Kickoff Keynote with Leo Laporte

November 8, 2011
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Dudes! It’s time for Pubcon. Are you ready?  No, really, are you ready for this? I’m not sure I am. I guess we’ll find out together. Don’t forget that right here is where you’ll want to hang out for all the Pubcon Las Vegas 2011 coverage. Me and my partner in crime, Michelle Lowery, will be giving you the goods all week. Last time Michelle liveblogged a conference she was RT’d by MC Hammer.  This time I’m hoping for Skee-lo.  What? that’s how I roll.

In honor of Pubcon’s awesome 10 years, we’re first treated to a highlight reel of the conference’s best moments. I’d share it with you if I could, but I don’t think it’s online anywhere. Naturally, there’s a shot of me liveblogging.  Thanks for that.

Okay, kicking things off at Pubcon is a keynote talk from Leo Laporte. Let’s do it.

Leo asks what we tell our parents what we do for a living. Everyone laughs. His mom tells people he’s in computers.  My dad tells people I’m a secretary for Google. Which…I mean…he has a point, right?

Leo says most people have no idea what we, as marketers, do. He doesn’t even know if “search engine marketing” makes any sense today.  Later he asks if search engines will still be relevant in 6 months.  Yes. In six months.

People don’t like marketers and yet we’re all marketers. When we got dressed this morning, that’s a way of marketing. It’s presenting yourself. The trick to marketing is marketing without letting anyone know that’s what you’re doing.   Related: I’m liveblogging this while wearing a Raven Tools shirt that they gifted me.  I think you’re smart enough to make the connection.

In 1918, advertising was all features and benefits. That was advertising. Then along came a guy named Edward Bernays. He didn’t believe that democracy could possibly work. He thought the masses were too feeble and needed to be led.  He coined the term PR. He figured out how to market. His goal was to trick people. That’s why we hate marketing. It’s the notion that someone is trying to trick us and to get us to do something we wouldn’t normally do.

In the ’20s Edwards got women to smoke. He hired a bunch of debutantes to march in an Easter parade bearing “torches of freedom” aka cigarettes.  It became the thing to do if you were a liberated women of the 20s to smoke.  He was brilliant and created the business of marketing.

We all need to sell something. How do you do it without turning people off and tricking them? In the Internet era, now is the time to do that.  Marketers are conversations. In the Internet era businesses couldn’t talk to the Internet generation in a phony way. They need to talk in the same voice that people use. As people become more savvy, as information flows more freely, you can’t trick people. You have to come to them as peers and convince them without tricks.

If you want to succeed in marketing, you need to get someone else to do it for you.

He came from a broadcast background.  In 1998, he started working for Tech TV. It was a channel devoted to speaking to geeks. They were aimed at a niche but the niche wasn’t large enough to support them.  So it failed. After that he was wandering around and he had learned a number of lessons.  One was that when you serve a niche, you really can do a good job if you know that niche well and you aim yourself at that niche. They built a great community at Tech TV. They’d go out and sign autographs and thousands of people would show up. It was a group that wasn’t being served. They were so grateful that someone was covering that, that they were engaged.  It was really an education for him.

We need to think of a new way of advertising that doesn’t require people to be morons and doesn’t talk to them like morons. They created a viable business by reaching a very dedicated niche audience.  He’s a niche broadcaster.  It’s changed the business of broadcasting because instead of building an audience of passive people who listen, they’re trying to create a community of engaged listeners. He’s trying to create a conversation. Instead of reaching out to the lowest denominator, they’re trying to reach a talented, intelligent audience.  By reaching an audience that is totally engaged in the content, they end up telling their friends. They spread the word. They tweet. They Facebook. They make it happen.

He talks about cross-platform storytelling.  Then he talks about Star Wars. George Lucas gives people many entry ways into that universe. There are comic books, action figures, movies, etc. By doing that, he reaches out to a much larger audience.  He thinks that makes a lot of sense. Leo, I mean, not George. You’re with me, right?  You allow people to pick the platforms that make the most sense for them and then they do your marketing for you. You never have to figure out which is most important.

Leo gives people many ways to engage with his content – you can watch live, you can download video, etc. They have a chat room that always has at least 500 people in there 24/7.  They watch the chat room and interact with it.  They mention the chat during the shows that people know they’re paying attention.

Chris Matthews says the best way to make an ally is to get them to do a favor for you. Because then they have an investment in you and become a stronger ally.  When Leo was building his studio, he let people buy bricks and inscribe a message on them.  There were bigger price points if you wanted to inscribe a longer message or include a logo.  This not only helped them raise 10,000 dollars to build the studio but it made people more invested in it. If you paid $600 for a brick with your logo on it to be in that building, that’s going to be your favorite building.

He thinks of it as trans-media marketing. To him, that’s the message of his marketing strategy. If you create an engaged audience, then they do the work for you. That’s been really effective for him.  They’re not trying to grow a larger audience, they’re trying to grow a more engaged audience. It’s an interesting challenge to have.

They don’t have a marketing budget. They don’t have an SEO. They don’t have someone who tweets for them. But, on the other hand, every person they hire is an active tweeter. That’s one of the things they look for when they hire.

Their strategy is to create great content people are engaged in, give them a way to spread it, and then encourage them to do that.

And that’s it from Leo!

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