The Marketer’s Handbook of TED Talks

Inspiration and insight are extremely powerful tools in the world of marketing (and pretty much everywhere else really.)

There are some days when we really, really need both to help us get through the workday. There are other days where our fire is already fueled but that burst of inspiration is just the cherry on top of the cake.

Either way, they’re important things to keep in your marketing arsenal. My favorite weapons for this are TED Talks.

If you read my blog post, “10 Ways to Reignite Your Creative Spark,” you know how much I cherish a good TED Talk. There are over 150,000 TEDx Talks on YouTube, i.e. 150,000+ pieces of content to influence inspiration and insight.

We’ve narrowed down a digestible list of marketing- and success-related TED Talk videos. Start here to get inspired.

1. For when you need a laugh: This is what happens when you reply to spam email

  • 9:49 minutes | December 2015 | 55.9m views
  • “Suspicious emails: unclaimed insurance bonds, diamond-encrusted safe deposit boxes, close friends marooned in a foreign country. They pop up in our inboxes, and standard procedure is to delete on sight. But what happens when you reply? Follow along as writer and comedian James Veitch narrates a hilarious, weeks-long exchange with a spammer who offered to cut him in on a hot deal.”

2. For when you need a new perspective: What physics taught me about marketing

  • 7:32 minutes | July 2010 | 1.5m views
  • “Physics and marketing don’t seem to have much in common, but Dan Cobley is passionate about both. He brings these unlikely bedfellows together using Newton’s second law, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, the scientific method and the second law of thermodynamics to explain the fundamental theories of branding.”

3. For when you need to examine customer data: Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce

  • 17:27 minutes | February 2004 | 8.6m views
  • “’Tipping Point’ author Malcolm Gladwell gets inside the food industry’s pursuit of the perfect spaghetti sauce — and makes a larger argument about the nature of choice and happiness.”

4. For when you want to learn about brand hype: Why sneakers are a great investment

  • 11:52 minutes | October 2015 | 2.1m views
  • “Josh Luber is a “sneakerhead,” a collector of rare or limited sneakers. With their insatiable appetite for exclusive sneakers, these tastemakers drive marketing and create hype for the brands they love, specifically Nike, which absolutely dominates the multi-billion-dollar secondary market for sneakers. Luber’s company, Campless, collects data about this market and analyzes it for collectors and investors. In this talk, he takes us on a journey into this complicated, unregulated market and imagines how it could be a model for a stock market for commerce.”

5. For when you are a multipotentialite: Why some of us don’t have one true calling

  • 12:26 minutes | April 2015 | 6.9m views
  • “What do you want to be when you grow up? Well, if you’re not sure you want to do just one thing for the rest of your life, you’re not alone. In this illuminating talk, writer and artist Emilie Wapnick describes the kind of people she calls “multipotentialites” — who have a range of interests and jobs over one lifetime. Are you one?”

6. For when you need to persuade passion: Why you will fail to have a great career

  • 15:08 minutes | November 2011 | 6.7m views
  • “In this funny and blunt talk, Larry Smith pulls no punches when he calls out the absurd excuses people invent when they fail to pursue their passions.”

7. For when you need to convince your boss to work from home: Why work doesn’t happen at work

  • 15:14 minutes | October 2010 | 5.8m views
  • “Jason Fried has a radical theory of working: that the office isn’t a good place to do it. He calls out the two main offenders (call them the M&Ms) and offers three suggestions to make the workplace actually work.”

8. For when you need to accept your mistakes: 404, the story of a page not found

  • 4:01 minutes | February 2012 | 1.7m views
  • “Oops! Nobody wants to see the 404: Page Not Found. But as Renny Gleeson shows us, while he runs through a slideshow of creative and funny 404 pages, every error is really a chance to build a better relationship.”

9. For when you want to maintain authenticity: What consumers want

  • 14:19 minutes | February 2004 | 1.1m views
  • “Customers want to feel what they buy is authentic, but “Mass Customization” author Joseph Pine says selling authenticity is tough because, well, there’s no such thing. He talks about a few experiences that may be artificial but make millions anyway.”

10. For when you need to find the power to lead: The tribes we lead

  • 17:29 minutes | February 2009 | 2.3m views
  • “Seth Godin argues the Internet has ended mass marketing and revived a human social unit from the distant past: tribes. Founded on shared ideas and values, tribes give ordinary people the power to lead and make big change. He urges us to do so.”

In a world with an overabundance of marketers and content and an undersaturation of inspiration and insight, it’s important to strike a balance. Even in your life outside of work, these videos can help you get your wheels turning. This handbook of TED Talks is here to help you get started with that.


 

  • Which TED Talk on this list is your favorite?
  • Is there a Talk on this list that we forgot to include?
  • Do you think TED Talks are a valuable resource, both in and out of the office?

 


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