Be Human, Don't Be Boring: Key Takeaways from Converge South Conference

Some fellow Pacers and I had the pleasure of attending Converge South at Wake Forest University recently. The conference boasts business and thought leaders who discuss how to combine creativity and technology to build better businesses. The session topics included everything from increasing audience engagement to building brand awareness through content.

Here are some of the main takeaways and reminders for marketers.

“The Brand Is Not Your Message”

Keynote speaker Bob Knorpp, chief strategist of The Cool Beans Group, explained how marketing has often been shouting, “Buy my product!” Marketing as messaging is still important, but marketing as service must become more prominent.

“The brand is not your message—it’s what your customers experience,” Knorpp said. “It’s how you do business.”

His example: The Pillsbury doughboy wouldn’t be relevant if mom didn’t make crescent rolls on Thanksgiving. That mnemonic device is only relevant because of the experience and how you felt.

Knorpp ended by saying, “True brand marketing is creating an awesome experience at every point.”

SEO 2.0: Build Authority By Serving Customers

The days of simply adding keywords to rank high in search are over. Knorpp said Google wants the most contextually relevant link to serve up high. Authority is delivering content people want when they’re looking for it, which is the foundation of Pace’s content strategy practice.

Phil Buckley, co-founder at Curagami, said you start to build authority by creating carefully curated content that your customers need.  Think quality, not quantity.  Teach and inspire them.

“Google likes that, and people like that,” Buckley said. “We want to learn more.”

Conversations Are the New Links

AdPunch-PaceCo-BlogEver heard of the 1-9-90 concept? It suggests that 90% of an online community or social media network seek, read or watch content without responding; 10% participate more by commenting, sharing or rating content; and 1% actively create content.

Buckley suggests that brands find their 1% – the creators and brand advocates – and show them they care. Have open dialogue with customers not just to sell products or troubleshoot a problem.

Melissa Culbertson, author of Blog Design for Dummies, said there’s no more B2C or B2B conversations. It’s about H2H — human-to-human conversation. People don’t want to talk to brands. They want to talk to people.

Brands should converse with customers to have a better understanding of the language the community uses and what they value, then use that language and those insights in their content.

When you connect with the few, then they can share their brand experience with their friends — the many, Buckley said. This “friends of friends marketing” helps your brand gain exposure in a larger network.

Don’t Be Boring

Duh, right? Content marketing is EARNING attention by not being boring, Speaker Nicole Green-Naviglia, president of Shake, LLC, reminded conference goers. “We’re asking them to engage with our content,” and the least we can do is make it interesting.”

Remember to:

  • Make content mobile-friendly and easy to share
  • Engage readers with visuals
  • Inject humor
  • Be well organized

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile

Much like Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, mobile’s getting a lot of attention—and deservingly so. Knorpp prompted: “Think about what’s on your phone.” Marketers could glean context and data about consumers through smartphones, watches and wearables. “It is a contextually relevant device because it is in the center of our life,” he said. “It is the key device for getting in touch with the consumer.”

As something happens on the device, for example, it recognizes that you’re in Aisle 3 of the grocery store. Marketers can have more contextual relevance for how to serve you, the customer, at that time. A brand can create awareness on a device through personal service instead of with the broad stroke of a universal campaign.

Even in creating content, marketers much continue to present information so folks can easily digest it on the go. Green-Naviglia said 56% of online content is consumed via smartphone (44%) and tablets (12%). The remaining 44% is seen on desktop computers.

Data Is Everywhere

There is an analytics revolution going on, Knorpp said. So much data is collected. Your mobile device alone could reveal your purchasing history and which social networking sites you use most often. But marketers must seek relevance in all of the spreadsheets and Google Analytics reports to better serve consumers.

Also, sources for content are everywhere, especially on the front lines. For instance, sales specialists in an electronic store knows what the customers ask every day. This info could be great for writing blog posts, creating new products and so on.

Mine data in customer comments, sent emails to customers, social media analytics and the competition. Your rival company’s Facebook page and comments sections are gold mines for material.

Your Turn

What do you think about new marketing strategies with mobile and wearable technology? How is your brand or company trying to increase audience engagement and build authority online? Tell us your obstacles and tricks to overcome them in the comments below.

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