My week at Future M

Posted on October 14, 2015

I just finished up a fantastic week learning all about the future of marketing. Wow, with technology changing nearly every day, things in the business world change quickly too. I will be doing a series of posts about what I learned, but to start things off, I thought you all would enjoy hearing (or should I say, reading) about my week.

Future M stands for “the future of marketing.” And never was this more evident than in the décor. I loved the fluorescent lit globes on the tables. They seemed to float above the black tablecloths.

future m globes

The conference ran from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. There was a lot of sitting. As most of you know, I have trouble sitting still, even if I am listening to a subject that I love. I managed to take some quick walks during the breaks. It was so fun to be in the Back Bay section of Boston. Here is one especially pretty sight.

christian science plaza

This is the view of the Christian Scientist Plaza, with the infinity pool. It is from their website. I tried to take a picture of this with my smartphone, but my fingers got in the way and all you see is my hand. So, this stock photo will have to do.

Boston skyline

I was especially taken by the skyscraper in the back; it looks like it is topped with a crown. Since I’ve been working from home these past several years, I am not used to seeing such tall buildings. I’m not sure I could ever go back to working in one of these buildings. What happens if the power goes out? You’d have a lot of steps to climb down! Or if there was a fire in the building, you can’t just open the window and jump out.

The conference took place at the Hynes Convention Center, in the heart of Boston’s Back Bay. I like this venue much better than the new Boston Convention Center at the Seaport. You don’t feel as though you are part of a massive crowd of 10,000 conference goers. It is much more relaxing.

Day 1:

The schedule says the Keynote will start at 8:30 am. So I am there at 8:00 am, staking out a good spot. 9:00 am comes and goes, then 9:15 and still no sign or word of the speaker. This is rather annoying. I could have slept or exercised an extra hour. Finally at 9:20 the featured speaker appears. There is no explanation of why he is so late. Not a good start the conference.

After the keynote, one of the conference sponsors gets up to talk. Talk about boring. I know it’s critical to have sponsors and it’s important to thank them, but he could have generated a lot more interest and good will if he told a story about how his product helped his customers, instead of showing some really complicated charts and quoting some really boring statistics.

As an introvert, I dread talking to a lot of new people. I find it exhausting. Folks here are pretty laid back and friendly, so it’s not too bad. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is glued to their smartphone or tablet so not a lot of talking takes place. I tried to surreptitiously see what folks were looking at, but the screens are so small, I couldn’t do it without creeping someone out. Several folks had some cute little tablets there, I would love something like that; they look light and easy to carry. They are much easier on the eyes than trying to do stuff on one’s smartphone.

I was able to figure out how to get my emails to download to my phone. Yes! I feel like such a techie now. I had previously figured this out, but then I stopped the downloads in order to preserve my battery, I am so happy that I re-figured it out. Of course, I have no clue to what I did to re-enable this.

I am spoiled by the tech conferences like Word Camp. They are very inexpensive, are always held at cool venues and most importantly, have good food! And by good, I don’t mean healthy. There are plenty of cookies, coffee and snacks throughout the day. The food at Future M was a disappointment. It was sandwiches, pasta salads and lemonade. What! No cookies to be found anywhere. We all need that sugar and caffeine fix to help us stay awake for the afternoon sessions.

I love people watching, especially at conferences. The uniform de rigeur for men was starched blue jeans with a sports coat. Women wore skirts and dresses. A lot of the women wore high wedge sandals. I really wanted to ask one of them how they keep their balance with such high shoes, but I refrained from doing so. As Mr. Ken likes to remind me, I can easily trip just in my bare feet, never mind high heels.

Days 2 and 3:

I could really get into taking the train into Boston every day. It’s fun and energizing.

By the end of the week, I was exhausted, but exhilarated. I love going into Boston and I love learning new things.

In terms of marketing lessons learned, here’s a few that come immediately to mind:

1. Trust is critical if you’re trying to win over customers.

After the late start on the first of the conference, no one showed up before 9:15 am. This is very simple really, do what you say you are going to do.

2. Provide good value for the money.

I think the conference money would have been better spent on more food, instead of cocktails at happy hour and a big concert. Most people are pretty drained after a day of being at a conference and I’m not sure how much any of us appreciate or enjoyed the after hours festivities.

Plaza photo is from the Christian Science website.