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November 15, 2011
True Talk LA: Traditional Marketing + Social Media
A diverse crowd socializes at a venue a few blocks from the Santa Monica beach while the latest songs play in the background at just the right volume. While some decide to walk around in order to “work the room,” others relax on the plush leather couches. No, this isn’t a Saturday night scene from a lounge in the laid-back beachfront city. It was a Tuesday night and the inaugural True Talk, an event created by TrueBridge Resources Director Luetrell Toler to discuss the latest Marketing trends in a comfortable, sociable environment.

True Talk LA kicked off at the cleanly designed office space venue Blank Spaces on Tuesday November 1 with the aforementioned entertainment provided by Twin DJ Duo Dufflebag Divas and a special guest from across the Atlantic. Ireland native Doug Baxter, who recently relocated to Los Angeles from Dublin to continue his CEO duties for leading Irish ad agency Robot & Child, brought some trans-Atlantic perspective to the table with a historical analysis of the struggles and successes of UK-based Virgin Atlantic Airways. After citing examples of oft-utilized social media campaigns that were launched by Virgin and other companies, Baxter reminded the audience that substance ultimately comes before style. “Marketing isn’t the difference-maker, service is,” said Baxter before being met with applause.

As they prepared to turn their attention to the next speaker, the crowd would have reason to cheer Baxter again as he gave away an iPad to the winner of a social media trivia contest that mostly everyone participated in. This proved to be an ideal segue into a thorough presentation on social media engagement ROI by LetsDo.com CEO and Co-Founder Val Brennan. While discussing a phenomenon that often seems complicated at first, Brennan was able to demystify Twitter marketing simply with well-timed references to college football fans (in an analogy to how dedicated and vocal fans can become online via social media), key statistics, and demographics. “There are three types of people that you’ll find often in the social media space: the connector, the maven, and the salesperson. The connector connects other people with each other and shares valuable information, the maven is a widely followed thought leader who has the expertise and credibility to speak on certain subjects, and the salesperson rapidly spreads your product and helps make it more popular,” said Brennan. She also made sure to point out that businesses should self-evaluate and have a clear goal when jumping headfirst into social media.

The theme of practicality continued when startup extraordinaire Justin Kahn took the stage with an informative presentation on designing products. Kahn, a self-described ‘serial entrepreneur” who most recently created a takeout food mobile app named Curbsy, reminded entrepreneurs that reality checks are priceless during the design phase of their products. “Designers can benefit if they honestly ask themselves if they would use the product and gauge the usability of whatever they are creating.”

An unexpected balance was provided by the final presentation, which was done by Pierre Bradshaw, music industry veteran and founder of digital entertainment monetization company Rock Star Labs. Speaking with utmost precision, Bradshaw was able to remind the audience that Marketing was originally designed as a means to generate cash, and not just notoriety. While discussing his own failures and successes as an entrepreneur, Bradshaw shared honest insight on how to avoid the same mistakes he made previously and learn from his best moves. “Always remember the three keys to profitability. Know your audience, know where to find them and know how to monetize them,” said Bradshaw. Despite not broaching social media during most of his presentation, Bradshaw did take time to highlight Tracking202 and its’ exceptional PPC (pay per click) online marketing campaign tracking abilities and recommend Facebook as the best platform for generating online traffic, and hence dollars. As the audience asked questions during the closing panel after hearing a few vintage songs on the Dufflebag Divas’ playlist, Baxter provided a timely quote about combining the old with the new.

“We are still in the storytelling business. Despite all these new technologies, our responsibility still is to generate emotional traction for the brands we represent.”

You can follow True Talk presenters on Twitter: Pierre Bradshaw (@rockstarlabs), Justin Kahn (@curbsy), ValBrennan (@VKBrennan) and Doug Baxter (@thisisio)

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Elias Kamal Jabbe is a Los Angeles-based Journalist and PR Specialist and the Founder of Multicultural Matters, an online media outlet focused on multiculturalism and international entrepreneurship. Feel free to connect with him via LinkedIn or Twitter.com/Elias213 for more information.
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