Pubcon Florida 2018: Chatbots Are Cool, But We Gotta Keep Marketing Human

April 16th, 2018 by Will Scott

I am sorry to say that until last week, the only Pubcon events I’d attended were in Las Vegas, and of course, when after Katrina the show came to New Orleans in 2013 (wow, seems like only yesterday).

So, last week I went to Ft. Lauderdale for Pubcon Florida. It was a really enjoyable show.

To give a little context, Pubcon Las Vegas is like the CES, SEMA, or ComicCon. There is way too much going on to feel like you’re seeing it all. Kind of like Las Vegas itself.

But this show, the South Florida show, co-produced with the South Florida Internet Marketing Association (SFIMA) is much more manageable.

I was able to bundle a little fun with this trip, stopping over in Haines City, FL (my hotel was in Lakeland, FL), to take part in Ironman 70.3 Florida.

Feel free to read my account of it if you’re interested in the exploits of a mediocre, middle-aged athlete.

We Need to Stop Chasing Google

Every keynote speaker at Pubcon were people I would gladly watch any time. I was sad to miss the closing keynote with Purna Virji of Microsoft but glad I caught both Wil Reynolds and Lee Odden. I have seen Purna speak many times and as I tweeted at SEMPDX Engage, I could listen to her read the phone book.

Wil made some really excellent points about how we as marketing companies need to be thinking about our relationship with the search engines and ad platforms, including a great metaphor about the follow of chasing Google when Google is itself chasing the user (searchers, humans, whatever).

It is really easy for us marketers, especially those like me who grew up in an SEO world, to get enamored of the technology and forget that at the end of the day it’s about humans. Or as they use to say in the Yellow Pages, putting buyers and sellers together.

I like Wil. He’s a northeasterner who has been doing this for a while. Our cultural references are similar and clearly our penchant for a well-placed profanity.

Lee Odden was talking about the intersection of PR and Content Marketing. Lee has been preaching the value of content since the early days—perhaps even before The Content Marketing Institute.

According to Lee, “If you want to be in the media, become the media” – I always enjoy when presenters attribute themselves to quotes in their presentations.

UPDATED: Lee Odden was nice enough to give me the right image. I included here a screenshot from Twitter so you can see his message as well.

My interest in these two presentations is a little self-serving. Both were arguing for a more holistic view of both the user (browser, searcher, customer) than that of the typical digital marketer.

Trust Building for Brands

My presentation, entitled “Brands Win Online” was a further expression of a theme that we’ve been presenting on for years.

In essence, brands get traffic because they’re brands. Even when, in a Google search, a brand is lower down the list they’ll get the click because of brand recognition. We see this all the time at a tactical level where we are able to influence search results by doing branding focused advertising.

The first iteration of this idea, done this way, was in a presentation to the BIA/Kelsey show called: Presence + Authority + Trust = Winning

Paula has also banged this drum a few times with her presentations on local branding including her MozCon presentation: Fake it till you make it: Brand Building for Local Businesses

There were, of course, other great sessions. Mat Siltala was his usual brilliant self, and I learned quite a lot from Tony Wright whose presentation I had the pleasure of moderating.

Here’s a link to Mat’s presentation on SlideShare: Creating Content for Social Media

Did you know, Tony studied Opera?!

The Benefits of Going to a Growing Conference

One of the great things about this smaller conference is that there were no must-miss presentations. I could have spent all day in sessions and felt like I was learning a ton. And, of course, there are a number of takeaways for me to bring home to the team. Including a Barnacle SEO reference by Steve Shackelford of DealerOn.

Brett, Joe and the team put on a great show and have been doing so for the past 17 years. If you’re interested in a more manageable show than the big Las Vegas extravaganza, do check out Pubcon Florida next year.

Maybe, this one will get on autopilot and we can hope to see Pubcon back in New Orleans someday!