Fuze Conference 2014: Inspiring Action & The Power of Community

by Bonnie Hughes

I recently attended the Fuze Conference 2014 in Saskatoon. The conference, which was organized by the Saskatchewan Professional Marketing Association and the Saskatoon chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, was a sold-out event that, as promised, both informed and entertained.

The conference was organized around the theme of the power of community and through a series of speakers, various facets of engaging audiences and creating a community of advocates for an organization were discussed. Maureen “Mo” Douglas shared her experiences with engaging people who may initially be resistant to a plan or idea and emphasized the importance of communication, transparency, and follow through. Leanne Bellgrade discussed the value and necessity of engaging Aboriginal people and provided insights into building relationships and engaging and investing in these communities. Khayyam Wakil’s presentation, “Video Killed the Marketing Star: The Content Revolution,” integrated multimedia elements and centred on innovations that are leading marketing, such as 360 video technology.

The speakers also included a panel of successful Saskatchewan entrepreneurs, consisting of Neechie Gear founder and CEO Kendal Netmaker, 3twenty Modular co-founder and CEO Bryan McCrea, and Three Farmers Camelina Oil founders Natasha Vandenhurk and Elysia Vandenhurk. The panelists spoke about their marketing challenges, opportunities and transitions, as well as the support they received when starting their businesses. The afternoon keynote speaker was Aaron James Draplin, whose presentation “Tall Tales from a Large Man *PG-13*” covered graphic design, Draplin’s upcoming TEDx talk on freebie Fridays, designing a logo for the White House, and doing what you love. Draplin’s site, http://www.draplin.com, gives a sense of his design aesthetic, as well as his humour, enthusiasm, and charisma.

The conference was interesting and engaging, and throughout the day, the theme of community was reiterated and built upon, offering many ways to think about marketing and communications in our increasingly connected and community-oriented world.

by Dylan Cody

During my undergraduate degree I took a few marketing classes and I have been involved in a few projects involving ad agencies since joining Insightrix, but the day I spent at the 2014 Fuze Conference in Saskatoon was a real eye-opener. I learned about how to interact effectively with communities from Maureen “Mo” Douglas and gained insights into engaging Saskatchewan’s Aboriginal people through a talk delivered by Leanne Bellegarde. Khayyam Wakil had conference goers tearing up with a few heart-wrenching videos during his talk on the content revolution while the panel of Saskatchewan entrepreneurs shared with the crowd their amazing stories about start-up marketing strategies, vision, and spirit.

The afternoon keynote speaker Aaron James Draplin, owner of Draplin Design Co., took the crowd on a multimedia journey through his life, loves, hates and emphasized that doing everything for the almighty dollar may not be what matters most. Mr. Draplin had the crowd roaring with his outgoing personality, charm, keen insights, and his gratuitous and well-placed use of the F-bomb.

I left the conference with a tremendously positive feeling from the conference theme, speakers, and attitudes of conference attendees and was able to engage a few people myself and begin some new relationships. The 2014 Fuze Conference was an absolute treat to attend and not only did I meet some great people and gain a new experience, I also learned more about the world of design, advertising, and marketing, all of which are immensely beneficial for a young market researcher.