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Videos anchor ‘BtoB’ virtual show

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Chicago—Video keynotes by marketing strategist and author David Meerman Scott and Marcy Shinder, VP-brand management at American Express OPEN, were highlights of BtoB’s Digital Edge, a daylong virtual trade show held yestesday.

Aside from the keynotes, the online event featured six webcast sessions in two tracks, an exhibit hall with 13 booths and a “Communications Cafe,” where show attendees could mingle and converse via chat.

In his remarks, Scott said that in today’s new digital and social world, marketers need to “unlearn” what they know about marketing best practices and lose their fear of emerging techniques.

“There’s this idea that we’re scared of doing things that are different,” said Scott, author of “World Wide Rave” (John Wiley & Sons, 2009) and “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” (John Wiley & Sons, 2007). But emerging marketing tactics, he said, are enabling marketers to “create something that becomes interesting, powerful and valuable for buyers, that they are eager to share, blog about and link to.”

The biggest fear to overcome, Scott said, is of “losing control of your marketing.” He counseled marketers to take a page from legendary touring band the Grateful Dead, who decided not to stop audience members from bringing recording equipment to concerts. Scott encouraged marketers to embrace the sharing of information, even to the extent of not requiring registration or extensive form-filling in exchange for white papers and other collateral material.

The free offering of published material, he said, encourages bloggers to write about and link to product news and research materials to a much greater extent than if those materials were available only behind a registration wall.

Scott also urged marketers to orient communications toward “buyer personas” rather than product offerings, grouping together potential customers with similar purchasing needs. He suggested “personifying” each segment with a unique pictorial avatar, complete with a name—and creating blogs and other forms of marketing outreach tailored to each.

“Your challenge is to identify each of your buyer personas, understand what you want them to believe about your company and create information especially for them,” Scott said.

In her keynote, which closed Digital Edge, Shinder shared American Express OPEN’s experience to date with social media.

“When it comes to pull marketing, there really is a clear delineation between the old rules of marketing and the new rules of marketing,” said Shinder, named BtoB’s Top Marketer of 2009 in November. “Marketing’s new rules involve Web 2.0, certainly talking through influencers and engaging influencers in the discussion about your brand, but importantly, it’s also about earned media.”

She defined “earned media” as messages that have something so valuable and substantive to say, “that other people want to talk about it for you, and that drives a lot of buzz about your brand.”

She said that particularly over the past year, social media has allowed this type of conversational marketing to scale exponentially.

Shinder also noted the changing demographics of social media users. “People using these channels (as a group) have become older, more affluent—and they are small-business owners.”

In order to engage with its small-business owners, American Express Corp. this year engaged in several social media tactics, including the relaunch of its online community of small-business owners at www.openforum.com and participation on Digg, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.

“The power of this medium is about sharing links with scale—a link to another Web site or a piece of content—that other people can share,” Shinder said. “It’s about having access to content that people can share virally.”

Digital Edge was BtoB’s second virtual trade show this year, following its Leading Edge event in June.

“Virtual trade shows continue to be an excellent way to bring people together to talk about b-to-b marketing topics without ever leaving their homes or offices,” said BtoB VP-Publisher Bob Felsenthal. “We continue to be thrilled with the enthusiasm of attendees to chat and learn at these shows.” Felsenthal added that BtoB’s Leading Edge virtual show, focusing on lead-generation tactics and planned to be an annual event, will be held again next June.

Early next week, Digital Edge’s content will be available on demand. The show will continue to be available on an on-demand basis for six months after that.

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