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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Attending Small Agency Idea Lab (SAIL) in Walt Disney World, Florida

Last week I attended SAIL, Second Wind’s Small Agency Idea Lab, at the Boardwalk Resort in Walt Disney World, Florida. This is the first marketing and advertising agency event that I’ve been to (usually attending technology or internet related events) and I really enjoyed myself and learned a lot.

SAIL is pitched as a lab and at times it really felt like one. The attendees were engaged, asked questions, provided answers, and steered the conversations and presentations as much as the presenters did.

Being that I was representing Condron Media for this event I did my best to jot down a myriad of notes and bring back what I thought was applicable for our business. I figured I’d take a moment during this week’s Homebrew Website Club to share a few of those notes so that perhaps you can benefit too.

  • “the only thing to continue will be the pace of change” – Brian Olson of inQuest said this during his presentation and it reverberated through the entirety of the two-day event. Most business sectors have already, or are in the process of, coming to grips with this fact already – change, or die. My boss, Phil Condron, laid that out great during our rebrand.
  • Profit sharing as a strategy – This is nothing new, in any industry, but the way Ross Toohey of 2e Creative and his CFO created a program that helps their team do their best work and service the customer better was inspiring.
  • workamajig – I’ve been online since 1994 and I had never heard of workamajig before I attended SAIL. I’ve used tons of project management software so I plan on looking into it and seeing if it may be right for our team or not.
  • Using IP to generate revenue – I tell this same concept to every single company I advise. I call it “sawdust”. Which I believe was inspired by Jason Fried in 2009. Turn your sawdust into revenue. Sharon Toerek ran a great presentation to show the myriad of ways that creative agencies can do this.

There were many other takeaways from SAIL that I plan on expounding on in future posts.

I get asked sometimes if the fees associated with these types of events are worth it. Yes. Without question. I am a strong advocate of attending as many events as you possible can. If you only come away with one tool, one contact, one new idea, one new process – nearly any price tag is worth it.

Plus, in this case, I managed to get a little bit of sun in March.

Interviewed on tecBRIDGE Radio Episode 5

Phil Condron and I were recently interviewed on tecBRIDGE Radio – a radio show cum podcast about business, entrepreneurship and the knowledge economy in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Topics included marketing for small businesses, who should learn to code, and the history of Condron Media.

Full disclosure: Condron Media is a reoccurring sponsor of tecBRIDGE Radio as we, like tecBRIDGE, believe that right now and right here in NEPA it is the best time and place to start and grow a business.

You can subscribe to tecBRIDGE Radio on iTunes, Google Play.

You can also listen to this episode right here:

Joining Condron Media

I see huge opportunity in digital marketing over the next decade.

We’re now reaching the point where billions of people are using social platforms to share information every single day, where the vast majority of a person’s attention is on an internet-based platform rather than a broadcast one, and, where the tools are in-place to allow businesses to measure where every dollar is spent.

Marketing wasn’t always transparent. It was nearly impossible to know exactly how well, or how poorly, a particular campaign was working. Billboards, print, radio, and TV are incredibly difficult to measure – and impossible to measure accurately. As internet marketing has matured – from banner ads to boosted posts and stickers and filters – it has actually gotten more transparent. Marketing campaigns can be laser focused to reach only the people and business that you want to see your message. Each impression can be measured and tracked to be certain how the campaign is working. And, the campaign can be adjusted ad nauseam to ensure no impressions are wasted. It is an incredible time to invest in digital marketing.

This is why I’ve decided to join Condron Media as Senior Vice President.

How did I get here? By fooling around and applying the lessons I learned as practical business strategies.

When I was 14 fooling around with HTML in my bedroom I never thought it would turn into a career. It did. And I helped build some of the most trafficked and award-winning web sites of the early 2000s.

When I was 18 and decided to jump from IT to programming for the web I never thought it would lead me to build something that would be used by thousands of people. I did that several times. In fact, a few of the projects I worked on ranked very highly in Alexa ratings with millions of impressions daily.

When I was 22 and lost my job due to the September 11th attacks I never thought that I’d be able to start my own business using my experience to help other companies. I did and immediately found a client that would catapult my career.

When I was 27 and serving on the board of a technology company I never thought I’d be able to use that experience to help dozens of entrepreneurs to get their start. I’ve been super happy to have helped many and am looking forward to continuing that for the rest of my life.

And, since joining Twitter in 2006 and Facebook in 2007, I never thought that messing around with social networks would give me the skills I needed to help the next wave of marketing trends where hundreds of millions of dollars are spent annually – but I firmly believe that is exactly the doorstep I’m on right now. And I’m looking forward to seeing what the next few steps look like.

If you would like to up your marketing game give us a call.

Faraday Future

Faraday Future (move playhead to 15 minutes in):

Held at the Pavilions at World Market Center in Las Vegas, this event showcases our vision for the future of sustainable, connected mobility.

Everything about this presentation is terrible. Aside from the fact that it takes them 30 minutes before they tell us about their product. It screams of early Microsoft; the company that used to announce things and not deliver on them. (I’m glad to see that has changed at Microsoft.) It screams of marketing bologna. They showcase a video showing how they are moving earth to build a building?

They say they are building “the future”. That they aren’t just a car company. They aren’t just a mobility company. I don’t buy it. I give them 4 or 5 years before they are acquired for their patents alone. Think Motorola Mobility.

Compare their presentation to the no-fluff all real presentations of Tesla.

Don’t go to their web site. It is unusable and full of marketing fluff.

The exciting digital marketing landscape

Jack Reager of BlackOut Design, regarding the marketing panel we both took part in:

While we all share some similarities in terms of our background and types of organizations we’ve been a part of, what was most interesting to me was how we all use our knowledge not only to aid our clients, but at one point or another, to also help our own entrepreneurial endeavors. This is especially of note when it comes to the topic of digital marketing. While we look for solutions uniquely positioned for each of our clients, we all work daily to market our own businesses online too. In short we aren’t only working with the tools and techniques for our clients we are also leveraging them for our own organization’s goals.

I like Jack’s point here. The intimate knowledge a marketing firm must have to serve both their client’s unique interests and their own is manifold. And, it is a constantly moving target. Every single week there is a brand-new release of each of the front-running platform’s apps which add new features and capabilities. One incredible example of this is that Facebook’s Messenger app just passed version 100 this week.

It is an incredible time to be a marketer. Not only are small businesses getting far more reach for their money than ever before, they can also laser focus that reach and measure exactly where that spend is going with fine detail. To top it off, this capability also keeps the marketing firms honest and working really hard to squeeze every bit of return on their client’s investment. It is, quite literally, the very best time to spend money on marketing.

I’m so looking forward to this next decade.

Being on the “Ask the Web Marketing Experts” panel

Yesterday I was privileged to represent Condron & Cosgrove (more on this in January) at the NEPA Defense Transition Partnership panel discussion, through the Scranton Small Business Development Center, called Ask the Web Marketing Experts. I was flanked by other experts in the area including Jack Reager of Black Out Design, Gerard Durling of Coal Creative, and Ben Giordano of Freshy Sites.

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Left to right: Jack, Gerard, myself, Ben.

The panel discussion lasted a few hours and ranged topics from the elements of an effective web site to how to find your voice with social media for your business. It was a great discussion and it was recorded. If the video is made public I’ll be sure to share it.

There were a few overarching takeaways from the panel. Here’s mine; Don’t write-off a new social platform simply because you do not use it or understand it. Don’t get stuck using the same marketing techniques for your business year-after-year. Just because you did one thing one year, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying something different the next.

Every social network that we use today was, at one point, written off by those that didn’t think they’d ever make a difference. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest – all of these got their fair share of shrugged shoulders in the beginning. Don’t be that person. Be willing to move and adjust as the market does. You’ll be able to do better marketing for your business.

Attending Cropped! a rebranding competition

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Last night I attended an event created by AAF NEPA to help a non-profit organization rebrand. The idea was simple; create a few teams of branding professionals from local agencies and have them compete to create the best ideas and solutions to rebranding a local non-profit company.

I’ll leave the details of the competition to the event page itself. But I thought I’d take a second to discuss how rebrands are about problem solving and how this event demonstrated that perfectly.

Branding is an exercise in getting a company’s culture, message, and purpose demonstrated and communicated through every single thing the company does. I know it has been said a million times but it worth reiterating that branding is not a logo. Branding permeates a company’s activities from the way they answer the phone to how easy it is to unsubscribe to their monthly email newsletters. I was happy to see that everyone at Cropped! knew exactly what branding was.

Rebranding, on the other hand, is about solving problems. When a company decides it needs to rebrand itself there are generally reasons for doing so. Perhaps the overall aesthetic of the company feels dated or, as was the case with the EOTC (the non-profit that was part of this competition), the company’s purpose was being mis-communicated through it’s brand messaging.

This is when the company’s honesty about itself really needs to shine. What do people really think we are? How do they feel when they interact with our products or services or employees? Why do they think that? Why do they feel that? And so on.

I thought it was excellent that the competition began immediately by acknowledging the weaknesses of the EOTC’s current brand and laid them all out in front of the contestants so that they could begin to break them down and work through them one-by-one. That’s when the solutions to these issues became clearer and clearer. Certain colors were off-limits, specific branding icons weren’t to be used. This helps the teams to avoid the same traps that the previous EOTC brand team (if there was one) fell into.

Overall it was a cool event in a cool space and well worth getting out in the cold windy evening for. The THINK Center, where the event was held, was a great space in downtown Wilkes-Barre. If you have a chance to attend an event here it is worth checking it out for the gear alone.