I want to share some crucial takeaways from the exhilarating 3-day whirlwind conference in the Big Apple, otherwise known as SMX East. Each day provided an enlightening menu of workshops and events. My overall goal of the conference was to strengthen the aspects of internet marketing I already knew, and step outside my comfort zone. I set out to explore unmarked territory (see previous post about my new friend, whose initials are PPC ).
1. “Content is King.” This is very true and nothing new. The key is to have the right content. Be topical, be relevant, and one more small detail, have a purpose. Speak the language of the customer. Sometimes the hardest element of creating that compelling content, is to put aside our search-engine-optimizing hats and slip into the shoes of the everyday person setting out to Google.
2. Write for the user first. Shari Thurow, the founder of Omni Marketing Interactive expressed this perfectly, “Do not design for search engines; design for people who use search engines.” It turns out, after extensive research and thorough investigation, humans add items to online carts, not computers. Hence, designing for the consumer is the name of the game in order to be universally appealing and increase your ROI.
3. Put the Excel in Excellence. Transform mundane numbers into an attractive, appealing presentation. For example, when creating a chart, show the dates horizontally, not at an angle. Don’t make your clients tilt their heads. While the color red is bold, it is not the new black. Especially when highlighting numbers, red is a sign of negativity. It’s okay to get creative with your color palette, just keep it clean and simple.
4. A little blue birdie told me that Twitter has been coined the second screen for television. Who would have dreamt this 140-character limited outlet would be an ideal platform for brand awareness, customer targeting, and an engaging way to connect with users? Jack Dorsey is laughing all the way to the bank. I challenge you to watch television and not spot a subtle hashtag in the corner. Live TV events are a terrific example of how connected consumers are with this small but mighty medium; it’s instant fuel for Twitter conversation. Capitalize on this. The goal of tweeting successfully is not just to share meaningless information, but get people listening and active. Post something valuable that will make people want to DO something.
5. A user experience can be summed up in one word: Findability. Make your page easy to find before users get to your site. Then, create an aesthetically pleasing experience by making the on-page navigation seamless and clean while on site. A cluttered, confusing website is not the way to win friends and influence people. According to White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, D.C., “…13% of your dissatisfied customers will tell more than 20 people about their problem.” Don’t let your site start a snowball of negative chatter.
6. “The sky is the limit, so is your time and money.” This little piece of genius was a direct quote from Lawrence Basso, at Overit Media. What a great way to open a workshop entitled, “Quick and Easy Video.” To me, this translates to “Think big, but be realistic.” Video is a powerful marketing tool to produce magnetic content. Do thorough pre-production, have a budget (and try your best to stay within it), and know your avenue for execution. Video must have value because people are choosing to watch it, unlike good old-fashioned, interrupted television.
7. Perhaps one of the most valuable aspects from this conference was the opportunity to network. Being able to connect with people from all over the world was priceless. Okay, a price was technically required, but SMX East was such a unique, unforgettable experience. I always make it my business to talk to people. In a crowded Expo hall, let go of any inhibitions, and jump in and introduce yourself. (I personally make a beeline for the exhibitors with candy, but whatever motivates you.) Strike up a conversation with the stranger sitting next to you in a workshop. Exchange business cards with as many people at the mixers and events. Settings like these are as beneficial as you chose to make them. I was there as a representative of my company and made it my job to network like a champion and establish genuine relationships. Those connections are now friends, who are kind enough to comment on my articles, re-tweet my blogs, and truly support my creative endeavors. So, at your next conference, I encourage you to put your best self forward and absorb the experience in its entirety.