Each year we gather in our thousands to bear witness to the most influential thought leaders in the digital marketing industry. These conveyors of wisdom put forward their ideas and inspiration for those businesses seeking knowledge and insight, which can then be applied to their next digital marketing campaign.
Well, okay, we all gather in a big hall to sit and listen to someone who really knows their stuff, explaining the next big thing in digital marketing, while using Powerpoint presentation and a microphone to convey their message.
But these experiences can be life changing for some businesses out there and events such as SearchLove, The Digital Marketing Show, C3 and MozCon are ideal if you’re looking to learn from the experts.
Talking of experts, we’ve actually been in touch with a variety of industry thought leaders, asking them what they consider to be the best speaker session they have experienced.
These could be sessions which inspired them, they thought particularly useful for businesses or which took a different approach to discussing a well-researched topic – because let’s face it, with the Internet and so much mobile media at our fingertips, we all (kind of) believe we are experts at something online related.
Kick starting our poll, we got in touch with Dr Peter Meyers, a well-known face and expert at Moz, who spoke to us about the speaker session he feels stands out for him. He told us: “It’s hard to define ‘best’ but one that really stuck with me was Michael Dorausch’s local SEO presentation a couple of years back.”
The speaker session in question took a look at:
Dr. Meyers explained that he found the session particularly inspirational because: “Mike landed a couple of days early and started taking pictures of interesting local places, building his deck from those stories.
“In just a couple of days, he really captured the local flavour and showed how you could create content, if you were passionate enough and put in the effort. I think it was a real wake-up call for people who complain about how boring their niche is or how they can't create local content.”
You can’t really receive a better recommendation than that.
We also spoke to Phil Nottingham, Senior Consultant and Video Strategist at Distilled (with great hair), about the most notable speaker session he has seen.
Phil is himself a regular speaker at events such as Mozcon, mainly discussing video strategy when it comes to digital marketing and encouraging businesses to put their long neglected dusty camera to good use by making fun videos.
He explained: "The speaker I've been most impressed with recently (I've seen her at a number of events over the past year) is Nathalie Nahai - particularly her session at SearchLove London last year, detailing how psychology principles play such a huge part in design, UX and CRO.”
Nathalie is a real contender on the thought-leader scene and a regular face at some of the biggest digital marketing events. Better known as the Web Psychologist, Nathalie’s website is full of useful resources and she has also written a well-received book on web influence for business.
The session itself considered:
Phil said: “The first time I saw her speak, at MozCon 2013, she talked about culturability, and after the session I turned to my boss Will and said, ‘This is what International SEO should be.’ It changed our approach to such problems completely and revitalised the way Distilled approach international marketing in half an hour. Her influence on my approach to marketing has just gone up from there.”
Kieran Flanagan, Marketing Director at Hubspot, found the question of who he regarded to have conducted the best speaker session a tough one. However, he eventually settled on Simon Sinek’s presentation at Inbound this year as the most notable.
Flanagan explained: “Simon is an amazing story teller who commands your attention. His session on how the chemicals in our bodies help us not only manage in difficult times, but also build trust and co-operation was an amazing presentation for anyone who is trying to lead a team or company.”
Simon is well known in the industry for his ‘Start with Why’ approach, which encourages businesses to know what purpose, belief or cause inspires them and to use this in their marketing.
Simon’s session talked about:
When it comes to content creation interacting with the receiver is of great importance. Just look at how the big brands do it. Let’s use Compare the Market as an example. The brand’s Hugh Hefner-styled meerkat has become a household name due to its funny way of speaking and once the advert came out everyone attempted to imitate the accent.
The brand has won the hearts of the nation with its storytelling tactics, as well as making the viewer laugh and offering the opportunity for them to get something back via the free soft toy incentive if they use the website. All this combined pushed it ahead, making it much more memorable than its competitors - except for perhaps Go Compare, with its catchy but infuriating jingle.
Next we spoke with Bas van den Beld an online marketing specialist, trainer, seasoned speaker and also the founder of State of Digital. Bas also found it difficult to specifically pinpoint one presentation but added:
There are many for different reasons. There are off course the talks of Steve Jobs and I always enjoy the talks of Dave Naylor.
But I want to highlight two others, because they’ve impacted my style of speaking: Hans Rosling and Dick Hardt.
I first saw Hans Rosling speak in 2006 at LeWeb in Paris. His talk about statistics (see the TED version here) was amazing and an eyeopener at the time.
Another talk I will always remember is from Dick Hardt, he spoke at one of the first “The Next Web” Conferences in Amsterdam. His style was never seen before, slide after slide in a huge tempo. Quite impressive, you can see an example here.
Hans' animated session covered:
Dick's sessions talked about:
Dave Chaffey, CEO and Co-Founder of online marketing advice publisher SmartInsights.com, shared his favourite session with us.
“It would have to be Craig Sullivan," he said. "He does speak at a lot of events other than ours and is one of the most passionate AND practical speakers I know.” Craig’s speaker session focused on A/B testing - and why so many businesses are doing it incorrectly.
The session took a look at:
It’s a good speaker session to take a look at if you are a business which has undertaken A/B testing but come out with no real results and can’t work out why. You might just be guilty of one of the many reasons Craig gives for A/B testing not working.
Finally, we spoke to Samuel Scott, Senior Director of Digital Marketing for the Cline Group, who shared with us his favourite speaker session: “I have seen many amazing speaker sessions,” Samuel said, “and one that stands out was Jeffrey K. Rohr's talk at SMX West earlier this year.
“One of his points was that too many businesses view marketing as a cost centre, but in today's digital age, it is now a department that generates assets instead. RSS subscribers, e-mail lists, social media followers, and more are all assets that marketing helps to grow.
“Those audiences are earned and owned and can be leveraged over time - as long as you treat them well. With this single sentence, he provided a simple and clear response that marketers can give to CEOs whenever they complain about how much money they are spending on marketing.”
In conclusion, Rohr’s talk pointed businesses towards:
His points could be applied to all manner of businesses, from a florist shop to a professional photography agency, if a business optimises its marketing, spends its money wisely and treats its audience well, then it can, and will, reap the rewards in the future.
Why not take a look at the slides for these speaker sessions yourself, on slideshare.net, for a little inspiration at your desk today? Keep a look out for these speakers at upcoming events and book your seats early to be in with the chance to learn something new, surrounded by like minded people in a digitally minded environment.
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