Highlights from our 2019 Conference.

This year’s Get Smart was afternoon full of connection, vision, and education. In case you missed it, (or just want a refresh!) here are some of the highlights from the day.

The theme was Embrace Innovation, Stay Human and our rockstar lineup of speakers really ran with that topic. There was a recurring theme of focusing on how you want people and users to feel. Start with that feeling and work backwards from there to innovations in your products and systems.

Your Ideas Don’t Matter; People Do.

In Ann Novelli’s session about design thinking, she taught that innovations should always begin with observing the people you want to serve, and then travel through an infinite loop —  Observe, Reflect, Make — for continued improvement. She encouraged us to fail fast and fail cheap (paper prototypes, anyone?). More information and resources about how IBM scaled the idea of design thinking can be found here.

More Than Numbers: Using Your Data to Tell a Story

Amanda Powell showed us how to dig into that data in your Google Analytics and Google Search Console to find the full story that data can tell. She also reminded us to make sure marketing efforts align with the audience we are designing content for. For analytics veterans, it was a great reminder of the useful nuggets data has to offer. For those less experienced with analytics, Amanda showed how usable and not scary Google’s tools can be.

Personalization: Beyond the Hype

Our panel of Tim Hayden, Heather Hildebrand, and David J. Neff, moderated by WCA President Jenny Magic was chock full of thought-provoking nuggets that rang true to the day’s theme of focusing on the user. There were far too many great points to summarize here, but a couple favorites include:

  • Personalization isn’t new. It’s the same thing as the local butcher knowing what cut of meat your grandmother liked, we’re just figuring out how to do this in a digital age.
  • The simplest types of personalization find common problems many users face and makes the solution feel unique.
  • Personalization requires data. Users and customers are willing to share their data as long as we are transparent about how it will be used. 

Master Class: Hella Good Content

We all know content is king, but Meredith Gonsalves really broke down what makes content ‘hella good’ and effective. The first step of good content is knowing who the content is for. (Sound familiar? Start with the user.) Users want content that is useful, relatable, and entertaining. Good content checks two of those boxes, HELLA good content checks all three. 

Meredith also walked us through a 5-step content creation road map:

  1. Content Topics & Concepts – What are your business objectives and audience personas?
  2. Content Audit – What do you already have and what is missing?
  3. Content Tone of Voice – What guidelines and principles will mold how stories are told?
  4. Distribution Channels – Where will this content live?
  5. Publishing Schedule – What and when will you publish?

Master Class: Customer Journey Mapping

In his Master Class, Jon Simmons asked us to take a thoughtful, hands-on consumer experience and build case studies for our clients, consumers, and companies. Through the exercise, we created consumer empathy to find out what unanswered questions, unmet needs, and idea-catalyzing behaviors were hiding in the process. Staying in tune with our customer’s or client’s journey is necessary to successfully creating an offering that shifts behavior, organically generates habitual engagement, and promotes a profitable viral cycle. The workshop introduced a multidisciplinary approach to journey mapping for product design, service design, marketing, and business design.

Keynote: You are What You Create

Leslie Wingo ended the conference staying true to the day’s theme of staying human. She opened her keynote by asking us to cross our arms. Then she told us to cross them the other way. Even when it’s awkward, she encouraged us to do things differently than we normally do. She reminded us that we’ve been communicating since the beginning of time but how we communicate has changed.

She showed us personalization must be meaningful. There is a difference between connection and meaningful relationships. Relationships are important and give you the permission to ask for things.

She concluded her talk with three challenges:

  1. What actions can you take to change the conversation about what a leader is?
  2. What can you do to step up your own leadership?
  3. What can you do to create change and change how we tell stories?

Breaking News – Decent Partnership and Sponsorship

WCA proudly announced a partnership with health insurance provider Decent at Get Smart.  Under the partnership, self-employed members of Women Communicators of Austin (and its special interest group, Freelance Austin), will receive a 1% discount on Decent’s lowest-premium Bronze and Silver plans. Self-employed members include freelancers, contractors, consultants, sole proprietors, and others among the “1099 labor force.” To sign up or get more information, check out the WCA health insurance page. 

Thanks for Ellie Fanning and the fantastic Get Smart committee for putting together a great day of inspiration and networking. We are already looking forward to next year!