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May 13, 2011 / jasonpinto

Five Things I Loved About the NEDMA Conference


Recently, I’ve been making more of an effort to get involved in the local marketing associations here in New England. I had hesitated on doing this for a little too long. Partially, I had started thinking that I was learning everything I needed to know from the genius marketers that I follow on Twitter — whether it was by devouring their Twitter streams, blogs, or books.

But recently I joined the New England DMA (NEDMA) and AMA Boston groups — and I am dang sure glad that I did.

Yesterday was my first NEDMA conference. interlinkONE did have one of the exhibitor tables, but I was able to spend a good amount of time acting like a normal attendee. I watched quite a few sessions and I interacted with other vendors.

5 things have stuck in my mind as to why this NEDMA conference was successful to me:

  • The Twitter Integration: It makes perfect sense to do this, but not every conference integrates Twitter as well as NEDMA did. For one thing, they had signs on nearly every podium that listed the official hash-tag of the event. They had people devoted to creating content and sharing it on Twitter throughout the day… Some were carrying Flip cameras, others were snapping pictures on their smartphones, and one rep was tweeting highlights from nearly every presentation. Also, every speaker that I saw did a good job of sharing their Twitter handle at the beginning and end of their presentations.
  • A Focus on ROI and the Importance of Traditional Channels: There are two subjects that some marketers might shy away from when it comes to conferences today — ROI of social media and channels such as print and mail. Well, I was quite happy to see that NEDMA had sessions on the agenda that covered these topics. In fact, the session/panel on “Say Hello to the New Faces of Digital Printing” with Margie Dana, Scott Dubois, Frank Romano, and Michael Shea was one of the most entertaining and enlightening hours of the entire day.
  • Inspiring, Educational, and Energetic Speakers: Sure, there was maybe one session that was a bit too sales-y for my taste. But aside from that, nearly speaker that I saw during the sessions brought a lot to the table. Some shared a lot of survey results, others shared tons of case studies — but overall, I left every session with at least 2 or 3 ideas that I’m excited to implement here at work.
  • A Reminder to Me That Not Everyone Believes in Social Media and QR Codes: When I attend a shows that are focused around traditional channels such as print, mail, or fulfillment, I’m not completely surprised when someone is very skeptical of things such as Facebook, Twitter, or QR Codes. But I was quite floored to see how some of the full-time marketers attending the NEDMA show despised these channels. (Of course, most of the skeptics there that I talked to had not yet truly used social media or mobile marketing for their own efforts.)

    At the end of one presentation, a speaker brought up a huge QR Code on the screen. People started pulling out their smartphones to scan the QR Code — it was pointing to the presentation online. Well, within 2 seconds, a skeptic in the audience let out one of the biggest groans I’ve ever heard at a conference. (I think the QR Code might have given him the evil eye or called him a dirty name?) He started muttering things like “these stupid things never work… what a waste of time”.

    This helped remind me that while social media and QR Codes may be extremely hot and popular among some circles, there are still plenty of folks out there that need to be engaged with in different fashions.

  • Ann Handley / Marketing Profs: For the first time ever, I had the chance to see Ann Handley speak. She delivered the keynote address at the end of the day. Well, let me just put it like this — Ann absolutely rocks.

    She delivered a presentation that was funny, emotional, and engaging. The information she provided was compelling and actionable.  By the end of her 60 minutes, I absolutely wanted to run home and start reading Content Rules all over again.

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