8 must see TED talks for marketers and ad people Bannersnack
5 minutes read

A wise man once said that inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

But we all know it, does inspiration ever comes when you want it to? For some, inspiration arrives at the exact same moment when they’re taking a break from long hours and hard work. You know the story of Eureka, right? For others, inspiration pays a visit only when they’re in the middle of things.

Truth is, there’s more than one way to be inspired and to get ideas.

But most often it is the people who see the world differently that ignite a spark in the rest of us. And that kind of people is in no short supply at TED. (If have been living under some kind of rock for the past 7-8 years, you can read about TED here).

TED talks became increasingly popular because the speakers featured put forth daring concepts and innovative ideas. Talks cover a wide range of subjects from innovation to complex issues such as internet privacy or mental health. Some are downright funny while others tell compelling stories that can but inspire. You can even find particular lists like what to do when you’ve burnout or how we make choices for example.

Ok, and how’s that related?

As marketers or advertisers (or designers, social media managers or anything related to the fields), we have to know a  little bit of everything to move things forward. Marketing is no longer a simple concept that you can pin down to a mathematical formula and be successful. It’s not enough to figure great pricing, great distribution and advertise your product in all the right places.

Marketing (advertising, communication, or design) is about people. It’s about how to engage people, how to tell stories that move people, how to create products and services people will want to interact with.

Here are 8 TED talks to inspire you:

Simon Sinek : How great leaders inspire actions

Why do some companies make it, even if all the odds are against it while others fail with a load of resources at their disposal? Simon, leadership expert, author of the classic “Start with why”, a contributor to major publications and a Columbia University teacher, tries to answer the question in his talk.

He suggests that a different way to communicate with your audience. Instead of telling your customers what you’re offering, tell them why you do what you do. This somehow is mirror neurons: people follow those who share the same values as they do. People don’t want to identify with the physical attributes of a product, they want to identify with the ideals, styles and values your product emphasizes.


  1. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
  2. “People who believe in what you do will follow you. Show customers why you care and they will have no other choice but to follow.”

David Kelley: How to build your creative confidence

You can’t really do something creative if you’re afraid. David Kelley has made it his life quest to help people achieve the confidence they need to come up with ideas and try them. For those of you that don’t know, David Kelley is one of the founders of legendary design company IDEO, teaches one of the most prestigious design programs in the world, Stanford D-School and heavily promotes a human-centered approach in design and innovation.

In his talk, he outlines the benefits of becoming confident about your creativity: generating more ideas to choose from and making better decisions. How to get there? Easy. Watch the talk.


“I really believe that when people gain this confidence, … they actually start working on the things that are really important in their lives.”

Dan Cobley: What physics taught me about marketing

You’d say there isn’t much connection between physics and marketing. Yet Dan Cobley, former Google Marketing Director turned start up and advisor, shows some ways in which they’re related.

Newton’s law, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, the scientific method and the entropy principle – all those can teach you something about marketing, branding and how those work in today’s ever changing world.

Rory Sutherland: Life lessons from an ad man

Advertising is all about the value you create in your audience’s mind. It’s more about perceived value than about actual value. As a veteran ad man, Rory Sutherland knows that.

In his (very funny) talk, he shows that creating perceived value is not evil, even if at times perceived do. Perceived value can be as important as real value. He also mentions some great ways to reframe problems and reshape perception to create (more) perceived value. See how potatoes were rebranded, if you really need to make trains faster to create  a better experience and take a moment to think… How can you redesign your problem to create value and make an impact?


When you place a value on things like health, love, sex and other things, and learn to place a material value on what you’ve previously discounted for being merely intangible, a thing not seen, you realize you’re much, much wealthier than you ever imagined.”

Andrew Stanton: Cues to a great story

His name might not be all that familiar, but you certainly know his work. Andrew Stanton is one of the genius storytellers at Pixar, behind movies such as “Toy Story”, “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E”.

Even if they revolutionized the animated film industry through computer generated graphics, what makes Pixar movies different is the way they tell the story. People love stories, they’re hardwired to resonate with stories in movies, marketing or design.

In his talk, Andrew shares the guidelines to a great story from his experience. Stories aren’t exact, they’re not predictable, but they need to make your audience care about something. For how to engage your audience to the one element you need to amaze and convince your audience to pass your story on, hit the play button.

David Pogue: Simplicity sells

You could argue that this talk might be a bit old (2008), but it’s one of the best ever. David Pogue is a ultra funny technology columnist for the New York Times and he discusses two hot topics: technology and simplicity.

He puts forth great examples on how sometimes it’s not that hard to get confused when, in fact, technology should be consistent, simple and easy to use. Even we have become more accustomed to technology, there are a ton of examples of user experience situations when things go wrong.

Insights from his talk can be applied all the way from user experience to customer journey (And it’s the best laugh you’ll have this week, guaranteed).

Malcolm Gladwell: Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce

You’ve probably heard of Malcolm Gladwell (or at least one of his books: Blink, Tipping Point, etc). But chances are you don’t know anything about Howard Moskowitz and how he revolutionized the food industry in the 1950s.

Howard’s work marked a turning point in market research and in how customer feedback was used. Like Steve Jobs, he thought that you shouldn’t ask the customer what he wants: “The mind knows not what the tongue wants.”

Watch the talk and see the three key changes Howard brought to the food industry.


While you might doubt if/when the other talks will bring value into your life and career, here’s one that holds practical, on the spot value. It’s one of those things you’ve been doing wrong all along and you don’t even know it. Ladies and gents… do you know how to tie shoelaces correctly?


Do you know other talks that would fit on the list? Leave the link in a comment below and we’ll add it if it’s a fit.

Executive Account Manager

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