. I’ve definitely felt a shift in the way I buy now, and I’d rather spend more money to buy responsibly.
We loved attending SDX 2019 and can’t wait to check out the agenda for 2020!