Guest speakers included John Keehler, Cory Levy, Mike Yavonditte, and Bill Boebel. It was an exciting event because Gary brings so much passion and energy as well as a unique perspective on what it means to achieve success in marketing.
The theater was filled with entrepreneurs and digital marketing professionals, all hoping to catch a whiff of the magic that has made Gary the online success that he is.
According to Gary, while Content is King and Marketing is Queen, Context is what will deliver the goods in the future. Gary started the evening by sharing some context of his own, telling how he got started in business as a child and what lessons he learned that still affect him today.
“When I was six, I had seven lemonade stands. I put all my friends to work. Do you guys remember Big Wheels? I used to ride my Big Wheels and pick up my cash at the end of the day like I was Tony Soprano or something. Where’s my money?
“It’s amazing what you learn at such a young age. Two major things… I fundamentally believe that every person in this room is in the eyeballs and ears business. And the reason that we’re so obsessed with mobile is because you guys are looking at it right now. That is unbelievable. We’re in the eyeballs and ears business. No matter what your business, that is what you should be focused on. No matter if we’re B2B or B2C, i really don’t care. We want to story tell. If we’re good, we convert.
“…I literally would sit down on the corner of the street… I would just sit there for hours, trying to figure out as cars were driving by, what signs and what trees to put the lemonade signs on to figure out where their eyes were going and how to convert them.”
Adapting to the Times
This story illustrates the need to adapt strategies to what is, currently, rather than what was. Whereas all the marketing dollars have been spent on television, radio, and print advertising pre-1994, a shift was made toward banner ads. And now, another shift is happening. Gary says that today’s teens and pre-teens have grown up aware of the typical placement of ads on a website. Studies show that teens completely ignore the right hand side of any website and cannot recall any details of that right hand side due to the expectation that it contains advertising.
Gary is convinced that the next major move in business is headed towards 1-0n-1 relationship marketing. That’s where broadcasting a message, even on social networking channels, is no longer effective. People learn to tune out the spiel and instead choose to bond with brands who reach out and speak and show gratitude to them individually. To make them feel special and important. That’s something that can’t be faked by mass marketing tactics.
Say Goodbye to Soap Operas
Perhaps the most compelling story of the night was about Guiding Light, the soap opera that began on NBC Radio in 1937. In 1952, Guiding Light made the impressive transition from radio to television. Gary noted how remarkable it was that the writers and producers realized that the eyeballs and ears, and therefore ad dollars, were transitioning to television, so they made the questionable leap.
Again, in the mid to late 2000s, the eyeballs and ears were shifting once again. Only this time, shows like Guiding Light couldn’t (or at least didn’t) make the transition. Studies showed that during premium soap opera hours, the female demographic most likely to watch had moved from soap operas to social gaming on Facebook. Games like Farmville had stolen the audience away, which resulted in stealing the ad dollars as well. Advertisers began looking at ways to implement their brands and products into online social games rather than television, and Guiding Light was forced to end its 72 year run in September 2009.
Gary used this story to illustrate the importance of, once again, knowing where the eyeballs and ears are. Regardless of what’s comfortable, success comes in the form of being early to the party and getting to know EVERYONE.
Most companies argue that its not scalable to contact and build relationships with every customer or potential customer when the target demographic reaches the hundreds of thousands, millions, and beyond. Gary offered an excellent practical answer to this problem: take the millions you would have spent on a Super Bowl commercial, hire 80 new employees, and place them online, engaging with every single customer and potential customer through channels like Twitter Search, Facebook Groups, forums, and Quora.
The Thank You Economy
Everyone in the building received a free copy of Gary’s latest book, The Thank You Economy, which furthers his belief that the true winners in the next five years will be brands and companies who “can prove they care about their customers more than anyone else. The businesses and brands that harness the word-of-mouth power from social media, those that can shift their culture to be more customer-aware and fan-friendly, will pull away from the pack and profit in today’s markets.”
After the session, Gary signed books for all who waited and then joined the crowd to watch the Mavericks game at Sfuzzi, a local pizza restaurant and bar in Uptown Dallas.