4 Biggest Takeaways From 2017 High Five Conference
The first time I attended a conference on marketing, I was dead set on learning so many new things to apply to my work at Angel Oak. I took pages of notes, recorded countless website resources shared by the speakers and committed to integrating everything I learned as soon as I got back to the office.
I ended up applying none of it. I was simply overwhelmed by the amount of information I collected and couldn’t make the time to comb through it all.
So moving forward, I figured there must be an art to conferencing. Rather than try to inundate myself with information and facts, I would be better served by collecting a handful of nuggets.
This strategy has worked wonders! And after processing an incredible 2017 High Five Conference, here are my four biggest takeaways. Nonprofits and for-profit companies alike can benefit from these brilliant insights.
1. Sometimes the opposite of a good thing is another good thing.
I know! I asked the same thing. But speaker David Rendall encouraged attendees to consider some of the best personal and corporate brands. Many excel because they’re the opposite of a good thing.
For example, late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel was told by a high school teacher he’d never amount to anything if he didn’t stop screwing around. Apparently, being well behaved is a good thing.
But sometimes the opposite of a good thing is another good thing. Screwing around has earned Kimmel his own show and an opportunity to host both a White House Correspondents’ Dinner and the Oscars.
A lot of internet companies are successful because they are able to store a ton of information. Facebook has captured 10+ years of its users’ lives. Google lets you find ALL THE THINGS!
Then there’s Snapchat.
When it was first pitched, there was a common critique — “We don’t like that the pictures disappear.”
Sometimes the opposite of a good thing is another good thing.
Application: What’s your perceived weakness, that thing others say is wrong with you? For Angel Oak, a couple perceived weaknesses are that we’re too young and we could make more money if we didn’t work exclusively with nonprofits.
But what others see as weakness, we see as a competitive advantage. We capitalize on what makes us weird. We don’t lack experience; we bring energy and a knowledge of engaging the ever-elusive Millennial to every project. We’re not missing out on business from higher paying clients; we’ve intentionally carved out a niche of which we’re the experts.
Take time to identify your perceived weaknesses, and consider how they might really be strengths.
2. Content creation isn’t about what your organization can create on its own.
We all know good content is important. Content marketing isn’t the future of marketing. It’s the now of marketing.
The top information on content marketing is focused on helping you generate the best content disseminated through the best medium at the right times. But making content marketing about you is missing the point.
Jedidiah Gant of Myriad Media shared how they approach social media and engagement. Whether it’s going out into the community to capture videos and images of folks rocking custom “I voted” stickers or staging an air horn symphony in protest of the Governor, Myriad Media doesn’t simply create content for its clients. They create experiences.
And these experiences drive the content.
Application: What are some opportunities for you to disrupt your audience’s newsfeed and inboxes with something they feel part of? Are there upcoming events going on in your city? Any hot-button social issues that align with your organization’s mission?
One local nonprofit, The Green Chair Project (Green Chair), will be staging a fun, experiential promotion next month. The organization has worked with the city to officially recognize the First Friday in April as Green Chair’s First Friday.
Green chairs will be placed all around downtown – on the sidewalk, outside your favorite First Friday destination, etc. Green Chair will experience great brand exposure simply by having the green chairs out and about.
But it will also take the promotion to the next level by offering different ways with which to engage with the chairs. Those opportunities will be announced later, but this unique experience is sure to create online buzz around the organization and produce user-generated content it can continue to leverage.
3. Don’t play by rules that don’t exist.
There was one workshop at High Five that consisted of an afternoon of interactive improv exercises.
One of the improv games the speaker led the group through stuck with me. He gave us one rule.
- Only one person can walk at a time.
The group started the game in silence, each individual’s head was on a swivel, trying to keep an eye on who was walking. Then one member of the group started pointing out who was walking to help avoid two people walking at the same time.
The group continued to add new elements to the game until we had created a system. The walker would walk with her hand up and high five another person to pass off the permission to walk.
At the start, we had internalized two rules that were never stated and made the game very difficult.
- We all assumed we couldn’t talk.
- We all assumed we couldn’t work together.
Application: How often do you play by a set of rules that you’ve internalized? Maybe you’ve got it in your head that you’re not supposed to interact with people of a certain status within your company.
Maybe as a nonprofit, you’ve assumed grants and donations are the only way to generate revenue. Or you’ve concluded that some arbitrary number is the maximum amount of times you can reach out to a donor.
Try to identify those rules you follow that actually don’t exist.
Then, break free!
4. Emails yield the best results from your online audiences…yes, even in 2017.
Don’t take my word for it! The founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pullizi, has data to prove it. And if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.
No other platform lets 100% of the people who follow or subscribe to you receive notifications each time you push something out.
Social media sites want organizations to utilize their ad features, so only small portions of their followers actually see their posts.
This isn’t to say there’s no value to social media. It just shouldn’t be your content marketing bread and butter, particularly if you’re not investing in boosts or advertisements.
Application: Invest time in growing your email subscriptions and in sending out regular email communications with content your audience wants.
For more advice on emerging trends and best practices for your nonprofit, keep up with our Nonprofit Nuggets.
– Seth Crawford, Digital Marketing Strategist