Live from Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit: Chair Potatoes, Empathy Hacks, and Innovation in the Nation

Product and Industry


We’ve officially reached the final day of Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit 2014. Over the last two days, over 6,000 marketers have filled downtown San Francisco with bright minds and bright ideas, the weather has been insanely beautiful (thanks, San Francisco!), and we’ve had a chance to meet members of the Marketing Nation from all over the world.

Let’s take a moment to review some of our favorite sessions, events, and ideas from the first two days of Summit:

MONDAY: Yes, We DID Wake Up at 5am

Have you ever gotten so excited about something that you couldn’t sleep the night before? Knowing that could easily be the case for our attendees, Marketo decided to host a pre-daylight 5k run on Monday morning – over 200 Marketing Nation early birds were running (or walking) along the Embarcadero by 7am.

sunrise view fun run

The views were gorgeous, our spirits were high (maybe it was the sleep deprivation), and there was a lot of amazing purple running gear. All in all, it was an unequivocal success.

fun run crowd

Once our Monday attendees had showered off (or woken up, for those who weren’t crazy enough to run), University Day was in full swing. Marketo users chose from one of four tracks, ranging from basic forms/landing pages/emails to advanced, multi-stream nurturing. Attendees were also able to get Marketo certified on-site – congratulations to all of our new Marketo Certified Experts!

university day

And after a full day of getting educated (or educating!), it was time to kick back. We started the evening off right with food, drinks, and good old fashioned mingling with our 100+ partnering exhibitors. We ate, we drank, we posed for pictures, and we explored new technology integrations.

marketo expo hall

TUESDAY: Innovation in the Nation

Choosing which sessions to attend on Tuesday was a painful process for many – not only was there something for everybody, there were multiple somethings for everybody. I couldn’t resist the chance to see Ann Handley talk, especially after she offered a bribe to her attendees:

Ann Handley coffee donuts tweet

The donuts never appeared, but nobody noticed – as expected, we were all too busy getting our minds blown. Ann shed some light on one of my favorite topics – what content marketers can and can’t take from traditional (aka “old school”) publishers.

Ann Handley session

Her basic take? While there’s plenty that content marketers can learn from traditional publishing, content today should go beyond that model. She outlined five actionable ways that content marketers can take it there:

1) Think about experiences, not just narratives. As we say in writing workshops, you should show, not tell. Give your audience real life examples. Let them talk to your current customers. Let them experience what it would be like to use your product/service.

2) Try an empathy hack. Ann recommended a super smart, super easy way to make it sound like you’re speaking directly to your audience – use the words “you”, “us”, and “we”.

3) Place lots of small wagers. In other words, experiment. As you figure out your ideal content marketing mix, make small investments in a number of different channels, and see what works best.

4) Have a can-do, DIY attitude. You’d be surprised by what you can accomplish, even on a small budget or with a small team.

5) Be a real-time marketer. Tap into conversations that you want to be part of, as they’re happening. What’s going on in your space today? If you want to be part of a conversation, make yourself one.

Next up, I decided to check out a session called “Beyond the Marketing Chick” with Marketo’s Cheryl Chavez, Michele Aymold of SilkRoad, and Maria Pergolino of Apttus – talk about a powerful trio. Their entire session was very illuminating, but here are some of my top takeaways:

  • Careers don’t always travel in a straight line.  If you are interested in something or passionate about it, you should take a chance and learn more – even if it doesn’t seem like the “obvious” progression in your career. That said, don’t try to skip steps as you advance in your career. Master what you’re doing before you head to the next level – a pay raise isn’t worth it if you won’t be successful.
  • Choose the company you work for with care. If you aren’t proud of the product, you’ll have a hard time selling it. Look for a great product, happy customers, a big market, and a winning team.
  • Get the salary you deserve. Fight for your salary! Be prepared to negotiate a salary when you’re hired, and continually throughout your career – it will drive respect and help your employers recognize your value. That said, make it clear that your loyalty is implicit – if you’re paid what you’ve asked for, you’ll be highly dedicated to the company.
  • Build relationships across the entire organization, and beyond. Don’t be a “chair potato” (personally, this is my new favorite term). Get up, walk away from your desk, and pay visits to everyone in your office. Know who the go-to person is in every area. Even outside of your company, find other people like you through local user groups, LinkedIn, volunteer opportunities, and technology conferences like Summit. Marketo actually makes it really easy to connect with other marketing pros through our Marketo Community, where you can collaborate with over 40,000 marketers.

Beyond the Marketing Chick tweets

For my last session before the keynote, I decided to drop in on Dayna Rothman’s session on “Lean Content Marketing for Lead Generation.” Dayna, who I’m lucky enough to work beside when we aren’t running around expo halls all day, is Marketo’s Sr. Content Marketing Manager, the author of Lead Generation for Dummies, and the managing editor of the blog you’re reading RIGHT NOW. In short, she knows a few things about content.

Dayna Rothman lean content session

In fact, Dayna ended up covering almost every topic a content marketer might be curious about – everything from coming up with ideas, to mapping content to your customers’ buying stages, to roles with your content marketing team, to ways that you can create the most (and highest quality) content with a limited team or on a limited budget. The room was completely packed – and it was a really big room.

Attendees of this session were tweeting like crazy, which makes sense – these were content people, after all. Here were some of my favorite takeaways, as tweeted by the ultra-engaged audience:

Dayna Rothman session tweets

The Keynote

As always, our keynotes this year were one of the most eagerly anticipated portions of the event. Today, Beth Comstock of GE will speak to the Nation; yesterday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared the stage with our own CEO, Phil Fernandez.

Suffice to say that all of us – even our typically calm and collected (suave, even) executive team members – were pretty excited:

Marketo execs before keynote

And we weren’t the only ones:

Summit crowd before keynote

First, our CEO Phil Fernandez took the stage. Appropriately, the theme of his talk matched the theme of this year’s Summit – Innovation in the Nation. According to MIT Technology Review, half of the most “disruptive” companies – companies with real, innovative power; companies who are changing the landscape in their industry – are Marketo users. In other words, Marketo users are the people who are changing the game.

Phil Fernandez keynote summit 2014

Phil also did some deep dives (with the help of some Marketo demo rock stars) into three of our exciting new developments on the Marketo platform:

1)      Real-Time Personalization – this allows marketers to personalize content (be it your website, your calls-to-action, your display ads, and more) for each member of your audience, creating experiences that are specifically tailored to their needs and interests.

Real Time Personalization keynote tweets

2)      Our new SEO capabilities – Marketo users will now be able to optimize their site’s SEO, and to compare their rankings to their competitors, all within the platform.

SEO keynote tweets

3)      The Marketo Marketing Calendar, which will allow marketers to view, plan, map, adjust, and trigger marketing programs – all in one place, and all within Marketo.

Marketo Marketing Calendar tweets

Just when everyone thought they’d had enough excitement for one day, it was time for Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to take the stage.

Hillary Clinton keynote Summit 2014

I’d never heard Secretary Hillary Clinton speak live before, and I have to say: this woman is not only intelligent, experienced, charming, and inspiring – she’s also funny. Hillary touched on a wide range of topics – she talked about bringing more women into the technology industry, about the early years of the internet, and about how innovation always requires some level of risk.

Here are some of my favorite tweets about her speech:

Hillary Clinton keynote audience tweets

Actually, this one was my very favorite (yes, she really did say this):

Hillary Clinton marketing advice tweet

The craziest part? There’s still another day of Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit left! Stay tuned for today’s highlights.