Wow! This is the second year I have attended The Gathering in Banff and this event never disappoints. It is a seamless, high class event that is jam packed with industry leaders sharing information on their brands with a cult following.
The biggest challenge I found with the Gathering is that there is so much value, that every time you choose a session, you are leaving one, or many behind that you also want to see, since they run their seminars in one hour segments, where multiple speakers are sharing simultaneously, This isnt a complaint by the way, it is simply another indication of how many high quality speakers they had, and how difficult it was to choose between so much talent. However, really nothing will be missed, because all sessions were recorded and will be made available to attendees.
Also, these guys are PROS when it comes to putting on a high end event like this. Brené Brown was unable to attend but was willing to video in to present to us, and they had her connected via video conference, seamlessly I might add, in order to allow her to do her keynote speech. Amazing! I saw so many amazing speakers. I learned about Artificial Intelligence from IBM, building a community from Steve Huffman at Reddit, Jeremy Epstein wowed me with Crypto and Blockchain technologies, Tyler Williams from Zappos shared their amazing corporate culture, Cathy Tull on the response to the shootings in Las Vegas from a brand perspective. I haven't even covered all the value I received, but world class brands speaking about their strategies was invaluable.
So what were the key messages that I received over this three day mind-fest of varied opinions? The common themes that I took away for my own brands are as follows:
Technologies to watch: Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence. Specifically, the blockchain can do more than bitcoin. On its way are new ways to solidifiy contracts and even how to buy advertising. Also, transparency in how business is done (i.e. how companies can verify claims that they are 100% organic, as an example). There will be new ways the blockchain will influence business. Artificial intelligence is another area of impact. IBM was sharing how AI is being used to chew through huge amounts of both structured and unstructured data. It seems that the price point will be accessible as well, as they showed examples that applied not only to big business, but to charities.
Target Audiences: Much to the surprise of many, the missed demographic from a marketing standpoint is the aging population. Even though this target audience is dependent on your product and service, it was surprising to hear how much disposable income they are willing to spend on unexpected items. Short story, do NOT call this demographic seniors. Know that 60 is the new 20, and market appropriately.
Communities: Many of the speakers chatted about the importance of building communities online and in person, and using engaging storytelling techniques. This isn't a new trend, but a continuing trend that shouldn't be missed.
Thank you Gathering Staff for another amazing event! Can't wait to see you again next year.