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The Struggle is Real: SxSW2015 Day 1 in 5 Must-Attend Sessions

Aishwarya Krishnamurthy

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Honestly, there are too many events at SxSW to count and just going through the schedule can be trying. Since not everyone should have to spend hours looking through the array of headlines and hashtags taking centre stage in Austin this week, I took it upon myself to go through every single session and curate the ones which I think will standout on Day One into a cheat sheet. The task seemed pretty simple – Cherry pick those events at South by that modern marketers will find valuable. But first, what is a modern marketer?

Well, a modern marketer is an amalgamation of a brand manager, a creative strategist, a storyteller, a data analyst, a social activist, a quick adapter to digital trends and a qualified live tweeter that has to meet business objectives! It isn’t easy to keep up with this evolving term and we know that marketers are constantly striving to stay ahead of the trend and learn important lessons quickly. With that in mind, here are a couple of sessions that we think are perfect for you – the modern marketer.

11:00 AM - What Marketers Can Learn From Political Campaigns Link

We’ve discussed this before in our review of the #Obamacare campaign on social media, and we continue to believe that political campaigns have always been and will continue to be influential to the marketing world. From incorporating “smart data segmentation, rapid response, emotional storytelling, and influencer engagement” (remember Joe the Plumber?) into their strategy to moving supporters up the ladder of engagement, we’re betting there’s a couple of lessons worth learning here. #TDSXSW

12:30 PM - Content Is Content: TV, Social and Everything Else Link

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12:30 PM - How Big Data Helps Convert Fans into Customers Link

We’re torn between these two amazing events that are taking place at the same time – based on what you’re at South by for, the answer to which one you should choose is up to you - but it’s like this devastating question -

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The first session discusses how to deal with the convergence of every type of media onto the lap of one incredibly overworked marketer. As described in the event description “The borders between content and personality, broadcast and digital, stars and audiences have never been more fluid.” It’s not easy to unify a brand message across all these different platforms, weaving together business objectives like brand awareness, CRM, lead generation, etc., but it is vital in the brand ecosystem today. To get a taste of just one of the tasks that marketers have to deal with nowadays – Real time marketing – check out Ad Age's live stream of brands that are live tweeting at #SxSW right now (powered by Unmetric.) #contentis

The other event at the same time is for those marketers wanting to learn more about how to turn fans into customers. You need to know everything about your potential audience and use existing data to make informed decisions about how best to convert them into customers. As a data intelligence company ourselves, we’re constantly looking at innovative methods of capitalizing on not just big data – but smart data. Like we found in an earlier report, follow the lead set by American Airlines and “make your brand one driven by happy, loyal customers who come back for the experience, time and time again.” #bigdataROI

2:00 PM - Content Marketing vs Don Draper: The End Of Ads Link

This is one of the questions we predict will overwhelm the industry in the near future – Is Don Draper obsolete? Will brands continue ‘advertising’ or have they turned into ‘content publishers’, or does it have to be one of the two? I found the premise of this discussion intriguing as brands grapple with how to incorporate content strategy into their marketing strategy. If you would like some pre-reading material, check out this recent interview with Peter Minnium, head of brand initiatives, Interactive Advertising Bureau, where he discusses “digital advertising falling into three buckets going forward: concept ads, commerce ads and content ads.” #MPost

5:00 PM - When Quickies Aren’t Satisfying: Loyalty on Social Link

Social Media doesn’t necessarily fit easily into the concept of a sales cycle for certain industries. The journey from awareness to consideration to purchase to post-purchase is different on social media because the relationship between brand and customer is different – it’s more personal. It’s no longer a salesperson pitching at a potential customer- it’s a conversation. And what is being measured is not likes or followers or even purchases – it’s engagement.

Especially when you’re selling something that you can’t pick up at the nearest mall, engaging with your audience, maintaining customer retention and building a strong foundation of influencers on which to scale customers is something that many brands, and sectors, struggle with. Whether you’re dealing with complex, lengthy sales cycles or would like to learn more about building long-term relationships with potential/recent/unlikely consumers – this session neatly rounds up the various struggles facing the modern marketer, and will hopefully equip you with useful and insightful learnings to apply in your marketing strategy.

After 6:00 PM – It’s party time!!! There’s a bunch of us at SxSW -  if you see our Head of Global Marketing Rick Liebling around – get him to buy you a beer!

If you’d like my recommendations for the rest of the event - just subscribe to the blog and get these curated schedules delivered straight to your inbox!

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