During Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, I was involved in a digital marketing event called Digital East. Held annually in the fall, Digital East brings together some of the brightest minds in modern marketing. There is tons of outstanding advice to pick up in workshops, fellow marketers to meet, and entertaining keynote speakers from organizations such as Twitter, Facebook and The White House to hear.
This year, I put in some volunteer time so I helped with set-up on Monday. I did a lot of folding — T-shirts of various sizes, event brochures and ID cards. There was some printing — I typed up and printed signs for the sponsors’ display tables – as well as some stuffing of ID cards into their holders. Each attendee, sponsor and speaker got an ID badge in the form of a card inside a clear plastic holder; a lanyard with a clip attached to the holder allowed it to be worn around the neck.
For the first half of Tuesday, I helped check in people and explained where everything was. After that, I was free to go to the workshops myself during Tuesday afternoon and all of Wednesday. I saw workshops on content marketing, Google Analytics, mobile marketing, e-mails, SEO, brand storytelling, viral quizzes, social media and multi-channel marketing campaigns. There were three separate conference rooms so I bounced around from one room to another.
I have at least 10 pages of notes, plus I did some live tweeting from my mobile device on Wednesday. I renewed friendships with people I met during last year’s conference; we caught up on each other’s news.
All tweets from the conference were displayed on a constantly updated screen. We tweeted so much, we were trending in the DC area for four hours. (Hey — would you expect anything less from a bunch of modern marketers???) If you’re on Twitter, catch up on the knowledge by checking out the hashtag #DEast14.
The viral quiz workshop was taught by Owen Fuller, of a company called Qzzr. Owen was funny and had brought his wife and baby son to the conference on Day 2. I could hear the baby cooing from the back of the room.
Most of the conference dealt with telling a compelling story through words and visual content, reaching people on a human-to-human level and making predictions about the future of marketing by e-mail, mobile devices and computers. My brain still whirls from all the knowledge that I received from my fellow marketers and the speakers.
The most valuable advice came from Flip Croft Caderao of The Infinite Agency. He taught my workshop on brand storytelling and his advice still resonates with me several days later: “Tell the stories that make people care.” That is why Matt Harding and WestJet have viral videos and Caine’s Arcade became such a success; those videos warmed the heart and made people care.
I got to chat with Flip later during the final networking session. He’s another funny guy with a great sense of humor. Flip was visiting from Boston and headed to some DC tourist sites, so I and another attendee gave him some advice about good places to see.
I also discovered some Handy Conference Survival Tips:
1) In a conference where every other person carries a phone, laptop or tablet computer that needs a socket for recharging, find a spot out of the way for recharging one’s own mobile device. (In my case, it was a balcony over one of the conference rooms. There was no competition for the socket, plus I had a nearby chair which served as a makeshift desk to hold my mobile device during the recharging process.)
2) Wear a sweater. Conferences with air conditioning get chilly.
3) When one’s device needs a bit of new software, wait until the end of the workshop to download. (I downloaded a new browser but it was taking FOREVER because others were accessing the network at the same time. As the workshop ended, people shut down their devices and moved out of the conference room to go to their next workshop. My download speed drastically increased from 24 minutes to a few seconds. Whew! I made it in time for the next workshop.)
The best moment of all came on Wednesday morning. I’ve been writing business blog posts for a client, but I’d never met him face to face (we’ve talked by phone and sent e-mails). I knew he was coming since I saw his name on one of the ID badges. One of my fellow volunteers came over to let me know he was checking in and so we finally met in person. YEAH!
Photos from the conference: