Top Takeaways From the 2017 Midwest Marketing Conference

Hundreds of digital marketers immersed themselves in a two-day convention at historic Union Station in downtown St. Louis.

What started as a small gathering a mere five years ago has grown into a must-attend event, featuring speakers from the biggest names in the digital content and advertising space – names like Buzzfeed, Pinterest, Microsoft, Pandora, and more. Not more specifically. More is not a company. You know what we mean.

There were dozens of presentations. Many roundtables. Too many to write about in length.

Since one of our core values is the continuous education and enlightenment of our employees, we decided to attend.

Here’s what stood out to us the most:

Speak to Segments

Buzzfeed, the behemoth responsible for publishing 600 pieces of content every day, produces an insane amount of quantity and quality content.

But how?

One reason: instead of marketing to the masses, speak to the underserved slices of the world: left-handed people, the colorblind, the middle children. On and on.


While these people are statistically in the minority, they all share experiences few other people can speak intelligently about. So when information is produced about their sub-sector, it’s like they’re being spoken to – not at.

So, while an article about the Top 10 Challenges Every Left-Handed, Colorblind, Middle Child Faces may not apply to more than a sliver of people, those who fit those categories will undoubtedly read.

And when you can get mind meld with that level of specificity, truly unique content worthy of sharing is created.

Silent Advertising

With smartphones quickly becoming an attachment as crucial as the hand holding it, marketers need to walk a fine line between standing out and standing back.

That’s because the easiest way to ensure someone has a negative interaction with your brand is to make an ad or piece of content with [muted gasp]… sound.

Ergo, visuals need to do the all the talking. Or, at least as much as possible.

A prime example of this is Apple’s launch of the iphone 7 in 107 seconds. It has noise, true, but it’s immaterial compared to the piece as a whole. The sleek presentation conveys everything that needs to be said with kinetic typography and contrasting backgrounds. The sound is superfluous.

That being said…

If Your Spot Has to Have Sound, Put it Where it’s Meant to be Heard

More than 100 million people pay for streaming music services. Even more listen to Pandora, Spotify and the like while being subjected to ads.

And the latter group holds real promise for marketers.

With the immense amount of data every service has on its users, technology is now being used to create ads instantly.

Yes. Instantly.

Imagine a voiceover saying the listener’s name while throwing in the day of the week, or alluding to the time of day, or even reminding them to dress up or down (depending on the weather).

Pandora is rolling out this technology with their Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO) service.

It doesn’t get much more relevant or personalized that that.

Live in the Moment

Creating a killer content calendar takes hours. Bringing said content calendar to life, doubly so.

But sometimes, the most memorable content just… happens.

Ask Isaac Irvine of GoDaddy, who captured a heartfelt interview with his son on the topic of bullying. What started as a candid moment has turned into a video with hundreds of thousands of views, multiple press clippings, and an unexpected celebrity status.

The main takeaway here: Be open to daily events. Even something as common as bullying can still have the power to resonate if captured in an unassuming, organic way. 

We’ll All Be Jobless in a Few Years

If you ask James Whittaker of Microsoft, anyway.

How does he know? He’s the one writing the software programs to automate everything mere mortals do.

It’s an unsettling thought. But given the trajectory of technology and the patterns of productivity, it’s a literal (and virtual) reality.

The talk wasn’t recorded, and even if it was, we may not have posted it due to the amount of… colorful language used.

But, it was enthralling – start to finish – and the rest of his talks are definitely worthy of checking out.

In Closing

 There are hundreds of digital marketing conferences every year.

What Perry Drake of University of Missouri St. Louis is doing makes this one a must attend.

Were you there? What did you think?

Let us know – and let us know how we can help put some of these approaches to work for your company.

Image credit: Created by Creativeart –