BOLO 2011 Conference Highlights

BOLO 2011 Digital Media Conference

We attended the 4th Annual BOLO Conference this week in Scottsdale, AZ. Put on by the folks at Agencyside, BOLO “Be On the LookOut” is a high-energy, super-smart gathering of digital marketers and thought leaders from all over. Speakers included Scott Stratten (UnMarketing), Tom Martin (Converse Digital), C.C. Chapman (Content Rules) and Jay Baer (The NOW Revolution). We’re still processing all those great ideas, but here are some of the take-aways that stuck in our minds:

(1) Innovation comes from all over the agency. — The big ideas in digital marketing aren’t only coming from creatives. Fresh thinking and new approaches are being brought to the table by media specialists, analytics experts, researchers, technologists, journalists, producers, coders, bloggers, and yes – a great many client-side folks.  Sree Sreenivasan from the Columbia Journalism School says it’s coming from people who have both a “digital skill set” and a “digital mindset.”  Charles Day, from the Looking Glass Consultancy, thinks it’s multi-generational.  Either way, it’s a great opportunity for our industry to move forward.

(2)  Marketing still begins with a “Y”.  Effective digital marketing actually does have something in common with successful campaigns of the past.  It doesn’t begin with tactics or technologies. It starts out with the “Why” questions that have been at the root of effective marketing for ages:  “Why are we marketing?”  “Who are we trying to reach?”  “Why would they want our product?”  There are plenty of shiny new tactics and technologies we can use to reach our audiences today.  But the ones that work usually have a solid foundation of basic marketing, research and questioning behind them. Successful marketers still recognize this, and use it as a powerful weapon.

(3)  We can measure just about anything, but the best metric is engagement.  The number of total fans you have doesn’t mean much if they’re not actually engaged with your brand.  How to better engage them?  According to Scott Stratten, we should all rely on good old fashioned common sense (even if it’s not regularly practiced in social media.)  Speak like a human.  Be responsive.  Don’t only talk about yourself.  Don’t try to say everything, but pick a platform and stick with it.  According to Scott, it’s pretty simple:  people engage with those they know, like and trust.

(4)  Audiences everywhere are mobilizing.  Mobile is coming down the tracks like a freight train, with more smart phones, more tablets, more apps every day.  But mobile isn’t about the technology or devices. Mobile is really a human behavior, a way of being.  Tim Hayden, from 44Doors reminded us that humans weren’t really designed to sit at a desk with a keyboard for extended periods.  We were designed for motion and movement.  And mobile is just a more natural place for us to be.  Where we’ll be typing less, but expecting more interaction and instant gratification.  Successful brands will take full advantage of this.

Did you make it to BOLO this year?  If so, what got you thinking?

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