A weekly Google Hangout dedicated to discussing content marketing, search marketing, SEO and more.
Topic: The Adaptation of Marketers – Pubcon Recap
In the first page of the PubCon session guide it states “Adapt or die. Eat or be eaten. Move or be bulldozed. Learn what you need to know or become obsolete.” In this episode we discuss the adaptation of marketers and other conversations from PubCon15.
Erin O’Brien, COO at GinzaMetrics
Karen Scates, Manager Marketing & PR GinzaMetrics
FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Karen: Hey, everyone. Welcome to this week’s edition of FOUND Friday, our YouTube episode where we cover topics of interest for marketers and SEOs. I’m your host, Karen Scates. Today Erin O’Brien, our COO, and I are going to be recapping some of the trends and conversations from Pubcon last week. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas but we thought we’d talk about it anyway.
Erin: Not in social media. Now what happens in Vegas is worldwide in seven seconds.
Karen: That’s true. Anybody who thinks anything they do is private is wrong.
In a message on the first page of the Pubcon brochure, Brett Tabke says, “Welcome to Pubcon. Adapt or die. Eat or be eaten. Move or be bulldozed. Learn what you need to know or become obsolete.” Last week we talked a bit about how fast things are changing for marketers and the frustration and panic some feel about how quickly everything is changing. Do you agree “adapt or die”?
Erin: It’s weird because, yes, obviously adaptation is necessary and, yes, it feels like things are changing very quickly. That is true. But I think one of the things that is misunderstood often when people write these kinds of – I will call it fearmongering for the sake of argument – but when people write things like these, it makes it sound like this is the only time that anything has ever changed or that before now marketers could learn something and then they never needed to learn anything again.
The idea is your industry and what’s going on is always adapting. Some things may adapt more than others and more quickly than others, but most things that stay alive and don’t die off tend to adapt. That’s not just marketing and that’s not just now.
Karen: Right. The whole idea of adaptation is change over time. So this almost makes it seem like adapt now, change everything you’ve ever done now or you’re obsolete immediately.
Erin: That’s a weird thing to do, too, when people say that because change now will also mean change tomorrow. What you need to adapt to today will be different a year from now, will be different a month from now, will be different soon.
Google is not going to stop rolling out algorithm changes and social media channels are not going to stop creating updates and changing things. Ad platforms are going to keep doing things so we always adapt, always evolve, always learn new stuff, find something you can be really good at and continue to hone your skills in that area. If that particular thing goes away, instead of sitting around lamenting the good old days of its existence, you need to find a way to take your skills, make them applicable to something else and remarket yourself. That’s the point, right? Marketers as a whole are usually good at messaging and positioning other things but need to be the same with their own skill set and their own brand.
Karen: I think part of it goes to human nature, too. That people want to feel like they’ve reached the apex of their skill set and they’re the expert now. Everyone has to learn from them and there’s nothing you’ll learn. When in truth, as soon as you think that, you’re done. Those people who truly are successful are the ones who have always been lifelong learners and they continue to learn, change, and grow.
Erin: This brings up a point that we hadn’t planned on talking about today but I will start to rant. This is just my personal opinion but I’ve felt this way for a really long time. If you feel like you’ve reached the apex of your career and that you are the expert, you’re hopefully wrong because I don’t think that there is an apex or a stopping point because the rest of the industry keeps evolving around you. You may go to sleep tonight being the best but you’re going to wake up tomorrow and something else will have changed.
The second thing is I think that one of these things that has become really weird is this focus on the reputation and the star power of the marketer. Honestly, your job is to make your brand look good. Your job is not to go around selling you all the time.
I wouldn’t hire somebody like that, honestly, whose sole focus or whose primary focus seems to be on making themselves look good, getting their next book deal, having their Twitter followers, and their brand at a conference. To me, the hallmark of a really great marketer is someone who is so good at doing what they’re doing that our brand seems amazing and you don’t even know how or why. It’s almost like magic. I shouldn’t have to hire somebody with a name to come promote my brand. My brand should be the thing that sticks out on its own and I don’t need star power marketing and some name and headlights. I won’t name any names and I think that a lot of times this happens – people get thrust into these positions. But I really feel like at the end of the day the focus needs to be on what you’re marketing, what you’re doing, not you yourself.
Karen: That’s very true. That’s something that has been evolving recently. People are looking for that star power. It’s interesting.
One of the things that I noticed at Pubcon was the emphasis on sessions around local and mobile search and how closely these two are tied together for the future of content marketing for brands of all sizes. What do you think is going to be necessary for marketers to really take advantage of these specific markets?
Erin: It’s weird when we talk about local and mobile as separate entities from the rest of our marketing because what we’re really talking about is the application of local data to existing marketing channels and two existing information. You’re not just doing local. It has always driven people say, “You should be doing local.”
You mean I should just know what’s happening in different locations based on the existing marketing I’m doing? Then I should adjust based on that. It’s about optimizing based on the information you’re collecting around localities.
Mobile is the same thing. Mobile is a little different, obviously, because there is a difference in creating mobile-specific content and the understanding of intent when you’re on a particular mobile device. This is where some of the cohesiveness between local and mobile comes in.
Kind of an old example but still relevant is searching for something like “coffee” from a desktop, maybe I am looking at a new coffeemaker, different types of coffee, or looking at purchasing some old bean stuff for my grinder, whatever it might be. Versus if I’m on my mobile device and I search for “coffee” I’m likely looking to find coffee where I am right now and I want to be directed to where I can have some. Now Google, obviously, with suggested searches will bring up coffee shop, coffee shop with Wi-Fi, whatever, and it will also give me map options.
This is how search and marketing is starting to evolve for this. This means that if you are the proprietor of a coffee shop or some sort of chain of coffee shops, the idea would be you have content that when served for this response on a mobile device is both local-specific and easily consumable. Put the thing that people want first. How do I get there? Where are you looking? [8:20 inaudible] these types of content where it might be different on your home page made for desktop.
I think that when it comes to marketing stuff, this is a place that has evolution happening quickly because technology continues to make a lot of strides and be implemented into a lot of existing platforms right now. So we’re not just talking about the core technology of local and mobile things. We’re talking about how marketing platforms, advertising platforms are implementing this. This is a place where I would say two things:
- Do your reading. Stay current on it because it will be really hard to really learn it if you wait for a year because a lot will have changed.
- Don’t make any sudden movements. Don’t make a ton of changes and major reactions because a lot of this stuff will continue to morph, so I would say that this is a great place to maybe add in some things slowly and see where you end up and watch where the market goes.
Karen: I think the mobile and local combination is going to become more and more important for all sides businesses. Not just the person with the coffee shop that everyone is going to be having to focus on what is happening with their content, with their brand in specific locations and then using that information to better promote their brand.
Erin: Yeah. Sometimes we get focused on local from a purely more consumer aspect of things, more of a B2C. One of the things that’s interesting about B2B and local is that while you may know that the majority of your traffic is coming from certain major metropolitan areas, I think it’s interesting to segment out what types of content people are going to from those metropolitan areas and how they’re describing things and consuming things differently.
For example, if I were to say, “We get a lot of traffic from San Francisco, New York, Chicago, L.A., and Boston,” the types of keywords, the types of content and the specific journey that somebody may have that’s coming from New York or Miami may be very different than the way that is happening from San Francisco or Chicago. So we’re talking about local-based keyword information and content. It’s important to think too that what you can be doing is actually optimizing content even from a B2B perspective. So it’s important across a lot of different variations. I want to make sure that people don’t say, “Local is not important to me because I don’t have a brick-and-mortar business or because I’m not an e-commerce store.” That kind of thing.
Karen: It also adds personalization and just being more specific with your content marketing gains importance. These things are going to be more and more important to look at and to understand. It’s something else to adapt to, something more to learn.
We both attended a pretty good session on video and podcast marketing with Kelsey Jones, Greg Jarboe, and Robert Riggs. With the rise in video and podcasting as marketing channels, how come marketers stand out and what will be eventually a very noisy channel?
Erin: I think Kelsey had a lot of really great things to say about podcast marketing specifically and there are some tips from her presentation which we’ll link to from our blog post so that people can take a look at it.
One of the things that you definitely want to focus on is not trying to be all things to all people. Even if your company is really large and has a lot of things, start with a smaller audience niche and try to own that market. Really try to talk about, “This is something that I can talk about on a consistent basis with passion, with knowledge, with enthusiasm.” Really start to build some episodes and things around there. Once you’ve got a number of episodes – they talked about how when you’re putting something up on iTunes, you want to have at least five – the idea is build up a lot of content around this one specific market and see how your audience responds to that. See if there are adjacent or partnering areas. Invite people to participate.
One of the things that really helps people stand out is either come up with a great formula that works for your audience and stick to that so that people have an expectation of what you’re going to talk about, when, and how. Or make sure that you’re really inviting guests and other people who are just as passionate about it as you and will share with their audience. There are a lot of tips that they gave about this and there are tons of options.
One of the other things to remember – and we talked about this with marketing a lot and so it stays true across these channels as well – is I personally would rather have a highly engaged converting audience of 100 people than 10,000 people who either aren’t very engaged or are completely irrelevant. We’re talking about if you’re using podcast for a business perspective. If we get a couple of people who are super, super interested and tune in regularly, that works better for me than 1,000 people who tune it but have nothing to do with anything that we’re talking about.
Karen: Interestingly, I read something this morning and someone was talking about video and how people are having a hard time selling it internally because a lot of people want to produce these highly produced slick videos that are expensive, but really there’s no call to action, there’s no direct response from the video. What would you say about that?
Erin: When we’re talking about the over production or product cost of doing things, this is (1) where agencies make a lot of money but (2) you have to really look at how heavily is this going to be utilized, where is it going to be shown, what is the actual intent of it.
For example, with us, we struggled for a long time with doing a product overview video because those are really expensive when you’re talking about a 15, 20, or 30-minute long video in one. A lot of people don’t want to watch a 30-minute long video. But when you’re talking about producing something like that, we’re talking about thousands of dollars that that would cost to have something like that done. And as a smaller company, that’s a big expenditure for us and also a lot of overhead on our end for creating a script, taking screenshots, etc.
One of the things that we have done that serves our purpose well is simply record an existing walkthrough that we were doing with a customer including screen capture and feature overviews and simply make that available for our users. While it’s not high production quality and super-fancy, and we didn’t pay a voiceover person (it’s just me walking through the product so you could actually hear me stumble a few times), it serves the purpose that it needs to. It gives people a general idea of what you would get by utilizing our platform and allows them to make a more informed decision.
I am in an RV this year and I’m in Kentucky right now. Cheers to bourbon! I do this show sitting in an RV depending on place and you’re in your house and we’re just doing this show. There’s no fancy production studio, anything like that. I think that we get plenty of value. Now, if we were talking about a video that was going to go on the home page of our website and was going to be this massive showcase piece that we were going to try to utilize for a long period of time, then I would likely be more interested in investing in something a little bit glossier and cleaner.
Karen: I think the mistake is to not do something because you have to do it perfectly or it has to be so highly produced. But sometimes it’s just not getting the content out there and making something interesting and engaging.
One of the things we both noticed at Pubcon – and this even happened in your session – was that sound speakers within a single session presented very technically advanced information while others offered more generalized advice or advisor generalist. This ties back to a conversation we had two weeks ago about the level of technical savvy required of marketers today. That actually leads me to two questions. First, does every marketer really need to be able to understand every aspect of the technical side of things?
Erin: No. A couple of weeks ago, the blog post that we just published about this I think is really important to remember and Ray made good points about. People will often have an affinity for a particular thing, whether it’s left brain or right brain, whether it’s math and science versus writing and language, whatever it is. Just because you have an affinity for something, it doesn’t mean you should discount the other side. But it also means that you need to hone in on what you’re really good at and still keep an eye on this stuff. There are often people who specialize in particular things. You can’t know everything about this technical side of something if it’s not your job to know everything there is to know about the technical side of something and it also changes regularly. Sometimes trying to learn all of that stuff will actually prevent you from being effective in your position.
I do think that there are obviously skills and it’s different with every person’s job that help them utilize the tools that they have better and a basic understanding of things. For me, one of the things that I think helps me a lot with my role is an understanding of statistics and human behavioral sciences. That does not mean marketers need to be stats majors or psychologists. But I find those skills to be useful to me in a lot of what I do so that I understand how data works or how people are using numbers to tell particular stories. Like stats side of things works out really well for me. If I didn’t have any background in statistics, reading just some basic level material but understanding how to use your marketing platform and your marketing tools to get the information that you need from them is actually the more important skill for most marketers.
Karen: My second question around that is since there’s such a broad range of knowledge and technical expertise out there currently, would it be more helpful to have sessions categorized and designed at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels from a technical perspective?
Erin: You and I talked about this while we were there. I’ve actually seen conferences do something like that. It’s not just from a technical perspective. The answer to that question is yes. I do think it would be great if people would categorize things beginner, intermediate, and advanced because it’s not only going to help the audience, it’s also going to help the speaker. If you know that you’re talking to people at an advanced level, you know you can skip some of that foundational thing and go directly into it. But if you know that you’re tailoring a talk to beginners, then you need to focus on something and ensure that people are getting core principles down and not scare them out of the room because you don’t want people to walk away with that kind of glazed, fearful-eyed thing where they’re saying, “Oh my God. I can never do this.”
I think that this goes beyond technical stuff though and it’s true for everything. It wouldn’t matter if it was about writing or art. You can’t take someone who has never picked up a paintbrush and start trying to replicate a Monet versus trying to teach super basic principles of that to someone who has been painting for years. It’s not just a technical thing at every conference at any discipline – beginner, intermediate, advanced – however you want to categorize it. Tell people what the general audience for something is and make it super clear in the session guidelines.
Sometimes it’s there but it’s in this massive block of text and it’s only somewhere buried in the program. You need to actually make tracks of stuff like beginning marketing technology, advanced marketing technology, beginning content writing, advanced content writing, whatever it is. Tracks.
Karen: I agree. It would have been helpful for me because I go into a session and there’d be three speakers. The first speaker might be so general I’m thinking, “Oh, maybe this isn’t the session for me,” or the first speaker was so highly technical but then I had to wade through and wait for the third speaker to see if it really was something I could get something out of.
Erin: Interestingly, that brings up two other points for conferences. One, I think that the idea of a panel being individual presentations is really weird because a panel to me should be a collaborative conversation among people. So when it’s not, I’m like, “Wait. What?”
The second is I don’t think that there actually should be ten different tracks. This was actually something that I saw happen at CM World and while I think that there are a lot of great things that come from CM World, one of the things that I heard people comment on was the fact that there will be like ten tracks going on at one time and you wanted to go to two or three and you had to choose, which made me miss content which is difficult. I think it also means that speakers start to vie for audience stuff saying, “I’m going to promote my session and I’m going to make my friends promote my session. I’m going to tell my friends that they need to come to my session so it doesn’t look empty.” When it’s like what if that person wanted to go see something else? And I realized it sounds really childish but you would be surprised how many times I actually heard those conversations happening inside the conference hall.
I think everybody should just go to what they want to go to, but I do think it’s sad that people felt like they missed out on sessions that they wanted to go to because there were so many tracks happening at one time that they were like, “I can only go to one so now I’m going to miss these other two things that I would have really liked to have heard about.” If you’re going to do that, you can’t charge people a bunch of money after the conference to access the content because it’s not their fault they missed it.
Karen: That’s true. I don’t know about anyone else but I really appreciate the shots of Maker’s Mark and Fireball in your session.
Erin: I think some other people appreciated those, as well. I started out the morning having breakfast with a fantastic group of folks. It started out as a breakfast for Erins because this is the first conference I’ve ever gone to where there are multiple Erins speaking. So we all decided that we should get together and then the fine folks from Search Engine Journal joined us and we all decided that we needed to order some drinks as it was the last day of Pubcon. Then when we got to the conference hall, there was a bottle of Maker’s Mark and a bottle of Fireball provided by fellow panelists Ryan Jones and Britney Muller.
I think it was a lot of fun because we were able to talk about it on social and mentioned that while none of us [25:17 inaudible] on stage but that we were having fun with it because it was the last session on the last day. Once we started talking about it and people were joking about it, people started showing up into the conference room partway through the session. People came up at the end and wanted to take shots with us. It just gave it a little bit of liveliness and personality in what is oftentimes a really slow part of the show where everything is kind of petering out.
Karen: It did. It set your session apart and made it memorable. That actually leads me to one of our favorite rants which is the uniformity of conference slides. I just found it really hard to remember who said what or to think back on all the sessions that I attended to try to pull out memorable moments when everyone’s slides are produced using a standard uniform and sometimes not very attractive template.
Erin: I don’t really care if no one ever invites me back for saying this, but I think that creating templates and telling people that they have to use them is abhorrent, honestly, especially when you’re talking about marketers. If you’re talking about something where people had a job that did not involve anything even remotely creative, I would consider that or if people asked for it.
But what I think personally, for me, is really difficult is when I create a slide deck to take to a conference, I think really hard about what I want to say and how I want to project that and I want the imagery and the content of the slides to really help me tell a narrative and to further explain my points. I’m not a graphic designer so I probably missed the mark a lot and I know that not everybody puts that amount of time into it but that’s the point. They don’t invite speakers that don’t want to put together slides or just tell people that they can speak and they don’t even need slides. What if somebody just wants to talk? Screw it. Just let them talk.
Karen: That’s the panel’s situation, right? The panel situation – people have a conversation and have some controversy. That would be interesting.
Erin: That was a really fun situation with this one because I didn’t even know we needed slides a week before the thing because it’s a panel and I was like, “Panel – we’re going to go up there and talk.” Then it was all “You need a bunch of slides.” I had a minor heart attack about that. I still, even though I knew I was in a time crunch, really wanted the slides to be good and to tell a story so I made an effort to do that.
I think that one of the things that’s weird about the whole put your slides together and submit them early thing, CM World was specifically weird for this. Sorry. I love you, Joe. But it was weird. They wanted the slides three weeks in advance or something and it was to help prevent technical issues. But the problem was (1) my session still had technical issues (very annoying!) and (2) they gave the slides to conference attendees before the session. I don’t want anybody to see these until I actually say it. It takes the magic of the actual presentation away if people get to look at them and then decide what session they want to go to based on the slides, especially when you made people use this template. I’m like, “What?”
So I don’t know. I didn’t really adhere either time to the template situation and I think it’s kind of crappy to call something a template when it’s just Arial font with a logo slapped in the corner. That’s not a template. I also think it’s weird to think that everything needs to be branded with their conference – hyper-branded. Everything painted with all your colors, your logo in seven different places and all that kind of stuff. For me, I don’t care about somebody putting their logo on it because I’m there to present what I’m there to present and not promote my own personal brand like I said at the beginning. I think it’s weird because it’s distracting from the content and then it’s hard to remember the origin of the content if it all looks like this other thing.
Karen: That’s what I was saying. I was trying to remember in a session – I saw this great slide or had some information. Who said that? What was the content of it? And I had a hard time putting it in context because all the slides from that session and every other session were the exact thing.
Erin: I know it’s hard because I know that conference organizers and event planners have a really tough time with this. I know the genesis of how a lot of this happened. A couple of things. One, people would put things in weird formats and they would show up. People would spend the first 15 or 20 minutes of their presentation time trying to find the right dongle for their computer and hook things up, the aspect ratio would be off and it would look like crap. Attendees would say, “This is not very good content. I’m paying a lot of money to be here. I want everything to look nice.” So that was a big problem. I totally hear you. I understand the genesis from that perspective.
The other reasoning I think is that people also want to look at stuff beforehand is they want to make sure you’re not essentially going up there and just selling your product and going like, “Get my product. Get my product. Get my product.” That also makes a ton of sense.
I think maybe we just gone a little too far the opposite direction in terms of controlling people’s presentations and I would like to see if there’s a better middle ground moving forward. It just makes it really weird as a presenter who does have good intentions and who can put a slide deck together without somebody holding my hand and giving me a box of crayons.
Karen: Especially if we’re talking about adapting as marketers. Everything we talk about is presentation and visuals and creating something that’s easy to digest, and then we go to conferences and it’s blah.
Erin: One of the things that they said at both of these conferences – Pubcon and CM World – was PowerPoint or die. Microsoft’s version of PowerPoint, not Mac because it actually messes up the font and stuff when you try to transfer it depending on what’s happening. One, I haven’t owned a Windows machine in I don’t know how long. Two, I haven’t bought PowerPoint or used PowerPoint. I wouldn’t even know how to build something in PowerPoint in I don’t know how long. Yes, I do realize I can build it in Keynote and export it. But like I said, sometimes the export from the Mac version to the Windows version does some weird crap depending on what version of Windows somebody has.
What’s interesting is you will use PowerPoint or you will perish. One, not adapting because a lot of people will be using Keynote. Two, why do I have to have a specific file type? Why can’t we all just PDF things? Here’s the thing. I think people want to be able to use presentation software to build but nobody needs slide animations. I’m not trying to be rude but it’s not 2002. You do not need your bullet points to fly in from left or drop from above. No.
Karen: Nobody did that anyway.
Erin: Exactly. Nobody did it anyway. So just build your slide with the information. Talk to the slide. Don’t make the slide do weird tornado crap or whatever. Then PDF that and then we could all build things in whatever the heck we want to build them in because PDF is a universally usable format. I don’t know. Rant over but blah.
Karen: Anyway, at least there were shots. The end.
Erin: There were.
Karen: That’s all the time we have for today. Be sure to join us next week for another edition of FOUND Friday. In the meantime, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Or join the conversation on Twitter at #FOUNDFriday.
Erin: Don’t forget that next week’s conversation will be around local and mobile and our product release around that which will be really exciting, so we will be happy to talk about that. We will have Ray on video, as well, so you get to see his smiling, happy face.
Karen: Yes. You’ll definitely want to hear about our offerings because it’s going to help you to adapt.
Erin: Alright. We’ll see you guys next week.
Karen: That’s a wrap.