Learning how to effectively grow a business in the digital world doesn’t come organically for most people. In the Greater Portland community Rich Brooks, President and CEO of Flyte New Media and Agents of Change creator, is well known for helping people do just that with his influential presentations and seminars on social media and digital marketing for businesses. Four years ago Rich created a bigger platform to share the latest in this industry: the Agents of Change (AOC) Digital Marketing Conference. AOC will be celebrating its 4th anniversary this year on September 25th and will host a number of top marketing experts who will share new strategies and tactics for increasing online visibility, improving search rankings, building social media activity engagement, and more.
Our Regional Chamber is excited to be a sponsor of the 2015 AOC Conference and share the inside scoop (and ticket discounts) with our members. I sat down with Rich Brooks and asked him about this year’s speakers, topics, and what guests can expect to take away from the conference.
Kelly: Rich, thank you for being here. And thank you for giving the Chamber the opportunity to be a part of the 4th Annual Agents of Change Conference! Can you tell us a little about this year’s AOC conference and what sets it apart from the past three?
Rich: Thanks, Kelly! This year we’re really focusing on giving attendees more choices in terms of what they need to grow their business when it comes to digital marketing. To that end we’ve got multiple tracks and over a dozen sessions on advanced tactics on Facebook, Twitter, as well as newer channels like Pinterest and Instagram. Those who are looking to own the first page of Google will find great sessions on SEO and Google Adwords.
Kelly: Who can guests expect to hear from? Besides you of course! Any AOC alumni?
Rich: We’ve got two inspirational keynotes in Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion, and Dave Kerpen, founder of Likeable Media and Likeable Local. They both have great stories to share about leveraging digital marketing and social media to grow their business.
Besides that, I’m especially excited to have Sue B. Zimmerman, who is hands down the go-to marketer on all things Instagram, speaking this year. I also met Steve Dotto at Social Media Marketing World this year and was blown away by his YouTube presentation, so I asked him to be part of the day as well.
We’ve got about 15 presenters right now either signed or in negotiation, and they’re all great.
Kelly: What is your process for choosing speakers? How do you determine who’s a good fit?
Rich: Almost everyone has to be on my podcast first. (The Agents of Change Podcast.) It’s like a right of passage. During a 20 – 30 minute interview, I get a really good read on whether this person will be a great presenter or a complete bore. The podcast has been the greatest tool for discovering new talent.
However, the topic also has to be a good fit. We’ve had many people who can speak about Facebook or list building, but with a one-day event we only have so much “inventory” for presentations. We’ve never had a session on Instagram, so I wanted to make sure we included that.
Kelly: What are some of the topics you and the other speakers will be presenting on?
Rich: It’s well covered. As I mentioned, we’ve got Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Instagram. We’ve also got a session on blogging and content creation. We’ve got a mobile marketing session, one on SEO, and another on PPC (pay-per-click advertising.) We’re also going to be talking about list building, too.
Kelly: Who is the target audience for your AOC attendees, or is this conference for anyone looking to grow their business online? Do they need a digital marketing 101 crash-course first?
Rich: It really is for anyone looking to grow their business online, but our sweet spot is business owners and marketers. That being said, we get a good number of solopreneurs and consultants as well, looking to up their game for their own clients. We also get a healthy dose of non-profits, too.
Actually, creating content at the right level for all attendees is impossible. I’ve gotten feedback from attendees who saw the same presentation…one would complain that it was over their head, another would complain they learned nothing new. It’s the Goldilocks syndrome. (Most people found that it was “just right.”)
We’ve told our speakers that this is an audience of business owners and marketers who have a website, who have some experience with social media and search. They are just looking to take their business to the next level.
Kelly: What would you say to any digital marketing newbies that would like to attend the conference but might need that 101 course first? Where/how can they get caught up to speed?
Rich: For those people who feel like it will go over their head, we’re putting together a special, free workshop: Digital Marketing 101 in conjunction with the Chamber. (Thanks for that, by the way!) While the details still need to be finalized, anyone who is going to the conference and is a member of the chamber, will have access. And as I said, for those people, the crash course is entirely free. It’s like buy one conference, get the second one free! ;)
Kelly: We're looking forward to that! Do you have any idea how many people will attend this year's AOC?
Rich: Somewhere between 350 – 400, based on the past few years. Most of them are from Maine, but we get people from all over New England and always a few from further away.
Kelly: Do you have any tips or advice on how attendees can get the most out of AOC? What take-a-ways can they expect?
Rich: Come with an open mind. Attend a session you didn’t think you’d be interested in. Bring loads of business cards. Talk to people you don’t know.
People will leave feeling inspired, but also with specific, tactical advice they can take back to their companies and start implementing immediately. They’ll definitely have a leg up on their competition.
I think by the end their notebooks, tablets, smartphones and brains will be overflowing with great ideas on new ways they can use search, social, and mobile to grow their business. After all, those are the Agents of Change.
Kelly: Thank you Rich for giving us the inside scoop on AOC 2015!
As Rich mentioned, we are currently in the process of organizing a FREE Digital Marketing 101 workshop for our members attending the AOC Conference. This will be a great pre-conference workshop for those who would like to get up to speed on basic digital marketing terms or strategies, or for those who might need a refresher course.
Attendees can stay up to date on this year's conference by following the AOC official twitter account (@agentsofchange) and by searching/using the hashtag (#AOC2015). To learn more about the event or to purchase tickets, please visit the AOC website. We hope to see you there this September!