Kiwi Reflections

I’ve returned today back to (virtual) reality after an astounding MarketingNow Conference April 15/16 2009 in Wellington New Zealand (and a bit of a holiday with family at the Great Barrier Reef) Since it’s been several days since I’ve been online (yep, thankfully no internet access at the Great Barrier Reef) I’ve had a chance to reflect on some of the key points that have stayed with me since the event.

This wasn’t a social media conference about social media. It was about business success using new rules of marketing, no rules of marketing, superpowers, niche influencers, techniques for discoverability and by following dreams. Here are some of the details of my reflections:

1) Listen to the real, genuine and nice in your customers and befriend it. Right, sounds so basic, so simple that it can’t possibly be a takeaway, but how often do we openly listen to the voice of our customers, clients, critics, family, etc., and then promote it?

David Meerman Scott and Chris Brogan are two of the greats in the field and great mentors for me in real, genuine and nice. They exude it. Their presentations on the first day of the event were mostly about real, genuine and nice people who created magic by stimulating real, genuine and nice conversations. Surprising enough, innovation, humor, expertise, excitement, outrageous and good causes all hang out in the real, genuine and nice. No scripting, coercion, pushing, censuring or filtering of information, just real, genuine and nice.

2) Provide a platform for the conversation. Where do you encourage people to comment, participate, interact? Where do you tell your story or engage a debate? My session on the second day of the conference was about indulging the superpowers (ideas, stories, brand, reputation) and divulging the superheroes (communities). We had 4 adventures in a 90 minute workshop: 1) determine the keywords used to describe a superpower, 2) get involved in the conversation, 3) spread the superpower virally, 4) promote the superheroes.

You can get more info from the presentation slide deck.

To develop the conversation I used a technique inspired by Allen Gunn (Gunner) from Aspiration to provide a platform for debate. Basically I presented a statement which was controversial and had people agree or disagree with this statement by voting physically – they lined up in the front of the room if they strongly agreed or in the back of the room if they strongly disagreed.


This picture of the conversation is from Simon Young’s summary of the Marketing Now event at Note that Simon also live tweeted 2 full days of the event, wow! Definitely invite Simon to your next event as he has a fantastic ability to create the being there feeling through social media. During the event I used a technique to empower the conversation virally. The “virus” I used was actually a clear very dilute borax solution (a type of washing powder). Out of the 100 participants only about 4 people actually had a virus to propagate. The rest had just plain water. We exchanged a “virus” by engaging in conversations, connecting and then mixing our cups together. The virus then spread through this cup sharing process. At the end of the adventure, we used pH strips to see how far the virus propagated. Kirsten Smith and Nancy Jennings inspired me to create this technique which was adapted from a school exercise where children learn about contagious diseases. The platform really helped all the participants discuss, engage, debate, network and have a bit of fun, all while enhancing their unique superpower!

3) Identify and measure influencers. Some may argue that social network influencers are hard to measure or identify but Stephen Johnson has convinced me otherwise. Stephen is the true definition of creative genius and he’s got a lot of stuff figured out. Among tons of inspiring business cases, Stephen presented Orion, an innovative platform which allows insight into how social networks evolve and influence grows (as in almost real time!). It’s a platform that could be used in so many wonderful ways, including building involvement in causes (including eco causes) and managing crises. Stephen understands and articulates groundswell better than anyone else I’ve met and is soooooo interesting to talk to regarding just about anything to do with innovation in social media.

4) Become more visible and discoverable at home. Your home may be a website, blog, twitter page, profile, etc. Become visible wherever you choose to call home. Jim Stewart from StewArtMedia (not to be confused with James Stewart our dear Marketing Now videographer) is an expert in doing just that! In workshops he facilitates he shows attendees how to build and optimize a page and watch how it jumps in ranking. At the event he gave all kinds of tips and techniques for developing presence organically. Since I used to be the account director for Adobe search, I particularly appreciated his comments on Adobe and dominance of the “click here” phrase. Jim’s presentation was simple and insightful and I highly recommend checking out his site and his webcasts!!

5) Follow your own emerging dreams! OK, I saved the best for last. Siobhan Bulfin is my superhero in this area! The Marketing Now conference she created brought together some outstanding people and inspired Kiwi businesses in exciting new ways! Siobhan started with a few searches in Google and YouTube. She selected topics which were interesting and inspiring to her and found people, communities and ideas. She attended some workshops to get to know some of the experts in the field and boost her own expertise and then went out and developed a strong voice in the New Zealand business community. She has now taken her dream to the next level and has developed a New Zealand Social Media network on Ning! And it’s not going to stop there! Stay tuned for more events and exciting innovations from this wonder woman!

Yep, all in all a fantastically successful event and I look forward to the next one… reserve a place in your agenda for Auckland in October…

  1. April 28, 2009 at 14:35

    Hi Sharon
    This sounds like it was a really interesting conference – I’m going off to explore some of your links. Thought you might be interested to know that Allen Gunn (Gunner) is going to be a keynote speaker and also presenting a workshop at the next Connecting Up 09 conference in Sydney 11-13 May – Jody Mahoney, Vice President Business Development at the Anita Borg Institute in the US is also going to be speaking at the conference and Peter Deitz from Social Actions in Canada – along with a whole list of other great speakers.

    • April 29, 2009 at 11:04

      Hi Deanne, WOW, it’s a small world, huh! Please do say hi to Gunner on my behalf, he is a superhero! I met him both through TechSoup and Craigslist non-profit bootcamp. Wish I could be there at the conference, sounds great! You may also want to check out two Ozzies Stephen Johnson and Jim Stewart. Stephen has done some particularly amazing work on networks of influence in the eco/NGO world. Look forward to staying connected!

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