A photo posted by General Assembly ATL (@_gaatlanta) on Apr 2, 2015 at 8:44pm PDT
Last night over beer & Fox Brothers BBQ, we experienced 17 excellent and entertaining Final Presentations from the 2nd cohort of Digital Marketing students from General Assembly Atlanta. All the students said beforehand that they were very nervous, but all of them were very entertaining, engaging, and the presentations were great. I think there were about 50 people in attendance, including co-workers, spouses, and even some parents. Thanks to everyone who came out to support these new marketers, and thanks especially to GA Atlanta and our T/A Liberty White, who made all this happen without a hitch.
I asked a couple of questions to everyone who presented during the Q&A after their 5-minute presentations. These were questions like “what was the hardest concept you learned in this class?” or “what one takeaway helped you the most?” Here are some of the things that came out of those presentations and the Q&A.
- Time went by really fast – I asked everyone at the end how many people practiced their presentation before last night. Maybe 5 or 6 of 17 had done that, and the rest got a real shock when I interjected “one minute left!” at their 4 minute mark. Five minutes is an eternity to wait for a red light to change, and goes by in an instant when you’re in front of 50 people presenting what you’ve accomplished.
- Relaxed and entertaining – The most effective presentations last night were those who talked about what they know. Just like blogging, when you are totally immersed in a knowledge domain, you can easily converse or present about it to anyone.
- Video in a presentation is tough – one student had asked beforehand if he could include a short video in his presentation, and while I agreed, I warned him of the potential dangers. Murphy’s law took over and the video did not work, and then when it did, the sound didn’t work. Prepare for the worst, and have a backup plan.
- Content rules – every single presenter made sure “content marketing” was a huge part of their DGM strategy, no matter what the end product was. Content is king. Every picture, post, pin, tweet, and update is your content. You control it. Content is king.
- Marketing is math – This concept really caused a lot of students to stumble. The marketing funnel is a difficult concept to imagine, so we made it visual with a literal funnel. That helped, but many of the students still struggled with getting from total exposure down to actual revenue. It’s all about the math.
- Starting point – having a framework from which to start a marketing strategy is golden. When newbies dive into marketing, they have no idea where to start. It all starts with your brand. Define it, be intentional about it, live it, and defend it.
- Six new businesses were launched because of this class. Wow.
- What’s your message? – One student realized her message was about “me”, so she changed it to be about her customers, giving advice to them instead of promoting herself. Total game changer.
- “Brand is everything we do.” – I cannot tell you how often I repeated this phrase. Towards the end of the class, I would say, “Branding is…?” and the class would shout, “everything you do!” And it’s true. From Chick-Fil-A employees saying “My pleasure!” after every customer interaction to Uber’s cloak and dagger competitive nature to destroy Lyft, everything you do is your brand. Either you define it, or the market will define it for you.
Congratulations to these new marketers. It was a challenging 10 weeks, but they earned it last night as we brought it all to a close. Thanks to GA Atlanta for their brand, which is open, helpful, willing-to-try-anything, and all about making learning extremely fun and engaging. GA is a top notch addition to the Atlanta tech community. Well done everyone.