ICON15, Day 2: For Small Businesses, Personalized Content Trumps All

PHOENIX—On Day two of ICON15, Infusionsoft's annual user conference here, focus was given to the boons of playing up personality as a business tactic. Lisa MacQueen, owner of Cleancorp, last year's Small Business ICON winner, said that injecting personality should be a top priority for companies. "People buy from people," she pointed out. "People buy from you because of who you are, not because of what you do. When you put personality into your business, no one can copy that." She explained that, likewise, companies should avoid wasting time and money by targeting only their most relevant clients, those who are likely to commit to them.

Rohit Bhargava, author of several books on succeeding in business, also encouraged brands to embrace their flaws, though he did warn that they shouldn't go overboard. A trend he sees emerging—which he suggests embracing—is the prevalence of imperfections as a distinctive marker. He used a number of examples to illustrate how companies could leverage quirks to create a presence and use their shortcomings to figure out what market their products will appeal to. Citing the case of Hans Brinker Budget Hostel, which markets itself as the "world's worst hotel," he pointed out that people attracted to the brand are those who are seeking a story to share and a memory to go along with it. In such a case, it makes sense that the flaw be highlighted, as it attracts a certain clientele. At the most basic level, he suggested, companies do this all the time, including fast food companies, who purposely package their products to appear as though they have imperfections. Such strategies give emphasis to the human element of a company.

Johnny Earle, founder of the T-shirt brand Johnny Cupcakes, also pointed out that his business relies on personality more often than is immediately apparent. "Everything in the world has been done before," he said. "Strange is good. Strange is important because it sets you apart from the rest."

"What makes you different will give you an advantage," agreed Sally Hogshead, chief executive officer of Fascinate. "[Being] different is better than [being] better." She added, "It's better to avoid putting yourself in front of someone than to waste their time with lame communication."

Melinda Emerson, founder of Quintessence Multimedia, shared her experience in using social channels to build a brand that ultimately helped her market her books. In Emerson's case, personality was key to the content strategy, but she doesn't advise only sharing one's own content. She recommends posting articles written by others four times as often as one's own. Building off what MacQueen said about reaching only the most relevant clients, Emerson recommended focusing most of one's attention on the social media forum that attracts the most pertinent customers and feels the most natural. Though it's possible that certain processes can be automated on social media—such as posting tweets at a specific time—it is important that a customer knows that the account is being controlled and responded to by a human being.

The ability to customize content is an improvement Infusionsoft has focused on in sprucing up its email campaign builder. "We have quite a few customers who struggle with writing copy," Kyle Leavitt, vice president of product at Infusionsoft, said. Customers can purchase the services of copywriters through Infusionsoft's app marketplace.

This is important, considering insight presented by Clay Collins, cofounder of Leadpages. Collins suggested a strategy in which content is central to lead generation. He went so far as to suggest that it is advisable to hire content producers over of salespeople.


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