How not to be a VIP and other lessons from a marketing event.
A fancy American marketing event came to London for the first time and I managed to get a free ticket. Copywriting got a pretty good rep.
Be under no illusion. I am not a professional marketer. Not really. Prior to going freelance I was definitely a marketing noob.
I still am a bit of a noob really. Upon entering the VIP area of Hypergrowth London 2019, a marketing event created by US company Drift, I managed to start a conversation with the co-founder of Drift and one of the speakers, Ryan Deiss, without having any idea who they were.
My friend Ben, who’d managed to secure us the free VIP tickets to the event, soon informed me who they were and that he, very much a professional marketer, had been fangirling the whole time.
Mental and literal face palm. Hey, how would I have known.
I didn’t get into marketing for marketing, I got into it for writing and as such I’ve learnt a hell of a lot, in this year alone. I didn’t really know whether this event would be super technical or on the contrary, unhelpfully shallow.
As it happens, the event provided huge amounts of value and I had a great time. The talks were inspiring, encouraging or informative and in some cases a mixture of all three. According to #Hypergrowth19, copywriting is in demand.
Here are some of the things I took away:
Only Do What Only You Are Good At.
Ok so I’m not an all-round marketing guru. But I don’t need to be. The fact is I’m a good writer and that is the skill I can offer. In an interconnected collaborative world, this will make for better quality content.
The humble Spork was used as an example of what not to do. The Spork tries to do more than one thing at once and as a result does them all badly. Don’t be a Spork.
The Power of Storytelling
People connect with stories. Brands want to connect with people. Guess who writes stories?
Everything is Copy
Really? Well yeah, according to Ryan Deiss, the founder of DigitalMarketer.com and the guy whose existence I was completely unaware of prior to this event.
Copy is the way brands and businesses connect with their audience and potential customers. There are words everywhere, vying for our attention. So, you need someone to pick the right ones to stand out.
And this goes beyond words on a page. Video is the medium of the day, nobody’s denying that, but somebody has to write the script.
Connection Is Key
This was a theme that ran through many of the talks and was super encouraging to hear. Even at this stylish, forward thinking and hyper visual event, the methods of marketing being championed seemed fairly ordinary.
The thing is, social media marketing and other digital developments are simply a means of amplification or distribution. Social media is a great tool for getting your brand out there, but if the messaging isn’t authentic, you might be doing yourself more harm than good.
At least in the ‘olden days’, if a print ad was bad, it would be out of circulation after a while and people would forget about it. Now stuff is plastered over the internet for all to see, ignore or even malign.
There isn’t anything ground-breaking about making personal connections with your audience. If anything, I think it seems a bit, well, obvious.
Why wouldn’t people want to be treated like humans? But it’s clearly worth the reminder because so many brands fall short of this. Either way, it’s good news for us copywriters.
There is a huge demand for people to write copy that engages people in a real, human way. Your everyday consumer or businessperson can sniff forgery, fakery and incompetency a mile off.
Courage Is Waiting For Anyone. Claim It.
It wasn’t just copywriting related encouragement I received, however. Some of the other speakers were just genuinely inspiring.
Victoria Pendleton, the former Olympic cyclist and now all-round adventure chaser, delivered this mantra right at the start. It’s a bit cheesy perhaps but it is a truism.
There really is nothing stopping anyone being courageous.
It’s like a jacket. You choose to put it on. You can claim it and wear it. You’ve just got to jump in.
The Tension Between Risking Too Much and Risking Too Little
This one came from the keynote speaker, Jimmy Chin. He’s the filmmaker behind the Oscar winning documentary, Free Solo (nothing to do with Star Wars) about a Rock Climbing mega feat and the climber who took it on.
Whilst I don’t plan on climbing Everest or scaling a 3000 metre cliff face anytime soon, the principles behind tackling such a challenge will resonate with anyone chasing a dream or ambition.
What Jimmy and his climbing buddies have achieved is mega but they only did it by walking that tension between never wanting to risk too little but always staying shy of risking too much.
So, it was a class event. Partly because the speakers were great, but also because it was a spectacle and an event marketing masterclass.
Yes, it’s an event about marketing but the event itself is also marketing for the company that put it on. At the end of the day Hypergrowth started because Drift wanted to sell their product.
But it was done very well. They provided value upfront and didn’t make the whole thing about them. We were well into the afternoon before they even showcased their own product.
Even then, they presented it in a way which immediately offered value to the audience. They took the opportunity to do an exclusive reveal of their latest product, Drift Video, a conversational marketing tool which could potentially change the game of how people do business and get leads.
They then offered the premium version to the first 100 people that tweeted about it. Delegates were well fed and watered and the surroundings and decor were truly impressive (as you can see from my terrible, low light photos).
How we managed to get upgraded to VIP I don’t know but it definitely made us feel more welcome and we got some swanky free merch.
Did I hear you say… Event?
I’ve come away with the bar set pretty high for events. And that’s even after I had been to the almost as impressive but understandably more British and understated East Yorkshire Business Day in Bridlington last Friday. I would do a write up of that too but that might be overkill on the events.
It’s good to know how the big boys do things as it won’t be long before me and some peers put on an event of our own…
This won’t be anywhere near the same size but it will provide value, it will be fun and it will hopefully give our businesses some handy exposure!
Check out Creative Point and keep your eye out for event announcements coming soon!