#FIRESessions 2010: My 24-hour glimpse of the future

by Mack Collier

Last week I got to spend a day in Greenville, SC.  I was exposed to a day full of fabulous conversations and presentations involving many of the topics covered at most social media events:

  • Community empowerment
  • The power of conversations
  • Why customer advocacy is so important
  • Creating something of value for customers, in order to earn their attention and business

But the interesting thing is, I wasn’t hearing all this smartitude at a social media conference.  In fact, I barely heard the term ‘social media’ uttered all day long by any of the presenters or attendees.  I had been invited by the Brains on Fire gang to live-blog/tweet their F.I.R.E. Sessions last Weds. (Disc – BOF paid for my travel to the event)  You can read my blog posts recapping the #firesessions over at their blog.

I’m lucky enough to be asked to speak at industry events on a fairly regular basis.  The best ones seem to give you an overview of what’s cutting edge right NOW, with a glimpse of what might be hot in 6-12 months.  But the #firesessions was the first event that really made me feel like I was seeing the future.  It’s wasn’t focused on smart social media tactics.  It was focused on smart communication tactics.  It was focused on a marketing world somewhere in the future when interacting directly with customers and having real conversations with them aren’t scary (or as scary) propositions.

One of my favorite quotes from the #firesessions was ““Victory in marketing doesn’t happen when you sell something, but when you cultivate advocates for your brand”. I loved the quote, but also loved WHO was saying it, Steve Knox, who is the CEO of P&G’s Word of Mouth unit, Tremor.  Folks, it’s one thing for marketing/social media consultants to talk about the importance of empowering and embracing your most passionate customers, but when one of the world’s biggest companies is singing from the same hymnal, then you’ve got something.

And that’s what I loved about #firesessions.  The speakers, the BOF gang, all approached the attendees as if they were smart.  We all knew the basics, we know that marketing has changed, we know that social media is big, we know that listening to the customer is paramount.  The theme seemed to be ‘How can we take the stuff we already know, and take it to the next level to create something meaningful?’  And perhaps more importantly, what IS that next level?

The way to think big in this world is to create experiences without expecting anything in return, and customers will follow” – Max Lenderman

The bottom line is that this event left me energized and excited.  You can’t ask for much more than that.  If you are lucky enough to be invited to next year’s #firesessions, please make every effort to be there.

In closing, I want to point out how amazing the BoF gang was.  Everyone; Robbin, Geno, Eric, Elizabeth and everyone else made me feel like part of their family, as they did for everyone there.  Getting to attend the #firesessions confirmed everything about these people that I had suspected from reading their blog and interacting with them.  They are brilliant people doing brilliant work for clients that love them.  We should ALL be so lucky.

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