I’ve spent the last 10 days in California, visiting – among other adventures – the Traffic & Conversion Summit in San Diego.
Aside from the obvious benefits of being in sunny California instead of London in February, this huge marketing conference has been a great opportunity to learn about what’s changing and what’s working in digital marketing, to catch up with clients and colleagues, make new friends and meet biz connections.
I’ve loved it – maybe even more than my first visit to T&C two years ago.
And, like a grizzled foreign correspondent parachuted into the action, I consider it my duty to bring you some of the conference highlights.
There’ll be more next week, once I’ve got home to chilly old London, but for now, here’s
3 key Traffic & Conversion Summit takeaways from some of digital marketing’s biggest hitters:
#1 – Branding & Direct Response Are Finally Getting It Together
Ok, so these two very different marketing styles have been circling each other like tipsy singletons at a summer wedding for years. And now, according to summit host Ryan Deiss, they’re smooching it up on the dancefloor.
Direct Response – that straight-shooting, no-BS Southern gent in the slick suit – has quit hogging the free drinks and decided to make a go of it with Branding – the beautiful East-coast sophisticate who thought she’d never even look twice at whiskery ol’ DR over there.
But she’s surprised herself and now the pair are making beautiful music together…
…at least as far as forward-thinking marketers and agencies are concerned.
More than ever, successful marketing is coming from value being delivered in advance.
So, the importance of good content driving sales – not the other way around – is growing.
It’s still possible to use smart, effective direct response tactics – but as part of an overall brand-building strategy rather than simply looking to scoop up anyone who had the nerve to ignore your ads the first time.
That stuff is increasingly turning people off, as the value-first approach becomes more prevalent.
As Deiss put it in his opening keynote:
Companies that focus on branding alone will go broke if they never figure out how to ask for the order.”
While on the other hand:
Companies that focus on direct response will go broke because everyone on Planet Earth hates them.”
You need to engage with, then amaze, then convert your audience.
Amplify your content, not your ads.
So, if you’re a digital marketer, entrepreneur or ecommerce owner in 2016, start thinking about how a combination of positive, value-driven branding and smart, optimized direct response can be used to grow your biz.
You gotta start giving before you start taking.
Sleazy salesmen will never adapt to this, which is why you’re gonna leave those guys eating your dust.
And yes, content marketers have been doing this already, for some time. Hopefully you have too.
But what makes a valuable-content-first strategy even more powerful for you these days, is the emergence of retargeting.
Now, you can deliver your kick-ass content AND be able to follow-up accurately. This can be done with ad networks like Facebook and Google or – if you want to get creative – with good ol’ email.
And the good folks at Digital Marketer – the multi-million-dollar company who’ve thrown the T&C shebang annually since 2010 – have a couple of great free resources you can use to figure out how to do this.
#2 – Gary Vee On Your ‘Brand Personality’… Or Not
Gary Motherfunkin’ Vaynerchuk.
Now there’s a guy who can swear. Or curse. Or whatever you choose to call ‘naughty words’.
He’s got it down to an art-form by now. But, like everything he does on stage or on his broadcasts, Gary Vee’s potty mouth is all in the name of better communication.
You can see him straining every sinew to ensure everyone in the room ‘gets’ what he’s saying.
So, when he swears, he’s communicating passion… or self-belief… or anger.
But he never lets the cussin’ do the fussin’ and obscure his point.
He’s a great speaker, and this conference’s star draw. The main ballroom is packed on opening night.
Here’s the first thing I took away from his presentation/rant:
If you’re building a brand, great. BUT… contrary to what many others are saying, Gary Vee says it doesn’t have to be a ‘personality brand’.
Solopreneurs and biz-folk don’t have to force-fit their own personality into their brand.
He admits, it’s not as easy for everyone to ‘be the brand’ like he is.
We’re not all hyper-confident no-shit New Yorker hustlers (his admission, btw) with sky-high ambitions (and egos to match!)
We don’t all aspire to actually buy the New York Jets, for instance.
But your brand can still be what you deliver your customers and audience – value, style, knowledge, success.
If you’re at an early stage where you’re still developing your style, don’t hold off on broadcasting or communicating with your audience while you develop and fine-tune that style.
Just do it. Implement. Now.
Your ‘brand personality’ doesn’t have to be perfect. But it should be your brand…
…it should represent something.
And what that is, what that awesome thing that only you can offer your audience, what they start to associate with you even when you’re not looking, is up to you to figure out.
Which is an exciting challenge for anyone, right?
#3 Gary Vee On The Future Of Media & Marketing
Gary pulls out his phone and holds it in the air…
The smartphone is the TV in 1965.”
Because it’s changed everything.
Increasingly, this is the window through which people access the world.
Like they did with TV in the 1960s. Or the PC in the 2000’s.
And now, TV is the radio in 1965. It’s been usurped. People (he took a show of hands at this point – one of several he used to illustrate points) no longer watch much ‘live’ TV, “outside of sports and the Oscars”.
Broadly speaking, this is true for much of the developed world.
And, during the ads on live TV when we are watching, what do we do?
We reach for our phones.
That’s a powerful source of attention right there. And it’s only going to get more powerful.
He focused on what he calls this “attention arbitrage” and how smart marketers can utilise it to reach more people and grow their biz during a lively Q&A session…
And he also went deep into the medium with the most consumer attention right now, plus the free app you can use to stake your claim for that attention.
You can read about that in more detail on Gary Vee’s blog – published the day after he rocked the house at T&C2016.
Ok, more takeaways to come next week… (UPDATE: they’re right here)
For now, I gotta say goodbye to San Diego bayside and head to the airport : (
Catch ya soon!