Marketers: How To Thrive In A Post-COVID World

Marketers, consider this: How has the pandemic changed your daily routine? What do you do at home now that you didn’t do before?

If you’re anything like the average consumer, the list is long.

We’re cooking at home more and when we don’t, it’s restaurant take out or delivery. We’ve traded the gym for Peloton rides and virtual workout classes. Our homes have transformed into offices and classrooms.

In short, virtually everything changed in 2020. How we work, how we shop, how we learn, how we eat, how we socialize and communicate—everything.

Home delivery of groceries by Amazon Prime
Grocery delivery

Take retail.  Online sales in the US grew by 31% in 2020 from Q1 ($160.4 billion) to Q3 ($209.5 billion). Before COVID, a mere 12% growth occurred in all of 2019, according to this graph by Statista.

That, says Dr. Sandeep Krishnamurthy, is the post-experience economy. And those sweeping behavioral changes impact our economies and businesses in a big, big way.

Here’s what Dr. Krishnamurthy, School of Business Dean at UW Bothell, has to say about what you need to know as a digital marketer to succeed in the post-COVID world.

Q&A with UW Bothell's Dr. Sandeep Krishnamurthy

Q: Let's jump right in. What is the post-experience economy … in 280 characters or less?

Dr. Krishnamurthy: Many customers will permanently shift a portion of their lives away from in-person experiences. We’ll move from the service economy to a post-experience world where customers seek value without social interaction—everything now comes to us in a brown cardboard box from Amazon.

Q: What are some examples of this phenomenon?

Dr. Krishnamurthy: Take the restaurant industry. To survive, they’ve had to move away from in-person dining to take-out and delivery service. How do they retain that experiential touch? How do they use social media to connect with customers? And how do they scale up? Traditionally, you need more space for more seating. Now it’s a bigger kitchen, more chefs, more efficient processes like food prep. Everything needs to change.

Technology undoubtedly plays a powerful role in this transformation. Microsoft, for example, saw a 33% jump in profits in the last quarter of 2020 which CEO Satya Nadella attributed to a “second wave of digital transformation.”

However, it extends beyond that. Iconic American brands are reinventing themselves for the post-experience. Starbucks is enhancing drive-thrus rather than building the in-store experience. McDonald's new growth strategy focused on speed and pickup centers on drive-thrus, smaller restaurants, takeaway, and curbside pickup.

Business owners still want to maintain curb appeal for pickup—it saves consumers money, gets them out of the house, and offers a little touchpoint—but that intense hedonism of experiences will be under pressure.

Or healthcare. It used to be driven by the idea that you need that physical visit with the doctor. That shift from in-person to online was only exacerbated by COVID—one expert estimated a “ten-fold” increase in virtual patient consultations once the pandemic hit, according to The Lancet.

IndustryExperience EconomyPost-experience economyBrand example
GroceryShopping at the supermarketFresh grocery deliveryAmazon Fresh, Instacart
RestaurantDining in an upscale restaurantDigital delivery serviceDoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats
BankingBanking at your local branchVirtual banking services
Capital One
CoffeeOrdering coffee in person from your regular baristaMobile app orderingStarbucks mobile app
ExerciseWorking out at your gymDigital-enabled exercisePeloton
Examples of the post-experience economy, by industry, provided by Dr. Krishnamurthy

Q: Finish this sentence: Success in the post-experience economy requires _____.

Dr. Krishnamurthy: Laser focus on your customer.

How well do you know your customer? What do they want? And how many? Why do they want it? Do they watch Netflix at 7pm or 9pm? Do they also stream Prime video? Do they like Colgate or Crest?

When you start thinking like this, it’s not just about having the right data, it’s also about having the right messaging. Digital marketers must marry targeting and messaging to not just get the customer what they want, but before they know they need it.

Q: Talk more about that marriage of targeting and messaging. As digital marketers, we’re always looking for ways to connect with and engage our audiences—what does that look like in the post-experience economy?

Dr. Krishnamurthy: People are much more interested in direct messaging. There’s still a place for storytelling, but people want to know what they can get and when.

There’s a shift happening. Look at the Super Bowl: Budweiser, Coke, and Pepsi aren’t advertising this year. Rather than mass appeal broadcasting, we’re shifting to narrowcasting.

Let’s put the customer in control and focus on giving them exactly what they want. For digital marketers, instead of a single Super Bowl ad, it’s a thousand different segments—there’s so much data. You can’t write a thousand unique messages, so you need a system to think of three or four factors to change subtly for those audience segments. It’s targeting to the max.

Q: We're looking forward to your upcoming mini marketing course. Who is the session geared toward? What can they expect to learn? What do you want attendees to walk away with?

Digital marketers, both data geeks and non-technical. They’ll learn what the post-experience economy is and how they’ll need to adapt their skills, strategies, and tactics. We want digital marketers to think not just about raising the volume, but about evolving their capabilities to a point where they're getting people the value that they really want—leveraging AI and machine learning to predict what the customer wants before they even know it themselves.

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Replay: Learning and development: The Post Experience Economy: a mini marketing course

[Virtual] remote work real-talk

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been struggling at some level to adjust to this new normal. For those of us fortunate enough to be able to work from home, it’s not just adjusting to working fully remotely—it’s also dealing with headline fatigue and the stress of looming economic uncertainty, trying to homeschool and/or keep your children alive and fed while also working, coping with a friend or loved one who’s sick, supporting someone who’s unemployed or at risk of losing their job, or feeling isolated and alone. It’s A LOT.

We wanted to hear from our community on how they’re staying connected … while staying apart.

Lisa Hufford, our CEO and founder, [virtually] sat down with a handful of our experts—a group with 60+ combined years of remote work experience (!!!)—to talk about remote work in this current environment, from leading remote teams and creating an at-home work environment to communicating with empathy. Here’s the full conversation.

Huge thanks to everyone who joined us and to our amazing presenters: Mary Cronkhite-Johns, Maura Donaghey, Hai Duong, and Monica McNeal.

The chat window was lively during the virtual conversation! Here are a few of my favorite comments and suggestions:

“Home schooling is not working!” Same, Daniel H., SAME.

“We've been doing virtual coffee chats on Wednesday morning and including families in the chats. And a women's virtual lunch on Mondays.” Love these ideas, Linda B.! We may need to replicate at Simplicity HQ!

“Is it ok to wear yoga pants EVERY DAY?!” Another hard same. Carrie M., you are all of us.

From Sydney T.: “A few fun digital games you can play with friends are Fibbage, Drawful, or Lie Swatter. Check out Jackbox games.”

And from Farida S.: “I started a notebook to take 5 minutes a day to write down my challenges and during the night I spend 15 minutes to think about those and see how I can work on those for the next day :)” Yes, Farida! We just instituted a daily morning Gratitude & Goals video meeting. It’s been wonderful to start the day with a grid of smiling faces and an outpouring of gratitude.

“I use TimeTrade to help with ensuring that I have a buffer between conversations by setting up ‘rules’ for when I forget to do it for myself on Outlook.” Hot tip, Erica L. I will definitely be giving this a whirl.

And lastly, a few remote work resources:

Stay connected while staying apart: Our team shares their tips for working remotely—ranging from tech hacks to self-care reminders.

5 tips for staying productive (and sane!) while adjusting to remote work: To everyone who's adapting to working from home for the first time, this one's for you.

5 tips for successfully managing remote employees: Remote work is still just work. If these sound like just being a good manager—they are! However, these best practices are even more important when dealing with remote workers.

Get more on world of work, fulfillment, & personal brand

Our founder and CEO, Lisa Hufford, shares in Forbes what skills are in demand, how to build confidence and credibility, and thinking outside the traditional employment model.

Staying connected while staying apart

One of my favorite coronavirus Tweets so far reminds us to be gentle with ourselves in these far-from-ordinary times:

It can be incredibly difficult to concentrate right now—I’m writing this while dismissing news alerts, with a kindergartener doing math worksheets to my left and a 2YO playing with imaginary suitcases at my feet—let alone stay connected.

Now that we’re fully remote, our team has a new ritual: Friday video all-hands to connect, share, and end the week on a positive note. In our first of these v-chats, we each shared our suggestions for staying connected … while staying apart.

We hope that these tips—ranging from tech hacks to self-care reminders—help you weather this storm with your spirit intact.

Tech hacks & tips

Video meeting hack: Blur your background

If your home office also doubles as a bedroom or you don’t want to share your messy workspace with clients and teammates, there’s hope! Blur your background (or upload to virtual background) in your video conferencing tool of choice.

We use Microsoft Teams for most internal and external video calls, so here’s a quick look at how to blur your background in Teams during a meeting: Select More options … / Blur my background.

Here’s more detail on how to blur your background in Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

from Sheryne Cadicamo, Client Success Manager

Use your company’s collaboration tools—for work and fun

Turn to technology to replicate in-office conversation, whether it’s collaborating on a project or comparing Netflix binge notes.

Here are some ways we think about using Teams:

  • Create channels for each business function (Marketing, Sales, Operations, Talent, etc) and discuss & share within the relevant channel. For example, notify the broader team in the Marketing channel when a new blog post is published, or hash out process details in the Operations channel. And don’t just keep it to work! We also have non-business channels for very important topics like Puppies & Kittens & Kids, Good Vibes (Only!), and Just for Fun, so we don’t miss out on socializing.
  • @ your audience. Tag the people who need to see and/or respond to your post. You can @ individuals or the entire channel based on your need and its priority.
  • Set shared expectations. We’ve all found that we feel the need to reply IMMEDIATELY when someone pings us. Don’t. Set a shared understanding of expectations, including things like how to flag time-sensitive/high-priority messages, if/when to update your status, desired turnaround time/SLAs for specific tasks, and when to @ the entire channel vs individuals.
  • Thread your replies. If you’re not getting notified when people reply to your messages, it could be because they’re not replying directly to it. Be sure to hit the Reply button to thread your response, rather than starting a new conversation.

  • Add a profile photo! It’s nice to see smiling faces, even if they’re only 2D. A picture is much friendlier than the tool’s default initials.

From Stephanie Chacharon, Content Marketing Director

Virtual show & tell

We’ve all enjoyed getting these virtual glimpses into our team’s lives—messy-faced toddlers and barking dogs included. Facilitate a virtual show & tell session—whether there’s a rotating host for your weekly team meeting or a dedicated channel for people to share pieces of their world, based on their personal comfort levels.

And just like we used to do in AIM (throwback!), set your status. (Teams and Slack both have this option.) Beyond the automatic calendar-sync status changes, you can let teammates know that you’re heads down on a project or taking Frankie the Pup out for a quick walk.

From Madeline Obernesser, Business Operations Manager

Embrace video & screensharing

As the newest member of Team Simplicity, Brianna’s onboarding was abruptly shifted online once the coronavirus hit the Seattle area. She’s appreciated the use of screensharing within Teams to continue training with her team.

And ditch your webcam fear! I used to cringe at the thought of turning on my camera during a meeting, but now I rely on it all day to long to connect with the team. It’s a great way to feel connected and read the room, plus it holds participants more accountable to stay focused.

From Brianna Mueller, Business Operations Coordinator

Work & team vibes

Create a positive, dedicated workspace

We can’t all have the home office of our dreams, but we do have control over how our workspace makes us feel. It can be as practical as a comfortable chair or as simple as a jar of fresh flowers, but find ways to make your workspace feel positive and energizing. And please, don’t work from bed. Try to contain your work to a part of your living space where you can unplug from at the end of the work day.

From Joan Yamamoto, Financial Analyst

Stick to your work hours

Work creep is a thing, especially when you’re working from home. 22% of remote workers say it’s their top challenge! In the absence of the physical cues of entering and leaving the office, don’t fall into the trap of never turning work off. Set a start and end time to your workday—and stick to it.

If you struggle with focus, try breaking your day into 30-minute chunks.

From Erica Bueno, Digital Marketing Specialist

Finish today with tomorrow's start

End each day by closing your computer and making a list of all your outstanding to-dos and lingering thoughts. Getting them out of your head and onto paper will help you turn off your work brain, and it will give you a great start for tomorrow’s workday.

From Amanda Swahn, Talent Manager

Self-care reminders

Grab your walking shoes (and eat those veggies!)

Move! We underestimate how much walking we actually do on an average day—going up and down the stairs, across the street for coffee, around the corner for lunch, back and forth to the kitchen for water breaks, and so on … At home, it’s not unusual to look up from your screen and realize you’ve been chair-bound for the last few hours. So be intentional about moving.

Slot walk breaks into your daily schedule. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can have anti-anxiety effects. Turn your 1:1s into walking meetings—and encourage your teammate(s) to walk on their end, too! Use the time you would have spent driving to lunch to fit in a quick jog, workout, or neighborhood walk.

And it’s SO easy to snack the day away at home, so try to stock up on fruits, veggies, and other healthy snacks, so you can easily reach for something other than Double Stuff Oreo's and chips.

From Carrie Morris, VP, Client Services

Share positive news

The current news cycle is incredibly overwhelming. Avoid spinning into negativity and anxiety by sharing positive news and keeping a positive outlook.

We’re using our new Teams channels—Good Vibes (Only!) and Puppies & Kittens & Kids & Stuff—to share lighthearted memes, cute cat videos and pet chicken (yes, chicken) pictures, heartwarming news stories, and assorted other things from the non-dark side of the internet.

From Cheryl Kolodzaike, Finance Director

Take breaks (no, seriously!)

Recharge between meetings by taking short breaks. Stand up, stretch, walk around, grab a drink of water. You’ll return to your work re-energized … and ready for yet another video call.

From Markelle Linstedt, Talent Manager

Stay firm on healthy boundaries

We’ll say it again: Maintaining healthy work boundaries while working remotely takes discipline! Just because you’re now technically always “at work” doesn’t mean you always need to be on. Take breaks and step away from your virtual office and into your home. That means shutting your computer and placing it out of eyesight at the end of the day and not replying to emails at all hours of the night just because you can or feel like you should.

Set boundaries and stick to them.

From Jennie Woolridge, HR & Finance Specialist

Choose opportunity, not fear

I loved this line from Lisa’s latest letter to the team:

"In a world where so much feels out of our control, I find comfort in reminding myself that it’s up to me to choose fear or opportunity. Fear is a downward spiral that leads to stress, anger, and resentment with no solution. Opportunity opens our minds to creativity, possibility, and innovation."

Let’s choose opportunity—and help others in our community find it, too.

From Lisa Hufford, Founder & CEO

Last, but not least, this is a difficult time, so reach out if you’re struggling. Ping a coworker, text a friend, talk to your boss, or whatever you need to find connection and support. You’re not alone. We’re all in this together.

Check out our remote work real-talk

Want more support? Check out our on-demand remote work webinar with our founder and CEO, Lisa Hufford, and remote work experts Monica McNeil, Mary Cronkhite-Johns, Maura Donaghey, and Hai Duong, for a real talk on how to thrive in the new world of work.

Taking ACTION with Women in Cloud

The morning of the Women in Cloud Summit, Chaitra Vedullapalli, architect of the Women in Cloud initiative, sent an email asking the speakers and organizers to walk into the event with intention.

She encouraged them to contribute to the power of community and collective action. To be intentional about contributing to economic access for all; seeking out opportunities to serve and partner; and breaking down inequalities and barriers.

Chaitra shared a Brené Brown quote that echoes the event's focus on collective action:

"At the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of my life, I want to say I contributed more than I criticized."

That intentional focus was evident throughout the event. Womxn and allies connected around a common goal of changing the industry narrative and create economic access for women in the cloud economy.

We are proud to sponsor the Women in Cloud Initiative. Here are some of our team's takeaways from the event:

Best practices for access to ...

In the spirit of access, our founder & CEO, Lisa Hufford, spoke on a panel alongside Dina Grimstead (Microsoft), Gillian Muessig (Outlines Venture), and Margaret Dawson, (RedHat) on best practices in access to investments, customers, and talent.

Change the narrative

“We must continue to strive to achieve parity. Greater diversity leads to greater outcomes, greater innovation, and a greater world. This is not opinion, this is borne out in data. Be brave. Be bold. Be heard. It’s time to change the narrative.”

- Catharine Gately, Sr. Exec Comms & Strategic Storytelling Lead @ Simplicity

Pay it forward

"There were many great takeaways, but this one sung the most to me. It was short, but a powerful reminder that we need to be intentional and take action to continue to drive change:

'We need to adopt a "pay it forward" mindset. When we make investments in women and women’s business, we are voting for our value.' - Wendy Garcia, Chief Diversity Officer, NYC Controller's Office

- Michelle Cartmel, Client Success Manager @ Simplicity Consulting

Shift from fit in to stand out

"The first half of my career, I just wanted to fit in. Now, I just want to stand out."

"I loved this message from Gretchen O'Hara.

It takes all of us to work together to support women entrepreneurs. We have made progress, but we need more focus on women in STEM and prioritizing ally sponsorship and mentorship."

- Lisa Hufford, Founder & CEO @ Simplicity Consulting

Access now

"I was so pleased to be a part of this inspiring event. Tucker Stine, chief strategy officer for the Idea Collective, had a message that really resonated with me.

He spoke about HOW we grant access, via the power of sharing your story. How a moment of engagement can create deep personal connections and grow relationships. He outlined 5 ways for granting access:

- Sheryne Cadicamo, Client Success Manager @ Simplicity Consulting

Allyship starts now

"I so appreciated each of the speakers who showed up with authenticity, transparency, and in some cases, vulnerability on the panel led by Barry Russell, VP of Cloud at F5. What does it mean to be a great ally? Reach out and connect with Dave Willis, CVP at MSFT; Brandon Lee, Consul General Global Affairs, Canada; Evaristus Mainsah, GM, Cloud PAK Ecosystem IBM; and Dan Langille, Global Director, MSFT.

As I shared on LinkedIn on the day of the summit:

Allyship starts now! Women and men coming together to create parity, unity, cohesion! Every voice should be heard. Every human should be seen. Mom moment: I am raising two young men (15 year old twins), and I’m asking for support. Let’s start now! By teaching boys and young men how they can show up in the world as supporters, and allies. Let’s create a better world!"

- Carrie Morris, VP of Client Services @ Simplicity Consulting

Entrepreneur lens

"Can’t believe I waited so long to attend a WIC Summit! This past weekend provided amazing connections, practical, and inspiring tips for entrepreneurs like me, an impressive line-up of speakers who were not only humble and approachable, but actually made themselves available to visit, and the 80% vegetarian food was delicious! And, it was FUN!"

- Heidi Metz, Marketing consultant @ Simplicity; Founder & CEO of IMANI

The little things

"I learned a ton, loved all of the conversations, AND one of my best moments of the conference was getting pretty blue nail polish in the swag bag.

Do you know how long I have been planning and attending tech conferences? Let me tell you: Since 1997, and this is the first time I received something personal that I love."

- Linda Bookey, Marketing, people ops & DEI consultant @ Simplicity

Lessons from the court

"I loved the conversation between Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft CVP, and Dawn Trudeau, co-owner of the Seattle Storm, centered on reframing challenges and building community.

Gavriella reminded us to:

'Surround yourself with people who believe in you. Who lift you up. Who make you feel powerful.'

And though she's enmeshed in the world of basketball, Dawn shared a baseball analogy:

'The best baseball player in the world hits the ball 30% of the time.'

Here's to taking action, giving ourselves some grace, and making the most of our time at bat."

- Stephanie Chacharon, Marketing Director @ Simplicity Consulting

Keep the momentum

We'll leave you with a call to action from event co-founder Gretchen O'Hara:

What action will you take today for tomorrow?

I'm a marketing leader & a millennial mom. Want me to work for you? Give me flexibility.

This post was originally published by Stephanie Chacharon on LinkedIn.

Two things are true: I love my work. And I’m an amazing mom.

Those truths don’t have to be at odds with each other. But for me, something’s got to give with the traditional 9 to 5 employment model. If you want to keep me—and the countless others like me—employed, flexibility is a non-negotiable.

Millennial mindset

Ok, so at thirty-something I’m an elder stateswoman of the millennial generation—I grew up playing Oregon Trail in keyboarding class; reached for our household set of encyclopedias when researching school projects; and didn’t get a cell phone until the geriatric age of 19. And while I roll my eyes and take another bite of avocado toast at the endless parade of hot takes on millennials in the workplace, I do identify with the stereotypically millennial desire for purpose, creativity, diversity, and meaning in my work and life.

Talent is in charge

At Simplicity, we talk a lot about the current market (unemployment is down! retention is the challenge du jour! talent is in control!) and the realities of the new world of work: the speed of business is faster than ever before; leaders must leverage remote & on-demand experts to reach the full talent pool; and not everyone wants to be your full-time employee. In fact, half of freelancers say that no amount of money would get them to take a traditional job. And with more than 1 in 3 Americans freelancing in 2018, that’s nothing to laugh at. In this landscape, talent is decidedly in charge.

As millennials and gen Z continue to rise through the professional ranks, we’re demanding a new way of working that doesn’t involve being chained to a desk from 9 to 5, working for a company until retirement, pushing papers at a soul-less corporation, or even traveling to an office at all.

Work-life integration

I love my work. I love writing and marketing and helping female leaders tell their stories and reach broader audiences. I’m motivated by working with great, talented humans and using my brain for something that’s adult and mine.

But I struggled to find my way back at work after having my kids. It felt truly revelatory when I realized that the rules of employment from my parents’ and grandparents’ generations were starting to erode and that I had the ability to create my own set of rules and requirements. The increasingly more visible examples of women who are dictating their own terms of employment gave me life. My own boss, Lisa Hufford, reminds me that life has seasons and that meaningful work and meaningful time with family can go hand-in-hand.

And at this season in my life, I’m both a marketing leader and a mom of two young boys.


My boys are 5 and pushing 2. The baby, bless his sassy little heart, goes to bed at 6:30pm. That means that if I leave the office at 4:30, sit in Seattle traffic for an hour (please don’t get me started on that!), pick him up at daycare and drive the remaining 20 minutes home, I have approximately 30 precious minutes with him before he goes to sleep. That’s hardly enough time for him to fling spaghetti on the walls and splash around in the tub before getting whisked into his footie pajamas. That doesn’t sit well with me.

Sleep schedules aside, there are doctor appointments and sick days and teacher conferences and school schedules that were not designed for working parents and the list could go on and on and on.

For me to work and mom, flexibility isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a non-negotiable.

That means some days, I work from home. Usually, I have the house to myself on my WFH days, but sometimes my 5 year-old works next to me with his crayons and those adorably oversized pencils that they user in Kindergarten. Other days, I head into the office and leave by 4:30, but do some of my best, most focused work in the evening after the kids have gone to bed.


I’ve gotten incredibly efficient at working because my time is more precious than ever before. I’m fortunate to work for an employer who has allowed me to build a work schedule that includes days in and out of the office (shout out, Simplicity!) and a husband who's committed to being an equal partner. Working from home means that I get at least two back that I’d otherwise spend cursing in traffic. It means more time focused on work AND more time with my family. If I’m lucky, I might even sneak in a quick run with the dog or get to walk my kindergartener to school.

But it’s not just about being a parent. It’s also about how I work best.

I rely on my WFH days to focus and dig in. Without the distractions of an open office, I have uninterrupted space to make meaningful progress on the tasks at hand. While I enjoy my days in the office, I truly work better from my home office. And tools like Slack, Teams, and Zoom enable me to stay connected with my team while I’m working remotely.

A note to employers

Business leaders, take note. There are millions of people like me—more than 56 million, in fact.

We love our work, and what’s more, we’re good at it! But we also value intangibles like flexibility, remote work, and values-focused employers. If you want us to work for you, we’re going to need a little flexibility. And if you won’t give it to us, we’ll find it on our own.

GeekWire Summit 2019

The GeekWire Summit did not disappoint.

We learned. We laughed. We met some of our local heroes. And we left feeling inspired by the future of tech and the incredible talent and innovation in our region.

Here are a few of our favorite moments from the event:

On leadership

Thursday’s conversation with UW president Ana Mari Cauce, DreamBox Learning CEO Jessie Woolley-Wilson, and Marilyn Strickland, president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, included so many gems.

Core values that make a difference

On disruption

Charlene Li delivered an incredibly powerful presentation on disruption and why some organizations fail when others transform. She challenged us all to examine our organizations’ current beliefs and get clear on which will move you forward—and which will hold you back.

To drive forward, Charlene believes that organizations must embrace openness, agency, and bias for action.

Ask the right questions

Microsoft President Brad Smith shared his big-picture views on the future of tech.

He discussed the importance of being curious and not just asking questions, but asking the right questions.

He also stressed that humans must be able to press the off switch as AI continues to progress, citing the example of plane crashes that claimed lives because the pilots were unable to take control.

Via Geekwire: “That should speak to us,” Smith said. “That is not just something that should speak to one company or just one industry. It should speak to everybody who creates technology, who uses technology, in every part of society, and that’s a lesson we should remember. We’ve got to be able to create good technology and we’ve got to be able to turn it off.”

Customer journey, a la NYT

Marc Levalle, Executive Director of R&D at the New York Times, shared a glimpse into how the news machine is using cutting edge tech to bring news to life. We loved this view of the Times’ customer journey map as they think about how consumers engage with the news throughout the day.

The kids are all right

The fan-favorite inventor was 12-year-old Nir Pechuk, CEO of Extentek and creator of Galina, a device to help visually impaired people avoid over-filling a container when pouring. Nir nailed his elevator pitch and wowed us with his journey from LEGO prototype to market-ready product.

Better together: 5 takeaways from TalentConnect 2019

Our heads are still swirling with stats, strategies, and inspiration from TalentConnect. We joined 4,600 members of the global talent community in Dallas, Texas, in pursuit of our shared goals of building winning teams and changing people’s lives.

LinkedIn won our hearts with the Texas-sized welcome (and personalized bandanas), and the presenters moved our hearts and minds on topics from authentic DEI like Beyonce to negotiating tactics from a former FBI agent. Also, there was Michelle Obama. (Did we mention Michelle Obama?!)

Here are our top 5 takeaways from the 10th annual LinkedIn TalentConnect conference:

1. New rules for the new world of work

At Simplicity, the new world of work is also a new way of thinking about work and teams. It’s about on-demand, project-based work and the ability to quickly build and assemble the right team at the right time for the right work. The full-time employee (FTE) model is quickly shifting to teams with a capital T: a collection of FTEs, consultants, vendors, and agencies that flex with the speed of business.

2. People, people, people—always

As a [mostly F-bomb-free] Gary Vaynerchuk said in his keynote, until the robots take over and kill us all (which, let’s be honest, they might), it’s people—always people.

Both when it comes to employment marketing & recruiting ….

… and retaining & engaging top talent

Live your values

Patagonia’s Dean Carter really struck a chord.

He defined values as those things that you value beyond the bottom line. Patagonia’s foundational value? They’re in business to save our home planet.

Carter preached a regenerative approach toward our planet … and our people:

Michelle, we love you

And then there was First Lady Michelle Obama.

She echoed many of the same themes we’d heard this week—our shared obligation to expand our networks and the importance of flexibility, authenticity, and regularly communicating with our people on a personal level—and shared other gems:

The network gap has to go

If you read nothing else, read this:

It’s no secret that there is a gap in access to equal opportunities, but the numbers are still staggering:

Those who come from wealthy neighborhoods, attend top schools, and work for top companies are 12x (TWELVE TIMES!) more likely to have a strong network. And referrals are 9x more likely to get hired.

That delta in access—what LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner calls the network gap—is what LinkedIn is striving bridge with its goal of providing equal access to opportunity.

Which brings us to the #PlusOnePledge.

It's an intention to share your time, talent, or connections with people outside your network who may not have access to the same resources you do. By taking the Plus One Pledge, you’ll help others and strengthen your own network.

It doesn’t mean not taking care of people in our networks, but it means being intentional about not precluding people outside of our networks.

Weiner asked all 4,600 of us to join him in taking the plus one pledge. To pay it forward for someone without the same access that we have. To reach back and help someone else up.

Jeff, we’ll join you.

And you, dear reader: Will you join us?

Please note Team Simplicity on the keynote screen (center bottom): (L to R) Amanda Swahn, Carrie Morris, and Stephanie Chacharon.

How to bring your event to life with a team of experts

Events are essential to an effective marketing strategy. Nearly 90% of execs plan to grow their event budgets in the next year, and 30% of marketers believe that events are the most important marketing channel. Whether online (webinar, virtual summit, live stream, etc) or physical (conference, tradeshow, seminar, workshop, or breakfast/lunch/dinner), events drive brand awareness, lead generation, customer engagement, and education.

But delivering a compelling, impactful event experience requires planning, strategy, and a mix of the right skills and experience. Here’s how to build the team you need to successfully bring your event to life.

Event marketing resource types & considerations

The ideal event marketing team consists of a combination of resources, including full-time employees (FTEs), consultants/contractors/freelancers, agencies, and vendors. Consider the following when weighing what type of resources to engage:

Employee or not

Do you need an FTE or an on-demand resource (such as a consultant, agency, or vendor)? Consider how long you'll need each specific resource, how integrated each role will be with your core event team, and whether there are skills gaps on your existing team.

Consultant/freelancer vs agency

Do you want to assemble a SWAT team of experts with specific skills (project-based and on-demand) or go with an agency team (retainer model)? Do you value building relationships with specific experts or working with a team that may not provide full visibility into its members or process?


Full-time or part time? Year-round or seasonal? Onsite or remote? Not all event marketing roles demand year-round, on-site resources. Consider what’s right for each component of your event support team. For example, a graphic designer may work remotely for 10-20 hours a week in the months leading up to the event, while it makes sense for a project marketing manager to work onsite year-round to manage the many moving pieces of an event series.

Strategy or execution

Do you need someone who can set the strategic direction or a doer to execute against that event strategy—or someone who can do both?

Experience level

In that same vein, can a bright, but relatively inexperienced resource get the job done or do you need a seasoned event pro? For example, a social media manager with a few years of experience could do a stellar job managing the event’s social presence, while a presentation coach would benefit from past hands-on experience working with speakers on a range of topics and presentation formats.

Historic or institutional knowledge vs specific skillset

Does your event require historic or institutional knowledge of the event, industry, or company? Or is it more important to have experts around specific skillsets, such as social media, event branding, event management, and so on? Is past experience with your type of event (format, size, audience) a need-to-have or nice-to-have?

Event marketing dream team

Effectively marketing an event requires a coordinated effort before, during, and after. While events vary wildly in scale and type, here’s our dream event marketing team:

Event marketing project manager

All successful events have one thing in common: incredible organization. A project manager(s) can wrangle all the many details surrounding an event, from planning (things like topic tracks & speaker CFCs, venue & registration details, branding & strategy development) and development (tracking digital and creative assets and managing things like stakeholder communications, speaker submissions, and agencies and vendors) to execution (coordinating on-site resources, managing timelines, handling last-minute changes). Whether an employee or a consultant, the ideal project manager for your event is a hyper-organized, excellent communicator and multi-tasker, who thrives on making order out of event chaos.

Event marketing strategist

You’ll want an event and marketing pro to help set your event’s marketing strategy, including identifying who your target audiences are and how to reach them and building an event brand that reflects your goals and speaks your attendees’ language. Depending on the size and reach of your event and how integrated it is with other elements of your business, this could be a FTE or an on-demand resource who sets your event marketing plan before handing it off to specialists to execute.

Graphic designer(s)

A good graphic designer (or team!) can truly set your event marketing apart. They understand your event brand and audience inside and out and create the print and digital assets you need to market your event, including website assets, ad creative, digital banners, social media assets, printed agendas, banners and signage, presentation decks, and more. Identify the full scope of your event marketing BoM and the complexity of the design before weighing whether to engage a consultant (or few) or a creative agency.

Writer & content creator(s)

From event messaging and PR promos to digital & print content, email campaigns, interview briefs, and speaker talking points, you need talented storytellers who can craft your event narrative and clearly communicate the essence of your event.

Social media manager(s)

Before, during, and after your event, you need an expert (or a team of experts) to plan, create, and post content from your brand/event account. Hashtags, platforms, creative assets, and social listening—they'll help you drum up and sustain interest leading up to your event; identify and engage with thought leaders and influencers; and create and amplify real-time event hot takes.

Presentation coach(es)

Public speaking—especially compelling, persuasive public speaker—is an art form that takes practice to master. Presentation coaches help your subject matter experts (SMEs) and speakers turn their expertise into a polished, interesting presentation that works for your event, audience, and session format (keynote, workshop, panel, etc). Ideally, a coach will also work with presenters on creating or ideating any companion content such as slides, hand outs, or activities.

Video production team

Whether conducting on-site interviews, live-streaming keynote presentations, recording sessions, or filming promo B-roll, an experienced video production team can capture your event experience and extend its reach far beyond the actual event.

Hire an on-demand event marketing expert

Our event marketing experts bring event experiences to life. Here’s how we can help:



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