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Marketing in Transition: Lessons from Percolate’s Conference

Percolate recently hosted their second annual Transition conference. From changes in science, to the evolution of our cities, to the expansion of globalization and technology transition is a common theme we all face. Percolate’s conference embraces just that, and used their event to discuss all aspects of what it means to live in a world that is in constant transition.

With speakers ranging from the former Commissioner at New York City’s Department of Transportation, Janette Sadik-Khan, discussing cities in transition to Charles C. Mann, a journalist and author, who discussed humans in transition, to the well-known Nick Denton, CEO & Founder of Gawker, discussing the media in transition the 2-day event was nothing short of enlightening. Moreover, with top brands like Marriott, Uber, Levi’s, and Mastercard in attendance we also picked up a few marketing tips along the way. Read on for the top themes:


It’s no secret that for the past couple years, an important theme in marketing has been the shift to a mobile-first communications approach – and there’s good reason for that, when according to Time, we check our phones an average of 46 times a day. With an increased mobile mentality, and a plethora of data to accompany this shift, customers expect customization in their brand experiences wherever possible. A facet of customization is localization – the ability to reach customers with relevant information and content based on their location.

Especially for travel brands, but also for any type of brand as this trend grows, localization can provide a better experience for your customers simply by serving them pertinent information depending on their location. Whether regional coupons, reviews, or visual content, keeping location in mind adds another layer to personalization and can drive better customer engagement and relationships.

With user-generated-content, consumers everywhere are already creating images and reviews that share knowledge and opinions about your company. At a basic level, observing this earned content from customers can provide deeper insight to what they like about your brand, and what of your brand they are using (and naturally promoting) across different locations. When 73% of consumers prefer doing business with brands that use personal information to make shopping experiences more relevant (Digital Trends), it is clear that customization through localization isn’t just a trend, it’s a necessity for better customer experiences.

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At Olapic, we’re no stranger to the benefit of authenticity in marketing. That said, we feel a little better that BBC’s Head of Digital Studios, Alex Ayling, was just as passionate about this topic, interrupting himself halfway the talk to ask, “Is anyone keeping count on how many times I say the word ‘authentic’ – it’s going to be in the high 20s I reckon.”

We think the repetition of authenticity makes sense, as consumers have essentially mandated this quality be present in a brand’s messaging. It’s no longer acceptable for companies to intrusively serve information they deem acceptable for their customers. Instead, they need to communicate with customers with authenticity and meaning.

Ayling put it well saying that being authentic in content and messaging gives your brand a reason to be there and show up in someone’s newsfeed. Put another way, your consumers are constantly sharing information, content, and images about your brand – giving you automatic insight into their real-world view of your brand’s products. And with permission from the user, this authenticity can be easily borrowed and translated for your marketing strategy to create better, more meaningful, connections. For many people, as we’ve seen with companies using UGC, the users’ reward for their earned content is simply that a brand is listening, appreciates their feedback, and cares enough about their loyalty to share their visual content.


Emotional Connection

Riding on the heels of authenticity is the last, yet equally as important, theme of emotional connection. As Phyllis Woods, Senior Director of Creative & Content Marketing at Marriott, put it a core tenet of a brand’s advertising and marketing strategy should be connecting with their customer on an emotional level. Consistently we see in the industry that the messages that connect the most with consumers are the ones that incite genuine feelings or emotion, which can then be associated positively with a brand.

Additionally, she added in her talk that 85% of 25-34 year olds have left their favorite website because of intrusive or irrelevant advertising. With a statistic like that, the imperative is driven home that to reach the growing millennial and younger generation, connection is a must. At Marriott, the brand never looks to simply sponsor something for the sake of it or to get their name just anywhere. Instead, they ideate in house and seek strategic partnerships and influencers that can create relevant content to drive emotional connection with their valued customers.

Woods also gave us a great tip to keep in mind when thinking about the future of marketing: embrace the three C’s content, community, and commerce. The three C’s also seem to wrap up Transition’s themes nicely: Take the time to find and create content that is meaningful to your audience in order to build authentic relationships and expand your community, which will lead to more personalized and effective commerce experiences overall.


For more information on Percolate, visit their blog. To watch talks from past Transition conferences, check out the Content Hub