Friday, October 23, 2009


Disclaimer: I rant because I care

This week I attended quite possibly the meatiest, most useful marketing conference of my career. Massive and unequivocal kudos to the event organizers, presenters, sponsors and volunteers. I will tell everyone I know to go next year.

Every session was delivered by a kick ass, energetic expert with real street cred behind him/her. I walked out with pages of typed notes of things I can actually apply to my business – today. Chatted with some cool and utterly charming new acquaintances many of whom I've gotten to know via online social networks. Such fun to put real live faces and smiles to the twitter Ids.

But. As PeeWee Herman said, “there's always a big but”.

Leaving the venue after a Molson 67 (thanks guys for being great supporters) and moseyed towards the train station, I started getting a little annoyed. And then a bit more annoyed, and I could not figure out why my day of awesomeness had actually kind of pissed me off.

And then it hit me on the train. I didn't get one of my major needs met.

I went to the event with my newbie CMO hat on. Not as one of the wannabe cool kids, but as a willing prospect.

And I wanted to be marketed to.

And only 1 person actually did.

The session themes were all consistent – this is the era of word of mouth, word of click, permission-based marketing, using social networks to know your prospects, being clueful about who's around you. We all sat there in the same room, nodding in unison, tweeting the highlights together. We were all on the same page, weren't we?

Ugh. Painful to realize that no, we weren't.

In July I worked on a pretty cool project helping build out persona research for technology buyers and influencers. I even wrote a sales training storyboard with a CMO character who talked about pain points and priorities and what haunts at night. And wow, now I get to live that character.

So if you were an up and coming PR or creative agency, or a software company building cool shit to optimize web business, or had a new brilliant angle on web marketing, wouldn't you kill to talk to a CMO who is 30 days into a new gig, is doing a thorough review of the entire company go-to-market strategy and has tweeted about working on her 2010 marketing plans? Someone heads down figuring out how take the North American market by storm? Who's working with a team of brilliant developers and business managers focused on growth? Who wants to use digital marketing techniques because they want to be lean, mean and innovative? Someone who came out and spent a full day of her time specifically to find you?

By attending the conference I gave permission to be pitched. By attending the sessions I did I gave permission to hear how you can help me next year. If during the break I asked who your company was and who your audience is, I did because I'm planning a budget, not because you were cute. And in a few cases I did actually say “your company” because what was written on the badge was unpronounceable. Might wanna rethink that part.

I'm a walk the talk kind of person. That's why I loved Barry Quinn's quote during the agency panel discussion. Thanks guys @Mondoville for also finding it entertaining. And to the one person who gave me a card and offered to show me something I've never seen before, I'll ping you next week.


  1. Great to meet you.

    Your point around not hearing pitches is an interesting one. Though I understand your position, the issue is partly that at a paid conference, I think it's bad form for speakers to actually pitch/sell their offering. Lots of conferences do this (you get speaking slots for being a sponsor), but the quality is almost never as good.

    An interesting thing that SMX does is have clearly labelled sessions that are essentially corporate pitches.

    Not sure what the right answer is.


  2. Interesting post.
    As a definite newbie to the world of social media I found the conference amazing but overwhelming.
    The one thing I found missing was some sort of way for "newbies" to connect.
    Anyway, I would have loved to be pitched to. Our company is also looking at all of this stuff.

  3. Cheryl,

    Thanks for attending meshmarketing, as well as the insight into what you would have liked to have seen more of. We're always looking for ways to improve our content so if you've got ideas about sessions or speakers, please let me know.

    cheers, Mark
    (aka one of the mesh gang)

  4. Cheryl,

    A brave post but fair one, I wasn't at MESH marketing (otherwise, I would have pitched you) but there definitely does appear to still be an us vs. them divide - consider the Canadian marketing association and other established orgs. as the us and upstarts like MESH as the them.

    The audiences tend to be quite tribal and if there is a fault, they each tend to appeal to the converted.

    It's a tough balancing act - having been part of other conference committees where the expected audience is CMOs, Marketing directors and brand managers, our extreme nervousness has been these VIPs getting overpitched. Dharmesh's point rings true - nothing worse than a heavy handed pitch by a stranger at a time_compressed conference.

    Perhaps the newer the conference, the need to build more eeek... corporateness over time.

    Let's grab a coffee when you're in town - I'd love to influence a newly minted influencer in her new role on our particular knitting of building buzz, word of mouth, collaboration and community.


  5. I was pitching, and I now have 4 confirmed meetings to pitch my Branded Video Content for web distro to prospective clients.

    But of course I only gave the "Pitch" to people who are likely to use my services, to everyone else I was just 'Hi I'm Glen and I produce video content for web / social marketing.