SIPA 2011 Heats Up on Day 2

SIPA 2011 Rises and Shines on Day 2

“I’ve had this one great customer for years, a small toy store owner,” explained Donna Jefferson of Chesapeake Family at an idea-swirling Day 2 of SIPA 2011 in Washington, D.C., on Monday. He’s one of the advertisers that helps Jefferson take in as much as $32,000 a month in online ads. “He’ll just go on sometimes about his ideas, so finally I asked I him what is it you want? ‘To get people in the store,’ he said. I can do that, I told him. Sometimes you just have to figure out what they’re trying to do.”

SIPA figured out a while ago that conference-goers want to hear about issues that matter to them and successful practices to deal with those issues. So Day 2 delivered on all accounts. Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research started by telling his keynote audience about two recent experiences: one with an unempowered Bank of America employee telling him to basically call back later, and one with an empowered Best Buy phone representative giving him all the information he needed to make a key purchase. Guess where he spent his $1100? He urged SIPA members to empower their own employees and “find your word-of-mouth influencers.” Asked what he sees for the next five or ten years, Bernoff responded “a bunch of different experiences on different devices, as opposed to the unified experience of today.”

(Remember you can peek in on the Conference through Twitter at #SIPA2011.) Rob Ransom, CEO of Bongarde, next presented a case study of his company’s move from print to online. “Think of your online effort as a new product, not as an enhanced version of your print product,” he said. “And be aggressive about taking advantage of the capabilities of being online–use video, be interactive, whatever you can’t do in print.” He said that old dogs can learn new tricks, but make sure there is a new dog in the mix, who is familiar with the technology.

Seth Arenstein of Access Intelligence and Jason Nelson of FierceMarkets then led an interactive session on content curation. Think of all the products you now make available to customers and all the editorial that goes into them in various iterations. Arenstein spoke of an article he wrote about Toni Braxton and her sisters (who appear on a popular cable tv show). He wrote it long, knowing that the print version could only use one part. But other parts of the article appeared online in various places; that was content curation. (I personally filed away Arenstein’s pet peeve of not being specific enough when plugging something. “Tell the reader exactly what they’ll find in the next spot,” he said.)

At lunch, Knight Kiplinger, editor in chief of The Kiplinger Washington Editors, applauded SIPA on its excellent turnaround over the last year, saying that that “the folks a few blocks away [on Capitol Hill] could use your acumen.” Kiplinger went on to sound many of the themes that conference-goers care about like 24/7 publishing, mobile delivery and “most of all, the fight against free….We gave too much away,” he said. “It’s time to put the firewall back up.”

Afternoon keynote Perry Hewitt of Harvard University captured the audience’s attention with a well put-together talk on her experiences, complete with photos of undergrads and senior citizens alike going mobile on campus. Trade control for influence, she summarized, trade one way for two way and think presence not pub. “Seize the zeitgeist!” she urged, a saying that may not go viral but seemed to fit her campus enthusiasm.

Getting back to firewalls, Caroline Frost of Informa capped off my day with this story during her informative roundtable session on using training to keep your staff engaged. “We had a wonderful motivational workshop one day. I had gotten this motivational speaker who was also a magician to speak to the employees. And he was good. For the climax of his show, he brought out the secret scroll, lit it on fire and yelled, ‘The fire is within you!’ There was a loud noise though not much smoke, but something set off the fire alarms and the whole building had to be cleared for about an hour.” Frost, who has great ideas about engaging employees that I’ll get into in a future Daily, laughed. “We needed the break.”

SIPA 2011 attendees get a little break overnight but then jump back into problem-solving mode for Tuesday’s third and final day. Remember, follow us on Twitter on #SIPA2011. Stay tuned for more–specific–insights tomorrow.

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