This Marketing Conference Changed My Perspective

by Katie Liesmann on September 7, 2018

Over 48 hours after attending Hypergrowth 2018, a Conversational Marketing conference, I’m still reeling from how it changed my perspective on work, marketing, and life. I was floored that at a conference by Drift, the leading makers of chatbot software, I learned more about what it means to be human than I could have in any psychology class. Each speaker had a different background that was the vessel for telling their story. But at the end of the day, these were the similar values embedded in their stories that changed my perspective.

Have the Ambition to be Heard

Having the ambition to be heard is more than just using your voice. It means that you have an idea that you feel so strongly about that drives you to put your voice out there. Casey Neistat is a vlogger who was creating viral videos before YouTube was a thing. At Hypergrowth, Casey spoke of how not having a voice when he was young inspired him to create viral videos to magnify the impact of his reach. His work is known for helping brands build personalities by connecting a seemingly unrelated video story to a brand. To see what I’m talking about, check out this travel video he made for Nike (in which he didn’t wear any Nikes at all) or this relief effort video he did as a promotion for a Fox Media fantasy film.

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Aly Raisman exemplified this also in her Fireside Chat. She discussed her passion for gymnastics and her recent involvement in social activism. She is driven to do the right thing as the spotlight on her gives her a platform to be the voice for others who cannot be heard, and although it’s been incredibly challenging for her to share her own story, she believes in doing the right thing over all else.

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Finally, Barney Waters, the president of K-Swiss, talked about the challenges the brand has faced since it was founded in 1966. Rather than discuss their success, he spoke about where they are in their journey and how much they still have to learn. K-Swiss didn’t want to compete with sneaker brands for athletes like Nike and Adidas. Since they couldn’t be first, they decided to be different and become a sneaker for entrepreneurs (rather than athletes). This transformation was all driven by their ambition to be heard within a crowded market.

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These three inspirational speakers may have shared their stories for different reasons, but they all have a driving passion to have their ideas heard. From now on, I plan on marketing ideas, rather than products and services. This inspiration is needed for B2B marketers like myself more than ever. It’s worth asking yourself. What idea does your brand stand for? Why do you have ambition for that idea to be heard?

Taking Extreme Ownership is More Important Than Ego.

Taking extreme ownership is about owning it (all of it). Jocko Willink spoke about this in his moving presentation about being a leader. He said if you find yourself blaming others on your team (whether you are a Navy Seal or on a marketing team), then you need to check your ego. Jocko’s philosophy is that it’s your responsibility to make sure your team has the preparation, resources, and clarity to complete their jobs well. And even if you don’t manage anyone, it’s your responsibility to seek clarity and own up to your mistakes. For Jocko, extreme ownership is about owning up to your mistakes, asking yourself how you can help your team, and following through with responsibilities.

Amy Morin, author of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” hit these same notes with several of the rules of things not to do. She defines “mental strength” as the ability to push forward in hard times. Some of the things mentally strong people don’t do? “They don’t feel that the world owes them anything” and “They don’t make the same mistakes again and again.” By owning your fate and mistakes, you can continuously develop.

Drift themselves put extreme ownership into practice in their response to the controversial presentation by Grant Cardone. Towards the end of the day, Drift’s CEO, David Cancel (lovingly nicknamed DC) came out to “own up” to not having vetted the speakers well enough and to detach the Drift brand from Grant’s ideologies. I was incredibly inspired to see DC exemplify an ideal of Drift’s brand.

So how does this apply to me and marketing? It’s up to us as marketers to own up when we make a mistake. If we accidentally send out an email with an error--how do we react? Do we think: “My boss shouldn’t have rushed me.” Or do we say: “I was rushing to get the email out on time. Next time I will prepare earlier to avoid this or I will let my boss know I don’t have enough time.”

If You Want to Mess Things Up, Pretend That You’re Perfect.

Ryan Deiss says that is the formula for brand failure. Ryan uses a concept from screenwriting to build brands--known as a character diamond. One of the four components of building a character/brand should be to incorporate a flaw. He argued that a brand that pretends it is perfect is robotic, uninteresting, and hard to connect with.

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George Foreman III (yes, son of Big George of Foreman Grill fame) used the same type of message to explain why he started a boxing gym in Boston called Everybody Fights. He believes everyone is a Fighter because we all have a fight or flight instinct, and it’s when we choose to stay and “fight” against our flaws, whether it be fear, ego, etc., that we grow the most. To improve, you must acknowledge that you have flaws and that they are your biggest opponent.

Lastly, Molly Graham, talked through nine things she has learned throughout her career at Facebook, Google, and the Chan Zuckerburg Initiative. The one that stood out most to me was that you could learn a lot from acting “moronic.” She firmly states that what you can learn by tomorrow is WAY more valuable than what you know today.  You can easily practice this attitude by always asking a question with the words “Sorry if this is stupid, but….?”

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From the perspective of marketing, I can easily relate to wanting everything to be perfect. It’s so eye-opening for me that it’s not just okay to be imperfect, it’s actually an asset.

Concluding Thoughts

Hypergrowth, in reality, was about having conversations. Hypergrowth embodied conversational marketing by showing that we don’t engage with people by presenting them with webinars and forms. We engage with them by having conversations--flawed, influential, and experiential conversations. Human conversations. Hypergrowth was all those things. To learn more about how W-Systems uses Drift, check out this blog post.

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PRODUCT: Act-On Marketing Automation

AUDIENCES: Administrators Business Manager End Users

Katie Liesmann
Marketing Manager at W-Systems
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