Want a little expert marketing advice, but don’t want to delve into another book? Get advice from the experts themselves via this diverse group of TED Talks. From an older but still very relevant discourse on marketing and branding from Malcolm Gladwell to an aid worker who learned about asking the right questions the hard way, this roundup of the best TED talks for marketers is an ideal starting point.

Each talk takes only a few minutes to watch, but can enhance your approach to marketing and revitalize your strategy.

David Grady: “How to save the world (or at least yourself) from bad meetings”

You need to collaborate with others on your team to relay your strategy, check on progress and make sure goals are being met – but are those meetings eating up too much of your day? Using humor and a high-energy approach, David Grady reveals what bad meetings are made of and shares some secrets for avoiding them. Don’t waste another moment in a non-productive marketing meeting and you’ll be fired up and ready when the right opportunity comes along.


 

Malcolm Gladwell: Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce

This is the TED Talk that launched a thousand conversations; Gladwell was basically an outsider to the world of marketing, but his unconventional approach revitalized the way marketers see prospects and products. From the tale of the consultant who changed the way we see branding – back in the 70s – to the way buyer personas have a big impact on your success, Gladwell breaks things down into easy to digest and understand points with relevant takeaways for todays marketer.


 

Seth Godin: How to Get Your Ideas to Spread

What makes one idea, brand or trend catch on and spread like wildfire – while other, equally good ideas seem to flounder? Why do we adopt some things immediately   but ignore others? Seth Godin talks about how ideas are accepted and how they spread via our own networks or tribes. Using well-known brands like TOMS to showcase how a brand can find its tribe (or perfect audience), Godin shares the secret of eloquent storytelling and finding your brand’s voice. Whether you need to revitalize an existing brand or are just getting started, this talk from one of culture and marketing’s brightest voices will speed you on your way.


 

Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!

When Ernesto Sirolli first travelled to Africa in the 70s, the first-time aid worker was in for a shock. He and his team set out to make a difference for a village in Zambia, with disastrous results. What do tomatoes, hippos and an Italian aid worker have to do with marketing? Read on to find out:

In an attempt to help an African village learn about agriculture, Sirolli and his team decided to show the people how prosperous they could be by farming. Spotting fertile soil on the side of a riverbank, the team planted tomatoes, zucchini and more with great success. The team celebrated this success as tomatoes reddened under the warm African sun, and prepared to harvest their bounty; the local hippo population had other plans:

 “And we could not believe, and we were telling the Zambians, “Look how easy agriculture is.” When the tomatoes were nice and ripe and red, overnight, some 200 hippos came out from the river and they ate everything.”

By forging ahead and planning produce right next to the river, the team failed to research their market – or ask the villagers even the most basic of questions. Once the crop was gone and the villagers were asked, they revealed that the hungry hippos were the reason they never tried to cultivate crops, despite fertile soil and perfect growing conditions.  For marketers, learning to fully research a customer’s needs and problems before charging ahead is a valuable lesson, and Sirolli delivers his message with charm and style.


 

Dan Pink: The Puzzle of Motivation

Does offering an incentive or opt-in help people decide to buy? What motivates someone to perform a task, click a link or make a purchase? Dan Pink tackles the topic of motivation and why we do the things we do. Using anecdotes, humor and actual examples, he dissects the “why” behind out motivations for doing things. This TED talk can provide valuable insight into what motivates your prospects to move through the marketing funnel and how to determine what incentives work best for your market.

From learning why we do things to discovering the power of information gathering and truly getting to know a prospect before marketing to them, these TED Talks provide some valuable skills and things to think about for your marketing team.

Jordan Stella
Customer Success Manager at | More Posts

Jordan J Stella is a digital marketing professional whose passion is to help brands find their voice, tell their story, and connect with real people. As Customer Success Manager for UpCity, Jordan helps clients integrate our Agency Growth Engine into their existing workflows and processes.