SXSW 2017: Our Top Marketing Takeaway

The Illuminated leadership team took on Austin for SXSW Interactive this year, learning from industry leaders in marketing, social media, and development, attending startup-focused events and pitch competitions, and meeting with entrepreneurs and business owners from around the world.

We headed home to Des Moines with many takeaways, but why keep them all to ourselves? We’re sharing our top marketing insight so you can benefit, too.

It’s Katelyn here. As Illuminated’s director of marketing, I focused much of my session time on marketing, social media, and branding. Out of all of the expert speakers and thought-provoking content I experienced in my week at SXSW, this phrase stood out:

“Your customer experience is your digital strategy, and your digital strategy is your customer experience.”

It was spoken by Heather Brunner, CEO of WP Engine, in a presentation of personalizing digital experience. She drew an interesting comparison between superfans of a band (fun for the music-driven scene in Austin, right?) and loyal fans of brands, such as yours.

So, how do you get people to take notice and then transition from follower to full on brand advocate?

By creating a personalized experience that makes customers feel valued.

Know your ideal clients, who they are and what they want. And when you’ve got a polished profile, figure out how you can more tightly define your customer experience to meet them every step of the way.

From the content you create to onboarding steps with a new client, think through your touch points with potential clients to ensure you’re serving them as greatly as you can. This could involve subscribing to scheduling software that lets prospective clients set up a call with you in seconds or segmenting your email list to offer insights on targeted topics subscribers are interested in.

By becoming a trustworthy resource.

Once people notice your brand, how do you entice them to stick around and turn to you again and again? By consistently providing value.

First, by focusing on your content strategy. Think from your ideal client’s perspective. What questions do they have? What pain points do they wish could be addressed? What information would make their day or week easier? Avoid thinking of your content as a sales pitch. Instead, offer up tips, benefits, and instruction that will grab and keep attention.

Next, take those solid content ideas and deliver them regularly, sticking to a publishing schedule. Whether they’re blog posts, videos, social media posts, podcast episodes, etc., you’ll build trust by showing up routinely with content that meets their needs.

By humanizing your brand.

When someone becomes a loyal follower of your brand, they’re agreeing to publicly align themselves with you. Their likes, comments, shares, and mentions let their network know that they are passionate about your brand and consider it worth engaging with.

Would you rather advocate for a brand that takes you behind the scenes, passionately spreads their message, and regularly offers value, or one that is faceless, publishes sales pitches frequently and doesn’t fill you in on their ‘why.’ Probably the first option. That’s because the first brand is transparent and shares about their passion in an authentic fashion that draws you in.

Wish you could learn more about this session? Lucky for you, WP Engine detailed it on their blog, including a video recap of the presentation.