Inbound Marketing Summit Lessons: Listen, Be Authentic and Measure!

If hearing the words “listen, be authentic and measure” brings back childhood memories of your parents badgering you about “brushing your teeth, keeping your elbows off the table and/or putting your clothes in the hamper,” that is a good thing. It means those of us who are doing our best to lead the social charge are doing our job helping companies think about the best way to embrace this thing called “social.”

I’m writing this post as I fly back from the Inbound Marketing Summit in Dallas, TX and as a result, I have the aforementioned themes from the title of this post fresh in my mind. In fact, it seemed that “listening, authenticity and measurement” came up nearly every session at the conference. You know why? Because they are three of the most important things you can do when it comes to companies starting out on their “social” journey.

To that end, I’m not going to cop out and just share a bunch of tweets with you from the event (I’ve done this for a few posts recently and it really is a lazy way of conveying infomation). However, I am going to reinforce the title of this post with three messages from the conference – one from yours truly, one from uber-blogger, Chris Brogan and the last from IBM vet and author, Mike Moran.

Lesson One: Listen

Okay, I told you I wasn’t going to cop out but I lied. For my portion, I’m posting my presentation that talks about:

  1. How companies and their customers got disintermediated in the first place thanks to the phone and web
  2. Five ways companies can “listen” and “engage” with their customers
  3. Examples of the results companies can expect when they “listen” and “engage” with their customers

Lesson Two: Be Authenic

While this is something that Chris Brogan mentioned during his keynote, it’s not what I want to focus on when I drive this point home. It’s something that clicked in my head while Chris was speaking — something I’ve heard him say several times but didn’t really digest it until yesterday. During the first five minutes of his presentation, Chris likes to warn, “”oh yeah, I like to curse during my presentation. If that offends you, you can pray for me in church.”

Whether Mr. Brogan is intending to do this or not (I’m assuming he is ’cause he’s a pretty smart feller), what he’s telling his audience right up front is that he’s a no bullshit kind of guy. A nice guy, but not one that sugar coats things. Hearing this for the third or fourth time I realized what a brilliant analogy this was and how it subtley planted the seed of one of Chris’ main points. To be clear, I don’t think Chris is advocating that companies should swear or by surly with their customers. What he is pointing out, however, is that it’s okay to be a human being. That means showing your less polished side sometimes.

The more I think about this, the more I appreciate its brilliance.

Lesson Three: Measure

Mike Moran did a nice job talking about Internet by the numbers during his session. One of the highlights from his talk that really resonated with me was that one of marketers biggest fears with social or any new type of marketing for that matter is that by measuring it, you are immediately putting yourself on the hook to fail or succeed. Obviously marketers don’t mind the succeeding part but the risk of failure can be daunting. This is a particularly difficult pill to swallow for marketers that are used to well established techniques and metrics of tactics like direct mail, advertising, e-mail marketing and even paid key word search.

During a webcast I did yesterday (5/26) on the value of content marketing, one of the participants, Joe Pulizzi had an equally pleasing answer when the question came up around which metrics to use around measuring the success of content marketing. Joe warned that I probably wouldn’t like his answer but went on to explain that it really depended on what the goals of the marketer were. Joe went on to explain that because marketers/companies measure so many different things depending on their product, service, marketing tactics and audiences, the measurement needed to align with the companies objectives. Amen Joe!


There were obviously tons more great lessons to be learned from a lot of really smart speakers at the event. What did you learn while you were there (or from following along on Twitter with hashtag #IMS09)? Feel free to share in the comments or provide a link back to your Inbound Marketing Summary posts.


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