Jay Baer of Convince and Convert kicked off the final day of Pubcon as only he could, and luckily for him, three days in Las Vegas didn’t stop anyone from getting up early and packing the convention center.
With the exhibition hall closed on the last day, that left a full day devoted to keynotes with some of the most prolific marketing personalities, and sessions with panels of experts in their respective fields.
Morning Keynote: Jay Baer
Baer spoke to a standing room only crowd about how marketing is harder than it has ever been due to the fact that you’re competing with everyone.
Brands are literally competing with friends and family for your attention on the web and social media, and who do you think people would rather pay attention to? Friends and family most likely.
You can cut through the noise by embracing Youtility (the title of his latest book), which is marketing so useful people would pay for it. Stop trying to be amazing and start being useful, because marketing that helps people gets shared more. For example, useful articles are forwarded 30% more than average.
Embrace the power of “eventually”.
Baer challenged everyone to stop looking for immediate sales, but rather produce enough self-serve information so that customers can make an educated decision and buy when they’re ready.
Your effort to help customers may not make a sale today, but it might eventually. Baer gave the example of the Hilton Suggests account on Twitter, where employees voluntarily help people with just about anything.
They’re not trying to sell hotel rooms, just trying to help with the hope that the people they help will consider Hilton the next time they’re looking to book a hotel. The more you help, the more you’ll sell, Baer exclaimed. Relationships are created with information first, people second.
Earn trust by being radically transparent.
Baer gave several examples of businesses that have dramatically increased sales just by being open and honest with their customers.
The McDonald’s Answers campaign running in Canada right now was one example. The company invited customers to ask questions of any kind, and then produced honest video responses to resolve their customer’s concerns.
Of course, that’s not feasible for all businesses, so Baer gave an example of a car dealership in Toronto, Ontario called AutoDome that produces short, useful videos for their customers. Sometimes they even include their customers in the video!
Here’s one of their videos:
Baer describes these kinds of tactics as Youtilities. How can you come up with a Youtility to boost sales for your business? Baer believes it will just come to you.
Inspiration doesn’t respond to meeting requests, Baer said as he discussed his dislike for brainstorming sessions. Just ask yourself every day: “How can I help?”
Session: Link Building Without A Penalty
This session was presented by Joe Youngblood of Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, Rhea Drysdale of Outspoken Media, and Russ Jones of Virante, Inc.
Linkbuilding in 2014 is a risky business — it’s getting increasingly more difficult to intentionally acquire links without upsetting Google. This session was all about how to build links in a Google-safe way, one of the methods that was discussed in the most detail was broken link building.
Broken link building involves finding existing resource pages and looking for broken links. When a broken link is identified, find out who else is linking to that page that no longer exists and then you’ll have a list of prospects.
The idea is then to reach out to the webmasters of those sites and suggest a piece of content of yours that they can link to instead. This may sound like a lot of work, but you can actually automate the whole outreach process with tools like those offered by Brokenlinkbuilding.com.
When reaching out, do it tactfully and in a way that sparks a conversation. Instead of saying “Hey, I think you should replace this broken link with my awesome content”, say “Hey, I thought you’d like to know I found a broken link on your website.”
With such vague information, the webmaster may be more inclined to respond asking for more information, and then you have a conversation going and can eventually discuss getting a link to your site.
There’s the power of eventually at work again!
SEO Mosh Pit
This session about anything and everything SEO included Bruce Clay, Gareth Hoyle, Joe Laratro, Jenny Halasz, Tony Wright, Eric Enge, Mike Grehan, and Greg Boser.
Some of the brightest and most experienced professionals in search gathered for an all-star panel that was all about the audience and questions they wanted answers to.
As you may have guessed, the questions primarily revolved around the future of search. The resounding consensus was that SEO is going to keep changing, and if that’s only thing you’re able to do for clients you need to start diversifying.
Becoming more adept at paid search was also strongly recommended, as that may be the only certainty anymore when it comes to ranking well in Google.
SEO is not dead or dying. The whole panel agreed that SEO is not going anywhere, and the true SEO professionals will always find a way to survive and thrive no matter what Google throws at them.
Closing Keynote: Duane Forrester
Bing’s Duane Forrester closed out the spectacular three-day convention with a fascinating and engaging keynote (and yes, he wore the tiara. Not sure what I’m talking about? Check out my coverage of the US Search Awards the night before).
When I say Duane was engaging, I really mean it. It seemed like knew everyone in the room and didn’t hesitate to make them part of the conversation, usually by taking a friendly jab at them in one way or another.
Search engines are becoming scary intelligent due to all the data they’re gathering, Duane said. That could be a good thing though, as they are now more useful than ever.
Duane emphasized how incredible Google Now and Cortana have become at answering all kinds of questions, while Siri has not quite caught up with either of them.
The keynote took an interesting turn when Duane started painting the picture of a not-too-distant future where innovations like Tesla cars and connected appliances are a part of our daily lives.
Duane concluded his keynote by discussing importance of diversification. There are far too many variables to consider when it comes to ranking a website — you’ll eventually get left behind if you only focus on one thing.
Pubcon 2014: Overall Thoughts
With my very first Pubcon in the books, I’m already looking forward to the next one. It would be fair to say I enjoyed every minute of my experience and would recommend this conference to anyone considering going.
The value of the information learned, connections made, and all the fun had easily exceeded the price of admission. To everyone I met over the past few days, thank you for making the connection and I look forward to keeping in touch.
Let’s do it again next year, what do you say?