Embryo goes on tour with Prolific North

It’s the last week of June and we attended the festival of all festivals, nope not Glastonbury, but instead the Prolific North Northern Marketing Festival.

The festival took place in three UK cities and brought together marketers to share and learn about insights and trends that focused on three key themes:

  • Experimentation and play
  • Creativity through the lens of technology
  • Growth

This was the first festival of its kind that Prolific North had organised and we were delighted to be asked to be involved as headline sponsor and speakers. Unfortunately, we know not everyone could make it, so we’ve summarised our three-day experience into just over 1000 words. We hope you enjoy and learn some insights like we did.

Day One – Newcastle

The festival kickstarted in Newcastle and the Embryo representatives headed up north for the afternoon sessions. Of which we learnt about strategic flexibility and how brands can balance business as usual vs innovation.

Then our Marketing Director Charlotte Fallon took to the stage to interview Helen Jeremiah, former CMO and VP Marketing Director at Walgreens Boots Alliance. In the fireside chat, they discussed Helen’s 23-year career, the evolving role of the CMO and managing campaigns with big brands such as Barbie and Love Island.

embryo interview former cmo of boots

Helen also informed listeners that for brands it’s important to stay connected to the audience and experiment with new ideas, with Helen saying at Boots they kept around 10% of their budget for testing.

As well as Embryo’s session we also heard from Brinsley Sheridan COO of RE:GEN group a solution-based regeneration specialist operating in the North on behalf of prominent social housing providers. Brinsley mentioned that the business has grown by having an attitude of ‘always forward thinking’ and trust within the team that there is no bad idea.

Finally, day one was rounded off with a panel discussion between Be Broadcast, Wadds Inc and Socially Mobile, and BBC Newcastle who discussed regional media and the amount of talent within the North East.

Want to read more about day one of the Northern Marketing Festival? Head to Prolific North.

Day Two – Leeds

After day one, our team travelled to Leeds for a full day of marketing insights and networking. This time we were joined by our Head of PPC Callum Leonard, and our Head of Paid Social Harriet Tuite, who would be representing Embryo on stage.

embryo talk at leeds day 2

Joining them was our long-standing client Simon Wild, who paired his brand-side experience with our agency’s knowledge of paid media. Our talk focused on the trends, issues and solutions of the marketing channel and how brands can utilise AI (through Demand Gen and Facebook Advantage+) and creativity to stand out within the marketplace and grow their business.

Ultimately Simon, Cal and Harriet, all agreed that brands and marketers should be experimenting and running test campaigns alongside growth campaigns to truly understand what is delivering the best results for a business’ objectives. Simon finally finished on how important it is for brands and agency partners to have regular and open communication.

After our session, there was a keynote from Dom Dwight, strategy and innovation director at Bettys & Taylors of Harrogate. Dom started really strong with the comedic video they produced last year for the sub-brand Yorkshire Tea. He then went on to discuss how he had started his career at the group with a brand Twitter (X) account, and by knowing the audience and communicating with them in the right way he generated extreme success.

Other sessions on the day included Spark Market Research explaining the importance of research and understanding data, and First Event explaining to attendees how to create events that are full of ‘moments’ and not just ‘messages’.

After more insightful and thought-provoking sessions Prolific North’s editor David Prior released the Top Northern Brand Marketers list, one which is filled with incredible talent.

Take a deeper look at day two of the Northern Marketing Festival.

Day Three – Manchester

The final day of the festival and we were back in our home city at Manchester Hall. If we were to go by the last two days, we knew we were in for another great day of insightful content and Manchester did not disappoint. The venue was packed with brands and agencies and there wasn’t a spare seat in the audience.

The day kicked off with a session on understanding behavioural science, which then tied in nicely with a session from our CIO James Welch on Network Science. This is a talk James gives to all of our team members, as having an understanding of the principle is what has helped us grow Embryo into the leading independent agency we are today.

embryo cio james gives a talk on network science

As expected James’ talk (and occasional joke) got the crowd engaging and thinking about how Network Science applies to their business, careers and general life. As James finished the audience applauded and feedback started coming in, with some from eStar being ‘I loved James’ presentation – absolutely fascinating.’

Other sessions included a highly anticipated fireside chat with Steve Feekins, from FIFA. He explained how over a 12-year period at the company Steve has gone from managing website content to moving into social media, and how he and his team are responsible for engaging over 200 million people. As well as an interesting talk on how to experiment and play on social media, whilst also managing those naysayers who might be limiting your creativity.

Overall it was a fantastic way to finish the festival and you can learn more about all of the day’s talks here.

Key takeaways

Now if you read the start of this blog you’ll understand how many amazing speakers and pieces of content were shared over the three days, so summarising a few takeaways is really difficult, but these are some of mine:

  • Indecision or ambiguity will limit your business from achieving strategic flexibility. Don’t take too long to make a decision as you could miss the opportunity, this goes for stopping something you don’t believe in too.
  • People read what interests them, so if you want your content to engage your audience, you have to truly know them.
  • Testing is fundamental and brands should be allocating at least 10% of their budget to do this.
  • Creativity is a competitive advantage but you have to do things differently. This doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel, but you need to see what your competitors are doing because if you’re producing something that is the same or similar, you’re not going to stand out.
  • If you want to develop in your career you need to say yes to the opportunities, and stop thinking ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ and instead ‘What’s the best that can happen?’
  • Be honest about what the goals of your campaigns are and make sure you’re reporting on metrics relatable to those goals.
  • Search happens everywhere, across social media, e-comm platforms, video and search engines, does your strategy reflect that?
  • Anyone in a business can be creative so invite ideas and then learn how to cultivate them.
  • In order for creative to be successful it has to make an audience feel something.

If you’d like to discuss any topics further or have other events you’d like to partner with Embryo on then we’d love to hear from you.

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