The Yahoo! Merchant Summit: Back to the basics of online marketing

Yahoo! Merchant Summit logo

When you live in Silicon Valley, you occasionally forget that there is a world out there, outside of your own technology bubble. The ‘social media gurus’ of the world spend most of the day sharing the same news over and over, and the cacophony of chatter is often monotonous and vanilla.

Unfortunately, while we argue over and over about how to measure engagement and how important the RT is, we sometimes forget the basics. All of the measurement in the world is worthless, if you aren’t measuring how to build, grow, and monetize your business.

Last week, I spoke on a panel on Social and Online Marketing at the Yahoo! Merchant Summit in Chicago. First, I was blown away by how savvy the audience was, especially on the basics. Unlike the traditional conference, where academics and superstar(t)s pontificate on Big Ideas, this conference was all practical strategy and execution.

I mean, I’ve been in the Valley for 3 years now, and this is probably the first time in those years, that I’ve heard a speaker even mention measuring the cost of customer acquisition. These speakers and attendees got back to basics, and came away with case studies and tactics that they could implement immediately to impact the bottom line. It was a heady, back-to-school feeling, and I’m excited that I was able to take part.

The panel in which I participated was made up of myself, Matt Ledford, President of FastPivot, Au-Co T. Mai, CEO of Emitations, and moderated by Sabari Devadoss, Sr. Product Manager, Yahoo! Merchant Solutions. While I covered the basics of what social marketing was and how to create a social strategy (spoiler: it’s not really any different than any other marketing/PR strategy), Matt and Au-Co brought the beef of the talk.

Au-Co shared a case study of how Emitations was using Facebook to increase their sales and build a solid fanbase, who keep coming back for repeat sales and who promote, via word-of-mouth, their fascinating jewelry. Matt used concrete examples to show he’s helped his sizeable client base grow by leaps and bounds, using everything from Twitter and Facebook, to Foursquare, email marketing, and traditional marketing. The questions from the audience were insightful, and the discussions afterwards spilled out into the lobby.

This group of merchants really gets what it’s all about. Branding is important. Engagement is important. But, what really matters, at the end of the day, is whether or not your business is going to survive. That’s what this conference was about, and I’m so glad I was there to get grounded in the basics again.