I have an embarrassing confession: I haven’t gone to a professional conference in nearly 10 years. In my defense, I was a freelancer with no money and a small business owner with barely any money during that time. For the last three years, I’ve been more focused on making sure our team at Well Done took advantage of the $2,000 professional development budget we set aside for each person.

(Excuses. Excuses. I know. Please don’t text me memes about making time for myself.)

This year, our Director of Operations emphatically told me that it was mandatory that I go to a conference outside of Indianapolis. She said it in a pleasant voice, but it was clear that it would be risky to not do as she said.

I chose to attend Conex 2018, presented by Überflip. This year’s theme was Remixing your Content, an important topic for content-driven marketing agencies like ours. Plus, it was in Toronto, a city I love.

This is the third year for Conex and, according to the organizers, attendance more than doubled this year. The bulk of the event was run TED Talk style and offered a lot of food for thought from some really great speakers. Here are my five favorites:

Everything has Changed & Nothing is Different
Scott Stratten, Chief Yapper, UnMarketing Inc.

If you’ve ever listened to Alison and Scott Stratten’s podcast, Unpodcast, you know that this was really an UnKeynote presentation. Scott was the amuse-bouche to the rest of the conference meal—and it was a damn fine way to start the first day. Here are a few wise words he laid on us:

“Design matters.”
“Pick the needle that drives results.”
“Catch the [content] moments.”

Here is a good example of that last one from Smart Car.

The Digital Consumer: How Today’s Buyer Has Changed & What Your Business Must Do About It
Marcus Sheridan, Owner, Marcus Sheridan International Inc.

Marcus “The Pool Guy” Sheridan ended the first day with a high-powered sales pitch for building trust instead of distinction through content marketing. Before he went on the speaking circuit, Marcus sold pools. A pool is a pool. How did he make it different? He listened to his customers’ questions and then created online content to answer what buyers want to know before they hear from sales.

I don’t have many notes from Marcus’ presentation. I was too busy jotting down ideas for how to better connect our content marketing and sales funnel. I’m already thinking about the questions our prospects ask and how we can better answer them on our website.

Never Lose a Customer Again
Joey Coleman, Chief Experience Composer, Design Symphony

Joey Coleman started off day two talking about Day 100:

  • Twenty to 70 percent of buyers decide to stop using your service before the 100-day mark.
  • After 100 days, customers will stay with you an average of five years.

His session was a good reminder that content marketing needs to span the whole relationship. There are ways to remix and use good content in the first 100 days to move customers through the stage of buyer’s remorse all the way to loyal advocate for your company.

If you need a reason to invest in a post-sale nurture campaign, think about this: A five percent increase in customer retention can result in a minimum 25 percent increase in profit.

Do You Need a Video Strategy that Cuts Through the Noise?
Amy Landino, Owner, Vlog Boss Studios

Amy Landino is a Vlog Boss. Her presentation was full of good tactical information and tips about what she does. For Conex, she focused on the impact of Facebook Live.

My big takeaway was to pay attention to the three “I”s when creating social video. First, the video must make a “thumbstopping” connection (Immediate) in order to get viewers to turn on the sound and watch more (Interactive). If the video resonates and is well-produced, it compels viewers to watch the entire thing (Immersive). Amy even recommended a tool or two to improve the professionalism of the video content.

Curiosity Factor: The Psychological Phenomenon Creative Content Marketers Employ to Earn and Own Attention in a Noisy World
Andrew Davis, Author, Brandscaping

Andrew Davis is part P.T. Barnum, part Mark Burnett, and part guerrilla marketer. Who else could make an audience simultaneously curious about what is inside a mystery box, automated accounting systems, and exploding watermelons?

Seriously, would you watch two people putting rubber bands around a watermelon for 40+ minutes? It may not sound compelling but approximately 800,000 people watched it happen live.

Earning viewers attention all has to do with the “curiosity gap.” Andrew called it the space between what you know and what you want to know. His premise is simple. The bigger the curiosity gap, the more attention your content will receive.

Even Andrew’s presentation was an example of the curiosity factor. He piqued our interest in a video editing project and then ended his talk without closing the curiosity gap. I wonder how many of us went to DelayThe Reveal.com to see the end result. (I did.)

Uberflip panel discussion

And the one I wish I could have gone to:
Pipeline Acceleration Panel

Even though I enjoyed my pre-conference workshop on taking a different approach to creating a content calendar, I wish my clone could have sat in on this panel. Moderated by John Common, the founder and CEO of Intelligent Demand, the panelists covered how to use progressive profiling, lead scoring, and AI to drive lead generation and nurture programs. Sigh, maybe next year.

 

If you haven’t attended Conex yet, I highly recommend you check it out next year. It has an intimate and friendly vibe and is well produced and organized. I predict attendance will only continue to grow.

(This blog post is not a paid endorsement of any of the speakers or Conex. Although I wouldn’t say no to a free ticket for next year’s event. Just saying.)