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Internet Retailer Lessons Learned

by Matt Hunckler

If you weren’t in San Diego last week, you missed out. Over 7,300 e-commerce and Internet marketing pros made the journey to the San Diego Convention Center for the annual Internet Retailer conference (IRCE). This year’s was the biggest yet!

For those who couldn’t make it, here’s what you missed: just about every vendor in the e-commerce industry, networking with some of the best marketers in the world, and killer presentations from leading e-com experts.

Arianna Huffington really stole the show. She brought incredible expertise and perspective, as Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post, the socially-enabled news site which sold to AOL for $315 million in February of 2011.

Arianna’s expertise in digitally relevant content is impressive and inspiring. Her advice and observations were not only relevant to the e-commerce crowd, but to just about anybody doing business online.

Armed with my moleskine notebook and Pilot V5, I was able to capture some sketchnotes of Arianna’s session. There were a few of major takeaways that really hit home:

The best content is real-time, social, and engaging.

I’m already way behind on this one, as this blog post is coming out the week after Internet Retailer. If I were taking Arianna’s advice, I would have had this post out the same day as her keynote.

But it’s not easy, is it?

That’s just it—real-time, engaging content isn’t easy. That’s what makes it so valuable. Practice seems to be the only path to success here.

Good marketing is a leading indicator of what’s happening in the world.

The best writers and marketers take a lesson from Wayne Gretzky’s playbook: “Skate where the puck’s going, not where it’s been.”

How are you planning for where your industry is going? The question we should ask ourselves is not just “What do my customers need?” but “What will my customers need?”

Begin to address that as you evolve your product and marketing strategy. You’ll meet the puck.

Learn to unplug and identify with a cause.

These two “megatrends” that Arianna highlighted peer into the future of the Web and the working world.

People are searching for purpose beyond success and beyond their laptop screens. Appeal to these deeper needs, and you’ll discover untapped potential in your content strategy.

At the same time, make sure you take some time to unplug yourself. Screen-less time will help give you the clarity to see the bigger picture and move the needle in a more meaningful way.

We can’t all be fortunate enough to have an Editor-in-Chief on staff, but armed with these guiding principles, we can learn to think like one.

We also can’t always make it to all the conferences we’d like to, but if you ever make it to an Internet Retailer conference, take a hint from e-commerce wizard Kent Zimmerman and use his 3-steps to IRCE success:

  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Avoid sessions without a retailer as the speaker.
  • Network!

I can attest to the effectiveness of Kent’s approach. I heeded his advice, and must say, this year’s Internet Retailer was a huge success.

How about you? Have you been to IRCE? What other e-commerce conferences intrigue and inspire you?

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