My conference report for the 20th annual Professional Marketing Conference was published in the November 2015 edition of PM magazine

There was an amazing mix of speakers talking on the theme of “Tomorrow’s world”. Here are some of my personal reflections which didn’t make it into the official conference report:

Futurologists – Chris Yapp provided some interesting observations about the future. He started by referring to the Oxford University/Deloitte report on “The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to automation” and the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) which has moved on a bit since I studied cognitive psychology almost three decades ago. I have summarised the main elements of his talk in a separate blog

Persuasion – It was good to see and hear Steve Martin speak again, I’ve written before about the book he was referring to here: The focus of his talk was on the our three deep seated motivators: to make decisions as efficiently as possible, to affiliate and gain the approval of others and to see oneself in a positive light.

Collaboration – Elliott Moss of Mishcon De Reya solicitors interviewed the HR director of Howard Kennedy solicitors and the Head of IT at Buzzacott accountants and concluded that effective support staff collaboration could achieve “the best people with the best technology and the best relationships”.

Inbound marketing – Hubspot (I’m a huge fan – see other blogs such as ) talked about creating client personas and content maps so that we “market with a magnet not a sledgehammer”. I’ve written about segmentation and personas before:

Selling skills – The Personal Communications Academy demonstrated that it is incredibly powerful to teach simple sales techniques through role play. I have written numerous blogs about sales techniques – see, for example: and

Client feedback – I always enjoy the client panel session at these conferences. This year, Elliott Moss interviewed the FD of Aframe (cloud collaboration platform) and senior lawyers from Argus Media and Santander. The main themes appeared to be the need for professional advisers to invest time in really learning about the client’s business and the individual personalities and in providing recommendations rather than options. Differentiation remains an ongoing challenge. There’s a full transcript of the interview here:

Psychology – There was an underlying theme in most of the sessions about psychology. Perhaps it is because I am psychologist and a trainee therapeutic counsellor that I picked this up. But whether we were talking about improved sales performance, understanding our clients, telling compelling stories or differentiation there was frequent references to persuasion science, behavioural economics and neuroscience.

It confirmed my view that – in the future – we might see the business development world diverge into two branches: the technological marketing side (with an emphasis on using technology to analyse client behaviour with analytics and to reach them more effectively) and the selling and relationship management psychology (emphasis on understanding emotion and the drivers of behaviour). Whilst my career started in the then embryonic technology industry and I have always retained my fascination with the subject, my heart belongs to strategy and psychology in marketing and I face a tough choice.