March 30, 2023

Butler/Till at SXSW

Butler/Till had the privilege of attending SXSW in Austin, Texas earlier this month. We hung out with our partner, Brand Innovators in their exclusive space, where we were inspired by hundreds of marketers from categories like Quick Serve Restaurants, Consumer-Packaged Goods, Travel and Tourism, and everything in between. Over a dozen expert panels covered hot topics impacting the advertising and marketing space, as well as the latest emerging trends impacting their categories and businesses. Of all the fascinating topics covered, we’re sharing the key recurring themes we saw from this year’s SXSW conference.

Women in Marketing Leadership

The event featured multiple panels that addressed the importance of having female representation in leadership positions across the marketing world. A group of inspiring female leaders from well established brands, tech platforms, and marketing agencies shared their stories of how they’ve been able to advance their careers, all while lending a much-needed perspective in their respective fields. They touched on important strides that have been made in recent years, however, shared that women are still underrepresented in marketing and business leadership roles. They noted that for the first time, women make up just over ten percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies–a point that simultaneously shows progress and demonstrates how far we still have to go. They also spoke about how female voices in marketing leadership can help move the needle on core issues such as:

  • Pay equity

  • Organizational communication

  • Diversity and inclusion

  • Employee mentorship

  • Change management

Purpose-Driven Marketing

As our team engaged with countless brands, agencies, and technology marketing professionals, one thing was made clear; everyone is focused on connecting the work that they do to their core purpose and values. While a handful of panels focused on this topic exclusively, the conversation came up in almost every panel. It’s clear that today, consumers and employees want brands and companies to operate in ways that recognize the importance of sustainability and social equity.

Experts talked about how this practice goes beyond a company’s charitable endeavors; it should touch every part of the value chain. There seems to be a clear consensus that customers want to understand how brands are committed to making the world a better place, and employees want to engage in work that is focused on more than just short-term business goals. That consensus is evidenced by a study from Cone/Porter Novelli that found 77% of consumers reported stronger emotional bonds to purpose-driven companies.

Brands Are Taking Risks

There were many compelling stories spread throughout the conference about how brands are moving outside of their comfort zones to connect with customers. There is a huge trend in brands recognizing that they can’t be all things to all people. Instead, brands are leaning into what makes them unique to create authentic connections with consumers who share common interests, goals, purposes, or values. Marketers shared a host of ways on how these changes are manifesting, including:

  • Forging custom partnerships with creators and influencers

  • Leveraging user-generated content

  • Diversity and inclusion

  • Setting aside budget for experimentation and learning

  • Weighing in on important social issues

As a purpose-fueled marketing agency, we departed SXSW 2023 inspired by stories of commitment from marketers to not only make our industry better, but to make our world better. We are more optimistic about our space, and we can’t wait to put our newfound perspectives and learnings to good use in how we operate, communicate, and most importantly, how we serve.

To learn more about these important topics, connect with our experts today.

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