Be a Thought Leader at FutureM: Submitting a Proposal Worthy of a Gold Star

Posted by Jaime Reynolds on Tue, Mar 5, 2013

Gold Star AwardFutureM’s call for proposals is open! I hope you are thinking about submitting a proposal, strategizing with your team on an idea that brings your company’s expertise to life. Understanding the criteria we use to select sessions is important during your thought process; below please find examples and ideas to make sure your session is set up for success and earns a gold star.

Criteria #1: Forward thinking and innovative topics about modern marketing.
Criteria #2: New and unique ideas, either in format or topic.

FutureM is about the future of Marketing, so sessions that are forward-thinking and futuristic are a must. Consider choosing a topic that is innovative - delve into areas that may take a little vision or have a unique viewpoint on an ongoing debate. You don’t necessarily have to be a visionary predicting what Marketing will look like in 2020. But we are looking for ideas based on thoughts about what the future holds for us, even if the future is more like tomorrow than 2020. Speaker proposals from your PR team to get your executives a stage for their sales pitch aren’t what we are want; these proposals are the first to be cut because they don’t incorporate the kind of deep and curious thinking we’re looking for.

What is the best way to show us you are meeting these criteria? Incorporate your vision in the topic/name of your session. Don’t be afraid to be a little provocative. Here are some great session titles from 2012:

Formats should be unique and exciting too, which relates to our next criteria:

Criteria #3: Fun and engaging experiences that leave attendees thinking toward the future.

At FutureM, we want different formats to engage the audience. We don’t want a sit down lecture full of slides for our attendees, nor do we want a 101 workshop that doesn’t allow creative and advanced thinking. The best ideas come from collaboration, different perspectives and meeting people in different fields. All those great networking opportunities should be inspired from the discussions held during sessions. Sessions should spark a conversation that lives long after the event itself; we want attendees to continue the conversations in the hallway, during dinner and with you and with us after the event.

Here’s a great example from 2012 that demonstrates this point:

AMP Agency held a session called “How the Class of 2016 Will Change the Future of Marketing.” Not only was the topic futuristic, the format was incredibly engaging; here’s why:

  1. The central format of their session was a panel discussion with students from the Class of 2016. Panel = not necessarily engaging but...
  2. They had TWO moderators – a subject matter expert from the brand marketing perspective (their Director of Connections Planning) and a leader on millennial behavior and attitudes (the Dean of Students at Boston University).
  3. They incorporated unique research and insights. You’re probably thinking, “Research, I don’t have time for that.” But they kept it simple: their research was based on mini focus groups with their interns. Also, they choose a topic that they already had deep expertise in and therefore some of the supporting research was already done. If you’re familiar with AMP Agency, you’d know their tagline is “Insights Inspired. Results Driven.” The topic and research were a no brainer for them.
  4. They created a visually appealing presentation to support the conversation, incorporating the research insights into the panel discussion; see it here. They also incorporated a Twitter stream so attendees’ thoughts and feedback could easily be worked in.
  5. They then closed the panel with a presentation summary of the major takeaways for brand marketers.

It was a brilliant way of making a panel discussion more engaging and impactful. The session was never boring and it kept everyone on their toes and thinking. PLUS the content drove conversation afterwards.

FutureM 2013

Criteria 4: Relevant content, targeting many segments of the marketing and innovation community.

The key for this criterion is easy: make sure you have diversity of experience represented. You’re less likely to be accepted with one speaker. Our audience is a big mix of marketers of all kinds, and your session should appeal to this audience and reflect it. In any case, it’s hard to create an engaging format or a provocative discussion with just one person, right?

Final Point: You’re Submitting to Become a Session Partner

Remember, our session proposal process is bringing to light ideas which lead to your company being chosen as a session partner, so make sure you come up with an idea that best positions your company (not just your speakers) as a thought leader. It’s a small difference in idea but big in reality: once your idea is accepted, we work with you every step of the way to bring your idea to life so you, our session leaders, can be seen as the big brains of our marketing future. Give us your best and we’ll be sure the experience won’t disappoint!

So get going! Use the four main criteria to create your proposal – and let’s make this the most amazing FutureM together! Don’t miss out, take the first step and submit your session proposal by March 29th.

Where will you take FutureM in 2013?