Conference Summary: The Art of Marketing - Toronto 2016


The Art of Marketing conference came to Toronto featuring five incredible thought leaders including: Avinash Kaushik, Stephen Shapiro, Bethany Mota, Adam Garone and Morgan Spurlock and hosted by Ron Tite. Here is an event summary of key takeaways from each speaker including their visual summaries drawn by Carolyn Ellis.


Our day started out on the right foot with our first speaker, Avinash Kaushik providing laughs and incredible insights about the digital space. Avinash is the Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google and the bestselling author of the Web Analytics series. According to Avinash, 70% of shopping in 2017 will be influenced by digital, and all great marketing follows "first not sucking" – after that, not much else matters. How do you not suck? He demands we drop the Marketing Funnel idea and gives us his “See, Think, Do, Care” framework instead – the four clusters of intent focussing on awareness, consideration, purchase and loyalty respectively. Focus on behaviour not demographics and make sure your intent is right; don’t solve for the wrong problem. 

"Stop shoving people down the Marketing Funnel!" #greatmarketingstartswithNOTsucking

Other key takeaways:

  • Solve for intent, including future intent – just because they are not buying from you today, doesn’t mean they will not buy from you tomorrow 
  • Don’t try to have one-night stands with your audience; build relationships
  • Consider the MoR test (money off roof test) with your social media efforts
  • Social selling does not work; social media success needs to entertain, inform and provide utility. 
  • Do not judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree; use proper metrics tied to intent. 
  • When communicating to the CEO level, give less data pukes and more plain English (or French). 


Expertise is the enemy of innovation

The second speaker was innovation expert and author, Stephen Shapiro. He started with an activity to introduce the idea that the more you know about a topic, the less creative you are. Expertise is important but it stops us from growing or changing. 

His three steps to innovation:

  1. Ask the right questions
  2. Ask them the right way
  3. Ask them to the RIGHT people

Where should you innovate? Definitely not on the “core functions” of your business. Stephen says the best thing you can do is innovate where you differentiate; however, the things that make you different are not the same as what’s differentiating, and you don’t choose your differentiator your customers do. He offers the D’s of differentiation: distinctive, defensible, disruption-proof, desirable and disseminated. Finally, asking for ideas… is a bad idea.  


Great Content Doesn’t Feel Like Marketing

After the networking break where attendees got to experience all that the exhibitors had to offer, senior executives from everyday companies took the stage for a relatable, moderated conversation about marketing trends. Panelists this year included Jennifer Campbell, the General Manager of Commercial Marketing at Canada Post, Shane Schick, the Editor-in-Chief at Marketing Magazine and Erin Craven, the Executive Director of Marketing, Sales and Services at 3M. 

Panelists provided their expertise and views on topics including: influencers, data, analytics, asking the right questions and storytelling. 

Key takeaways:

  • Teach people within your own company to share your content and be the influencers
  • Tell stories about your audience not your product 
  • Tell the stories that your audience wants to hear and demonstrate that you understand their needs and context
  • Don’t outsource your thinking, but you can outsource your analytics
  • Celebrate risk takers


Don’t let the positive get to you

Up next was YouTube Superstar and entrepreneur, Bethany Mota in a professionally moderated conversation with Mitch Joel about new media. Bethany has 10 million YouTube subscribers, 5.6 million Instagram followers, 1.8 million Facebook likes & almost 3 Million Twitter followers. She shared her story and experiences with us teaching us a few things that we could take from her success and apply to our own media initiatives:

  • First and foremost, always be authentic and be relatable
  • Don’t plan to be an influencer or plan to go viral or it will never happen 
  • Each platform serves a different purpose so cater your content accordingly
  • Success can be gradual so be patient and grow your audience over time
  • Post consistently and engage with your audience frequently
  • Haul videos: when people show what they bought and provide their thoughts on the items
  • Ask your audience what they want to see. Incorporate their ideas, but balance that with what you want to create so you stay passionate about it
  • Be personal and create an emotional connection – stuff that doesn’t feel like a commercial


You can't think outside the box if you actually live in it

Up next was Adam Garone, the co-founder of the Movember foundation – or as he calls himself, a “moustache farmer.” He shared his story and struggles with us around launching Movember and scaling it to be a global campaign. His story mentioned meeting with the director of the Prostate Cancer Foundation in Australia. He was just looking for an endorsement at the time, but they looked at him and laughed. From this, he shared his most important message: persistence is crucial. Adam is a strong believer that whatever idea you have, you can get it off the ground with persistence. It's okay to be vulnerable and ask for help, but make sure that you have a crystal clear vision. Other takeaways:

  • Being significant is more important than being successful – what do you want to be your legacy?
  • Consider brand extensions
  • Past campaigns are helpful but not predictive of the next year and viral campaigns aren’t sustainable
  • Who dares wins – passion is so important and you need to take huge risks in order to scale
  • Brand love = honesty + authenticity + consistency


Do something crazy but don’t be the Crazy Guy

The final speaker of the day was the Academy-Award nominated filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. His main purpose of his talk was to make sure that our marketing initiatives are saying and doing things that people care about. According to Spurlock, more people need to take risks. Nobody wants to be first, but nobody wants to be last; they want to be the first second. 

“They call us marketers, but we are actually storytellers. And now is the best time in history to be a storyteller” he said, “but finding a good story is just the beginning – reach these people where they want  to consume.” Other key takeaways:

  • You have to be ready and willing to take criticism
  • You always need people who will believe in you and back you up
  • Own your derivative space but don’t be afraid to do things that other people think are crazy
  • Be persistent and tenacious, and create an alignment of ideologies. 
  • There are times when we need to compete and times we should collaborate. It’s called 'coopetition'. 
  • The more risks you take, the less risky things become 


Graphic Recordings: Carolyn Ellis brings a unique set of skills and training to her clients as visual facilitator, international speaker, award-winning business coach and author.  Combining her deep intuitive abilities with her Harvard-trained brain and life-long love affair with colorful markers, Carolyn helps inspire, clarify and unleash the brilliant potential within individuals and organizations. Visit:

There’s a difference between being successful & being significant – what do you want to be your legacy?

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