Mark Cuban speaks at SXSW 2014.

Mark Cuban speaks at SXSW 2014.

If you’ve never been to the world-renowned tech and music festival South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, you are missing out!

I was fortunate enough to attend for the second year in a row this year and my brain was filled with all kinds of awesome info that I can use for my job, my hobby and any other kind of creative social marketing that comes my way.

Now, I can’t keep all that fabulous information to myself, can I? No way! I love sharing what I learn with you guys so were are a few tidbits to take with you.


Experimentation: A Must (w/ Founders of Trip Advisor & The Knot)

  • Did you know? —> Trip Advisor didn’t start out doing reader recommendations. They adapted to the market and that’s what they became known for.
  • The Knot didn’t start out with their spin offs, The Nest & The Bump. After success with The Knot, they realized there were so many more opportunities.
  • “Constantly try new things and fail fast.” — Trip Advisor CEO

Questions to Ask in Your Business

  • Where is there a void in our market? Blue Ocean Strategy! (read it!)
  • What are others doing that we aren’t doing? What can we do that others aren’t doing well?
  • What are employees and clients saying? LISTEN!
  • What are core readers, clients, buyers feeling in their lives right now? How can we be adaptive and compassionate to their needs?

Learning Never Stops (w/ Nasty Gal CEO Sophia Amoruso)

  • Learn everything by Google & YouTube (she did & it’s ALL there!)
  • Listen to your fans/readers (sensing a trend?)
  • “Put yourself in places you don’t belong.”
  • Cross- train yourself in different areas — management, design, marketing, etc.
  • Hire good people & trust them. If you don’t trust your people, it won’t work.
  • Never stop learning, you are never above it for your industry.
  • Choose people who are humble & self-aware. No bitches allowed.

Differentiate Yourself From The Rest

  • Articulate what you offer clearly on your website. People need to know what they are getting.
  • What will employees, clients, readers say about you later? Stand out in a good way.
  • You never know when you will meet the right person, follow up after you meet someone. It could be the key to something great.
  • “Have a personality people like…being nice goes a LONG way.”

The Internet of Things

  • As a marketer, you need to deal with customers/readers where they are — you can’t change their behavior, only yours.
  • You must interact with individuals in the way they want to interact with you, anywhere — including employees. Mobile, mobile, mobile!
  • Advertise on the Things! Advertise on apps like Pandora, etc.

Marketing Advocacy

  • Ad effectiveness: Banner and click ads have dropped in effectiveness — it’s very unlikely someone will click on your ad. Think outside that box.
  • Network effect: It doesn’t matter if you have a million friends/followers, you are influential in your own way. In the masses, one person can make a difference.
  • Beyond celebrity: Brands are looking at ways to go beyond those top tier people and more at scale to work with lots of people.

Three tiers of people: 1) Influentials 2) Advocates 3) Fans.
— Each tier requires a different strategy to reach.
— These people are valuable, social marketing is the new thing.

Social Marketing Facts

  • Less than 1% of Facebook fans engage with brands (because they are boring and ineffective with their tactics.)
  • The good old days of free marketing through Facebook are gone. You have to pay to play.
  • Customers are fragmented and distracted…receiving up to 4,500 commercial messages a day. You must break through all of that.
  • There is a need to empower influential voices in the market. This means taking a new approach because a lot of smaller voices nets a better ROI than one huge voice.


All in all, SXSW is an extremely inspiring experience full of people who’ve really made it. They’ve trudged through the crud, stuck it out and come out successful. You can’t attend this conference without tapping into your own passions and feeling you’ve got SO much more to show the world.

From Mindy Kaling to Mark Cuban to Lena Dunham, the stages were full of A-listers.  They were also full of people you’ll never hear of — creating fame in their own way,  in their own industries. Standing out and being successful in this very noisy world is not easy — but being in the midst of dreamers who believe it’s possible sure makes you feel like it can be done.

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