Editor’s Note: SEJ is a press partner of Authority Rainmaker 2015 and received press passes in exchange for event coverage.
Day one of Copyblogger’s Authority Rainmakers 2015 is over, and I have to say today included quite the impressive line up of speakers. All the presentations were really in-depth and offered good insights and useful, actionable tips. There was no fluff, no ‘best practices’ we’ve all heard hundreds of times. I had a great time and learned a lot!
The morning started with Copyblogger CEO Brian Clark’s opening statement, and he addressed the quality of presentations we could expect right away. Most conferences, he said, if you walk away with one idea, you’ve done well. Rainmaker aimed to do much better than that – and I think they succeeded.
Daniel Pink: “The ABC’s of Selling Your Product, Your Service, Your Self”
Dan was a fantastic first speaker of the morning: he had a lot of energy and a lot of great information. He promised one insight, three principles, and five takeaways. This style made the information he presented very easy to digest.
We are all in sales now, either selling your product, your service, your content, your idea, and yourself. What most of us don’t realize is that sales has changed more in the last 10 years than the previous 100 – which means it is way past time to change how we sell and how we think about sales.
Dan started out by describing research that asked people what the first word they thought of when it comes to sales. The most popular answers? Pushy, hard, yuck, difficult, and manipulative. Not a good thing for sales.
Dan stated he believes these thoughts are more about information than sales. These feelings come from a time when sellers had more information, and there for a huge advantage over buyers. This information asymmetry, as Dan called it, created an era of “Buyer Beware.”
He then went on to describe how that asymmetry has shifted. Today, a customer on a car lot can pull up what other dealers are charging for the same model, they now have access to more information, more choices, which means they now have the ability to talk back to sales people. Yet, for all these changes, the conversation hasn’t changed much.
So, what do marketers need to do? Dan suggests it is time to change the way we sell, and the way we teach sales. This means shifting away from the “always be closing” mentality and focusing on new ABCs: attunement, buoyancy, and clarity. This means considering other views, staying afloat in a sea of rejections, and moving past being problem solvers to being problem finders.
- Extroverts are not always the best at sales: Research shows extroverts are more likely to get hired and promoted in sales job, but don’t necessarily make more actual sales. The truth? There is a clear, strong advantage for ambiverts, who know when to push and when to listen in order to make the sales. (And most of us are ambiverts.)
- Use questions to elicit an active response from yourself and your users: When people have their own reasons to agree with you, they believe those reasons more. BUT, this technique can backfire – if they disagree. When the facts are clearly on your side, use questions instead of statements.
- Use the contrast principle: Research shows adding a minor negative detail in an otherwise positive offering works to highlight the positive aspects.
- Cheesy can work: A study showed people believe, remember, and absorb information better when it rhymes, uses alliteration, or is repeated. These techniques enhance people’s processing fluency.
- Give people an off ramp: If you want people to do something, make it easy to do it.
Daniel’s clear, direct presentation style made him one of my favorite speakers of the day!
Scott Brinker: “Interactive Content Design: Moving Marketing from Communications to Experiences”
Scott Brinker is the Co-founder and CTO of ion interactive, and also the author of Chief Marketing Technologist. His presentation focused on a new type of content: interactive content.
With so much content, and so many competitors, how are we supposed to get noticed online? Scott introduced several different types of interactive content and discussed how marketers can use them – and use them well.
Scott started by discussing what interactive content is, and how we think about it. Interactive content includes quizzes, assessments, and other ways of re-imagining content. When most of us think of quizzes, we think of Buzzfeed, which is not real journalism, right? In fact, as Scott showed, even trusted news sources like the New York times use quizzes – just in different ways than Buzzfeed.
Why is interactive content so successful? Scott explained the process of learning isn’t done passively (which most of us know), and a big part of content marketing is educating buyers, which makes interactive content very useful and very effective.
Passive content, such as blogs and e-books, is old and stale, while interactive content is new, more interesting, and often more clever. In addition, people share interactive twice as much because this type of content is fun! As content marketers, we want our audience to have this feeling as often as possible, which is what makes interactive content so effective.
I will be interested to see how the field of interactive content grows over the next few years. Could it be the next ‘big’ thing?
Pamela Wilson: “Designing a Warm Customer Experience In a Cold Online World”
Pamela Wilson is Vice President of Educational Content at Copyblogger Media, and the host of a successful podcast called “Hit Publish.” She discussed how we can build a warm, personal relationship with our audience from behind a cold computer monitor, particularly in relation to landing pages, content, and e-commerce experiences.
The customer wants to know “Where am I? Is this worth my time?” Pamela explains how, since we don’t have a receptionist to make them feel more comfortable, brands need to develop “C’mon in!” homepages. We can do this by having a clear site name, simple navigation (one single navigation w/drop downs), and a benefit driving tag line. All these pieces together help make users feel more empowered and comfortable.
This is where users ask: “Who are you? Do you care?” And, unfortunately, we don’t have the opportunity to sit down and have a warm, human interaction with them face to face. According to Pamela, that is where content comes in. Content should be consistent, informative, and easy to consume. These approaches will help create a warm, welcoming area for you users where they begin to trust you.
Pamela states an e-commerce experience is in play any time there is an exchange of value, not just when someone makes a purchase. For example, when they opt in to email list or register for your website. During these interactions, users are asking “Can I trust you? Do I know what to do next?” Pamela suggests using trust symbols, SSL certificates, money back guarantees, and testimonials to offer a smooth experience.
According to Pamela, using these techniques will help you delight, build trust, and make friends in the cold online world.
Sonia Simone: “Dr Evil’s Guide to Landing Page Design”
Sonia Simone, the Chief Content Officer and Co-Founder of Copyblogger, gave a fantastic presentation about how to use you’re evil marketing powers for good. She says many people feel like being good at marketing means they are getting good at tricking people. She insists that is not true – no body is good enough to do that (not even Brian Clark!).
Instead, she says marketing on landing pages is about translating attention into behavior, and gave five ‘evil’ tips for designing better landing pages.
Evil Tip #1: Always shoot fish in a barrel.
By this, she means helping people get what they want, and inviting them into your ‘barrel’
Evil Tip #2: Make them smarter about how to move forward.
After inviting them into your barrel, educate them. Landing pages work better if your users know what to do and trust you.
Evil Tip #3: Quit being so freaking clever.
Simone says you should make the next step you want users to take clear, stupidly clear. Super curiosity, BuzzFeed style titles don’t help build trust. You need to avoid hype, instead explain what you will help them do, and how you will help them do it.
Evil Tip #4: Focus on the CTA.
Tell people what you want. Simone agrees that this seems obvious to most writers, but says she sees many marketers mess it up. Be clear, don’t bully, and offer different paths for different people. CTAs are powerful – they typically offer the biggest benefits for the smallest change.
She also suggests you shouldn’t be afraid be break best practices. While “Click Here” seems salesy, it can work (just not for every link). Another point Simone made, which really stuck with me, was that “innovation can be highly overrated.”
As marketers, we are always looking to be the next break out company, the next bit thing. But making your site look like other sites actually helps build trust in your business. But, Simone clarifies, that doesn’t mean you can’t be better – just don’t innovate your self out of customers.
Ann Handley: “Good Content Vs Good Enough Content: A Fight For Sore Eyes”
I loved “Everybody Writes,” and I follow Ann’s blog religiously, so I was really looking forward to her presentation. Ann talked about how we need to shift the content conversation and start thinking differently about content. The more content you produce, the lower the quality tends to be.
In fact, she says quality and quantity tend to be ‘frienemies’ more than partners.
According to Ann, brand voice is highly undervalued. Why does voice matter? We live in a really noisy world, where 4.7 billion pieces of content shared every single day. How in the world is anyone supposed to stand out? All this noise means we are competing with not just our competitors, but also with each other.”
According to Ann “We don’t need more content, we need ridiculously better content.
Brand voice is a key strategy in setting your brand apart, and Ann gave five elements of building and using your brand’s voice:
- You do you. It’s not what you sell, it’s who you are.
- Why you do what you do? It is not about what you sell, but why do you sell. What value do you offer?
- What are you like to deal with? What story are you telling when people come to your site, your blog, etc? According to Ann: “Voice reflects your culture, amplifies your story, and communicates with empathy with oleo you want to reach.” Culture x story x empathy = tone of voice.
- Do not dilute you content. Keep in mind, your brand voice helps attract people you want, but it also helps repel people who don’t fit. Stay true to your own voice, and never dilute your content. Instead, use content to filter your audience.
- FIWTSBS: Find interesting ways to say boring stuff. It is easy to get caught up in the idea of your voice, but its important to look for all the places you can put it into practice including on about us pages, pop ups, FAQ sections, and even boring CTA buttons.
My favorite quote from Ann’s presentation, and one I think she embodies quite well:
“The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” -Tom Fishburne
Jerod Morris: “Become a Showrunner: The 4 Essential Elements of a Remarkable Podcast”
Jerod Morris is a veteran podcaster, and his presentation covered how to develop a remarkable podcast – something he is more than qualified to present on! Jerod has a good energy, and used real world examples that kept his presentation interesting.
First, he defined showrunner, which he says is the person who is responsible for an audience experience. And if you are running a podcast, or are thinking about starting one, that person is you. Jerod shared a few qualities showrunners should focus on for a successful podcast.
It starts by knowing your self and your audience and using that information to develop a connection. The most important step is to be candid, and not take yourself take yourself too seriously. According to Jerod, connecting is the true power of podcasts, and authenticity will help you do just that.
Being useful can come in several different forms. You can educate, entertain, inspire, or, hopefully, all three at once. Figure out what your audience expects and then give it to them.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the success of one or two episodes and then slack on the follow through. Jerod reminded us that producing a couple of remarkable episodes is great, but that doesn’t make a remarkable podcast. Start by showing up, being reliable, and remaining reliable long-term if you want to build sustainability.
Podcasting is not a get quick rich scheme, but it can be monetized in several ways, which Jerod broke down.
- Direct – This works by sell advertising, or access to your archives. You have to be really good for this to work.
- Indirect – Instead of selling ads, use your podcast as a lead generator for courses, books, etc.
- Intrinsic – This is the most important aspect of profitability, particularly if you are looking to create something remarkable. It is not about money, it’s about the experience and the connections.
The best quote of Jerod’s presentation was about bringing all those elements together:
“The elements of your show that are uniquely authentic and useful are what will create the sustained audience attention that leads to profitability.”
Bernadette Jiwa: “The Secret to Creating Content People Love”
Bernadette is a top 100 branding expert on Twitter and also runs website The Story of Telling. Her presentation covered how to get your content noticed authentically in the noisy online world.
The world spent $500 billion on advertising in the last year. And yet, Bernadette says we are more likely to summit Mount Everest than click on a banner ad (hey, they can’t put it on the internet if it’s not true). Her point was, how people buy has changed, yet how we market hasn’t. The methods marketers used to sell to our grandparents no longer works.
We’re not engaging, we’re broadcasting.
Today, we need to make a product or service people want, not market something we’ve already created. Bernadette insists people need to care about your business to buy, and there is no short cut for building that. Businesses only succeed when they matter to people, and they only matter when people care. Bernadette says the only way to build this it one person at time.
She also gave a few examples of brands creating content people care about:
She also had very poignant closing remarks:
“Whoever gets closest to the audience wins. Great content doesn’t interrupt, it engages, inspires, connects.
If you want to get inside their wallet, you need to get inside their head, and their hearts first.”
Chris Brogan: “The Business of Belonging: Use Content & Community to Earn More Customers”
I loved Chris Brogan’s presentation. It felt honest, fresh, and ever so slightly self-deprecating.
According to Chris, the list is everything. And by list, he means your email or newsletter list. Any day you’re not feeding and growing your list is a day you are losing your list. But, that is not to say people don’t matter, Chris explained. You exist to serve the people on your list and create value for them.
You must start by building out interesting and useful media, which leads to a list, which is the key to earning more customers. Chris insists creating highly successful business is not just about the content, the community, or selling. It is about how all three flow together.
According to Chris, you have to earn the right to sell, which is a huge shift from how many marketers think today. Instead of assuming you can just broadcast your information to a willing audience, you need to earn their trust.
In order to use your email or newsletter list to make money you only need three things: a solid email provider, a website, and one or two social platforms. Chris says nearly 70% of his revenue comes from newsletter, which is quite impressive.
But, first you need to earn the right to sell. He also gave several great takeaways:
- People buy more on emotion than logic.
- Repetition is key. Repetition is key.
- Imperfection sells (but not calculated imperfection)
- Every decision we make operates under either fear of love.
- The more you give away for free, the more money you will make.
Today’s presentations were amazing! All the speakers had great energy, the crowd was engaged, and the food was really good (I particularly appreciated the vegetarian options at lunch!).
Tomorrow should be another exciting day – I cannot wait to hear Henry Rollin’s keynote.