Courtney Harrison, a first-year marketing student at the University of Canterbury and also the new Student Helper on the Marketing Association’s Southern Regional Committee attended Marketing South as a guest of the Marketing Association. Read in her own words to discover the key takeaways she learned at this prestigious event.

Her unique perspective provides valuable insights into the event's dynamic discussions highlighting the importance of challenging norms, embracing change, and investing in strong brand identities for marketing excellence.

"Marketing South 2023 was an incredible experience to be a part of and as a first-year student at UC, I was quite possibly the most unversed person in the room, but I was incredibly happy to be so. What better opportunity to capitalize on my ignorance then to be surrounded by brilliant minds with decades of experience. I was truly delighted to meet and learn from these incredible individuals. Whether I was gathering tips of the trade at my table, meeting the CEO & Founder of a tech company, or brainstorming strategies in the Marketing For Good workshop, it was a day full of learning and fun!

Each of the presenters did a fantastic job of sharing their insights, projects, and experiences but two in particular resonated with me. The first; “Stop listening to your customer and find the magic in your brand” By Adam Ferrier, Founder of Thinkerbell, and the second “No one said it would be easy” by Gareth O’Connor of Harvey Cameron.

“The world isn’t waiting for more of the same” was a stimulating perspective presented at the close of Marketing South by speakers Gareth and James. We live in a world of average, where society expects us to fit the ‘norm’, and where marketing has always been centred around listening to what the consumer wants. Instead, they suggest that true success is lying for us by being different, by being ourselves, and by standing by our brand. The less concerned we are with being just like every other business, the more we can create something magical. Marketing, inherently, is an industry obsessed with change. It’s this obsession with seeking and creating the next big thing that leads us all to be average. Although aimed at marketing and business fields, it leaves one pondering; are we losing ourselves by listening to the world?

This perspective was complimented by the controversial opinion of Adam Ferrier, with a ‘f*ck what the consumer wants, we will tell them what they want’ approach to marketing. Adam voices that listening to the customer destroys a brand, if all brands are listening to what the consumer wants, then all brands will end up the same, no differentiation, no diversity. Businesses are so desperate to understand the consumer, that they spend copious amounts of money on market research and not enough in brand investment, forgetting that brand identity is what sets them apart.

It was refreshing to have so many different perspectives and great minds come together for one event. With a clear message, stop chasing your tail in the search of customer satisfaction, instead be different, invest in a strong brand identity to achieve success."

Source: Courtney Harrison, Marketing Student, University of Canterbury