Audience Development, Beer, Books and Optimism (#smbtv)

Social Media Breakfast Tech Valley #8

“Overarching message at #smbtv is know your audience, know your audience, know your audience!!”

Katelyn Buress

On Friday (11/12), I had the pleasure of presenting at Social Media Breakfast Tech Valley on a topic that’s been a running thread throughout my career in publishing, ever since my first job as a circulation assistant at K-III Directory Corp., back in 1993: audience development. It was one of the longest solo presentations I’ve ever done — one hour, plus a 30-minute Q&A — and the first time I went with a rough outline instead of a full script, and I had a blast!

As Buress noted on Twitter, my primary theme was “know your audience,” and part of my argument was that nothing’s really changed in marketing except for the variety of ways we can now interact with current and prospective customers, quoting AMEX’s Lou Paskalis’ perfect term for it, “crisitunity.” After setting the stage with an overview of my experience — the presentation could have easily been sub-titled, Everything I Know About Audience Development, I Learned From Poetry Slam — I walked through what’s involved in establishing an audience development initiative, and offered a mini-case study via Digital Book World‘s first year of existence.

Based on the feedback I got directly, and the commentary on Twitter, the presentation was well-received and I avoided my biggest concern, that I’d go too deep in the weeds on publishing issues for an audience that wasn’t publishing-centric.

Besides the presentation, I had a great (though too-brief) time in Troy, NY itself, getting in the two things I love to do whenever I visit a new town: have a local brew, and visit the local indie bookstore.

Brown’s Brewing Co. was one of the co-sponsors, and I was able to stop in the night before to hang out with SMBTV organizers Amy Mengel and Patrick Boegel, and sample a couple of their beers; the Pumpkin Ale was good, and the Whiskey Porter was amazing. Brown’s VP and Director of Marketing and Sales, Gregg Stacy, surprised me the next day with a 22-oz of the Whiskey Porter (pictured above) as a parting gift!

(NOTE TO LOCAL RETAILERS: Brown’s website and Facebook page combo is a case study in doing it right.)

Design firm ID29 also co-sponsored the event, and their Slay the Scary Monsters book is one of the most clever marketing packages I’ve ever seen. I missed their studio tour while talking with attendees after my presentation, but before I jumped on the train back home, I was able to stop in at Market Block Books, a wonderful indie bookstore full of personality in a great corner location. The space is great, brightly lit, and unfolds into a creative bibliophile’s playground with cozy seating areas hidden throughout the store and clever displays like the Performing Arts section sitting atop a piano. It’s exactly the kind of bookstore I’d patronize, as well as like to own!

One of the best takeaways from my short trip up north was a reminder of the energy and sense of community many small towns and cities have, something that often gets lost and/or taken for granted in bigger cities. Or at bigger companies.

The passion and optimism for Troy from some of the people I met was inspiring and infectious, reminding me very much of the community that’s gathered around Digital Book World over the past year.

Thanks again, Amy, Patrick, Gregg, Doug Bartow and everyone who spent the morning with us!

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