Bottom-Up Marketing – at mesh

2 May ’06

When we started organizing mesh we all agreed that we were going to get the word out ourselves, using essentially the same tools that we’d all grown accustomed to using on the web. Of course, we’re 5 guys with day jobs holding a conference, so we weren’t inclined to get too complicated on marketing, but it also seemed pretty natural for us to spread the word using our blogs, the mesh website, and our online network. And so we have – mesh has been marketed almost entirely by blog and by word-of-mouth, and in very little time we’ve sold very many tickets.

Repeat that process hundreds of millions of times every day, and you have what might be not-too-hyperbolically called a revolution in marketing. Call it bottom-up marketing, the democratization of marketing, or call it – as PR giant Edelman has, in the context of PR – the Me2 revolution, the core idea is that the web is changing the way we make important decisions about how to get the word out, and about who and what to believe – and this movement is changing the way we communicate about media, news, PR, and marketing. Mathew writes about this today and refers to Seth Godin’s new book Flipping the Funnel:

if you’re interested, one of the most effective ways to market something is to make contact with people on some kind of personal level and create a relationship, a dialogue — a conversation. As he puts it, “turn strangers into friends, turn friends into customers. And then, do the most important job: Turn your customers into salespeople.”

Stuart notes the shadow that this revolution is casting across advertising, and the thinking that’s being done now to figure out where we go from here:

For the past 50 or more years, advertising has been based on one basic concept: yelling at people via the television, works. You could get enough of them in one place, nice and passive, and if you delivered the right message enough times you could create awareness. From that (and I simplify) awareness led to trial, trial led to preference, preference led to loyalty. At the heart of this process were the assumptions that (a) you could get enough people in one place to allow for scale and (b) the message was for the marketer to control.

Fast forward to 2006, and that past starts to feel like a trip to Never-never Land. Companies are spending 50% or more of their ad dollars on things like paid search, the money that’s left is being cast across extremely fragmented markets, PVRs and Tivo are at long last making commercial-skipping “Me TV” a reality in a way that VCRs never really did.

Just as you’d expect, this is something we want to talk about at mesh, where we’ve organized what we think is terrific content about how the web is changing the way marketing and PR function. From keynotes with Steve Rubel and Tara Hunt, to panels on building a brand online, engaging the blogosphere and on corporate blogging, to our workshops, there will be lots to talk about. Oh, and an unconference room for anything else you want to discuss.

There are still some tickets left, so please join us, and, well, tell a friend.

Update: Mike posts on this with a nice sum-up of how we’ve put the word out:

At the mesh conference, we are going to be looking at how bottom up marketing affects traditional marketing – it’s something every marketer needs to understand inside and out. It is the way of the future, and let me tell you, I am totally sold.

Why? Mesh is a living, breathing example of the power of bottom up marketing. As the organizers we gave ourselves 7 weeks to sell a little over 300 tickets. Just seven weeks. What was our advertising budget? $0. Seriously. Talk about a leap of faith [grin]…

After 3.5 weeks we had sold about 200 tickets – exclusively as a result of us buzzing about it and the word spread and if that is not amazing, I don’t know what is.

Grin indeed.

Update 2: Mark notes how we’ve gotten to this point even though some of us have few marketing skills. This strikes me as a powerful point. Yes, skill matters, it always will. But this is a reminder of the value of authenticity.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Billy Warhol May 6, 2006 at 00:18

I can only vouch for the Canadian success story that is Flickr! a very enthusiastic, vibrant community that is on the vanguard of Social Networking!!

the same principles of passionate users there can definitely be applied to
creating passionate consumers.

These are exciting times indeedydeed!

Cheers!! ;))

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Josh Blinick May 2, 2006 at 11:03

While I certainly agree with your basic premise, I am curious as to the chance of this type of organic success for attracting a wider audience.

Not to diminish your success with Mesh (I plan on attending), but it is essentially a Web 2.0 conference, marketed through Web 2.0 websites, so your target market is sort of ‘built in’.

My observation of Web 2.0 is that part of its success is its independence, so I wonder how that would translate for more established brands.

I am very fascinated by the changes in marketing, and the influence of Web 2.0-type applications on the marketing and consumption process.

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