Monday, January 23, 2006

Highlights from the 2006 WOMMA Basic Training Conference

It's the Monday after WOMMA's first annual Basic Training Conference in Disneyworld. I think I'm still recovering. But, that only means it was a great weekend! Andy Sernovitz and his team did an awesome job. So for those of you who missed out, here's a brief overview:

I always seem to make a friend on the plane...
"Group 3, you are now ready to board." That's me! I walked up to the line filled with excitement as the WOMMA conference drew closer. The woman next to me noticed my nametag and asked, "So Scott...do you have a memory problem or something?"

"Nah, I just wear it to make people friendlier and more approachable."

"Really? Huh. That's a good idea. You know, my college roommate wrote her thesis on that."

"No kidding! Are you serious? Wow. Well, look - I wear a nametag 24-7. Have been for 6 years. I write books and gives speeches about approachability - I need to meet your friend!"

Amy promised to pass along my information to her friend. And we hit it off right away! She was a rep for Trimline Medical Products. We spent a few minutes chattin' it up on the plane about our respective jobs. I gave her both books and we exchanged cards. (This chance encounter would come full circle a few days later. Read on to find out...)

Beware of the Turf People...
Our conference was held at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort alongside of the Sports Turf Managers Association. These guys were SO cool. And talk about an odd juxtaposition of businesspeople! Marketers vs. turf managers. Grass vs. word of mouth. The Sports Section vs. blogs. This is my new friend Kevin Gordon from Hunter aka "The Irrigation Innovators." I met him waiting in line as the shuttle staff directed us to our busses with giant white Mickey Mouse (or maybe it was Michael Jackson) gloves. That certainly led to some interesting conversations at the bar! Because Turf People are good people.

I've read your books and blogs, so it's nice to meet you in person...
This conference was attended by some of the world's most notable marketing minds. And after reading about these people on the internet for so many years, it's nice to finally meet them in person! Some of my favorite marketing experts included, but were not limited to George Silverman, Steve Rubel, Diane Darling, and of course Brand Autopsy's John Moore.

The funniest speech moment of my entire career thus far...
During my keynote on Thursday, I asked various audiences members which word they owned. A woman raised her hand and said, "Scott, I'm not sure you want to hear my word."

"That's ok, go right ahead!" I encouraged.

"DICKLESS."

"Dickless?! I replied.

I've never heard 500 people laugh harder in my life. Then, I've never heard 500 people get quieter in my life. So I stood there aghast and completely thrown off by her comment, trying to decide whether or not I should say something clever or just let it go.

"Moving on..." I said. Probably a good idea.

It became one of those conference moments everyone talked about. And we later learned that Dick*less Marketing means exactly what you think it means. Marketing to women. (Were you thinking it meant something else?) Special thanks to Yvonne Divita for that one. Damn it was funny. You can't rehearse that stuff.

And the award for best program goes to...
Tough call. Lotta good speakers. But here are my top three.

1) Customer Evangelist Jackie Huba hosted, hands down, the best workshop of the entire program. She talked about the various elements of creating customer evangelists mixed with an interactive workshop/question and answer period that lasted for two hours. We couldn't get enough! Not to mention, I picked up a signed copy of her book on CD. Score!

2) We heard from humor anthropologist Bob Mankoff from The Cartoon Bank, a division of The New Yorker Magazine and the world's leading licensor of magazine-style cartoons. His speech about humor was unbelievable. And funny, obviously. I also spent some time talking with him before the program. And I've decided he is the coolest, funniest, most interesting and intriguing person I've ever met. He also shared his favorite joke, "You know Scott, I want to die peacefully like my Grandfather...not kicking and screaming like his passengers." Nice.

3) Although his session was small, short and sweet, Greg Stielstram, author of PyroMarketing blew the audience away. As the former marketing director for The Purpose Driven Life - which sold 18 million copies in 18 months - Greg talked about how to make your book a best seller via word of mouth marketing. And as a speaker, let me describe Greg's delivery in the following way: "Like Bob Costas delivering a sermon on marketing."

Other cool moments included...
*Sitting with Geoff Ramsey on the buss on the way to our "African Feast."

*Eating the best club sandwich of my life at 11 PM while rehearsing for my speech. Seriously. We're talking 14 pieces of bacon. Mmmm....

*Departing the hotel at 6 AM after NOT sleeping, driving an hour in the dark to the WB Studio in Lake Mary so I could do a 3 minute interview on The Daily Buzz, then driving back another hour so I could return in time to finish the conference. God I hope somebody actually saw that interview.

But my favorite part of the weekend was...
Coming back to St. Louis on Friday night and running into Amy, the women I'd met on the plane three days earlier whose friend wrote the thesis on wearing nametags.

"Scott, you look like you need some sleep!"

"Yeah, it was a long weekend. WOMMA sure knows how to put on a show!"

"How did your speech go?"

"Excellent. We had a great discussion and program about spreading word of mouth."

"Well in that case, here's a perfect story for ya," Amy said. "I finished your book on the plane. When I got to my meeting on Thursday, I whipped it out and suggested people take your advice on making your brand more approachable. Then some guy in the board room said, 'I know that guy!'"

Word.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...

How do you get people to talk about your stuff?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com