Thursday, April 24, 2008

Three for three; Small Business Marketing Unleashed was a blast!

After SXSW, Blogger Social and now Small Business Marketing Unleashed, I am seriously getting spoiled on great conferences. I told Jennifer on Tuesday that I don't think I will be able to find a more 'fun' event than Blogger Social, and that I don't think I'll be able to top the quality of the sessions at Small Business Marketing Unleashed.

And it wasn't just the sessions, it was that EVERY speaker was great. I saw two of Jennifer's presentations, and where Jen excels is that she is able to take ideas that are no doubt complex to small business owners, and reduce them to terms that anyone can understand. And guys, during one session she literally spent 15 mins walking the attendees through the proper way to pitch a blogger. It was absolutely perfect!

On Day One I saw Wendy Piersall present on building a community, and what I loved about her session was that you could just see how excited she got as she talked about her community. It was great to see her passion for people, and she also evangelized several people that I am friends and fans of, including everyone at Dell, Pistachio, and Shel Israel. She also mentioned how Pistachio was using Twitter to grow her business, which I thought was a great point that resonated with an audience that came in skeptical of Twitter (though that changed after we all evangelized the site for 3 days!).

Later that day I saw Matt Bailey speak on website analytics. Now I have to admit that almost everything Matt was saying was flying completely over my head (Spiders? Cookies, persistant and session, wha the hell?!?). But Matt was such a good speaker that he held my attention. And about halfway through his session, I noticed that the other attendees started putting 'STAR TREK!' on Twitter. They wanted to start chanting it and I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. Then Matt suddenly mentioned 'The Red Shirt Phenomenon' on Star Trek. And he pointed out how Red Shirts almost always die on Star Trek, UNLESS Kirk also encounters a green female alien, in which case their survival rate shoots up to over 80%. It was hilarious and perfectly drove home his point to know what is happening with your website's analytics, and more importantly, what affects it. BTW Matt has an excellent post on Twitter from the speaker's point of view up at his blog.

Tuesday brought the first hard choice of the conference; Do I attend Jennifer's Viral Marketing Workshop, or Sage Lewis' Creating a Community workshop. I opted for Jen's Viral Marketing Workshop, and was totally rewarded with a great session. And again, this was where Jen took the time to literally hold the audience's hand and walk them through how to properly pitch a blogger. Pure gold. But during her session, I could hear loud cheering coming from Sage's session and everyone on Twitter was going crazy talking about how infectious Sage's energy was. And this was the only 'complaint' I heard about Small Business Marketing Unleashed; that there were too many great sessions, and not enough time to see them all.

And finally, there was my session on Blogging for Business. I was a bit worried about my presentation because I knew that the audience would want to see how they could use blogs to grow their business, but I also knew that the point I wanted to drive home was that it wasn't about making money, it was about making connections with your readers and customers. The money will be a byproduct, but the focus HAS to be on the readers.

I knew my message would either miss the mark and tick off the crowd, or it would resonate and excite the audience. I wasn't sure how it had gone, till I saw this tweet from Li, who live-blogged the session:

Mission accomplished. That was exactly what I told the audience, that I *wanted* them to be excited because I was excited for them! They suddenly have all these amazing tools that allow them to connect with their customers and develop relationships. And that's the focus, it's not about the tools, but the connections and conversations that these tools help facilitate.

And perhaps my favorite part of the session was the Q&A portion. After I made a point during my session to say that you have to approach your blog as a place where you co-create content with your readers, the audience helped co-create the value of the session with some amazing questions and feedback. Several people in the audience such as Jen and Erica O'Grady helped bring up excellent points that reinforced points that either myself or someone in the audience had made. The community co-created the value of the session, just like you do here.

Small Business Marketing Unleashed was Search Engine Guide's first conference, and I have to say, it was a home run. I honestly heard not one negative comment about the conference. And it was also great how the speakers went to all the sessions and contributed from the audience, which made the sessions even better. Everyone had fun, everyone learned a ton, and everyone walked away happy. Jen and Robert and everyone at SEG can hold their heads high on a job well done, and I am honored that they allowed me to participate!

Pics via Flickr users storyspinn and Jennifer Laycock


Hire Mack!


Anonymous said...

Mack - you did a great job getting your people-focus across in the session as well as providing tips and tools for getting started. I'd also like to mention that the people-focus was prevalent throughout all of the sessions. Overall, speakers were focusing on the visitors rather than the search engines, and I appreciated that.

Great to meet you!

Mack Collier said...

That's a great point because I also noticed how every speaker made a point to stress the importance of viewing your efforts from your customer's POV. That is vitally important, and I was excited to see that message being reinforced in every session.

Great to meet you as well Jackie! Hopefully we'll see each other at the next SBMU!

Anonymous said...

I am thrilled with the much-deserved exposure you're getting.

But equally so with the message you're spreading. You're balancing the business argument with the human element and that makes this (human) marketer very happy.

Bravo, friend. Bravo!

Jennifer Laycock said...


It was so great to get a chance to not just meet you (like I did at Blogger Social) but to hang out a bit and to hear you speak.

For a self-proclaimed introvert, you rocked the house on your blogging for business session.

I heard one person refer to it as "the Philosophy of blogging" and I think that would be a great title.

Thank you for your kind words on the show, but more importantly thank you for being a part of it.

You never know how your first show will go. Attendance, the details, etc... I could honestly walk into the show knowing I should have no fear over the CONTENT and it turns out I was right. I couldn't be more proud of the crew I brought in to speak and I very much hope you will come back and be part of the next one we do. :)

Unknown said...

Mack ...

I truly meant it when you I said you inspired me again. I was loosing my "thrill" of blogging up until that point I was really wondering "why" I was blogging anymore. It was such a refreshing view on things.

I told Jennifer, I was so glad she brought in you and Wendy. to have a totally outside perspective on things was amazing. Truly something that I benefited from, so thank you again, for helping me find inspiration!


Mack Collier said...

Thanks CK, a big Arun-hug for you the next time we meet ;)

Hell yeah I'm in for the next show! Can we do it next week? ;) I think it's doubly impressive that this was SEG's FIRST conference! Really impressive!

Li I swear I just had a conference attendee email me and say that "I have been inspired and am ready to start blogging". What inspires ME is meeting people like you. That's what excites me!

Anonymous said...

This is a great recap of a great event. Mack, it was a pleasure to meet you and I really enjoyed your session. I wish my wife, a blogger in training, had been there to hear it. Maybe next year? I hope so. And I hope to keep in touch with you between now and then. Again, a pleasure to meet you!

Mack Collier said...

Matt thanks for attending! Tell your wife to check out the resources and blogs I linked to in my 'Hello Houston!' post. And the blogs on my blogroll. Many of those bloggers have completely developed their blogs in the last year or two, and by simply embracing the community and involving readers in their blog. That's why I kept hitting on that point in my session, because it works!

If you or your wife have any questions, feel free to email me and I'll help any way I can! Hope to see you both at the next SBMU!