Silicon Beach is a famed digital conference that pulls to Bournemouth a whole host of the UK’s leading strategic thinkers, digital innovators and creative brains.

Last week, over the course of 2 action-packed days, over 20 illustrious speakers and a whole host of insight-hungry professionals (including myself!) from across the UK met at Pavilion Dance to discuss the latest innovations and share thoughts on the UK’s ever-expanding creative economy.

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Taking place only 50 yards from the beach, this extraordinary event had no running order or even a theme published beforehand – certainty a brave play by Event Organiser, Matt Desmier, but also a great way to ensure the speakers could have the freedom to discuss the hottest topics in our industry right now!

Needless to say, the conference was incredibly inspiring, I met some fascinating people and I left at the end of the second day with a refreshed energy and equipped with a fascinating selection of powerful insights. I just couldn’t wait to write up my notes and feedback to the rest of the CuCo team on Monday morning.

It was so tough to narrow it down, but here are my Top 10 take home messages for 2014:

1 Marketing today is a conversation

Marketing is no longer the adrenaline fuelled one-way propaganda crusade it was once was; it’s about brand-customer conversations. Brands need to remember that their customers are human beings with individual needs, wishes, and wants, and when they listen and engage they can not only extend their reach, but also gain powerful insights into their market. However, those that try to cheat the system by using automatic response tools or hashtag ride are in serious danger of being caught out and quickly alienating their audience.

Follow Stephen Waddington: @wadds

2 Insane honesty might just make your brand

Insane honesty is a marketing strategy in which a business actively seeks out their weaknesses and shares them openly. Whilst without doubt a risky strategy, because today’s consumers are bombarded with such a mass of overly positive hype from brands every single day, insane honestly can actually be a refreshing change from the norm and hence can actually surprise and charm your audience. It signals a brand’s confidence and builds a consumers trust in the brand with the logic ‘If Brand X is that honest about their weaknesses, they are probably telling the truth about their strengths.’ Insane honesty filters out less likely buyers, attracts ideal prospects and focuses your brand on battles it can feasibly win.

Follow Doug Kessler: @dougkessler

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3 Lack of resources doesn’t have to be a barrier to innovation

In fact, resources can actually hinder (rather than help!) innovation. The best ideas (e.g. the life straw) are actually needs-based and therefore are more likely to genuinely benefit humanity in a meaningful way. Innovation doesn’t always have to be high-budget, technologically-charged.

Follow Tom Eldridge: @invisibldigitl

4 Design for serendipity

Brands need to remember at all times that their target audience are human beings, with years and years of experiences and collated memories. When people view imagery, their view is not objective, it is subjective, and a bi-product of all the people they have loved in their life, all the places they have seen etc. In practice, brands need to be sure they truly know their target audience and think about what the visual stimuli they are presenting is likely to mean to them and what emotional responsive they are looking to evoke.

Follow Melissa Mcveigh: @melmcveigh

5 Pillars are vital for real-time content marketing

Brands need to move away from blindly piggybacking off every world event as it unfolds and consider whether it actually relates to their brand. One way to filter your real-time content efforts is to develop a series of content pillars for your brand about what you stand for and only get involved if the event relates to one of these. For example. Doritos content pillars might be ‘mexican-themed events’ or ‘a great night in’.

Follow Helen Lawrence: @helenium

6 Don’t cookie cut your team

People are so much more than just their job title. Putting your team into rigid job roles and categories is like taking a cookie cutter to that individual and taking away all of the interesting, exciting stuff that falls outside of that mould. It’s important to give your team the freedom to work outside of their job title… who knows what they might deliver or what great ideas they might have!

Follow Benjamin Southworth: @inthecompanyof


7 Desks are toxic

There is a strange, pervasive and fundamentally flawed belief in business that bashing a keyboard as loud and fast as possible is the same as being productive. It’s not. Desks are by their very nature, a space for doing rather than thinking, and by freeing people from the physical and mental confines of their desks, they feel more comfortable and better able to spend time thinking about what they are actually trying to achieve and how they can best do so. Perhaps we should measure our team less by the time they spend at their desk, and more on their output of excellence.

Follow Dave Birss: @davebirss

8 Technological innovation isn’t turning us all into zombies

Or at least it hasn’t yet. Because human beings are intrinsically resistant to change, historically every time a new innovation has become mainstream (e.g. TV, the walkman) there was been moral panic as to the effects on us and our minds, which incidentally have never materialised (so far!). In fact, many technical innovations have actually had superlative positive effects. For example, because of the internet people are now able to communicate with an monumental number of others from all over the world. Far from making us feel like disconnected, mindless monkeys, as some people feared, the internet has actually allowed like-minded individuals to find each other and form positive connections, thus people feel less lonely and have an overall greater feeling of well-being.

Follow Paul Papadimitriou: @papadimitriou


9 Don’t be dismissive of the do-ers in your team

It’s important to remember that in any project where there are one or a small group of heroes grabbing the headlines, there are also many people who work behind the scenes to actually make things happen and who never receive the recognition or credit they deserve. It’s so importance to praise the do-ers in your team, and constantly highlight the importance of teams, not heroes.

Follow Nadya Powell: @NadsBads

10 Don’t just say what your brand stands for – show it!

Some brands feel that because their product is not sexy, or has been in the public sphere for a long time, they cannot create the contemporary, clever content that other brands seem to be able to churn out. This is not the case. The household cleaning product Cif stands for both cleaning up and protecting your family at home. So what did they do? They produced internet software that meant that when your children were surfing the web and came across inappropriate language, the software would change these words to more-appropriate, non-taboo language. The campaign was on-brand, but also relevant to their consumers and their needs today and showed that Cif truly understand what it means for it’s customers and why they buy Cif products.

Follow Jonny Watson: @jay_wizzle

We’re already looking forward to next year – will you be joining us?