Ahh, Fargo, North Dakota. Home to farmers, below-zero temps, yah-you-betcha, hotdish, and… one of the best marketing conferences in the Midwest? That’s right. In a city that’s stereotyped as rural, possibly murderous and boring, an amazing conference jam-packed with big-name speakers, valuable marketing insights and thundersticks takes place once a year. It’s called:
Conducted by Flint Group along with several other generous sponsors, FargoConnect seeks to bring together the best and brightest of the marketing world for a day filled with honest marketing advice, new approaches to content strategy, and just a dash of fun. Now, I might be a bit biased as a Flinster myself, but one look at the SEEN results from yesterday tells me that this event is equally as exciting and beneficial for other attendees.
There was so much to absorb at FargoConnect that it’s hard for me to narrow it down to my top takeaways. Anne Blackhurst, president of Minnesota State University Moorhead, gave an enthralling speech on how she connects with her students through social media, and it was thrilling to see an educator “speaking our language.” Andrew Scherr of LeadPages spoke about increasing conversion rates on landing pages, and his presentation was full of data that marketers cannot ignore. Daniel Lemin from Convince and Convert spoke about the online ratings environment that all businesses have been thrust into, and taught us that 25% of Yelp reviews are actually fake (!!!). And Tonya Stende of Dale Carnegie Business Group reminded us that while digital engagement is great, we can’t forget how to communicate as humans – face to face – and to really listen to one another.
But through all the great insight, there were three central themes that kept coming back up. And three of the speakers really summed them up perfectly. Here are my top three takeaways from FargoConnect:
“I believe in the power of rural America.” – @AJITPAIFCC
These words were spoken by Ajit Pai, commissioner for the FCC who we were fortunate enough to have as a guest at FargoConnect. His speech was inspiring, talking about broadband connectivity and how it can bring people from all over the world together – for good. He also spoke about how bringing internet access to rural America has opened up small companies to international business, and how geographic location does not (or should not) dictate talent. Unfortunately, this perception is not widely shared by those on the coasts, but it’s exciting to see someone like Mr. Pai addressing this issue. I mean, we were in Fargo, for cripes sake!
— Kaylyn Stroh (@KaylynStroh) September 15, 2015
“It’s more important to be engaged than to be engaging.” – @ERIKHATCH
This is a theme that came up again and again throughout the day, from President Blackhurst’s speech about connecting with students to Tonya’s speech about really communicating with one another. But Mr. Hatch really hit the nail on the head when he said: “Stop using social media to talk about yourself – use it to celebrate other people.” I almost stood up and cheered at this. Stop being so selfish with your social spaces! Stop trying to get others to engage with you, and instead be engaged with them! Show that you’re an authentic, real person and you can have a real conversation and actually listen. People will remember, and you will be successful.
— Daron Selvig (@DaronSelvig) September 15, 2015
“Honest and transparent content is the greatest sales and trust-building tool in the world. Period.” – @THESALESLION
Probably the most energetic speaker I’ve every had the pleasure to witness, Marcus Sheridan was on fire during his dynamic speech about transparency in content. Trust is the number one most important thing to build with your customers – not a fancy brand, and not even the best product. When consumers trust that you’re being honest with them, they won’t want to shop anywhere else. The true ah-ha moment of his speech for me was when he talked about a blog post he wrote that promoted his competitors. Yep, you read that right. He published a post that basically said, if you decide not to buy from us, here are some other businesses we would recommend. That, my friends, is how you build trust. And that is how you grow sales. Period.
— Mr. Bean (@toodlehausn) September 15, 2015
Have you ever left a conference feeling just jacked, ready to change the world with your new learnings? Yeah, me too. I’m on a FargoConnect high right now, and I can’t wait to take what I learned back to my clients and put some ideas into action. I wish I could have attended all of the breakout sessions, because I know there was some really great knowledge being shared there as well! If you want to check out more of the exciting things that happened at FargoConnect, check out the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. And if you were at the conference, please feel free to share your top takeaways and/or favorite moments! I would love to hear from you.
Thank you for checking out what #EmilyFayeSays!
P.S. If you can’t tell, I just learned how to embed tweets in my blog, and I’m obsessed. You will be seeing more of that here!