4 Must-Watch TED Talks for B2B Marketers

TED is a nonprofit organization dedicated to publishing ideas that are “worth spreading.” Its trademark short presentations, called TED Talks, take on topics from science and technology to business and social issues. Since 1984, TED has brought big ideas to the forefront of its field.

Marketing might not be the most frequently covered topic in TED Talks, but there is no shortage of worthwhile presentations available. We count down four of the best marketing TED talks.


1. “How to make choosing easier” by Sheena Iyengar

Posted Jan 2012

Sheena Iyengar is a professor at the Columbia Business School. Iyengar overcame retinal degeneration, which left her blind in her mid-teens, to earn degrees from the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business and Stanford University. She is known for her studies of the social science of decision-making.

In this aptly-named TED Talk, Iyengar discusses the problem of choice overload. She explains that choice overload leads to users choosing not to choose (even when it goes against their best interest), making poorly informed choices, and choosing things that make them less satisfied. The talk concludes with four techniques to smooth the decision-making process that can be applied to businesses.


2. “The tribes we lead” by Seth Godin

Posted May 2009

A prolific writer, speaker, and entrepreneur, Seth Godin has authored 17 books and launched successful companies including Yoyodyne and Squidoo. Godin is a graduate of Tufts University with an MBA from Stanford University. He is best known for his quirky takes on business topics.

One of several TED Talks from Godin, “The tribes we lead” centers on the idea of a shifting communication model between marketers and audiences. Advertising/Mass marketing was based on marketers shouting down from the mountain tops to all who would listen. The Internet has created silos of interests and opened the door for a new model, he explains.

Successful modern marketing relies on messages passed on your behalf between interest groups, or tribes. Godin says that in order to lead these tribes in the right direction, markets need a set of six traits.


3. “What consumers want” by Joseph Pine

Filmed February 2004

Joseph Pine is a speaker, author, and management advisor. He works with companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 giants. Pine is best known for his books The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage and Mass Customization: The New Frontier in Business Competition.

This talk focuses on the evolution of economies and what it means to marketers. Pine explains economies began with commodities, which are interchangeable regardless of seller. Commodities transitioned into manufactured products, which were eventually commoditized themselves. Commoditized products were then personalized as services until the Internet turned these too into commodities. When we again apply customization to fight commoditization, Pine explains, we’re left with customized services, or experiences.

The takeaways from Pine’s come with the “business imperative” and “consumer sensibility” that come with each phase of an economy. For experiences, he says the key is authenticity. The talk concludes with tips for businesses to present authenticity to customers.


4. “What physics taught me about marketing” by Dan Cobley

Filmed July 2010

Dan Cobley is an entrepreneur, speaker, and former leader at Google, Capital One, and Ask Jeeves. He has a physics degree from St John’s College, Oxford, as well as a Master of Management from the University of Cambridge. Cobley seamlessly combines his background in science with businesses concepts.

Physics and marketing aren’t typically thought of as closely related topics. “What physics taught me about marketing” aims to challenge this idea by highlighting several areas where physics principals are mirrored in marketing and branding. Cobley takes on concepts including Newton’s Second Law, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, and Increasing Entropy.



Let us know what you think:

  • Which TED Talk did you find most valuable?
  • Would you add anything to the list?
  • What areas of marketing would you like to see further explored?



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