What a difference a year makes.

We learned a lot about what it takes to produce an exceptional marketing conference last year in Austin TX, and here we are leaving Banff with round 2 of VendastaCon under our belts.

It’s been a wild ride with a fantastic group of attendees, presenters, vendors and Vendasta crew!

We want to share a few of the many highlights from VendastaCon here, and remind you that for only $299, you can rewatch the VendastaCon stream online anytime you like for a full year.

Plus: Learn about some exciting product announcements from VendastaCon here!

Table of Contents

Day 1

What's at Stake in Local via Brendan King

SMB Cloud Adoption & Local as SaaS via Charles Laughlin

SMB Evolution Thesis via Mark MacLeod

Profile of a Successful Agency of the Future via Jackie Cook

The New Marketing Landscape via Gordon Borrell

Think Outside Your Borders via Kimberli J. Lewis

Marketplace as a Strategic Growth Engine via Ed OKeefe

Agencies that are Killing it and Their Models panel via George Leith

Conquering Status Quo Bias via Tim Riesterer

Insights-Based Selling via George Leith

If I Knew Then What I Know Now via John Jordan & Panel

Day 2

Digital Marketing in the Age of Assistance via Ryan d'Mello of Google

31 Killer Facebook Marketing Sequences via Dennis Yu and Logan Young

A Life in Local via Paul Plant

After the Sale: Full-Service Quarterback Strategies via Amy Gill and Doug Campbell

The Promised Land via Brendan King

Day One

What's at Stake in Local

After a warm welcome from Vendasta CMO, Jeff Tomlin, Vendasta CEO Brendan King kicked off the presentations by delivering his thoughts on What's at Stake in Local.

Brendan shared his vision of what the future looks like for marketers in a world dominated by major online retailers. It’s a bit dystopian - the future of marketers in a bot-infested, Google/Facebook-dominated world where everyone just buys all their stuff on Amazon.

However, all isn’t lost - we can still use emerging technology to become the “Local Expert”, and to:

  • Build & Grow Your Brand
  • Sell The Full Stack
  • Make the Robots Work For You

Plus, as you’ll hear from other presenters, customer service is your secret weapon. This means you need to offer:

  1. Better and personalized service
  2. Community involvement
  3. Superior knowledge and expertise
  4. A more interesting and enjoyable experience

SMB Cloud Adoption & Local as SaaS

Next, Charles Laughlin of Tech Adoption Index spoke on SMB Cloud Adoption & Local as SaaS. What on earth does this mean? It’s a crucial topic for all local marketers as it addresses how the small business shift to the cloud will transform the local/SMB ecosystem.

Here are the 6 takeaways Charles determined would affect SMB’s move toward cloud adoption and local:

  1. Future businesses will be born in the cloud, meet them there.
  2. Small businesses want more time in the day at least as much as they want more customers.
  3. Keep things simple. One app solves a problem, 10 apps create a problem.
  4. Make it easy for clients to move to the cloud.
  5. There are many pathways into the SMB’s wallet and loyalty.
  6. Brands are beating SMBs at CX using technology – can you level the playing field?

SMB Evolution Thesis

Next up, Mark MacLeod, founder and President of Surefire Capital Partners, delved into a similar topic—the SMB software market.

Mark noted that most small businesses are very small, and the volume of these businesses is growing. Plus, the demographics are changing and they are changing fast.

“People work different, people are younger, and there is always room for new people to come into the market,” Mark stated. “By 2025, most small businesses are going to be run by millennials, and they are digital natives.”

People work different, people are younger, and there is always room for new people to come into the market. By 2025, most small businesses are going to be run by millennials, and they are digital natives. #ConquerLocalClick To Tweet

The new generation of SMBs will be tech-savvy, but they’ll still need help with:

  • Finding and keeping customers
  • Financing the business
  • Developing and updating a business strategy
  • Hiring and keeping good employees at reasonable wages

The big opportunity for agencies and media companies is that everyone is focused on the big fish, and they forget about the opportunities that abound with local businesses.

Read more: The Evolution of the Small Business in 2018

Profile of a Successful Agency of the Future

After Mark’s presentation, Jackie Cook, Vendasta’s Chief Strategy Officer took the big stage to share her presentation on the Profile of a Successful Agency of the Future.

Jackie first reiterated Mark’s takeaway, that SMBs need your help and with the right tools, you can drive measurable business objectives—but it has to be easy, and it can’t take them away from running their businesses.

Then she dove deep into some Vendasta research to share some key insights in understanding SMB churn. Here are the main conclusions from that research:

  1. Sell Customers What they Need. Solving specific needs and identifying unconsidered needs early on in the relationship not only increases revenue, it also extends customer lifetime. Identifying the social needs of the SMB and selling the appropriate social solution increased their retention rate by 30%. An upsell actually had a positive impact on retention, and just as important is when that upsell occurred - 3 months in.
  2. Invite Customers to Participate. Early & frequent engagement is key. Creating a unified experience for the customer and getting them to see value in their solutions by engaging extends customer lifetime. Successful Customers Engage Often: Customers who engage early have a 20% increased retention rate. Customers who engage once-per-week have a 28% increased retention rate.
  3. Be the Single, Trusted Provider. Offering more solutions not only allows you to capture a greater share of wallet over the lifetime of that customer, you’re also extending the lifetime of that customer. Accounts with 4+ products were much more successful at retaining clients than those with 1, 2 or 3 products.

I’ll leave you with this gem from Jackie: “Just because you’re selling one dimension doesn’t mean that needs don’t change, and you’re going to be there when needs do change.”

Just because you’re selling one dimension doesn’t mean that needs don’t change, and you’re going to be there when needs do change. #sellingdigital #conquerlocal @jackiecook21Click To Tweet

Evolution. The bread and butter of the tech world (a world local marketers should be immersed in)!

The New Marketing Landscape

After a brief coffee break and some light mingling, Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates took the stage to discuss The New Marketing Landscape.

After chiding a man in the front row for texting, Gordon launched into a fast-paced presentation full of data and tremendous insights on the behaviors of advertisers today and in the near future.

Related Reading: New Data: Why SMBs Don’t Trust Advertising Anymore

Running throughout the presentation was John Wanamaker’s legendary quote from 1920, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

Gordon noted that this is still VERY true today...

...and It's good news for agencies because SMBs just don't have time to grasp digital even with tools and data. They need your help.

Borrell runs the largest survey of local advertisers in North America 10,000 surveys a year, a panel of 2,000 advertisers they test every month. Here’s some of the top data Gordon shared from these advertisers:

  • Advertising is forecast to rise 5.3% overall, but the tide isn't rising for all media. Traditional media (non-digital), especially print and broadcast, is projected to decline by 2.2% while digital advertising should increase 12.7%, or 126.8 million dollars.
  • Advertising isn’t driving the growth. Where is the money going? Not so much to local advertising anymore - now local marketing is 2x spend of local advertising. By 2022 should be 2.5x.
  • 74% of advertisers aren't buying one or another media, they're buying a mix. This is where YOUR role comes in to help advise them and help them understand what's going on.
  • 82% of advertisers say that acquiring business is their biggest marketing priority. Help them do that so they can focus more on actually fulfilling the services & running the business.
  • 72% of the businesses surveyed are novices. They don’t really have marketing expertise, and they need your help!

One of my favorite quotes from Gordon is that SMBs are “...too busy fixing leaks, making flower arrangements and serving meals to really understand digital marketing.” It’s so true. Most business owners didn’t go into business to be marketers!

SMBs are too busy fixing leaks, making flower arrangements and serving meals to really understand digital marketing. #conquerlocal @goborrellClick To Tweet

They need your help, and they want honesty, data, education, and explanations.

Get access to Gordon Borrell's full presentation here!

Think Outside Your Borders

Directly after Gordon, Kimberli J. Lewis hit the stage to discuss internationalization and breaking into the European market in her Think Outside Your Borders presentation.

Kimberli dissected the differences between the US and European market (notably cheaper beer and 4x the vacation days in Europe), then highlighted 6 things you need to pay attention to when expanding beyond your borders:

  1. Understand your reasons for expanding: pay enough attention to internal data
  2. Break up broader geographic “markets” into individual countries with distinct revenue and lead generation goals
  3. Remember global logistics are different
  4. Adapt the product offering to the country and regions you’re dealing with
  5. Adapt sales and marketing channels to specific regions - understand the preferred channel in each area
  6. Hire & let local teams lead the way so you have people who truly understand the market

Kimberli wrapped up her presentation with a warning on e-privacy, which is a key topic to follow for all hoping to enter the EU market.

Marketplace as a Strategic Growth Engine

Next up, Ed OKeefe ‎Vendasta’s GM/EVP of Marketplace joined us to present on Marketplace as a Strategic Growth Engine.

Ed focused on the using the dual roles of marketplace and product diversification to help you stay competitive. He noted that “Digital marketers unable to sell & deliver the full MarTech stack, will continue to be disintermediated,” while “...those digital marketers that leverage SaaS, will yield compounded agility, profitability, speed-to-revenue and growth.”

A marketplace that delivers options allows for clients to always be prepared and for growing needs to consistently be met. Vendasta’s data shows that our most profitable and competitive partners are the same ones that are using the full MarTech stack.

Agencies That Are Killing It And Their Models

Next, our CRO, George Leith briefly presented before being joined onstage by a panel of owners of successful agencies to discuss wins, successes, and failures in their respective agencies along with things learned with small sales teams.

Todd Collins revealed that the biggest issue isn't finding the best local business client, it's actually fulfilling those services and delivering results. His #1 tip was to automate everything, "I started in a basement with a whiteboard and a computer. It wasn't automation, it was me staying up until 3 in the morning emailing and calling people nonstop."

Dan Robinson echoed Todd’s experience, "I was the first guy there in the morning, and the last one to leave. No magic lotion or potion, just not afraid to get out there, work, and burn out your shoe leather." He also noted that clients have to trust you and accept that you’re the trusted local expert, or it won’t work for either of you, “until they're out of denial and accept the consultative approach that we have, I can't help them."

Some other key Insights from the panel were:

  • Make work a priority, and look for that same prioritization in your salespeople and your company team.
  • Don't be afraid to branch out with your vertical. If you're selling a one-stop-shop digital marketing solution, businesses outside of your usual vertical are going to want to buy what you're selling.
  • Care deeply about your customers. As much as you might want to offer "BIY," going above and beyond for clients and being that true business partner is what's going to keep them around. Don't be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Conquering Status Quo Bias

Almost in direct response to Dan Robinson’s statement on clients not accepting help, Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy and Research Officer at Corporate Visions presented next on Conquering Status Quo Bias.

Tim shared that the there are four reasons for status quo bias - reasons people don't change their mind. By knowing what they are you have a better chance of conquering and overcoming them.

You need to understand the ‘Why change?’ story. Here’s how to approach this:

  1. Preference stability: You need to deliberately destabilize their preferences. Make effort to tell a story that helps them see that their status quo is not as safe as they thought. Problems/missed opportunities they didn't know they had.
  2. Cost of change: Show that they risk by not changing. There’s a cost of staying the same!
  3. Selection difficulty: There is too much information, too many choices. Help them. Guide them.
  4. Anticipated regret: We regret decisions before we even make them. Got to show a before & after hero story.

Tim warned that value-added services and features may seem like additional value, but to the buyer, they look like additional cost and complexity. It works against the psychology of the buyer.

Instead, introduce them to needs and problems they didn't know they had. Destabilize their preferences. Suddenly, there's a set of risks that they want resolved. People are 2-3x more likely to seek risk to avoid loss rather than to go after a gain.

Insights-Based Selling

George Leith returned to the stage next to offer some Insights-Based Selling tips.

Quang Do, Director of Alexander Group joined George on stage, noting that, "The role of the salesperson has changed. It's a marketing consultant. Someone who can advise a company on their strategy and execution based on insights based on an accurate and deep understanding.”

The role of the salesperson has changed. It's a marketing consultant. Someone who can advise a company on their strategy and execution based on insights based on an accurate and deep understanding. #conquerlocal @AGIRevenueClick To Tweet

George noted that the culture of constant learning is becoming the "secret sauce.", and Quang backed this up, stating that constant learning is the new normal. It's about having an insightful conversation throughout."

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

John Jordan, Vendasta’s EVP of Partner Development hosted a panel of enterprise experts: Mike Giamprini, VP Strategy& Corporate Development at 411.ca, Matthew Bartels, Principal of Alexander Group, and Christian Hendricks, President of Local Media Consortium.

The discussion theme ‘If I Knew Then What I Know Now’ focused on War Stories in Moving Large Enterprises.

The panel discussed training, executive buy-in, implementation and execution of strategies, measuring success, getting feedback and much more.

Day Two

Digital Marketing in the Age of Assistance

Day 2 was kicked off by Ryan d’Mello, who hails from a company you may have happened upon at some point in your life...Google. Ryan dove into how machine learning will affect life going forward in his talk on Digital Marketing in the Age of Assistance.

Ryan discussed advances in machine learning and how it can affect businesses, “Automation is not a way to replace people, the objective is to free people up to be more strategic.”

With AI and intelligent learning, you are able to look at your customers and tell them what is happening and how to make their advertising campaigns better with real data to back it up. The key here is to focus on “Building personalized and assistive experiences.”

Ryan noted that we should stop targeting groups of audiences on advertising platforms that you THINK are your target audience. Machine learning will optimize and solve exactly who is buying and maximize your advertising budgets with target audiences who want what you’re selling.

He emphasized that we waste too much time on low-value tasks.

  • 80% of your time is spent dealing with manual, low-value tasks.
  • Only 20% of your time is being spent with the strategic development of your companies.
  • Start making the machines work for you and start spending your time with strategy, growth and scaling your company.

31 Killer Facebook Marketing Sequences

Next, a duo that we’ve come to know well and rely upon for Facebook marketing insights hit the stage. Veteran VendastaCon presenters Dennis Yu and Logan Young presented their 31 Killer Facebook Marketing Sequences.

They shared their brilliant strategy on creating trust and authority BEFORE selling - create a series of 1-minute videos on key topics relevant to what you do and who you are.

As Dennis said in the presentation,"We're all in sales, but we have to go through a stepwise process before we can ask for that money. We have to go from the why to the how to the what. We have to go from know to like to trust. We have to go from awareness to engagement to conversion."

We're all in sales, but we have to go through a stepwise process before we can ask for that money. We have to go from the why to the how to the what. We have to go from know to like to trust. We have to go from awareness to engagement to conversion. #conquerlocal @dennisyuClick To Tweet

Why is this? Logan explains that "people are not always ready to buy. An ad is most powerful when you intersect when they're ready to buy with your content. That's when you have relevancy."

Next, they dug into the tactics behind this strategy:

  • Start with why first, then how, then what in a 3x3 video grid.
  • 70% viewers won’t watch more than the first 3 seconds of video. Create a hook in first 3-seconds of video with why.
  • If you don’t have a personal brand page you’re missing out.
  • Boost post $1/day every day for a week just to start and create media ‘inception’.
  • Explore 6 topic wheel > topics map with influencers.
  • Create content by topic, not calendar.
  • Create evergreen content versus calendar or spontaneous news.
  • Video needs to be the core of your digital marketing.
  • Much (90% potentially) of your content attempts will fail. Keep swinging for that home run post, and when you get it, boost it.

One of the key concepts Dennis and Logan drove home was that building a good positive personal brand can impact your business and agency.

A Life in Local

Paul Plant Founder of Radicle Consulting joined us next to share insights from his Life in Local. Paul’s experience encompasses years in the Yellowpages industry, which allows him a view of the many things that have changed vs not changed over his 40 years in local.

What has changed
Local marketing used to be easy - newspaper and yellow pages were all you needed to advertise. Today, SMBs today are bombarded with choices - 25x a day by ad solicitors. In fact, every sector of every industry on the planet has been disrupted over the last decade.

What hasn't changed
However, Paul noted that the local commerce ecosystem hasn't changed - it exists to connect buyers and sellers. In fact, he shared that 80% of all commerce happens locally and 200 types of local interaction that take place within 1 mile of the home.

Paul also noted that SMBs are challenged in a few areas:

Biggest SMB Challenges with Digital Media*

  1. Time 45%: They just don’t have time to become digital experts
  2. Knowledge 36%: They don’t understand how the local media system works
  3. Budget 32%: They don’t know which of the 5000 channels is going to be best for them and their budget

*Data from Thrive Analytics survey - percentages are top poll results from Biggest SMB Challenges question

Most SMBs just spend 1/3 of their time doing what they set out to do when they opened their business. Our job, on the supply side of this industry, is to make their life easier, to demystify the digital landscape, and do it in a way that delivers value and ROI.

The new role of sales
Paul asked a very fundamental question about the new role of sales: What is your role now? To sell, or to serve?

  • Repeat orders are a must - dependant on how you fulfill vs the product you sell
  • People who will really win are those who get to know their customers best. That means changing the sales model - no more just identify need, then sell sell sell
  • NOW the SMB does the talking. You should spend 60% of time listening to the customer - needs, aspirations -then, find solutions to fill those needs
  • NOW, no more single contact, now multiple touch points, multiple contacts, and all must be on the same page contact every 4-6 weeks

The one main takeaway that Paul focused on was this: “The companies who will really win are those who get to know their customers best.”

The companies who will really win are those who get to know their customers best. #conquerlocal @RadiclePaulClick To Tweet

This means that you need to know your customer, stay close to them, take time to understand them, demonstrate that you have an appreciation of their needs, and understand how they interact with their own consumers.

After the Sale: Full-Service Quarterback Strategies

The next presentation was ‘After the Sale: Full-Service Quarterback Strategies’ by Vendasta’s Director of Go-To-Market & Marketplace, Amy Gill and Vendasta’s Vice-President of Revenue, Doug Campbell.

First, Amy & Doug covered the 3 changes to master fulfillment

  • Taking stakeholder feedback
  • Organizational structure
  • Marketing Services Strategists

Another key way to maintain a successful relationship with clients it to listen to stakeholders and be fully engaged with them because it works. This means monthly collaborations, being willing to make changes, and providing consistent value.

A main takeaway for partners would be to evolve and empower our Marketing Services Specialists. Why? Because In 2018, marketing services revenue will grow double the amount of advertising.

The Promised Land

Wrapping up the two-day marathon of digital marketing presentations was Vendasta CEO Brendan King. Brendan summed up the core themes of VendastaCon, explaining how to use all the knowledge you’ve gained and take clients to “The Promised Land”.

Brendan began with a common scenario - describing what you do to clients. He noted that when clients ask what your business does, they aren’t looking for a summary of your day to day tasks and activities. Instead, the real question they are asking is “what change do you want to bring to my world?”

You have to describe that change as “The Promised Land” - That future state of the world that you are committed to bringing to your customers. This is MUCH more attractive and effective than just saying, ‘oh I build websites’, or ‘I’m a social media expert’.

SO...what goes into an effective Promised Land?:

  1. Has to be Desirable: Your customers have to want what is being promised to them.
  2. It’s Improbable: They couldn’t reach it with us - even with the help from competitors
  3. The goal Isn’t Reached Overnight: There has to be a journey. Balanced between short & long term
  4. The journey Changes Over Time: as the journey progresses the expectations rise.

With that, the presentations of VendastaCon 2018 came to a close, leaving attendees with much to ponder as they finished out their day with an afternoon hike in the spectacular Johnston Canyon.

To get access to view the entire livestream of VendastaCon 2018, grab it here for just $299. You'll have access for 1 year.

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