What We Learned at Summer Camp For Marketing Nerds, a.k.a. Denver Digital Summit

Walking up to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts on a gorgeous summer morning, I crested the stairs and saw them. The over-connected, over-caffeinated horde of Denver’s digital marketers, a.k.a My Tribe. Attending Denver Digital Summit is like a summer camp reunion for the tight-knit Denver marketing community; half the fun is swapping new ideas and war stories with collaborators and clients.

The sessions were a solid mix of 5% truly inspirational, 75% useful and 20% “who invited this dude?” Video, analytics and (believe it or not) empathy were all hot topics. But one theme carried through many of the best presentations: breaking through noisy digital environments with very specific targeting.

Seth Godin kicked things off in the opening session by talking about an “MVA,” the minimum viable audience for your product/service. Essentially, what’s the smallest number of people you can talk to in order to reach your business goals? The more targeted your audience, the more specific and powerful your messaging can be. Or put a different way: aim to be important, not popular.

This message was echoed by Mack Fogelson from Genuinely, with an example from Traveling Vineyard. This successful company utilizes Independent Wine Guides as guerilla sales reps. They created a ton of content speaking directly to the common concerns people had about signing up, including videos featuring current Wine Guides. Fogelson pointed out none of this content went viral, because no one was interested in it…except for people who were almost ready to sign on as a Wine Guide. This content was important to the target audience, but not popular in general.

Jason Dailey from Facebook took it a step further by breaking down what truly effective targeting looks like. You need both identity and intent to target accurately. Advertising on Facebook has the benefit of being able to identify a name and email along with attributes and affinities. Mark Zuckerberg knows my name and email, but also my favorite ice cream, last vacation destination, signature lip color and way too much about my happy hour habits.

Matching identity and intent can make paid media campaigns much more effective. For example, say I come to your marketing services page from my work IP address and you cookie me. When your platform serves me a retargeting ad, you’ve wasted that impression. You identified me as a visitor, but disregarded my intent (checking out the competition, rather than buying). By utilizing platforms that tie identity and intent together, you can more accurately target the audience, and leverage budget more effectively.

So, stop trying to talk to everyone. Do what it takes to define specific target audiences and work in platforms that allow you to reach them directly, offering content they actually want and need. It’s not a revolutionary, or even a new idea, but sometimes it takes getting out of the trenches and hearing smart people with passion tell you what you already know to gain clarity. Which is why we put up with the lanyards and terrible coffee.

Want more tips, expert advice, soundbites, and stats from digital conferences? Follow Intelligent Demand on Twitter @intelligentdem or give us a shout.

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