Forge and Smith hit the road last weekend for the first annual Canadian Internet Marketing Conference at the picturesque Quest University campus in Squamish. Not only were we there to hear our Principal Shawn Johnston speak, with lanyards secured and caffeine absorbed, our creative team was ready to learn and network.
Attendees were welcomed to the event by Alice Guss of the Squamish Nation. A drum was banged, songs were sung and our team howled like wolves…seriously. Host Sunny Lenarduzzi appeared on stage and the show officially kicked off.
Covering topics like SEO, futurism, public relations, sales and digital creativity, there was no shortage of information to take in. The room was aglow with iPhones and laptops. Plenty of tweets ensued.
Here are just some of the many highlights that followed over the next two days.
We live in an age where Redbull is considered a cutting edge media company and Google’s algorithm can punish news outlets like the BBC for breaking a story first. A lively discussion about the internet’s impact on the press with panelists Alfred Hermida, Tim Shoults, Tom Gierasimczuk and Charlene Rooke broached many interesting topics: story making vs storytelling; reporting the news vs bearing witness; the idea of print becoming a fetish object (like vinyl LPs). We heard that brands will continue to benefit by providing their audiences with empowering content (See GoPro). Journalists, bloggers, and marketers alike need to communicate their story in the most transparent way; and they need to accomplish this without tripping on the grammar of an ever-evolving language.
If there was an overall theme to the conference, it would be the importance of engaging audiences on a personal level. Who better to speak to that accessible voice than recognized bloggers Ricky Shetty, Rebecca Bollwitt and Kristyl Clark, otherwise known as the Daddy Blogger, Miss 604 and ValleyMom respectively. The trio discussed their keys to success. Consistency and frequency are the best habits for establishing online relationships. Maintaining readership comes down to being authentic. Companies looking to extend their brand with a personal touch need to view blogging as an important tool in their marketing tool kit.
It’s not easy to settle down a crowd of marketers at a conference like this, especially with all the networking opportunities to be had. However, Randall Peg Peters, Executive Director for nonprofit society Run for Water, quickly subdued the afternoon crowd, recounting his experiences saving the life of a child suffering from infection in Ethiopia. The tale elegantly demonstrated his belief that people are inherently drawn to the power of a story. We are hardwired for narrative. Stories trigger chemical reactions in the brain that compel audiences. He tied this idea into the burgeoning Millennial generation and their social desire to create meaningful, immediate impact in the world. The video campaign he created as Creative Director for Telus, titled Oliver’s Story, delivered his message—the power of storytelling—with memorable, emotional punch.
In the war of interpreting web analytics for clients, Melissa Mewdell, SEO strategist for 1-800-Got-Junk, reinforced the importance of a website’s traffic as a key performance indicator (KPI). Unlike those much coveted site rankings, traffic is always primary (it helps point out opportunities for website efficiency) and it is consistently measurable across your entire site. Traffic analytics are strongly tied to revenue and examine the big picture in delivering cost-effective solutions. Armed with her advice, she urged those in attendance to keep fighting the good fight.
Forge and Smith’s Shawn Johnston was joined by Domain 7’s Miriam Thomas and Flip Digital’s Mark Joseph for a discussion about the future of websites. The conclusion? Responsiveness is the new norm from here on in. Companies will continue to engage with content personalized to each user; however, developers cannot afford to be lazy in their work practices.
With so many experts on stage at one time for this discussion, there was never a dull moment. The experts list included business growth strategist Bosco Anthony, Kemp Edmonds from Hootsuite, Vicki McLeod of Main Street communications, consulting director Katt Stearns, Michael Zipursky of FreshGigs, social media marketing/blogging instructor Rebecca Coleman, and Small Business BC’s Joshua Ludgate. Some of our favourite takeaways.
- Engage in Mindful Marketing
- Hustle politely, not like a douche bag
- There are 50 shades of comfort when approaching a client
- Find out who your client’s audience is, work backwards through the chain
- Social is an ingredient, not the meal
- Bring reward, offer enticement
- Find the platforms that are right for you
- Empower the dream
- Run your business in a human way
- Marketing is relationship building based on trust
- Never downplay social equity
- Be human first
- B2B is a long game
With a lovely location, fantastic speakers and wealth of approachable participants, it’s safe to say, CIMC 2015 is the start of an annual tradition for us at Forge and Smith. Visit Canadian Internet Marketing Conference for more information.