Five months ago I left “Corporate UK” to join the team at Pace, just in time to celebrate its first birthday. Five months later and I have not looked back. I can unequivocally say that I have learned more in the last few months then I did in the last few years at my old career. But it’s hardly surprising, going from a 300+ team to a family of just seven people – it brings a whole new meaning to learning and responsibility. In a start-up, you get the opportunity to get involved in all sorts of activities and tasks you wouldn’t usually be involved with, and it has, in my case, accelerated my learning. The culture of Pace means that everyone in the team is encouraged to continually learn and develop.

With personal development being at the heart of who we are, the team recently suggested that I attend this year’s Prolific North Live expo event at Manchester’s Event City. In its second year, the event took place on 15th and 16th February and featured talks from all sorts of experts from the marketing, PR, digital, branding, content, advertising and broadcasting worlds. During day two I attended eight different presentations during which I was scribbling madly in my “here’s the big idea” book, desperately trying to absorb as much as possible to take back to my team in Hull. As the day went on it became clear that there were some key themes coming through, regardless of the speaker and their specialism. So here are the top three hot topics from day two of Prolific North Live (in my opinion!):

1. Purpose

The 2016 Havas survey reported that only 6% of brands in the UK are meaningful to us. This means that if we got rid of 94% of brands, we wouldn’t bat an eyelid because we just don’t care about them, suggesting that our trust in brands is at an all-time low. This puts even more pressure on brands to have a purpose beyond making money – they need to look at how they can make their customers’ lives better. But once that purpose is determined, how do they make us stop and pay attention? This leads handily onto the second hot topic…

2. Powerful content

Purpose-based marketing can be delivered through powerful content. Havas found that 60% of content produced by brands is clutter, being described as poor, irrelevant or failing to deliver. So, what constitutes “powerful content”? Good creative has to have emotion behind it and have an authentic human dimension in order to make a connection with its audience. Research has shown that our brains respond to the descriptive power of stories in such a way that it makes us “feel” the experience, rather than being in passive receipt. This backs up one of the intriguing conclusions Kate Thornton made when she shared her experiences about her company’s successful campaigns. The campaigns that performed the best were the ones in which the focus wasn’t even on the brand itself, but instead on the story – the purpose.

3. There’s no such thing as the “Big Idea”

This is an interesting one. A few weeks ago myself and a colleague went into a creative session with the aim of creating some brilliant messaging for a challenging campaign. We both went into it thinking “we’ve got to come up with a brilliant idea”. We struggled, and had to go away and reconvene fresh the next morning. When we started again with some simple word association, as opposed to going straight in for the “big idea”, we came up with the goods. The Big Idea generally comes from smaller ideas that gradually build into something huge. The Drummund “puddle jump” highlights how big ideas come from seemingly insignificant ideas that snowball into something much bigger.

So there you have it. The above may not necessarily be groundbreaking, but are nevertheless important themes that cropped-up repeatedly throughout day 2 of the expo. At Pace, attending events such as this fits in with three of our ‘ways of working’ – always learning, keeping up to date with what other creative brands are doing, and having fun. Not bad for a day’s work.