6 not-so-surprising marketing lessons from TFM&A 2015

Happening over two days, TFM&A is where marketing best practice meets marketing technology. But just what were Emily’s main takeaways from this year’s event?

6 not-so-surprising marketing lessons from TFM&A 2015

The 2015 Technology for Marketing and Advertising conference has been and gone for another year. Having been on the ground floor (and the floor above) and at some of the keynotes, and glued to the hashtag #TFMA2015: I’ve taken away six marketing lessons from the event that, while not exactly surprising, are still factors that every B2B marketer should keep in mind at all times.

6. Marketing automation is not a magic wand

Kieran Flanagan, Hubspot’s EMEA Marketing Director, made it very clear during his opening “fireside chat” that marketing automation is a) pretty cool and b) not capable of doing everything:

“Marketing automation is not the magic thing that you switch on and it solves all of your marketing problems.”

This may seem like a pretty big admission for a conference dedicated to technology in marketing, but it was a much-needed reminder that marketing automation is nothing without decent content and data.

5. Stop being so obsessed with the explicit

Many B2B and B2C marketers and brands have got on board with the idea of using storytelling in marketing materials, but too few are concerned with how these stories are told. In his keynote on Mastering Tone of Voice, Doug Kessler (co-founder and creative director of content marketing agency Velocity Partners) reminded marketers that how you tell a story is just as important as its content.


When you multiply by nothing, you get nothing.

4. Email marketing is not going away

The distractions offered by Ello going viral for all of ten seconds in 2014 and this week’s news surrounding Google Plus’s future may sometimes lead us to forget that social is not the be all and end all. Dr Dave Chaffey, editor of SmartInsights, explained during his keynote that email still works harder for marketers than social media. As Adam Bannister, Content and Community Manager, IFSECGlobal.Com summarised:

“Social media, revealed Chaffey, has actually declined as a contribution to sales in the last two years. Customer acquisition via email, meanwhile, has quadrupled in four.”

3. Visual content can have a huge impact – especially when it’s also useful

Not far from the entrance to TFM&A, marketing automation software company Marketo had set up a large drawing board. Over the course of two days, their scribe, drew and doodled many of the conference’s best snippets of advice and insight.

This board had a constant stream of people going up to it, looking it over and taking photos of it. There were several other what you might call gimmicky elements at the show, but this seemed to be one of the most popular.

Why? Well, apart from being visually different from a lot else that was on display, it also provided genuinely useful summaries of key discussions. Never underestimate the power of usefulness.

2. Every aspect of your marketing needs to be accessible

There were some pretty amazing stands at the conference. Visually well styled and brimming with helpful content, both printed and interactive. There was little wrong with the language used; many of the stands seemed to be already observing Doug Kessler’s advice about jargon in tone of voice (like cholesterol, there’s good and there’s bad jargon).

TFMA 2015 from above

But the physical accessibility of some stands was actually pretty poor. Several large brands didn’t seem to have thought about whether it was easy for all attendees to interact with them and gain access to product demos or presentations.

The lesson here? If someone is wowed by your online content, don’t disappoint them when they meet you in person.

1. Marketing should offer value to customers

During his fireside chat, Kieran Flanagan explained Hubspot’s marketing ethos thus:

“Instead of hitting you over the head with marketing messages, we wanted to give something of value to customers.”

Whether you’re figuring out what to feed your marketing automation system with, or you’re planning a month’s worth of blog posts, keep in mind that every piece of content should be something your existing and potential customers will find valuable.

In our time-strapped lives, why would anyone want to actively engage with self-centred marketing messages? The answer is most don’t.


Didn’t get the chance to attend TFM&A this year? Then don’t worry, as you can watch all of the ones I mentioned on YouTube:

Kieran Flanagan, Hubspot – Fireside Chat

Doug Kessler: Double, treble your budget by mastering Tone of Voice

Dave Chaffey Keynote

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