26 Sept 2008

E-Business 2008 conference

The E-Business 2008 conference was not the first non-academic conference I have attended but it was by far the best conference. It was

Instead of boring academics presenting their research findings, we had three amazing speakers. The most interesting was Michael Smith, founder and online gadget and gift store Firebox. The story of how he set up the company from scratch with his friend Tom Boardman, was really inspiring and he had us in stitches with his humorous anecdotes. Michael has gone on to start Mind Candy - a game developing company and Moshi Monsters - a virtual World and game site targeted at kids. He also gave a very interesting example of how the site WillItBlend.com started by Blendtec was helping drive customers to their site. Just got to check out some of the videos on the site. Really hilarious.

However, I guess the speaker I was most looking forward to was "Marketing Guru" Dave Chaffey. I have used his books and they are recommended text in the University of Malaya's E-Marketing course for business undergraduates. Dave talked about effective digital marketing techniques for the SME and this included Search Engine Optimisation. He's a true SEO expert. Received a number of invaluable practical tips.

A search on Google for the search terms "e-marketing training" shows that he practices what he preaches. All the top three results are his sites. I also got to chat with him for a while during the break. He was surrounded by loads of people (trying to get free e-marketing advice from him). Never got the chance to ask him when he would be lecturing in Warwick again. He pointed out a number of online tools that online marketers could use to optimise their site with particular emphasis on Google Webmaster tools. His best tip for online businesses: "Don't make customers think". In other words, keep it simple. I guess he's a believer in KISS (Keep it simple stupid).

Google works in mysterious ways
- Dave Chaffey

The last speaker was another online entrepreneur, Penny Power, founder of Ecademy - the social network for businesses. She talked about the role of social networking in helping businesses. Penny's lecture was really thought provoking. She talked about Dr.Ivan Misner's VCP, on how businesses need to increase their visibility, then build up their credibility which will ultimately result in profitability. It's so simple but I totally agree.

All of them talked about blogging and the power of blogs but none touched on the issue I was really interested in - that of consumer generated advertising in blogs. Their idea of blogging was more about connecting with the customers or PR. I queried their views on advertising on consumer generated content such as blogs during the Q and A session but I could see they were not really familiar with it. Michael thought it was dodgy but Dave did mention an example of viral marketing on blogs. I got a chance to explain what I meant by sponsored content to Dave during the lunch break. I am not really sure what he thought about it. Guess I taught a marketing Guru something.

It's not surprising, This is something really new here in the UK but this means that I am on the right track as it is the focus of my doctoral research.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you got to listen to a lot of important people. I wish I could've been there for that!