10 TED Talks on marketing and communication not to be missed

How do successful leaders communicate? Why do some videos go viral? Can social networks really influence our life and choices? Is it possible to increase our chances of success simply by adopting a certain communicative language? Here are 10 interesting TED Talks about marketing and communication that offer an answer to these questions and then some.

Everyone has probably watched at least one TED talk, which red logo is easily recognizable and often synonymous with interesting, innovative and inspiring content.

But what exactly is TED?

TED is a non-profit company founded in 1984 with the aim of spreading ideas through short discussions lasting up to 18 minutes. Initially focused on Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED), today the conferences cover all topics, from science to social issues, and are available in more than 100 languages.

Among the covered topics, we also find marketing and communication. Below we present 10 TED Talks that we found particularly interesting for their ability to explain in a simple, practical and precise way the dynamics that govern society and people’s choices; to highlight some false marketing myths and to show how from mistakes we have come to those conclusions that today we consider obvious.

So, get comfortable and let yourself be inspired by these brilliant presentations.

Your body language may shape who you are | Amy Cuddy

This 2012 presentation by social psychologist Amy Cuddy is still one of the most popular among TED Talks.

We all know that while communicating and interacting with others, non-verbal language plays an important role whether it is in everyday situations or in professional contexts: 90% of the information that reaches our brain comes from non-verbal communication and only 10% from verbal communication.

Body language influences how others perceive us but it can also change the way we see ourselves. In fact, according to a study conducted by Cuddy, adopting a position that usually inspires confidence (such as that with our hands on the hips) even when we do not feel particularly confident, would increase our self-confidence. And this could have a positive impact on our chance of be successful.

Although later studies have failed to replicate the results of the experiment conducted by Amy Cuddy, and therefore the debate is still open, it is certainly worth watching this presentation, which provides really interesting examples and ideas.

How great leaders inspire action | Simon Sinek

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

This is perhaps one of the most famous quotes by Simon Sinek, author of the well-known book “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action”

In this presentation, Sinek explains precisely his discovery of a communication model adopted by all the greatest leaders and the most important organizations, that he calls the golden circle. It starts from explaining why that particular thing was made, what is the reason, what is the purpose, and only after it explains the “how” and the “what”.

According to Sinek, it is precisely this communication model that explains why some leaders are able to inspire the world while others fail.

How to get your ideas to spread | Seth Godin

This presentation by marketing guru Seth Godin is from 2003 but still very current.

Godin explains that to be successful, to cause real change, we need to be able to understand how to spread our ideas. Mass media have made this process easier but we all know that these tools are no longer as effective as they used to be.

So how do we make a difference today? With a remarkable product, promoting it no longer to the masses but to a more defined target, and specifically among otaku, a Japanese word that describes people obsessed with something.

What physics taught me about marketing | Dan Cobley

In this fun and unusual presentation, Dan Cobley, who has been a marketing director at Google for years, uses some physical laws to explain the fundamental theories of branding.

Let’s take for example Newton’s second law of motion, according to which “The force is equal to the mass multiplied by the acceleration”. Rearranging this formula, we obtain that the acceleration equals force over mass: this means that a larger body, with a greater mass, needs more force to change its direction.

This formula is also valid for brands: the bigger the brand, the more strength it will take to change its positioning. This explains why it was very difficult for Hoover to make people understand that it does not only produce vacuum cleaners or why companies like Unilever keep separate brands.

The hidden influence of social networks | Nicholas Christakis

We are all familiar with social networks, both online and offline. But often we don’t realize the real influence these networks have on us and our choices.

In this regard, sociologist Nicholas Christakis opens his presentation with a truly surprising example. In the early 2000s it had become a trend to talk about the “obesity epidemic”. To understand whether obesity could actually be defined as an epidemic, capable of spreading from person to person, Christakis conducted a study on 2200 people. Analysing the data, it emerged that if a friend of ours becomes obese, the risk that we in turn become obese increases by 57% in the same period of time.

Social networks play a role of great importance and in this interesting presentation, Christakis shows us how our position in the network could influence our life in ways that we do not even imagine.

Life lessons from an ad man | Rory Sutherland

Advertiser Rory Sutherland’s presentation is probably one of the funniest and it explains a fundamental principle: every value is subjective.

Therefore, the change in perceived value can be as important as what we consider a “real” value, which is usually associated with the production and crafting process.

An exemplary case presented by Sutherland on how a brand has created an intangible value without actually changing the product is that of breakfast cereals Shreddies.

By advertising “new” rhomboid-shaped rather than square-shaped Shreddies, the perception of the public changed to the point they thought of being in front of a new, improved and tastier version of the product.

Hard to believe? Then go have a look at Sutherland’s presentation, who also shows people testimonials while tasting the “new” Shreddies.

Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce | Malcolm Gladwell

Have you ever wondered why different variations of a single product are often available at the supermarket? The answer appears obvious today: it’s because consumer tastes are different.

But the truth is that what sounds obvious today wasn’t so before. The study that marketers do on Buyer Personas, trying to identify the types and needs of potential buyers, was not a widespread practice.

The first to realize that consumers are different and consequently also their tastes and preferences, was American physicist and market researcher Howard Moskowitz, between the 70s and 80s. How? Thanks to canned sauce.

In this engaging presentation, journalist and best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell tells us precisely the story of Moskowitz, expanding the discussion on choice and happiness.

Why gender-based marketing is bad for business | Gaby Barrios

I think each of us has made assumptions and drawn conclusions based on the gender of our audience at least once.

However, according to Gaby Barrios of the Boston Consulting Group, advertising campaigns based on gender, in addition to perpetrating several stereotypes, are not able to fully meet consumer habits. The risk is therefore to miss out on sales and growth opportunities.

In her presentation, Barrios explains how she and her team came to this conclusion after leading 200 projects in 20 countries around the world, even where there are strong gender connotations.

How we can find ourselves in data | Giorgia Lupi

On November 8, 2016 the presidential elections took place in the USA. Internet polls, statistical models and all the pundits agreed on a possible outcome for the elections, with Hillary Clinton as the winner. But we all know how it actually went.

In that case, as in many others, the data misled us: our obsession to reduce everything to two simple percentage numbers led us to simplify the message communicated by those numbers and to forget that there are human stories and events behind them.

The invitation of information designer Giorgia Lupi is therefore to consider data as the beginning of a conversation and not the end.

Why videos go viral | Kevin Allocca

Every minute, the equivalent of 2 days of videos (48 hours) are uploaded on YouTube. Yet, only a small percentage of these videos go viral.

On our blog we already discussed the science behind viral marketing and how to create successful content. In this case as well, we find some previously addressed concepts.

In fact, Kevin Allocca, Head of Culture & Trends of YouTube, shows us three things that participate in the virality of a video: tastemakers, communities of participations and unexpectedness.

Did you find these TED Talks interesting? Which is your favourite and the most useful for your marketing and communication strategy? Tell us in the comments 👇 and contact us to learn about our marketing and communication consulting services!

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After graduating in Languages at the Università degli Studi di Milano, my interest and curiosity towards the digital world led me to pursue a career in this field and to get a Specializing Master in Digital Marketing. Today, I am responsible for the definition and application of marketing and communication strategies for both EOS and the ipcm® magazines. In my free time I travel, I read a lot and I binge-watch TV series. A place to visit at least once in your life: Oman. Must read: Lehman Trilogy by Stefano Massini. What you should binge-watch next: Mr. Robot.

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