What We Learned at the Seattle Interactive Conference

Tatyana Sussex | November 4, 2013

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Examine transparency. That was the theme for this year’s Seattle Interactive Conference, which for three glorious days featured talks by industry leaders who laid down their thoughts on how to create, advertise, market, tell stories, play, engage, make music, run businesses and get customers to fall in love with you in today’s lively digital mediums. Presenters came from companies ranging from Starbucks, Moz and Time.com to IDEO, Tumblr and Google.

our team at the seattle interactive conference

Four of us spent half a week at the Seattle Convention Center, took copious notes, and compiled a list of our top takeaways for you to have as your own. Here they are:

  • Consumers want a product that provides value. If they know why they buy something, then they’ll become a brand advocate. Therefore, make sure you message that value loudly, clearly and across all your content outlets.
  • Be authentic. Consumers want to give their business to a company/brand they can trust, and who walks their talk. Know what you stand for and share those values with your customers.
  • Nobody has it all figured out – we’re all constantly learning and improving. Therefore, don’t get complacent with how you represent your brand or engage your customers. Don’t think you ever have it all figured out.
  • Be honest and authentic – your customers will thank you.
  • Know your customer. Create personas for your customers and make every piece of marketing you do target one of those personas. Ask yourself the question each time: Who is this blog talking to? Who is this ad copy talking to? If it isn’t speaking to one of your personas, you shouldn’t be doing it. Give these personas characteristics and faces.
  • Companies need content partnerships. Companies need to partner with other software services to cross promote.
  • You need to give to your customers, not just talk about yourselves. Start by talking about the benefits rather than the features.
  • Tell someone your story over a drink – a beer, a coffee – and talk until your drink is finished. While you talk, pay attention to how the person responds to parts of your story—where they lean in, look particularly interested, maybe ask a question. This is the real-world way of finding moments of clarity and distinction – and give you two main points you can when you talk about the work you do and what your company does.
  • Storytelling is the key to engagement. Figure out your brand’s story and make sure to tell the story cohesively and seamlessly across all channels – social posts, ads, site copy, etc. This will make you reputable and trustworthy.
  • Know who you’re talking to and why. And consider these groups your main audiences: customers, channel partners, employees, special interest groups, competitors, industry luminaries and the media.
  • To succeed you have to fail often. Do a lot of mini-experiments, fail, succeed and learn from the failures but don’t overvalue the successes because there are no formulas.
  • Amplify existing behaviors instead of re-inventing the wheel with new ideas. If there’s something your customers already love about your product, blow that up, speak to it, use it.
  • Tell a story so engaging and contextually relevant that your customers and audiences will want to share it.
  • Attention is the new economy – people want to be surprised and delighted.
  • If you can apply fun to things people don’t find fun, you’ll change people’s behavior (enter “gamification”).
  • Test EVERYTHING. Nobody has everything completely figured out so test messaging, ads, creative, etc. will help you figure out new ways to communicate to your target audience. Side note: You don’t need a huge budget to do good testing.
  • Listening tools are great for monitoring conversations about your brand outside of native analytics. You learn more about the overall community – their needs, their wants and how to address them.

 seattle interactive conference after party

And then there were the after-parties, networking, break dancing. See you next year?
Here’s more info about Seattle Interactive.