Rejuvenating the marketing conference: “The Festival of Marketing”

I don't go to many or any marketing conferences anymore; they all seem too follow the same tried format of a bunch of speakers of variable quality standing on a stage. However, this week one did catch my eye. Its called "The Festival of Marketing", and takes place in London on November 11-12. It's a good example of finding brand inspiration by looking beyond your own category to what we call "peer group brands".

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1. Look beyond your category

If you want inspiration on how to be distinctive and relevant for your customers, it's a good idea to look beyond your direct competition. After a while, brands in the same market tend to copy one another and start looking, sound, feeling and acting alike. In this case, Centaur have looked beyond their category to a "peer group" for inspiration. This peer group is brands in other categories that are used by your customers and have some connection to your core business. The peer group in this case is music festivals, which are increasingly attended by not just younger people but also middle aged marketing directors.  

2. Inject freshness

Having looked at your peer group, the next thing is to then use this inspiration to refresh your core product or service. The Marketing Festival have changed the way they present the conference. First of all the name of the event suggests this is going to look and feel different from your run-of-the-mill marketing conference. Then, drawing on the festival theme, we have a "Main Stage" with the big acts, but also 14 other stages running all day, each one on a different theme. They are also promising an epic party, though here some of the festivalese language starts to try a bit too hard perhaps: "Stick around afterwards for when it all kicks off and we turn the amp up to 11!"  

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3. Deliver some substance 

The Festival of Marketing is presented using new language, which does make it sound fresh and distinctive. However, the real proof will be in the product. First and foremost, what will the quality of speakers be? Often I've attended these sorts of events and the basic quality has been variable to say the least, both in terms of content and style. Will we have a Coldplay and Who of marketing on the main stage? And who is the equivalent of this year's surprise hit at Glastonbury, Lionel Richie?! In addition, will the food, drink and entertainment also live up the name and be done on a festival style? And will there be luxury yurts for hire instead of hotel rooms?

In conclusion, The Festival of Marketing have made a good start at using a peer group for inspiration on how to refresh their core offer to make it distinctive. All I need now (blatant freebie request) is a ticket to the festival to see if the product actually deliver against the concept.