Reflections and Learnings from the Quirks Event

A couple of weeks ago I returned from the bi-coastal experiment called the Quirk’s Event. One was held in Irvine, CA, and one in Brooklyn, NY.  I attended them both.  The consensus among attendees seemed to be that the Brooklyn event was stronger, but maybe this is because it is the older sibling to the new Irvine event.  Even so, Irvine gets the award for most exciting since the hotel lost all power on the conference’s final day, even though it was a beautiful SoCal dKermitay without a cloud in the sky.  Maybe the Californians were just being “green.”

Even without power, I heard a few things that made me stop and take note around the evolution of brands, the pace of business, and the keys to product development.

BRANDING

Some thought-provoking quotes on branding.

  • “Has the world changed more rapidly than your model?” — Amy Levin, Benenson Strategy Group
  • “What is the important (to the customer) benefit that only you can enable?”  Corollary, “First, talk to the customer, then talk internally.”  — Lori Laflin, Cargill
  • “One of the top 3 reasons people trust brands is because of their vulnerability or reciprocity” — Baileigh Allen, BrandTrust

SPEED

Speed, it seems, reigns supreme.

IBM shared details about their “Always On Intelligence Program.”  This program is driving their transformation “from a project-driven to a program-driven information system with continuous feedback.”  Reported results at IBM, “providing engaging insights at the pace of business and improved client perceptions of IBM.”  Think about the implications of this if this radical thinking becomes industry standard.  It will change everything.

Meanwhile, “We conduct fast turn concept testing all the time” was a comment from Simone Schuster of Dannon – further confirmation that we live in world where we want information, and we want it now.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

At its core, product development is about understanding the consumer. Jenni French Cyrek of Microsoft shared five questions that product managers should ask.

  1. Where are the gaps in the customer buying and use process?
  2. Where do important needs and low satisfaction intersect? That is opportunity.
  3. What concepts actually work for the customer, not the company?
  4. What is a strong value proposition for the market?
  5. How to improve the product over time? Match survey and behavioral metrics.

Hats off to the Quirk’s team for taking risks and trying some new techniques.  Maybe the West Coast event will grow to be as good or better than the Brooklyn event.  Regardless, they have re-invented a tradeshow/conference format that works. I admire smart risk-takers.

I plan to be in Brooklyn next year. The jury is still out on Irvine.  However, I might be swayed by the prospect of a few days in SoCal in February.

 

 

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