Turing Festival Takeaways - Full Stack Marketing 2016


August in Edinburgh is synonymous with festivals. The world’s biggest arts festival takes over Edinburgh's streets, doubling our usually quiet city’s population. Amongst the performers, the tourists and the incessant flyering, Edinburgh’s International Tech Festival also took place last week.

Sunshine was at Turing Festival for Full Stack Marketing 2016 – a day of marketing insights from some of the brightest minds in the industry.

Central Hall - Venue for Turing Festival 2016 (via @turingfestival)

I had been last year, so I was aware of how valuable a day like that can be. Oli Gardner’s Trainspotting-inspired ‘Four Corners of Conversion’ is still one of the best talks I’ve seen.

Balancing returning speakers like the aforementioned Oli, Lexi Mills, and Mike McGrail, a number of newcomers came to town to collectively help improve Scotland's digital marketing. The day, as with Product/People the previous day, was topped off with Moz’s Rand Fishkin, who was unable to make last year's event but made up for it with two talks in two days.

Social wasn’t explicitly spoken about in any depth during any of the talks, but the information was still applicable and valuable. Here are some of my Turing takeaways and how we can apply them here at Sunshine:

Soft Skills? Important Skills.

Being able to craft compelling copy is great, and so is being great with analysing data. Hard skills as a marketer are great. But softer skills can set aside good and great marketers.

Be curious – ask why that content/campaign performed the way it did.

Being adaptable – pivot, change, tweak in order to get better results.

Be empathetic - towards your customer, but I’d like to think in general too.

But you need to mix them all together. You need to be curious to find out why a customer feels a certain way, empathise with that view and adapt your offering in order to better suit their needs.

Paid Media - Not All About the Buy

Remember there’s more to just the funnel than the ‘buy’ stage. Customers will not always be ready to take action there and then, and sometimes that can be where the attribution (and importance) of paid media is slightly misunderstood.

Understanding how paid media operates is crucial; knowing you can bid to serve ads when customers search for your competitors or even when they receive an email from one of your competitors can give you an advantage.

If you’re not doing it, you can be fairly sure you’re having it done to you.

Your Target Market Isn’t One Group

It’s a simple concept, but one that’s sometimes overlooked. How your customers bought from you absolutely has to impact on your marketing strategy to them.

Take the example of a travel company; your social traffic may be city-break focussed, whilst email traffic might be interested in longer tours.

Knowing how your social traffic behaves and how that differs from your email subscribers is invaluable when it comes to crafting content strategies.


Attention Driven Design

Don’t distract a customer from your main goal. Attention Driven Design, for me, is the crossroads of design and sales, which when I think about it, is really what marketing is all about.

Make stuff look great, sure. But be ready to explain the reasons behind it looking good and why they help direct attention towards your goal instead of detract from it.

Understand the Customer’s Problem (and How You Can Fix It)

People would rather learn than be sold to, so help them learn and they’ll remember you.

Obviously with social, that is simple – don’t spam an audience about how great your product is, and how much you want them to buy. Educate them why it helps them in their daily lives.

Content, Execution, Hook

You can have the greatest piece of content ever. But if people are saying, “It’s cool, so what?”, that might signal the death knell for that particular piece.

All 3 of the above elements need to work together in order to create something that will work. Take the time to understand your audience and who you're creating for, as making people feel something (the hook) will resonate more, invoking a more intense reaction.


Data is computerised. Insights are human. The numbers are great, but they tell us what happened. They don’t tell us why. And that was one of the most talked-about points at Turing Festival.

In digital, it’s easier than ever to see what happened. X clicks, Y sales, Z% conversion rate. And we know instantly if it’s good/bad/indifferent. Knowing why that happened is the real skill, and that's what will make it easier for marketers to replicate/adapt to produce continuously great results.

A huge thank you to the organisers, speakers, and volunteers at the Turing Festival. If you're looking for more information: www.turingfestival.com 

See you next year!