I just spent six glorious days in lovely San Diego, California. Having completed my Bachelor’s degree there, it felt like coming home again. Well, at least home to the place I had the privilege of living for 2.5 years but had to move back to my actual home immediately after because I couldn’t afford to stay in Southern California. 😉
The primary purpose of my trip was business — attending Social Media Marketing World, a conference I’ve had my eye on since 2012, but never could quite make it. Now that I work for myself, I pounced on the opportunity to attend. As an entrepreneur who makes my living helping small businesses with copywriting and social media, I would be crazy to not attend one of the most prestigious conferences in that arena if it were within my grasp to do so.
The conference was three days, bringing me to the sweet secondary purpose of the trip. Pleasure, of course. My dear friend Kim relocated to San Diego county a little over a year ago and the ability to visit and stay with her is what made the trip a no-brainer. Furthermore, I have some friends from college days who still live in the area, so I figured I might be able to sneak in a visit with them also.
For the sake of making this post more palatable to folks who don’t know me, and are interested mainly in my takeaways from the conference, I’ll start with those. Some personal stories will be sprinkled in after that. You’re welcome. 🙂
To preface my takeaways, I’ll admit that I was a little overwhelmed before I even set foot in the San Diego Convention Center. The SMMW team puts an incredible amount of strategic forethought into making the conference as exceptional as possible for the attendees. That begins WEEKS before the conference.
First, they invite you to join the Facebook community group, which is full of separate chat groups with dozens, if not hundreds, of niche industries and interests. The organizers constantly engage the massive group with questions and helpful topics for the uninitiated.
Then there’s the app. I’d never attended a conference where you can plan out your agenda in advance on the app. Within the app, there are similarly dozens of separate strings of conversation happening.
This newbie was inundated with a flood of information. It was a lot to take in. However, it all served a purpose: to give attendees every opportunity to come prepared, and ready to connect with others. That became clearer as the conference got underway.
Setting the scene
Upon walking into the Convention Center, the great effort to set the mood for a party was quite apparent. Loud, lively music playing, and smiling staff members in branded t-shirts ready to direct you and answer any questions. There was even a dance team/flash mob that entertained the scores of folks eagerly anticipating the conference kickoff.
The networking plaza … and a humorous encounter
Corresponding to the many chat genres in the Facebook group, the networking plaza had a table set up for each one. Industry niches (e.g. tourism, media, entrepreneurs), personal interests, various industry topics … there were dozens of themed tables where you could join a conversation with like-minded individuals.
There was so much going on at all hours each day that I under-utilized that resource. I knew I wanted to make an appearance at the introvert table — I’d had some amusing convos with fellow introverts in that chat spot on the FB group, and I thought it would be fun to meet some of them in person.
When I finally had the chance to swing by the table on the last day, this is what I found:
We introverts can be an elusive bunch, so I got a good chuckle out of that.
Now, onto my top four takeaways for marketing from #SMMW20:
1. I’ve got to include video in my marketing plan. Video is the way of the future. Get cracking!
This has been on my radar as a marketer for a few years. It’s been widely reported that social platforms reward video (especially live video) with greater reach than text, even text with pictures included.
I have endless excuses to not do video. I’ve used them regularly. I’ve been incrementally doing more video content, but it has been very irregular. After several of the sessions, most notably the statistics-rich keynote from Mike Stelzner (CEO of Social Media Examiner), I realize it is time to put my excuses to rest and GET ON IT.
As a side note, after the second day of the conference, I found myself wide awake the majority of the night, thinking about all the things I was learning … and processing a new focus for my business, which is quite exciting! I’ll share details on that soon. A lot of research and planning to do in the meantime.
2. I need to put prices for my services on my website.
Marcus Sheridan, the closing keynote speaker, made a very compelling case for posting prices on my website. This is something I’ve thought about but not gotten around to.
Sheridan had the audacity to call out my primary excuse. It goes something like this: “I can’t put prices on my website, because every customer has a unique situation with a custom quote required.” He cited that very thing. Ouch.
He made a compelling case for posting those prices, backed with data and compelling self-examination revealing that:
- Posting prices increases the chances of getting business.
- I might be losing business with people who come to my site looking for prices and move on when they don’t find them.
- Having prices available builds credibility and trust.
- The excuse that my competitors may get my business if I am too expensive is bunk. Competitors don’t pay my bills, so why let the fear of them reduce customers’ trust in me?
3. Storytelling, and similarly, telling my story, is a critical piece to my marketing.
We are all drawn into stories. Folding stories into the fabric of my marketing draws people in. Furthermore, to loosely quote Marcus Sheridan, “the world needs to hear what life has taught you.” It was great to be reminded of this.
4. It is not about me. It is about my customers. Solving their problems is key.
I know this. Hearing it repeated over and over in different ways, by multiple speakers, gave it a fresh spin to get through my thick skull.
Skip self-promotion. Cut straight to the chase of addressing the customer’s problem (preferably, with the use of a good story when appropriate) and make a clear case for how I will solve it.
There is an abundance of additional takeaways and minutiae that I could include, but that is the top four.
Now, onto the personal fun stuff. 🙂
I flew into San Diego Friday morning, so I could hang out with my friend and gracious host Kim Friday and Saturday before the conference started on Sunday.
With a few hours to kill before she got off work, I made a beeline to the beach to grab lunch at a spot I’d been meaning to try out since my last visit to the area. Pacific Beach Alehouse did not disappoint.
Friend shenanigans included a trip to a local winery and a lovely hike at the oceanfront Torrey Pines State Reserve — another item on the to-do list for quite some time.
As it turned out, I was also able to connect with two of my college girlfriends for lunch right before catching my flight home. I located a New Zealand-themed restaurant near our target area, and my friends were gracious enough to agree to meet there. My enthusiasm for all things Kiwi has been bubbling over since my trip there in January 2019 — which you can read about here.
All in all, I had a wonderful time. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn an incredible amount of things that will not only help me grow my business but will enable me to provide greater value to the clients I serve.
It is always a treat to spend time with dear friends as well.
Thanks for reading this post! If you attended Social Media Marketing World, I’d love to hear your takeaways also.
If you didn’t, please let me know if you have any questions about social media marketing that I can answer for you. I look forward to sharing my knowledge!
published 3/8/20, updated 3/11/22.