Because of its convergence with technology, the world of digital marketing is fast paced, and ever changing. To stay afloat in the sea of digital marketing, you must take the time to read, discover, ask questions, and listen. The MIMA Summit 2013, was an excellent opportunity to do just that. With that in mind, I wanted to take time to document my takeaways from this event, and share them with you.
The morning started with a morning keynote by Sarah Lacy. Between my tall cup of coffee and the 4 F bombs she dropped before 9:30, she had my attention. Sarah talked about how her company was born out of the recognition that “old media” i.e. Washington Post, New York Times, Etc. are not lean enough to operate in today’s world. She echoed the lessons of my MBA strategy class when she argued that every large company should fund a small, nimble, innovative spin-off company whose only mission is to compete with and ultimately surpass the larger parent company. New ideas often times get stuck in old companies. I couldn’t agree more! Some might say old media companies have no choice but to change. However, they do have another choice…they can go bankrupt.
Some other takeaways included her discussion around content creation. When creating content for your brand, there is no place for mediocrity. If you have to spend 10k to create something really unique and special, do it or don’t do it. The last thing you want to do is spend 2k and put your name on something that doesn’t separate you and your content from a noisy digital environment. This really hit home for me as an entrepreneur. Even when dealing with tight budgets, start-ups must maintain extremely high standards or risk irreversible damage to the legitimacy of your brand.
When asked about her start-up funding, and why she needed 3-5 million, she said, “I want to pay really talented people, competitive salaries, to do extraordinary, amazing work.” My takeaway; In a start-up, it’s easy to get wrapped up in a product, and forget the importance of investing in human resources to grow your companies equity.
My first breakout session was with Allyson Hugley @HugleyA from Weber Shandwick. Her topic was using analytics as a creative force. She talked at length about the importance of managing a team that includes analysts and creatives. It is important to remember these two groups often think very differently (left brain vs. right brain). Knowing the distinctions and bridging the divide is critical to a quality content team.
Other takeaways included the importance of data visualization. Presentation is everything when it comes to big data, and far too often we forget the people behind the data. Data is more powerful when you include the human narrative behind the numbers. Allyson believes analytics is an iterative process. It is important to create a culture of testing/experimenting. Lastly, she reminds us to use data to discover instead of only validate.
Soon it was time for lunch and my opportunity to listen to my man crush Nate Silver from fivethirtyeight.com. Simply put, the man is on another level when it comes to understanding the complexity and proliferation of data. His book “The Signal and the Noise” is genius. I highly recommend it. He has shown a unique ability to breakdown environments, pull the real driving forces behind entire systems, and assess risk/variance. He understands the human bias associated with predictive analytics and emphasizes that ignoring these human elements can result in a poor assessment of risk leading to dangerous bets.
Lunch was followed by an OK breakout session on mobile marketing, but mostly resulted in self-promotion by one of the panel experts. Before closing the day out, I attended a session titled, “The influence revival” presented by Cory Edwards @coryedwards, the head of Adobe’s Social Business Center of Excellence and former social director at Dell. He hammered home execution strategies around content and inbound marketing. He stressed the importance of getting influencers (ranters & ravers) involved and active in any social campaign. He finished with the importance of tying business objectives and KPI’s to your digital efforts. This sentiment was nicely buttoned up when he shared the YouTube video, “Click, Baby, Click.” You can see it coming, but it’s still funny and reaffirms his point.
Events that bring together hundreds of bright minds together around a similar passion always leave me equally overwhelmed and motivated. I left with a burning feeling in my stomach (No, not a result of the conference happy hour). You all know the feeling. The realization that there is so much to learn, so many interesting people to connect with, and so many new ideas to discover. After a brief hyperventilation, you take a deep breath, and remind yourself that the commitment to lifelong learning is a day-to-day battle. My journey continues!