I’m a true believer in continuous learning, both on a personal and professional level. Shelling out for a conference fee is a big decision though, so I wanted to make sure the time and money would be well worth it.

After the high I felt from last year’s Marketing United conference, it didn’t take long for me to decide to go again this year. And with it being just 100 miles away, and I could stay with family, the low travel cost was certainly helpful!

Marketing-united-viewThe conference is hosted by Emma and was held April 17-20 at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.

Are you being authentic, transparent and immediate?

The opening keynote speaker was Scott Stratten from Unmarketing. He brings such energy to his presentations! That high level of energy and his sarcastic wit were great ways to start the day. His style also drove home his main point to just be real with your audience, your customers. Authenticity, transparency and immediacy will do wonders to build a loyal base.

And if you are great with those tools and providing awesome service that loyal base will actually do your marketing for you! He provided several examples of customer service gone horribly wrong and some of customer service handled very well. So well in fact, most of us got a little misty-eyed by the end of one of his amazing customer service stories. Which illustrates another point he made: people spread emotions, they share stories. We better make them good emotions and stories!

Videos on Your Website and a Celebrity Sighting

The morning’s other session I attended while less intense, still offered great tips! Kristen Craft (@thecrafty) provided great ideas what videos your website needs and those we should avoid. Stay tuned for a follow-up article on this one!Marketing-united-field-notes

After that session, I got the chance to meet Aaron Draplin! He’s an awesome designer who runs DDC and founded Field Notes, my favorite note-taking and sketching tool. I was really starstruck when I came around the corner and saw him setting up his merch table (OMG! That’s him! In person!). So I waited not-so-patiently for my turn, bought a very cool Tennessee poster he designed and some Field Notes which he signed for me. Sweet!

The Session that Gave Me Goosebumps

After a cool lunchtime live podcast of Unmarketing, it was time to see Draplin’s presentation. He simply told his story, yet the way he told it, showing us through visuals and through his passion for living was very inspirational. He got so into telling his stories that he completely ran out of time, but we begged him to continue. When he did end it, the audience gave him a standing ovation…. how many conference speakers get standing O’s?! The mantra I got from his talk has been going round my head ever since:

Do good work for good people… on paper

Really was a great reminder to be more meaningful with my work. I was on such an emotional high after that presentation, the other sessions didn’t even register with my brain. I sat through them, but I just kept thinking about how I can ramp up my passion and focus and get back to the satisfaction of solid design development. More on that in an upcoming post 😉

The Three Bs of Great Content

Marketing-united-ann-handleyThe highlights for the last day started with a great keynote from Ann Handley. She’s a dynamic speaker with great tips at the strategic and tactical levels. Her message is for us to be bigger, braver and bolder with our content. This personalization, of sorts, helps to make the brand more real and acts as a sifter for finding the best customers.

Authentic Relationships with Advertisers AND Readers

In a session with the founders from StyleBlueprint, we heard how email makes a very specific impact on their website traffic, which in turn drives their ad sales. They started the company with the goal to help southern women find great items at locally-owned boutiques, so they have always had very authentic relationships with their advertisers as well as their readers. It’s a wonderful example of authentic content and native advertising. And as an entrepreneur, it was inspiring to hear their experiences of building up a successful business.

Tactical Tips

I went to several sessions which provided some interesting tips on day-to-day marketing activities. Pamela Wilson with Rainmaker Digital, gave us her plan on how to write a great blog post once a week. She recommends working on it over three or four days, with specific items for each day. This allows the brain to see the writing fresh each day, increasing the chances for catching drag-me-downs like typos and bad writing.

The other session that was more specific was Austin Clowdus from LiveClicker. He opened my eyes to The Moment of Open. As email marketers, most of us have been using our data up to The Moment of Send. But what if we could add data that was available when the user opened the email (The Moment of Open), such as the current weather, or location, or stock prices?

Hug Your Haters?

Marketing-united-jay-baer1aThen the conference wrapped up with a fantastic presentation from Jay Baer on how to Hug Your Haters. This notion of how our critics can actually help us if we only listen to them instead of being afraid of them is a great shift in perspective. Jay gathered so much research on this topic, he turned it into a great book with lots of data, examples and tips on how to embrace those who might start out hating you. Just think, if you show them how important they are to your business improving, you might just turn them into advocates for your company!

What a great conference! I have so much more information to share – this was just my highlight reel. But in the meantime, how do these themes line up with your marketing approach? Have any questions about some of these topics or tips?