Yesterday, I was lucky enough to spend a day with some top marketers from the area, learning from top minds who came in from across the country. It was the second year for North by MidWest, and by all accounts a success.


Before anything else, a hearty thanks to the folks over at OLSON for hosting, and allowing us to participate. And, a thanks to The Minneapolis Egotist for helping us get a seat at the exclusive event.


The morning started relaxed, with a fresh cup of coffee and a gorgeous view of the city.


Then, we were all woken up. Jay Baer was the first keynote speaker, and he proved that you can be both entertaining and informative at the same time. He pointed out that being a marketer is harder than it has ever been before for three different reasons:


1. Reach is fragmented. TV is a good example: 1977, the top show was Happy Days with a 31.5% viewership. That’s 31.5% of the nation watching the show. In 1987, it was the Cosby Show leading the way with 27.8%. 1997 was Seinfeld with 21.7%. In 2001 the leader was American Idol, with a 16.1% share. This past May? America’s Got Talent with a 6.9% share. We don’t mass watch the same way we did. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just different.


2. There’s a natural collision between marketing and customer service. Blame it on our ability to praise and complain from anywhere, but customer service has now become a spectator sport. One great example from Trip Advisor that was pointed out:


“Also, the WiFi blows”. My favorite part. It helps showcase that a bad wifi experience is on par with having your life and health threatened.


3. Competition for attention is paramount, and impossible. Best example that Jay gave was his Facebook feed. Looking at it from a high level, his feed goes friend, then brand, then wife, then brand. “My wife doesn’t buy outdoor boards to complain” – arguably a great thing for all of us, but emphasizes the biggest point that I took away: we compete pixel for pixel with the people we love. Why on earth do we as brands even stand a chance?


But then he provided some hope for us all.


Stop being amazing. Start being helpful. – Jay Baer


Not a bad suggestion. Not bad at all.  He gave some examples of how Hilton had volunteers (yes, volunteers) in their spare time to merely pay attention on Twitter. That’s it. Just pay attention. The examples he gave were providing information to someone that didn’t relate to any aspect of a traditional sales funnel. One – who had not engaged with Hilton at all, and actually said they were staying elsewhere – was generically asking about where to eat in the city close to the non-Hilton hotel they were staying at. Another example was merely telling someone about a local job listing website when they asked where to look for a new career. It was completely unrelated to Hilton, but the idea that they’re just there to help resonated very clearly.


You can read more about it all in his book, Youtility. I’m about to.


That’s just a recap of one of the speakers. There was a jam packed day full of them.


It was nice to hang out with the OLSON folks, and see a few of our clients participating in the day as well. Hopefully we get invited back.


– Matt


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