3 Takeaways From the Brand ManageCamp Conference

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By John Hall

It’s only September, and we’ve already seen some great marketing conferences this year. Personally, I’m the kind of guy who loves these events, and I love recommending conferences for entrepreneurs to attend. The people, the insights, the energy — it’s a perfect combination for my personality.
When I was a younger entrepreneur, I thought I had to attend all these events myself and work constantly so I never missed an opportunity. I traveled all over the country to go to events and meetings, aiming to learn about industry trends.
But as I’ve gotten older and my company has grown, I’ve realized I don’t have to attend every event myself. I’ve got a team full of people who are just as excited about in-person conferences and company growth as I am.
So this month, one of my VPs headed to Las Vegas for the annual Brand ManageCamp conference. We’d heard good things about the event from a variety of past attendees, and I’ve held webinars with the conference CEO, so I know he’s good about aligning content with what his audience is looking to learn. When we saw the awesome speaker lineup that addressed so many relevant marketing and branding topics, we knew we had to experience it ourselves.
The Lineup
Every speaker had something unique to offer, but my VP noted that Brian Solis and Ann Handley were especially inspiring. Brian’s experience as a digital strategist, an award-winning author, and a blogger came together really well, and he shared a valuable perspective on branding.
Your brand isn’t the colors you use, your logo, or your brand promise statement. Your brand is how you interact and communicate with your audience through content. It’s more about the experience and relationship you develop with your audience than any color you use.
That’s not to say that logos and colors aren’t important, but the way you present your brand and interact with people in the context of their own values is what really matters. He described a low battery, poor Wi-Fi, a weak cell signal, and loading bars as the Four Horsemen of the Modern Apocalypse and explained that these small disturbances rain judgment down on your brand.
Ann left out the horses and focused more on the current state of content marketing. She’s the chief content officer at MarketingProfs, so she understands the difference between “good content” and “good enough content.” She touched on the pressure a lot of brands face when they’re trying to determine the volume, frequency, and quality of their content. Now, it’s not impossible to execute a strategy of frequent, high-quality content — you just need to dedicate resources or hire a partner to help make it happen.
She also took the opportunity to remind attendees that everything they produce and publish is content. Product descriptions, blog posts, social updates — it’s all content, and it should all work together to reinforce your brand. One wrong move can ruin the effectiveness of everything you’ve accomplished.
The Takeaways
I’ve talked before about content triggers, and industry conferences are a gold mine for them. Every workshop, keynote, panel discussion, and conversation you have at a conference with people in your industry (and audience) has the potential to inspire content. That’s why my VP wrote down some of his key takeaways from the Brand ManageCamp conference in our company knowledge bank to share with our audience.
1. Commit to the climb.
No one at the top of Mount Everest made it there by accident. Commitment to the journey and consistency through setbacks is key. Mark Sanborn presented this idea in his talk, and it’s just as essential for brands as it is for mountain climbers.
Mark’s talk reminded the audience of the importance of being true to their brands. Like Ann mentioned, everything you create and publish is part of your brand. Every bit of communication and messaging should reflect the brand and voice you’re trying to establish — and it takes commitment and consistency to achieve.
2. Don’t crash the party.
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Your customers get to decide how they interact with brands. It’s their party, and they create the guest list. Get to know how your brand fits into your customers’ world and how it’s valuable to them — only then can you request an invite. It takes a commitment, not just a campaign-level effort, to being present where it matters most to your audience so you won’t be forced to drop in uninvited.
True engagement and influence can’t be purchased like PPC or traditional ads; authentic connection requires offering value. Understand what content from your brand engages your audience, soothes their paint points, and speaks their language.
3. Practice what you preach.
You’ve probably heard it before, but it’s still true: Marketing has a marketing problem. We’ve started to see more marketers drop the ball when it comes to selling their own C-suites on content, including explaining what they’re doing, why it’s valuable, and why executive involvement is vital.
If you’re selling to clients, you already know how to get someone on board with your services. Use a similar approach internally. Clearly communicate your goals, strategy, metrics, and ROI, just as you would to a customer or client. If it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for you.
Remember, you don’t have to go to every conference yourself. If something seems like it could be worth your while, but your schedule is too hectic to fit it in, get an interested colleague to go and report back on it. The report on Brand ManageCamp: You should definitely consider it for your 2017 conference schedule.

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