I recently sat down with Lyft’s VP of Marketing, Melissa Waters, and she said, “we are living through a transition phase right now. It’s definitely a full-time need to keep up-to-date with the variety of technology needed to solve business problems.” It sure is. In fact, in my last role at Sephora’s Innovation Lab, that was my full-time job. New products and services are entering the market faster than ever so how can marketers keep up?  Here are some of my personal tips:

  1. Go outside (literally). This seems pretty obvious but we all get too busy – locked into our offices in back-to-back meetings. Don’t just sit behind your desk or on your phone scouring the Web for the latest and greatest. Walk around your city or town and just observe what is happening and people’s behaviors. When I travel, I block off an afternoon to look for inspiration in design, experiences and technology in museums, public transit, restaurants, gyms, retailers, coffee shops – you get the idea.
  2. Curate a separate feed. I use Feedly to curate newsletters, blogs and other feeds on specific trends and technology information.  This helps remove clutter from my inbox but it’s also a way to quickly scan what’s new and happening that day. I flag the things that pop out that I want to dive deeper into.
  3. Grow and leverage your network. Living in San Francisco gave me the ability to network with innovation leaders, startups, engineers and marketers that I deeply respect and admire. Whether it’s on LinkedIn, email or text, I spend time each day to connect with folks around something of mutual interest. I attend as many local events and conferences I can each year (anyone want to meet up at Fast Company’s Innovation Festival in October?) to find inspiration and meet new people.
  4. Read research (like Gartner’s Cool Vendor reports). You don’t need to do all the sorting and filtering yourself. Leveraging research like our Cool Vendors reports can do a lot of heavy lifting for you.  They offer expert analysis and surface vendors with the most potential. Make sure to take a look at some of our recent Cool Vendors reports for Advertising and Artificial Intelligence for Adverting.  
  5. Schedule intro meetings with smaller and newer vendors. Over the course of my career, I’ve been the de facto analyst for vetting new vendors. People from various parts of the company would forward me cold emails they found interesting (I’ve seen some really terrible ones) and I would give it a quick sniff test. I held a recurring block on my calendar to have calls with vendors I was interested in hearing more from and would report back out to stakeholders. This can get a little time consuming but it can be very rewarding.

Happy scouting!

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