How to market TEDxRyersonU

Last April, TEDxRyersonU won two marketing awards from the Ryerson Commerce Society for its efforts to stand out from other student groups. This year, the goal is to take that success even further.

The group won the Best New Initiative and Best Marketing Campaign awards for its 2014-2015 marketing campaigns. Alex Wong, a fourth-year business management student and TEDx advisor, was the marketing lead last year. He said, “I think a big reason we might have [won] was the fact we were able to not only market to the business students but the entire campus.”

Though TEDxRyersonU is managed under the Ryerson Commerce Society and Ryerson Communication and Design Society umbrella, students from any faculty are welcome to participate. Ramsha Naeem, the 2014-2015 curator of the group said, “Each year we try to engage with other faculties and engage with all the students. The concept of the conference is not business-related at all, it’s for anyone. We wanted to be more of an engaging and welcoming environment.”

Wong and Naeem said the group’s orientation week initiatives in particular were applauded at the awards ceremony. “We really wanted to engage with the students, do things no student group has done,” said Wong. “Last year, the first week of school we planned a flash mob on Gould Street, that went well. We also made a ball pit.”

Another marketing element the group is known for is its annual structure. Several set designers work with the marketing team to design a physical symbol to represent the mandate of TEDx; each year, the structure is different.

Last year’s structure “was a large X basically, and it was interactive,” said Naeem. “It had a diamond-shaped button and when you pushed it, another one came out. It was an attempt for us to stand out, it was really different from what we’d done before.”

Hunter MacInnes, a third-year graphic communications management student, took over for Wong in May as the TEDxRyersonU marketing lead. She worked with him last year and plans on continuing the group’s goal of creating unique marketing campaigns.

To start, she and the marketing team — with help from the set designers — created a new interactive structure for 2015-2016.

“We decided we were going to take the TEDx ‘X’ and deconstruct it a little bit. We included a question on it and it has space for 300 plastic X’s, and we get people to write their answers on the X’s,” said MacInnes.

The current question on the structure asks how students can challenge established norms.

Naeem said, “The very first structure was just a red X. As time went on, it kept getting more interactive, and this year they took it to a whole new level. It meets the entire purpose of TED where you’re asking people questions that make you think about your perspective.”

MacInnes’s other goals for this year were to increase the number of applications to the annual TEDx conference on Nov. 14 and to challenge the thoughts of the Ryerson community. She has already met one of her goals; more students than ever from faculties other than business applied to attend the conference.

“[TEDx is] about getting people to change their perspectives in general — to stop for a second and think about the bigger picture of life. We do want to get people to our conferences because they change the way people go through their lives,” she said.

Though this year’s TEDx conference is on Nov. 14, MacInnes and the team will be releasing marketing material throughout the year as smaller events are held.

Naeem, who graduated in April and currently works at Ryerson’s DMZ, said, “TEDx is a global brand all about innovation and inspiration. That puts more pressure on us to make sure we do things that represent that brand. We have to take it upon ourselves to introduce ideas on campus.”

Featured image by TEDxRyersonU / CC BY 2.0

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that TEDxRyersonU is managed under the Ryerson Commerce Society. It is under both the Ryerson Commerce Society and the Ryerson Communication and Design Society. Ryerson Folio regrets the error.