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Monday, August 13, 2007

Final thoughts from eTail:

Dynamic speakers with a message are the ones that tend to get remembered. You don't have to be dynamic to get a great idea across, but it helps. Zappo's CEO talking about getting pizza restaurant locations from customer service, Bath & Body's marketing VP talking about meeting their customers are ideas that stuck.

The most valuable conversations were those with other retailers. The two best sessions for that were the card swap (aka, speed-dating for retailers) on Tuesday night, and some of the private gatherings organized by Bill Me Later.

Site search was a very hot topic, with more vendors than I would have expected exhibiting.

And, three organizational thoughts: Holding a conference's main session in a room without WiFi or cell phone connectivity is a bit counterproductive. Some forward thinking vendor could have hooked up a few WiFi repeaters to offer branded WiFi service and garnered a great deal of goodwill.

It's clear that sponsors paid for their sponsorship. Starting each day with six straight speakers, with many of them from those vendors, starts to make it appear that you really don't think much of the audience, or their ability to notice it. There's generally a balance that conferences try to strike, and this was pretty far off to one side.

Promoting a $5,000 giveaway, at maximum volume through the exhibit hall is a bit much. Requiring a randomly drawn attendee to hit two consecutive 45 foot putts, that sloped uphill at the end is silly, and makes the people promoting it look foolish.

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