On the last day of PubCon on Thursday 10th, the focus shifted from more general topics to the practical aspects of the different digital consulting and digital marketing areas. From link building and Facebook advertising tips to negative SEO tactics, the day gave the conference attendees an opportunity to enhance their already existing knowledge in their respective areas of specialisation.
Similar to the previous days, the morning started off with an inspirational keynote talk by Jay Baer, the President of Convince and Convert. The talk was one of the many highlights of the conference and served as a nice eye opener for many an online marketer of what it is exactly that really counts in marketing.
According to Jay Baer, the modern marketplace is so cluttered with messages from competing businesses, friends and family, that businesses shouldn’t concentrate on how to make their business seem amazing, but how to be helpful instead. In essence, smart marketing is not about hype, but about help; a statement very much alike to Wednesday’s keynote speaker Chris Brogan, who underlined the importance of delivering value for clients.
For this type of content, Jay Baer had launched the concept of ‘youtility’; information so helpful and useful that people would be ready to pay for it, but it’s made free by the business. When ‘youtility’ is provided as an ongoing process, rather than as occasional projects, this, in turn, builds long-term trust and affinity between the business and clients.
So how does a business go about creating this type of content?
Firstly, businesses need to concentrate on self-serve information. This means that the role of information is so significant that nowadays relationships are created with information first, people second. For instance, an average client needs 10.4 sources of information before purchasing. So, in essence, the more a business teaches, the more it sells.
Second, it is imperative for businesses to show transparency and humanity. For example, McDonald’s Canada launched a website that lets anyone ask them anything related to McDonald’s – a bold move from a multinational company that has often received negative flak from the public. McDonald’s didn’t shy away from difficult questions and answered them without any blatant marketing hype. This type of approach creates trust. Indeed, as Jay Baer stated, “without trust, nothing else matters.”
Third, real-time relevancy is another building block of useful content. The key here is to really know what the clients need in order to be able to provide that useful content. For instance, no one really needs socks, but they do need to keep their feet warm. Or, in Yoke’s case, no one really needs a website, but they do need to avoid the risk of not having a web presence or looking outdated compared to their competitors.
This point on focusing on client needs was also raised by Chris Brogan, among numerous other speakers. By focusing on client needs and being useful, a business is able to create long-term relationships with its clients.
Finally, Jay Baer reminded us to “market your marketing”. If a business does not actively promote its content online, the chances are that the content will not be noticed by many and the effort going into producing the content is wasted. Social media is great for amplifying content, and Jay Baer gave the listeners a fantastic (and highly tweetable) quote that illustrated perfectly the relationship between content and social media: “Content is fire, social media is gasoline.”
The other talks attended on the day delved deep into the tactical and technical side of SEO and social media. Participants were given practical tips on how to amplify Facebook content and reach audiences effectively through Facebook ads and clever targeting.
On the SEO side, the speakers gave insights into how to build links ethically in 2014, what the future of SEO looks like (no, SEO is not dead), and what tactics blackhat SEO includes. Particularly the seminar on negative SEO was of immense interest to myself, not because I would wish to ever engage in it, but to realise just how powerful and dangerous the dark side of SEO can be.
Talks attended today
• Morning keynote with Jay Baer
• Negative SEO with Joe Laratro, Dwight Zahringer and William Leake
• Facebook – Real World Results with Katherine Wright, Alex Houg and Marty Weintraub
• Link Building 2014 with Kenny Hyder, Jennifer Vaniderstyne and Casey Markee
• SEO Mosh Pit with Bruce Clay, Gareth Hoyle, Jenny Halasz, Tony Wright, Eric Enge, Mike Grehan and Greg Boser
• Closing Keynote with Microsoft Bing’s Duane Forrester
Overall, PubCon 2014 was an immensely educational experience; it was a delight to have a conference centre full of people that thought alike and spoke the same language. It’s too often that digital marketers exist in silos all on their own due to the relative rarity of this breed of a marketer, but PubCon has made it possible for these individuals to exchange ideas and also to affirm and adjust their learned experiences in the field.
I, for one, returned from Las Vegas with not only a surprising newfound fondness towards slot machines, but also a notebook full of new online marketing ideas and a strong vision of the future of marketing.