SwomFest was different than any other marketing conference I’ve attended.
- They started off the day with a live dance troop performing the Thriller dance. Zombie costumes and everything. Click here for a video sample.
- They kept everything fun. Extended breaks to keep everyone fresh. A DJ spinning music to keep the atmosphere upbeat and BEER at lunch and in the afternoon. (Full disclosure, Flying Dog Brewery was a sponsor of SwomFest and provided the beer.)
- The content flow was well thought out and made sense. I’ve been to too many conferences where is was a hodge-podge of case studies without any flow.
The general flow of the day went like this:
- Ben McConnell started off the day talking about WOM and why it’s more impactful than other forms of advertising. Good presentation, but he was preaching to the choir.
- Next, Haley Rushing of GSD&M (Austin Ad Agency) talked about discovering and developing your brand’s purpose. Haley did a great job of articulating how a “mission statement” has been bastardized into something that isn’t meaningful to employees or consumers. Her biggest example was Southwest Airlines (GSD&M client) and how their purpose is “Giving People the Freedom to Fly”. Here is a video of Haley talking about a brand’s “purpose”.
- The highlight of the day was Yaphet Smith. Yaphet is an interesting guy: He’s a CPA and attorney, but makes a living as a screenwriter. He gave example after example of how to tell great stories and how important it is for a brand to communicate its story to consumers for the purpose of building WOM.
- In the afternoon, there were a variety of presentations, but the most interesting part to me was Dell’s Sean McDonald talking about WOM/Customer Response/Social Media in a big company. My big takeaways from his talk were:
- Every conversation counts. (Earlier in the day, we talked about how 1% of the consumers influence others to purchase)
- The responsibility of having on and offline conversations with your consumers goes all the way up the line of the organization.
- If social media isn’t understood or accepted in your organization – screw ’em and just start doing it.
I don’t know if there will be another SwomFest, but if there is, I would highly recommend attending. Smart people, smart presentations and best of all, it’s fun.
I’ll be following up on SwomFest a little more later this week with some action items I came up with for my brand.