Category Archives: speaking

san francisco #140conf

Marketing author Chris Houchens will sit on a panel at the San Francisco #140conf about using social media to promote a business bookI will be on the book author’s panel (with Pamela Slim) at the #140conf in San Francisco on Aug 19th. This San Francisco version of the #140conf looks to be interesting as it’s a part of Connected Marketing Week.

During the panel, I will be discussing how I am using Twitter (and other forms of the real time web) to promote my book, Brand Zeitgeist.

What? You haven’t read Brand Zeitgeist yet?
http://www.amazon.com/Brand-Zeitgeist-Relationships-Collective-Consciousness/dp/1450206794

(btw – you can use this link  to get a 5% discount on a pass to the #140conf)

baton rouge branding

Thanks again to the great people at the Baton Rouge Ad Fed for having me in as their March speaker. As promised, here are the the slides from my presentation.

maybe you should cancel your meeting

Here’s something that sounds weird coming from me: Most conferences and meetings are a complete waste of time/money/resources for both organizers and attendees.

I do several events a year as a marketing speaker. Since, no matter what business you’re in, everyone needs information on marketing — I get to go to meetings for a diverse range of groups and industries and be a third party fly on the wall. As I have worked at these meetings and conferences over the past several years, I have noticed a few things:

  1. Most attendees are not there for knowledge. They’re there to play golf, go to the casino, work on a tan, wine/dine, etc.
  2. If God did a session where He dispensed Perfect Knowledge, there would be at least two guys after the session talking about why His ideas won’t work in their business.
  3. During that break after God’s session? The conference organizers paid the hotel $15/person for coffee. Seems like this is where to cut the budget, not in the programming.
  4. Panel discussions and cock fighting are similar activities. Put several huge egos on a stage and see who can win with a moderator who doesn’t understand what the panelists are talking about.
  5. The amount that people corporate expense accounts pay for alcohol/food/etc increases exponentially during a conference.
  6. Instead of paying for good speakers who know the content and can be entertaining while they present it, let’s just have some executives get up and read in a monotone voice the slides that someone else prepared for them.
  7. There are hundreds of people who have mutual interests together at the meeting. Very few of them make connections with each other except for maybe a greasy business card exchange.
  8. 99.99% of presenters have no idea how/when to use a PowerPoint deck.
  9. Interesting presenters/speakers with new actionable ideas are given 10 minutes to speak. Presenters/speakers reading old information verbatim off their slides are usually given 2 hours.

There are lots more — but the biggest problem that I see over and over is this:
The entire concept behind the meeting is to get a bunch of people who think the same together and have them listen to people who also think that same way.

Mark is getting calls to come to meetings during a tough time for people in his industry and wonders why some of these gatherings aren’t just cancelled. And I agree with him. If your conference / corporate meeting will consist of the “same tired old subjects from the same tired old white guys”, then yes, you should cancel the meeting. And remember that some of those same “old subjects” include new things. If your meeting is just giving lip service to viral-marketing-facebook-web2.0-social-networking new media buzzwords, then re-write your agenda. This is not just current recession/depression/end-of-times thinking. I would say it’s an even bigger problem in boom times as more meetings attended means more missed opportunities.

Having said all this, I have been to many great meetings and conferences that were beneficial for the attendees — while they were at the conference. Even if you have a great experience at the meeting, the real danger time is the day you return to the office after the conference. The kitsch and tchotchkes that were picked up in the exhibit hall get a place on the desk, but what happens to the knowledge? Most often, it’s lost. People and companies that can implement ideas picked up at a conference or meeting are the ones that you see succeed.

I hope you don’t cancel your meeting. While everyone else is sitting on their hands waiting for the storm to pass over, I hope you use this time to put together a meeting that will cause inspiration and action — both at the meeting and when everyone gets home.

(that’s the end of the blog post — here’s the commercial)
If you’re looking for someone to present new ideas and shake up your organization’s thinking at a conference/meeting, you can find more info on how to bring me to speak to your group here.

speaking south

A few notes on upcoming speaking events:

  • (near) Birmingham, AL — On Fri Nov 14, I’ll be talking healthcare B2B marketing at the annual national meeting of the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association.
    (more info and registration)
  • Baton Rouge, LA — I will be doing my presentation, “Selling the Image: Developing a Winning Brand Strategy,” for the Advertising Federation of Baton Rouge on Fri Mar 6
    (more info)

As always, if you need a marketing speaker to deliver an entertaining and engaging presentation on branding, media, healthcare marketing, sales, or any of the other marketing topics I cover, then please contact me.

muscle shoals has got the swampers

Back in my radio career, in addition to managing operations for the stations in the group, I also held down several airshifts as a “radio personality”.

DJs get sick of songs way before you do. On the CHR formatted station, I played the same 9 current pop hits every 2 hours and 15 minutes until my ears bled. And while the burnout on songs on the classic rock, oldies, etc stations wasn’t as immediate, I got tired of them over the long term.

I played the same stuff so much that years later I can still remember that Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd was on GoldDisc 536 – cut 5. Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon was toward the bottom of the rack on the left on the “digital heart of rock” collection. I don’t remember the CD, but it was cut 17.

Needless to say, you can see I have played these songs numerous times. (and listened to them in other settings even more.) But until Kid Rock came out with All Summer Long this year, I had never noticed that Werewolves and Alabama had the same chord progression and sound the same in several spots.

I deal with a lot of people daily who have been doing the same thing for years. I speak to groups who are entrenched in the way things have always been. I consult with a lot of “experts” who know everything about something because they deal with it everyday.

When I get an inquiry for either a speaking engagement or a consulting gig, one of the first questions from the meeting planner or client usually is: Do you have any experience with our industry? Often, I answer that I don’t have experience with their industry, but I do know marketing and I can bring a fresh perspective. Sometimes that excites the person and sometimes the person is scared of going forward. Some of my best feedback has been from groups that I had never heard of before I spoke to them. I brought up things that they had never thought of.

Sometimes when you deal with the same thing everyday, you don’t notice the nuances and the opportunities. Things that should stand out clearly become wallpaper that blends in. I encourage you to start at square one with your marketing, your business, or anything. See if there’s a new way you can look at it. Or better yet, ask someone who has no clue about what you do if there’s something they can notice that you’ve missed for years.

wanna see me?

A brief blogging pit stop to announce some public events I’ll be speaking at in the next few months.

April 11 (Chicago) — Inland Press Interactive Media Seminars
A big day for newspapers with lots of discussion on multimedia in journalism and what newspapers need to be doing on the web. I will be doing a session at 1030am about newspaper blogs.
(More info) (Register)

May 7 (Chicago) — Inland Press Small Newspaper Workshops
Smaller circulation newspapers need to be online too. I’ll be doing a session at 1:15 that will focus on using video, audio, rich media, and social networking to grow a newspaper site.
(Info) (Register)

May 30 (Las Vegas) — World Tea Expo
I think one of the nicest compliments I get is being asked back to an event. And this one is a great one to go back to. If you missed my marketing spiel at the World Tea Expo in Atlanta last year, please try to make it to my session in Las Vegas this year. I will be talking about Winning Brand Strategies. While I will focus on the beverage industry, any industry can apply the branding principles I will be talking about.
(Get info) (Register)

June 7 (Atlanta) — American Advertising Federation National Conference
I’m actually doing a private daylong session for the Executive Directors prior to the conference, but I will be floating around the AAF meeting. I’d love to meet you if you’re there.
(Details)

I will be off the speaking market from mid-July to mid-August, but I have a few tentatitve bookings for this fall and next year. I will post the open public ones when they are confirmed.

As always, if you would like to bring me in for a conference or a private corporate event, I’d love to work with you. Click here for possible topics, video demo, testimonials, and more.

new video digs

We just put the finishing touches on my new speaking demo tape. Thanks to Doug Marrs and the team at Studio Now for the great job. You can watch the video below.

If you need a speaker for a conference or a private business event, I would be happy to provide you a quote. For testimonials, the topics I present, and other info, you can visit my marketing speaker page.

http://www.studionow.com/e/574f1ca5960e1/
You can also find the video on YouTube.

Reflections on Barcamp Nashville

After taking some time to absorb the experience and decompress, here are a few scattered thoughts on Barcamp Nashville.

There’s been a healthy discussion going on (like here and here) about how it wasn’t a “real barcamp”. While I tend to agree that it wasn’t necessarily an “unconference”, it was a pretty good conference. I benefited from most speakers and most of the conversations. There were times I wished the speaker had been given more than 20 minutes. (There were also times I wished they had been given only 10)

The entire day had the trappings of a Nashville entertainment event right down to the venue. Each city’s barcamp needs to have its own flavor. And there was an unmistakable Nash-Vegas flavor at this one.

As several have said, it was a good first step for Nashville. Sure, it wasn’t the freeform open source event that some had expected. But are most people ready for that? While you can argue the point of the wisdom of crowds philosophy that all of us are smarter than one of us — you have to remember the mob mentality of all of us are dumber than one of us. People are comfortable with the “powerpont-a-rama” delivery from a high stage and a spotlight. Since I make a decent buck by doing just that, I (and many others) liked the day.

I was a bit leery about being the first speaker since I was used to the normal one-to-many delivery and I wasn’t sure if the crowd was expecting the freeform style or not. But I’m glad the organizers had me kick it off. There was a good crowd and everyone was receptive. There’s been some good talk in the b-sphere about my presentation. I appreciate all the comments.

I do wish that I had been able to roam a bit more while speaking. Normally when I speak, I like to walk around and get down with the audience. The stage setup with the screen, corded mic, and R2 made it impossible to do so. I felt a bit tied to the podium. It’s one of the few times I’ve delivered an entire talk standing behind a lectern.

Another suggestion for the future — since everyone was twittering, that would have been the best way for people to ask questions/discuss at the end of each presentation instead of the awkward floating mic setup. The presenters could just glance at the questions at the end and answer them.

And two quick final observations —
–Even though there were lots of people there who are on the cutting edge much more than I am, I think I introduced many people to a new web app (Slideshare)!

–Reading through other’s posts on barcamp, I notice this alot — “I really enjoyed meeting Blogger X andBlogger Y for real and in-person instead of just having an online relationship.” It just goes to show that for all the progress and connectivity of “web 2.0” — people still want a personal connection.

Tedchnorati: BarcampNashville

Barcamp Nashville

Barcamp Nashville has been interesting…..with neat speakers, great people, and a warm room (in more ways than one).

I had planned to liveblog while I was here, but I’ve had some wi-fi trouble. 60 has been posting and the twitter page offers a good snapshot.

Update: Gavin fucntioned as somwhat of the nashville barcamp scribe and said some nice things about me and Mitch Joel.

My photos (and everyone else’s) can now be found using the flickr barcampnashville tag.

I’ve had several people come up and tell me they enjoyed my presentation. For anyone who wants to see them, my slides are at: http://www.slideshare.net/shotgunconcepts

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