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3 Things San Francisco Small Businesses Can Learn from Cannes Lions Festival

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The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is a creative communications conference that’s held half a world away from San Francisco, but that doesn’t mean that the lessons learned at this incredible event don’t translate to small businesses in the City by the Bay. In fact, one of the primary focuses of the conference was on the international impact of contemporary marketing practices and the ways in which brands are developing and implementing successful campaigns around the world.

With a handful of the marketing industry’s brightest minds gathered in the same place, there was a wealth of interesting ideas and intriguing discussions being had Cannes Lions, especially when it came to small business. If you weren’t able to make the trip from SF to Cannes for this year’s conference, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. These are the three most important things SF small businesses can learn from 2014’s Cannes Lions.

Less Is More

One of the most recurring themes at Cannes Lions was “less is more.” In fact, the notion that “less is more” was talked about so frequently and in so many different parts of the festival that it almost became ironic. However, despite how many times we heard the cliché phrase throughout the conference, it appears as though there’s quite a bit of truth in it when it comes to modern and future marketing practices.

The reason that “less” is becoming increasingly “more” is because people have become so inundated and overwhelmed with online content and advertisements that they’ve learned to simply ignore them. For small business owners, spending money on ads that are largely ignored can quickly lead their company down the path to failure, which is why it’s more important now than ever for small businesses to ensure that their advertising strategy is both cleverly developed and well-executed.

The ultimate takeaway here is that businesses no longer need to produce lots of content or spend lots money of advertising, they just need to do it more effectively. Consumers want things that provide value to them without making them invest anything into it. Keep your advertisements, your content, your email messages, and your overall approach short, sweet, and to the point, and your much more likely to see the results you want.

Young Employees Are Spearheading Growth

A lot of the agencies and industry leaders at Cannes Lions talked about the importance of young people in their organizations and how they’re driving the current and future growth of their businesses. Instead of putting younger employees in more typical rank and file jobs, these successful companies are giving them leadership roles that allow them more opportunities to connect with larger, more youthful audiences which helps expand their existing customer base and also develop long-term brand loyalty. Of course, this may not be the best solution for every small business, but for those that are looking to grow far and wide in the future, it’s certainly a smart tactic.

User Engagement Is the Key to Success

The third and final takeaway from Cannes Lions was that user engagement trumps all, especially when it comes to marketing small businesses. The ready and easy availability of online blogs, content production technology, and social networks make it easier than ever to share information with your followers, reach potential customers, and grow your business. However, the only way you will be able to grow your business successfully is by generating user engagement. So, how do you do that?

Well, first of all, you need to remember the first point of this piece—“less is more.” Don’t go creating and sharing things just for the sake of doing it. Create content with a purpose and a perspective that’s entertaining or interesting and reflects your company’s culture or perspective. Share your content on your social media pages, ask questions, and interact with your fans. The more that you are able to connect with you audience, the more relationships you will build with customers and the more likely they will be to share your content (and your brand) with their network.

User engagement is vital to driving traffic, sales, and growth, and should be one of the main objectives of any small business.

Cannes Lions attendee Ben Legg CEO www.adknowledge.com said "The days if placing an ad in Yellow Pages and then not thinking about advertising again for the next 12 months is over. Small business owners do need to learn about and focus on marketing more than ever before. To avoid becoming overwhelmed by complexity or wasting money, you need to focus on the precise target audience that you want to talk to, then send a clear and differentiated message, then engage those potential customers through to the point of purchase."

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