Eight years ago, in the spring of 2000, a company I co-founded called ClickZ held a two-day conference on email marketing at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, MA. This guy from Yahoo, Seth Godin, had just written a book called Permission Marketing, and email as a marketing strategy was shiny-new and ripe with exciting possibility.
(This was, of course, a bit before spam dulled some of that shine: the closest we came to discussing spam was a panel “face-off” on opt-in vs. opt-out. The subtitle there (“You decide!”) seems quaint now.)
People were so hungry for information that we sold out the event… plus a few: It was standing-room only at the general session.
Memories of the ClickZ email event crept up on me last week at the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer, because once again I felt a similar crackle of energy in the room. The Wall Street Journal says that the online toolTwitter is starting to gain mainstream acceptance, but companies are curious about other social media tools, too, if the 300 attendees at the Mixer are any indication.
Like email in 2000, the social media sessions were often standing-room only. And there was that same sense of excitement and possibility that something big — if a little amorphous — was at hand with social media and marketing. Maybe everyone there didn’t know precisely how to leverage it, but everyone there knew social media was in the house, and wasn’t leaving any time soon.
There’s a difference, though, between 2000 and 2008. Marketers are sophisticated enough these days to know that any one digital tool isn’t going to cut it. Instead, they recognize that companies need a… well, mix of several to achieve their online objectives. In my view, the Big Three are Search, Email and Social Media, which is why one of my favorite sessions at the Mixer, led by Blue Sky Factory’s Chief Smarty Pants Greg Cangialosi, was titled Email and Social Media: True Love Always. In other words, the best way to use any of these digital tools is in tandem with others.
The content mix is one thing. But another cool thing last week was the mix of people. As Jordan Ayan wrote on his blog, “I am sure that many of the participants formed relationships that are going to fuel new business ventures, create great new concepts and build new marketing ideas. Many of the connections I made are people I plan to stay connected with and hope to get to know better in the years to come. I think we will all be on this new marketing road together, and boy does it look cool.”
Was the Digital Marketing Mixer perfect? Heck, no. I wish we had recorded more sessions than we did, and I also heard that outlets were sorely lacking in a few of the session rooms. But.. next time. We’re learning, along with the rest of you. And perhaps by our next event (which is June 8 and 9 in Boston), we’ll get those few details right.
In the meantime, a sincere thank you all who were part of the event itself in Arizona, as well as those who were listening on the Twitter “back channel.” Here’s what others had to say about their own Digital Marketing Mixer experience:
Ron Ploof, Ronamuk
“MPDM 2008 had an energy that I haven’t seen in a couple of years. Where else could you find a crowd that included attendees from large companies such as Ford Motor Company and Intel, small companies such as a construction materials manufacturer and an upscale dating service, and keynotes from Arianna Huffington and Gary Vaynerchuk? What do all of these companies and personalities have in common? They all understand two things: 1) New Media technologies have changed the way we must communicate with our customers and 2) collectively we must figure out exactly how to do so. This combination of new technology with curious people fueled the energy of the MPDM conference.”
Connie Reece, EveryDotConnects
“People often ask me what are the must-attend social media conferences. MarketingProfs will now be on my list. The Digital Marketing Mixer offered a solid social media track with some of the best speakers in the industry. Congratulations to the organizers for a well-produced event.”
Becky Carroll, Brickfish
“It was great to watch the excitement over the social media track in particular. Always a crowded room, people trying to figure out how to get started. In fact, I think that was the most commonly asked question throughout: What should I do first? What steps do I take to do…?
“It was fun to meet my peers from other companies/consultancies who are also immersed in social media. It was just as much fun to meet marketing professionals who are just getting a taste of it and are ready for more. Gary V energized me on this when he pointed out that we are already ahead of everyone else, and even if things temporarily slow down with social media budgets due to the economy, it will just give us more time to get it right!”
Mike Volpe, HubSpot
“The Digital Mixer was a fantastic event. What I enjoyed most was the number of great people I was able to talk to, both old favorites I see at lots of events, and lots of new faces as well. It really was a gathering of the top marketers passionate about all forms of inbound marketing – from SEO to blogging to social media to viral videos and more. I’ll be back next year!”
Stephanie Miller, ReturnPath
“The energy was not just around social media (the new kid on the block and oh so cool), it was in the email sessions as well …. where our ‘tried and true’ revenue generating channel is under attack …. not just from spam, but from subscriber fatigue. So many great ideas came not just from panelists, but from attendees. Marketers were solving other marketers’ challenges and sharing data. People connected. Every single session was like a group-think = and the knowledge shared by all made it much stronger for everyone.”
Scott Monty, Ford Motor Company
“As someone who’s been writing about social media for well over two years, at times I need to step back and remind myself that there are individuals and organizations that are just discovering it. When the crowd erupted for Gary Vaynerchuk after his keynote, it made me realize that more people are beginning to embrace it. Further evidence of this was that the social media track seemed to be one of the most popular of the conference, with many sessions that were standing room only.”
David Alston, Radian6
“The Digital Marketing Mixer indeed was a mixer …. bringing together speakers and attendees that are already see social media as part of their business strategies with those hoping to do the same. The momentum has swung towards digital marketing now proven by the large number in attendence at the mixer in a time which you would expect numbers at most conferences to be shrinking due to cutbacks.
“There was enthusiastic and interactive crowd in many standing room only sessions especially on social media topics. And the venue was great, the staff extra friendly, the speakers approachable and the networking sessions plentiful. A fantastic event all around and something I will attend again in the future. I highly recommend it for any marketing professional looking to be part of the rebirth of marketing where its about building and growing relationships as opposed to trying to control and deliver one-way messages.”
Donna Tocci, Ingersoll Rand
“This was my first Marketing Profs conference so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was completely blown away by all of the intelligent, innovative and fun people I met during the conference! Everyone was so willing to share knowledge and information with the people they met. What a great educational environment. Congrats on a fabulous event. Sign me up for the next one!”
Greg Cangiolosi, Blue Sky Factory
“MPDM was the ultimate melting pot of email, search and social marketers. It was the intersection of some of the brightest minds in the online marketing industry. The event was packed with content and programming that addressed some of the key topics and issues that marketers are thinking about today. Kudos to you and the rest of the Marketing Profs team for putting on a great event! I look forward to June 09 in Boston!”
Michele Miller, author, The Soccer Mom Myth
“It was a fantastic conference, and I loved meeting many of the people I’ve been emailing/tweeting/blogging with for a few years now – especially you! I learned more from at the Digital Marketing Mixer than I ever anticipated! Even though I’ve been a blogger for nearly five years and think of myself as being ‘with it’ in terms of technology, the sessions at the conference gave me a boatload of new ideas to try, and really got me thinking about the future of my business platform in a whole new way. Bravo MarketingProfs!”
Karen Talavera, President, Synchronicity Marketing
“Finally – an online marketing conference that went beyond traditional marketing-think. The Digital Marketing Mixer not only elevated my awareness of the emerging tools in the online toolbox, but better yet inspired me to think in new ways about fusing them together to create a whole exponentially more powerful than the sum of its parts. The momentum in the convergence of online marketing push, pull and social networking techniques is already transforming marketing from heirarchical, inside-out to collective, fluid and outside-in. The ship has sailed, and if you’re determined to keep marketing the old way, you’re not on it. Thanks Marketing Profs for being at the forefront of helping us chart a new course.”
Beth Harte, Harte Marketing & Communications
“As a new business owner, hesitant about those first initial steps, the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer gave me the empowerment I was looking for and needed. It wasn’t just the wonderful and educational Social Media sessions, but the access to the speakers that was provided. Their advice, thoughtfulness and passion was inspirational. And if nothing else, the Gary Vaynerchuck keynote was stellar and worth the price of admission! Thank you MarketingProfs for putting on a great conference. I am already looking forward to the next one.”
Kati Ryan, the vimarc group
“The MarketingProfs Digital Mixer took my social, search and email knowledge to the next level. Learning more about Twitter, I was able to virtually be in more than one session at a time. Overall, the conference re-energized me on current efforts being made by my company, as well as pumped me up to embrace new opportunities. I made quality connections and friends at the conference and would re-attend in a heartbeat.”
“An excellent mix of programs for sophisticated & novice digital marketers alike.”
Jason Baer, Convince & Convert
“It wasn’t your usual conference, that’s for certain. The three tracks brought together an intriguing mix of marketers and created a lot of discussion about intersections and confluence.
“It was one of those rare events where the audience was as sharp as the speakers, creating killer QA and hallway debates.
“As I live tweeted at one point, ’someday, years from now, we will look back on this conference as a historical industry moment.’
“I feel fortunate to have been a part of the Marketing Profs Digital Mixer, and I haven’t felt that way about a conference for a long, long time.”
CC Chapman, The Advance Guard
“I thought overall the event exceeded my expectations. I went in not knowing what to expect but the diversity of senior level people who are going to be making decisions about these sorts of things were great. The audience knew just enough to be dangerous, but were very open with questions and concerns in every session I was at.”
Mack Collier, The Viral Garden
“I thoroughly enjoyed the Digital Marketing Mixer because I got to meet and talk with everyone from companies that were curious about getting started with social media, to experts that are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in this space. And I learned a ton from talking to both groups. I’m excited for the attendees, and I heard ‘this was EXACTLY what I needed!’ several times when talking to attendees about their conference experience.”
Stephan Spencer, Netconcepts
“The Search track was a blast. I really enjoyed chairing it. The advice throughout the two days was practical and actionable. I was thrilled to have been able to pull together a “dream team” of search experts as speakers. The networking opportunities, the venue, the audience engagement — it was all fantastic. I can’t wait to go again!”
“The Mixer was simply fantastic and this is how I know why: I didn’t leave Scottsdale with a stack of business cards, I left with a handful of friends. From the speakers to attendees, everyone I spoke with was anxious to learn and educate while wanting to build relationships in the process.”
More about the Mixer:
Video Gary Vaynerchuk’s Day 2 Keynote (via Hubspot):
Amy Africa shocks and awes them in Phoenix by Katie Paine
A fantastic time at Digital Marketing Mixer 2008 by Christopher Penn
Gary Vaynerchuk on the Importance of Engaging and Caring About Your Community by Ellie Mirman
Are you building your Social Brand? by Marc Whitchurch
Can you tell your story like Gary Vaynerchuk? by Arthur Germain
MarketingProfs Digital Mixer — A perfect mix by Jordan Ayan
People and Passion – Part 1 by Sonny Gill
People and Passion – Part 2 by Sonny Gill
What a Trip: The MarketingProfs Digital Mixer by Kati Ryan
MPDM recap: Crushin’ it in Scottsdale! by Mack Collier
Making Media as Marketing by CC Chapman
Photos by David Alston