There were some really strong presentations at BMA15 Thursday. I like the cadence of this conference, with most sessions half an hour or 45 minutes long—enough time to delve into a topic without getting slow. There were many remarkable speakers today; heavy hitters from companies like Forrester Research, Pinterest, Dow and Daimler Trucks. Here are some of my favorites and some of the memorable sound bites from the day.
1. Joe Pulizzi. Just the guy to jump-start our brains after a night of staying out way too late. He talked about some of the characteristics of great content marketers, and gave examples of companies that do it right. Those who succeed document and write down their content strategy. It’s not enough to think about it, or have it in your head. And, they work to build an audience, a key component for overall success.
2. The epic rap from Andrew Davis on his online search for a meatloaf recipe. A brilliant, just brilliant, tour of the customer’s often twisted decision journey as he jumps from site to site while encountering various distractions. His rant had everyone in stitches.
3. Forrester analyst and VP Laura Ramos talked about using big data and particularly predictive analytics to gain a forward-looking view of marketing. She says to set a big data agenda: reconcile data; set a hypothesis and test it; turn the results into deepened customer engagement; and then continue to improve it.
4. Jonah Berger. Ever heard of him? He’s an associate professor of marketing at Wharton and bestselling author. He’s brilliant, obviously; you can tell as soon as he speaks. He looks like he’s about 17. He noted that word of mouth marketing generates twice the sales of advertising. Why? Because customers don’t trust ads, but they do trust their friends.
5. Kevin Knight from Pinterest. Or should I link to his Pinterest page? He’s in charge of agency and brand strategy, and here’s his perspective when it comes to Pinterest: Facebook activity is about the past—what you’ve already done or experienced. Twitter is about the present: what you’re currently doing. Pinterest is about the future; it’s aspirational, what you hope to do. And every audience is planning for their future.
6. Ryan Holiday blew our minds talking about growth hacking, born in Silicon Valley and still going strong. Spend next to nothing, build only stuff that people want, focus on acquisition, not awareness, and test, test, test. Growth hacking is a more a mindset than a toolkit. Testable, trackable and scalable—if you want to be a growth hacker, concentrate on these three things. Technology has become table stakes for marketers, which leaves the role of the chief marketing technologist TBD.
7. Patrick O’Hara of gyro and Christiaan Rizy of Fortune Knowledge Group spoke of the importance of marketers being more human. The human side counts. This need is only increasing as data technology and integration proliferates. “Dial up the soul of your company.” Love it!
8. An interesting look at B2B vs. B2C marketing from two senior marketers who both left Procter & Gable and now work for Abbott Diagnostics and Cintas. They point out that both B2B and B2C marketers have to differentiate themselves to avoid price pressure and commoditization. All brands must create an emotional point of difference.
9. Have you seen those supergraphic charts that show the super-crowded Marketing Technology Landscape? We heard from Scott Brinker, the guy behind those supergraphics, about navigating the world of technology tools. Strategy, technology, and marketing: “the most interesting intersection in the world.” But technology is only as good as the story.
10. Profound insights from Don Schultz, formerly of Medill School of Journalism. “You can’t move people through a sales funnel. They can jump in if they want, but you can’t push them into it.” Wise words.
Of course, the BMA annual conference is so much more than the quality of the speakers and sessions. This event brings together such a wonderful community of smart, interesting, good people. Many of us come back every year. I’ve made new contacts from the east coast, west coast, and points between, with props to the journalist who traveled all the way from Bogota, Columbia to cover the conference. This is where our Tell Your Story team loves to build and strengthen relationships with clients, prospects, vendors, co-workers and friends. It’s where we recharge our creative batteries and think about new ways of doing things and different approaches. And it’s where we try to stay out as late as George.