and lessons on how to do a brand conference.
Something our ScreenCloud Co-Founder Mark said at a recent All Hands that stuck with me was “when what you’re hearing starts to heavily repeat, you’ll know you’re onto something”.
There are a few marketing ideas and trends that you can hear whispered in the wind if you listen carefully at the moment and attending Drift’s first London conference, HYPERGROWTH 19 (all caps essential), these were getting shouted. I’m not talking about “storytelling” cliches, or “content is king” mantras, I’m talking about actual insight that smart people, keep saying.
HYPERGROWTH is dubbed a “Modern Leadership Event” and it was unlike anything else I’d been to.
If you’re here because you’re looking for an event review, let me indulge you for a moment. My answer in short is yes. Spend the money. Get a ticket. Better yet, use Drift and they’ll give you one for free. If only to learn how to put on a brand conference because these guys, these guys know how to do it . Here’s a better breakdown:
- So many female speakers! I’ll assume this was a conscious decision, but it felt so, so good to be at an event and see 5/9 slots filled with seriously inspirational female speakers rather than the one token woman you usually get.
- One stage — the event’s MC, Drift’s VP of Marketing Will Collins, mentioned that this was on purpose. That most conferences leave you frazzled and torn between stages and speakers. One stage reduced decision paralysis and meant that everyone heard from the same small amount of high quality speakers. Very nice.
- Inspiration — we went along thinking it was a marketing event (it’s actually marketed as a “leadership” event) but it had the full package. Tons of inspiration, personal development and marketing in equal measure.
- No mention of Drift. I was watching the clock and I think we were oh, about four hours in? Before we heard one mention of the product that the brand organising the conference actually makes. It’s rare for a brand to not feel the pressure to shout a sales pitch at you, just because they have your attention. Kudos, Drift.
- No exhibition partners, i.e. other companies trying to sell to you from the sidelines. Refreshing.
- A 9am DJ and beatboxing set. I kid you not. I’m not sure this resonated as well with a British audience. I saw a lot of stiff backs while Markella and I bopped along to a UK garage round-up, but I can imagine this going down much better in the US.
- Rainy London weather, as if trying to prove to our US friends that yes, it really does always rain in London.
- Annoying event app. I was taught that you should only produce an app if it could do something that you couldn’t get from going to a website. In this case, they probably could have done without and just stuck the agenda up. The inbox messages from people trying to sell to me were not useful.
So what did we learn about marketing along the way? A heck of a lot. This event might have been aimed at leaders, but it really solidified some of the marketing ideas we’ve been tuning into at ScreenCloud recently. Such as:
1. Good brands are characters
Amanda Hill, CMO at Harrods and winner of our “Best dressed speaker” award for the day (DC’s lion jumper came in a close second), wove a story of how just like Disney, you can always critique the strategy, the method a person may use to get to the glass slipper, but never the dream that they can become a queen.
In the same vein, brand was presented as a character. A brand can have strengths and weaknesses. It can make mistakes. It can admit it was wrong. We’ve heard a lot in the past about how brands need personality in order to be personal but to think of a brand as a character and not a perfectly constructed character, felt new.
Hill also spoke a lot about having a “personal brand flame”, knowing what you stand for and what you’re good at. The advice below is useful whether you’re considering your brand’s brand, or your personal one.
“The difference between successful and very successful is putting a voice to what you do. As simple as writing it down.”
2. Love is the ultimate script
Something surprising was the idea of love. As our Customer Marketing guru Markella has been telling us for quite some time, customer relationships are like dating. The qualities you look for in a potential partner: someone to make you laugh, tell you stories and be transparent about their desires and plans, are also the qualities you might look for in a brand.
That customers who love brands and tell their friends about them are the tectonic plates rumbling beneath the surface, shifting that brand to scale.
Leaving the firm message that today’s customer lifecycle should be about fostering relationships, love, empathy and vulnerability, and not just business and sales.
3. Experience is the market differentiator now
One of the most inspiring talks was between David Cancel, CEO of Drift and his former boss Brian Halligan, CEO of Hubspot. Halligan talked of the customer experience as being the reason why companies scale in today’s world. “Customer experience” has become overused but this quote (paraphrased) summarises it much better:
“An unfair product advantage is typically short lived. If you’re starting a company today, you need to be as much of an experience disruptor as you are a disruptor of technology”.
This was echoed by Ryan Deiss from DigitalMarketer.com who spoke about the “10X marketer”. Drawing a sketch of someone who can analyse data as well as they can understand behaviour. Who studies the classics; advertising, psychology studies and those old cigarette ads, as much as they do the modern trends of Snapchat and Instagram.
“I’m not interested in what marketers think is cool. I’m interested in what my customers think is cool” he says.
4. Everything is copy
If you know Drift you’ll know what a copy-focused company they are. This was reflected in quite a few of the talks, the onus on marketers to grasp the basic skills of copy, advertising and customer psychology in order to up-level their marketing.
Ryan Deiss told us to analyse every bit of copy — not just blogposts but product descriptions, email copy, video scripts and every nugget associated to your brand basically. Summarising that you can work with great copy and an average creative, but that no creative will ever work with bad copy.
The importance of knowing what message to deliver and when, was also highlighted in the big reveal of the event: Drift launching their new product Drift Video.
Telling us something that if you dig deep enough, you may already know but probably haven’t wanted to admit. That customers rarely want to talk to sales people any more. That the real interaction happens in a pull method, or by putting real people (hence Drift video) with all their personal brand goodness, in front of real customers.
Consider this -
So here’s what I really learned from Drift’s HYPERGROWTH (other than how to put on a completely badass brand conference in the first place):
Every growth story of tomorrow starts with a great customer experience today. A piece of copy that made them laugh, a product which feels like it cares, a customer support person who didn’t just deliver, but who came and knocked down the door to make sure they really got it okay.
That means messing up sometimes. Something that we all, brands included, will likely do. But so long as we’re transparent, have integrity and work damn hard to understand what drives our customers to make decisions and take them to delight, we’ll build a better product, scale faster and be around to tell the story of it all in years to come.
Now, how was your Monday?
You can find more out about the event by looking at tweets here: #HYPERGROWTH19. I’m a huge fan of the Drift brand and hope to be back next year! 🤘