SXSW Interactive 2014: A Marketer's Point of View

POSTED BY Kelly Homewood - 03.18.14 - Digital marketing, Conferences

SXSWSXSW Interactive is always an energetic, fast paced blur of sessions, networking and yes, parties. As a three year veteran, and an uber planner, I thought I was prepared. I was not.  With over 1,000 sessions, spread out at multiple venues in downtown Austin, one must plan a daily strategy that includes a plan B for those sessions you may be shut out of.   This happened to me more than once, and I was very frustrated at the time, but found that it’s sometimes the sessions that you didn’t plan to attend that provide the most value. Maybe it’s content that you didn’t anticipate from the obscure session title, or the person you sat next to and had a valuable conversation with. While there was talk that SXSW may have “jumped the shark”, due to the extreme emphasis on partying, there was equal sentiment that it is one of the most valuable conferences that an individual in the marketing world can invest in. Once my feet recovered, I am firmly in the camp of SXSW believers.

My Big Take-Away: It’s all about the customer

Predictive Marketing is key to digital ROI

I attended a few sessions on the topic of developing a deep understanding of your target customer, developing buyer personas and creating a marketing strategy that speaks to those personas, where they are and when they are open to hear your message.

By a deep understanding, I mean you must conduct market research to uncover more than the basic demographics that define your target customer. You need to know what their habits are, what topics are important to them, where and how they look for information.

Combine this research with any and all data you have about your customer and use this information to predict what content, channels and timing will affect action as it relates to your desired outcome. This data will also help you understand what products or services your customer will want in the future.

Create a Great Customer Experience

Kristina Halvorson, CEO of Brain Traffic, gave an energized and humorous presentation titled “Go Home Marketing, You are Drunk”

Fix what is actually broken before finding new things to break.

With so much focus on chasing the next big thing in digital marketing, businesses are losing site of the basics. Create an online experience where customers want to stay. They want you to fix your customer service and your website to answer their questions. Catching up is an illusion and we shouldn’t abandon real strategies that are solving problems to chase the next big thing.

Talk to your customers, have actual conversations and understand their pain points.

Set a goal, develop a strategy and plan your tactics. “Remove the strategy and you’re just standing around with your mouth open, waiting for a fish to jump in”. Your strategy should be specific. Make a decision where you will spend your time and energy.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” -Socrates

Don’t Take the “Social” Out of Social Media Marketing

I attended two sessions on social media marketing. The overarching message was social media is an effective channel for building brand advocates that translate to bottom line revenue when done correctly. It is an ideal channel for connecting with your customer, having real conversations and providing an experience that people want to talk about. The mistake many enterprise companies make is over-regulating the process. Social Media Community Managers must be empowered to fix issues and provide a great customer experience. If you must regulate to the point of requiring permission to respond, social media probably doesn’t make sense for your business.


Kelly Homewood

Kelly Homewood

Kelly is the Director of Marketing Services at Fusionfarm. With a background that includes retail management, business development, sales management, product development and marketing, she is passionate about team building and believes there is nothing a team of smart, passionate, empowered people can’t accomplish. Kelly’s focus is on making sure we deliver results for our clients every day. When she is not busy talking, Kelly enjoys reading and planning her next island adventure with her husband and group of friends. Must include excellent margaritas!

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