Top 5 Things You Didn’t Learn at FargoConnect


Our minds were left buzzing and our fingers cramped the night of Tuesday, September 15. Yes, FargoConnect had come and gone. But what a wonderful day it had been.

Panelists at FargoConnect

A one-day event full to the brim with talent, hard-hitting facts and some very quotable moments, the second annual FargoConnect left us all feeling seriously inspired (and maybe a little overwhelmed, but in a good way). Coming down from a FargoConnect high, we have seen a number of great recaps of the event. Ever challenging the status quo, we are taking a different approach. Here are the top five things you didn’t learn at FargoConnect.

Trust is for schmucks…

…or is it? In this digital age, you likely have more competitors than ever. So what will make you stand out from the rest? Marcus Sheridan (AKA The Sales Lion) shared his story of success as a pool sales guy. He found out customers trust companies that create and distribute transparent, honest content. And trust is an invaluable asset.

Marcus Sheridan at FargoConnect

His philosophy: If the customer asks a question, you’d better have an answer. Whether it be price or function or timeline, anticipate any questions your potential buyer might have. Sheridan believes in this so wholeheartedly that he even once wrote a blog post promoting his competitors. Now that, folks, is honest and transparent content.

Frustration is a good thing

…if you’re trying to lose customers. Have you ever spent more than ten minutes trying to find a piece of information on a website? Probably not. Yet websites continue to hide information and functionality deeper and deeper down in hopes that consumers just jump at the first message – which is likely BUY FROM US!

As Sheridan put it, frustration is the f-word of the Internet. The longer it takes consumers to find what they came looking for, the less chance they’ll buy from you.

It’s important to consider both content availability and user experience in the digital realm, as Andrew Scherr of LeadPages pointed out in his breakout session. Wording, images, layout – they all affect the one thing we’re trying to accomplish: sales. Optimize your digital experience, and you will eliminate consumer frustration.

Online reviews are not relevant…

…if all your customers live under rocks. For the rest of us, they’re extremely important. Did you know that 92 percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses? As Daniel Lemin of Convince and Convert taught us, we can no longer hide from the review culture that’s alive online; we must embrace it.

People reading reviews online don’t have a reliable way to tell if they’re accurate or not. As Lemin pointed out, 25 percent of Yelp reviews are fake. If there are negative reviews floating out there around your business (even if they’re false), potential customers are reading them. If you spend twenty minutes a day reading and addressing online reviews about your business, you are practicing good review hygiene.

It’s OK to be boring…

…but save that for a Netflix binge, not business. Being actively engaged, on the other hand, was a central theme at FargoConnect. Erik Hatch hit the nail on the head during our panel discussion when he said, “It’s more important to be engaged than to be engaging.”

Another moment this message hit home was during the speech by Ajit Pai, commissioner for the Federal Communications Commission. Although his speech was about a different topic – broadband connectivity ­­– the way he handled himself truly made a statement about the importance of engagement. As a high-power figure, he took time out of his busy schedule to talk to some marketing nerds and to really care. During and after his speech, he was entirely engaged with the audience. Just check out some of his Twitter replies if you need proof. Here’s a guy who gets what it means to be engaged.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai at FargoConnect

This theme also rang true with MSUM president Anne Blackhurst. She’s so popular with her students that they’ve even created a hashtag for her: #AnneFan. Blackhurst stressed the importance of having an authentic social media presence, and she practices what she preaches. She personally engages with students online, and the value of that engagement shows through in her students’ adoration. She expertly executes a lighthearted voice in her social channels while connecting with students both on and offline. Students clamor to get their hands on the “Prez Blackhurst” bobble-heads, and they delight over the opportunities to take selfies with her. All because she’s authentic and engaged.

Be selfish…

…with your office snacks, but not with your interactions. One cannot deny that there was a whole lot of phone use going on at FargoConnect. Everyone was scrambling to snap pictures of notable quotes, to tweet their thoughts about certain tactics, and to share their own experiences on their social feeds. For a marketing conference, this is expected and encouraged. But we were also reminded to take a step back for a second.

Panel speaker Erik Hatch alluded to it earlier in the day with his message to stop being so selfish with your social media – use it to celebrate others. But Tonya Stende, principal for Dale Carnegie Business Group, really brought us back to reality. Her speech didn’t focus on social media, technology, content strategy or any of that. It focused on – get this – humans. Human interaction. Having a conversation in person. Getting to know other people. Listening (like, REALLY listening). Being otherish. We’re often so caught up in our digital worlds that we forget there’s a life going on all around us. She encouraged us to look up from our screens, turn to our neighbors and start a conversation. Because that’s what being engaged is really about.

Full room at FargoConnect

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