I had the privilege of attending the BOLO Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., recently for the second year in a row, and once again it was a super creative, inspiring conference that brought big ideas and rejuvenated the crowd to get back to their offices and make magic happen for our clients. The annual conference is geared toward digital marketers and PR professionals on the agency side and proved to be a great venue for brainstorming, networking, and getting inspired.
There were a number of great takeaways, but for me the most important thing was the constant reminder to think of the big picture, make sure we truly understand the audience we are targeting, and make sure all of work comes together to tell a consistent and compelling story about the brands we represent. This seems obvious, but so often we see campaigns, creative, and ads that seems to miss that. Here are the Top 10 messages that really stood out during the two day conference:
Marketers Should Be More Like Hackers
Hack (n) – The most ingenious and effective solution to a problem. Focus on the answer to the business problem, not just creating ads to create ads. Gareth Kay in “A Time for New Radicals”
Orient Your Brand around a Purpose
Marketing is no longer about “buy this now!” Instead consumers want to connect with brands that stand for something they believe in. Create something meaningful with your ad budgets. Heidi Hackemer in “The American Dream: How the national narrative is changing and what it means for us.”
Good Ideas Can Come From Anywhere
A road trip to CES in a VW bus produced tons of engagement, endless amounts of content, and a ton of enthusiasm for a brand. Dave Delany in “New Business Networking and a 1972 VW Bus”
Social Media is Like Dating
Be as attractive as possible. Don’t come on too strong and respect the other person. Steph Parker in “The Future of Community Management”
Be A Creative Hustler
Being creative is not a hobby; it’s a way of life. Steven Picanza in “Being a Creative Hustler”
Consumers Don’t Want to Hear Your Brand Story, They Want to be a Part of It
Get interactive with your fans and let them join in your story. Alan Schulman in “Storyscaping – Creating worlds, not ads”
Act like a Startup, Even if you’re not
Get lean, focused, and constantly test, iterate and improve. Dan Zeikman in “Treat Everything Like a Startup”
Storytelling is still our Best Skill as Marketers
Brands that tell stories get ahead in content marketing. AMEX Open Forum, Mashable Advertiser Stories, Red Bull and Chipotle’s Scarecrow are great examples of this. Shane Snow in “Transforming Businesses Through Original Storytelling”
Advertising is like Live Performance Art
It’s not just about the art itself, but how people experience and interact with the art. The same message or creative can mean totally different things depending on the person experiencing it and the context in which they consume it. Art, like advertising, is not static. Both trigger experiences that are constantly changing and evolving as we do. Brian Clark in “Phenomenal Work”
There is no Perfect Spaghetti Sauce
Some people prefer plain, some prefer chunky, some prefer extra garlic. This applies to marketing too. One ad does not fit all, nor does one landing page. Understand your audiences and provide options based on those personas and the data you have. John Gagnon in “Trends and Techniques for Digital Marketers & Data Geeks”
Plus My Own Slides!
Lastly, I had the privilege of giving a presentation on SEO, and my challenge was for all marketers to start taking SEO more seriously. Any and all of the takeaways above apply to SEO. Good SEO involves telling stories, using data, engaging consumers, focusing on purpose-driven marketing, and leveraging social media and communities.
Our tagline is “Search Delivered Smarter” and you’ll hear us constantly talk to our clients about the need for smarter content – with recent updates to Google and Bing. With the growing importance of social media visibility and high quality content to the search algorithms, it’s more important than ever to be telling good stories and engaging our audiences through search.
You can check out my slides below: