Yesterday the folks at the Main Street Marketing Community put on a conference for small business owners in Saint Louis that wanted to learn more about building their business through online measures.  The conference was at the Hilton Frontenac, and it seems that all of the feedback was very positive.  Here is a wrap-up of the days events with a few nuggets thrown in.

Session One – Keyword Research

Russ Henneberry and myself presented a quick 30 minute session on keyword research.  We covered the basics of keyword research such as various keyword tools (AdWords, WordTracker, Google Instant, Yahoo Suggest and SEOBook) then went in and showed how to seed the keyword tool and get back a ton of results.  We talked about the Long Tail of search, geographic indicators (such as St Louis, Saint Louis , STL) and then mentioned the keyword tracking tool called AWR.  Russ followed that up with a quick mention of Google Analytics and we were done.

We were hoping to help the attendees understand that keyword research is the foundation of any online campaign, whether you do PPC, SEO or even a mobile campaign.

Session Two – Local Search & Maps

Our emcee for the day, Bob Sommers, took us on a trip through the mind of a business owner that owns a car rental company in Florida.  Bob implored us to claim our Google Places listing, and then went in and actually showed us how to optimize our page so that we could get the most out of it.  Bob told us about Viz on the Net and shared his 16 step process to get your business into local search.

Tips included:

Session Three – Search Engine Optimization

Next up was a real good looking guy named Will Hanke from Where Is My Business.  (ok enough of that).  I shared a Ten Step DIY Website Audit and explained each of the steps.  Some takeaways include:

Session Four – Pay Per Click Advertising

Adam Kreitman from Words That Click shared his great in-depth knowledge of Google’s AdWords tool, a terrific way to get your website listed for keywords that may be difficult to rank for with SEO.  Adam’s session was my personal favorite, and his extensive knowledge of PPC is pretty obvious and impressive.

Adam took local mattress company STLBeds and gave them a $100 credit to start advertising on Google.  He set up the entire campaign, and showed us how we can target certain geographic areas all the way down to zip code.  He showed us how one campaign ad was doing quite well, while another ad in the same exact market was not doing great at all. Other takeaways included:


We headed over to another room for lunch, and each of the speakers sat at a different table.  Attendees got to pick a table and sit with the expert of their choice. I obviously can’t really speak for what happened at the other tables, but at mine we had a nice variety of questions.  They included:

Session Five – Content Marketing

Russ Henneberry from Tiny and Mighty was next up and delivered another great presentation on how using content can dramatically increase your sales and referrals by moving people through the sales funnel.  Russ showed us how most of our potential clients are in the Apathy stage and how, through the use of content marketing, we can get them to awareness, interest and ultimately conversion.

Russ took on Complete Solutions and showed the owner Donna how adding an audio file could extend her reach and credibility as an expert.  He followed that up by showing how Donna can reach even more people with her marketing hub.  Other takeaways include:

Session Six – Website Usability

Next up was Sue Spencer of (oddly enough) Sue Spencer Designs. Sue took on a local incontinence products business Medical West.  She showed us the home page of the website for about 8 seconds then took it off the screen and asked us questions about it.  Many people couldn’t answer the questions because the site was so busy that they had a hard time deciphering quickly what the site was about.

Sue also talked about colors and how they should be used to frame certain areas of the site.  Sue did a very nice ‘rebuild’ of the Medical West home page and showed us the before and after.  Nice job, for sure!

Sue also mentioned that contact info, phone number and logo should always be very visible when designing a new site.

Session Seven – Email Marketing

Tom Ruwitch of MarketVolt, a local email marketing company was up next.  He had a series of questions for the attendees including What business are you in.  Many people knew where Tom was going with this, although a few answered it wrong.  An attendee from CarStar said We are in the business of reducing stress.  Good one.  Another one answered We sell telecom equipment to our VARs (value added resellert) which was more along the lines of what Tom was after.  Tom said you aren’t in the business of selling something, you are in the business of solving a problem.

Tom then went on to show us how to set up an actual email marketing acct in MarketVolt.  He showed us how creating an entirely image-based newsletter was a big no-no.  Other tips included:

Session Eight – Mobile Marketing

The last session of the day was presented by Steve Kelley of the Mobile Marketing Institute.  Steve told us why many businesses aren’t yet using mobile, and along with sharing some great campaigns that various businesses have used, Steve also showed us how texting coupons, sweepstakes and other offers can increase sales.  He mentioned the great success of Groupon, and the part that cell phones have played in their popularity.  Steve said that smart phone saturation is currently around 33%, and should be well over 50% before the end of 2011.  Mobile marketing is coming folks, whether you want it to or not.

One thing I heard several people mention afterwards was that they were really impressed with the idea of ‘telling’ your cell phone about a product that you want, and that when you get somewhere close to where that product is, your cell phone will text you about it.  Pretty cool stuff.

Steve also gave away a few prizes, all through the magic of texting, and even Bob Sommers got in on the act.  He sent his first-ever text message!

Conference Wrapup and Q&A

With the last sesson complete, Bob asked all of the attendees to take a moment to join the MSMC Facebook page and post a comment or review of the conference.  It was a terrific tie-in to all the things we learned!

He then invited all the speakers up to the front, and dismissed the crowd.  Attendees were welcome to hang around and ask the speakers any follow up questions they may have had, and many took him up on that offer.  There was quite a buzz in the room and people finally started filtering out about 5:15.

Overall I think the conference was an outstanding success.  Bob and Adam at Main Street Marketing Community really put together a solid lineup, kept the show running on time, and had plenty of breaks to keep the crowd awake and refreshed.  The food was terrific and there was plenty of coffee for me.

All of the speakers will be offering various Java Gyms over the next few weeks, and several of the speakers had some free or hugely discounted offers (including me!).

Lastly, if you attended the event and want to find out more about me or my services, check out my monthly SEO meetup and sign up for my newsletter!  If you want a link to my SEO Audit offer, email me – I’m not publishing that page publicly!

7 Responses

  1. Great wrap up, Will! Your session was great (as were all of them). Your 10 Step DIY SEO audit is a terrific tool for any website owner. I’m thrilled to have you a part of the Main Street Marketing Community team of experts!

  2. Thanks Adam. As you can see, I turned the DIY audit into a PDF for the attendees to download. I’m glad to be a part of the group – even if we’re stuck here in STL and not Hawaii!

  3. Enjoyed the conf. and would like the follow up email. Would somebody please make sure me and Jess are added to the list. Gave Bob my card with both addresses on the back yesterday. Thanks. Ceci

  4. Your article really laid out the conference as it happened and the various marketing approaches that were presented. I would only add as business owners that attended we need to act on what we learned and become the competition. If we cannot do these things ourselves or we don’t have time to do it then consider hiring one of the people that spoke at this conference and watch your business grow. My suggestion is to choose one or more of the marketing professionals and have them put their techniques and strategies to work for you and see why they are the best in their fields. This will not only give you superior results but allow you to do what you do best, run your business.
    Doug Belleville

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