I’m a Millennial, which means people generally think I’m always on my phone, always ahead of the tech-curve, and have social media figured out. But here we are in 2017, and the world is moving faster than ever.

Trends that were expected to last years are ‘flavors of the week’, and it is tough to keep up, let alone lead the pack. Last week, though, I attended a leading Marketing conference tucked away in small-town Squamish, BC, Canada. CIMC proved to be packed with value and information every millennial needs to know to be at the top of their personal brand in 2017. 

Many global brands dominating the marketing space were in the room. Messages from Facebook, Google, Pixar, Proctor and Gamble, Microsoft, and Twitter stuck out as highlights during the two days, with other highly regarded brands such as Hootsuite and Daily Hive to cap it off.

While each message offered valuable insight or takeaways, three core keynotes stuck out above the rest, which can ultimately shift the trajectory of your next career, life goal or marketing plan.

The Future of Freelance and Its Impact

Ted Graham, the Head of Open Innovation at GM, spoke on the growing fanatic of  the Sharing Economy. He dug into the topic of freelance, coining his keynote The Uber of Everything, and unravelled the many directions this market is progressing toward.

Today, we are handing over access to our keys and wallets to complete strangers and entire markets are being revolutionized because of it. Ted emphasized that research studies are showing:

“By 2020, 50% of the workforce will be in the freelance space or 2.2-billion people globally”.

And by not empowering our students, staff and executives to have an open mindset into the sharing economy, we are suffering as a result.

Rethink Your Advertising Budget

L’Oreal, which is the #1 leading beauty brand commanding 1/3 of the market with 33 brands and 85,000 employees, also sent there CMO, Stéphane Bérubé, to light up the room. Stéphane debunked the myth of segregating a digital world from the world clarifying that there is just the world—and it’s digital. If you haven’t figured that out, your company’s bottom line likely isn’t doing too hot.

For L’oreal and its top three brands at the time, Stéphane did not invest $1 into paid media. Instead, he convinced his CFO to retarget that funding. L’Oreal hired 50 new community managers to live out the DNA of their brand and empower others by simply representing L’oreal for what it is—earning them a much higher ROI than any marketing dollars could have.

Doing what’s always been done can be dangerous for a company in any market, but readdressing the status quo, especially in the marketing sector, is a constant principle that needs to be applied.

Start Storytelling Yesterday

The Closing Keynote of the Conference, Matthew Luhn, was not only a professional story consultant from Pixar, but a friend of Steve Jobs and creative mind behind movies like Monsters INC., Toy Story and more. This line he shared quieted the entire room of 700+ attendees:

5% is the amount of information retained when shared through statistics compared to 65% of the information shared when in the form of stories”.

Numbers don’t have the impact they used to without context, whereas stories that showcase and attach feeling to numbers do. If stories aren’t memorable, impactful, or personal, they aren’t worth putting any resources into.

Matthew stressed how everything we do tells a story—from email font to a picture on your Instagram account—we need to ask if our stories authentically reflect our brand. Great stories generate incredible businesses and must reflect the mission, theme or core values, instead of having to announce that at the beginning of every board meeting.

Stories Must:

  1.   Hook audience in 8 seconds: unusual, unexpected, actionable, or conflict
  2.   Never say: the mission, theme or values—needs to be reflected
  3.   Be organized: setup story and conflict, build framework for need, then deliver value
  4.   Value: with a takeaway, lesson, or feeling

True Marketing Today

Today, marketing isn’t selling. Powerful marketing is genuine storytelling and creating a feeling for your audience by educating, empowering or entertaining them. And when you’ve done that, you’ve done your job.

And at the end of the day, the true believers of your story will buy your product.


Feel free to share, comment or send a message if you have enjoyed the read! As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach me on LinkedinTwitter or Facebook Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.

Joel Hansen

Joel Hansen is an aspiring social entrepreneur based out of Vancouver currently working as the Director of Operations in Student Government and in External Relations as a Fundraiser Co-ordinator for Lighthouse Voyage. As a communication and strategy enthusiast, he is passionate about connecting Vancouver brands to social issues and enabling organizations to better leverage their resources to create sustainable impact. He is currently in the midst of building a small marketing consultancy group to better equip companies to engage with youth.