How to Succeed and Be AWesome – ASCEND 2015 Recap

By Tom Tate


The hard truth: most small businesses will fail. Bummer, right?

Don’t worry – let’s change that.

AWeber created ASCEND Digital Marketing Summit with a single purpose: To help small businesses and entrepreneurs succeed. We recruited the industry’s most influential marketers, content creators, social media experts and conversion rate optimizers to show you the light.

After two fantastic days of truth-dropping goodness, we’re ready to be the exception. We’re ready to succeed. We’re ready to make history – and you can, too (…after reading this blog post, of course).

Let’s dig in.

How to Succeed and Be (Even More) AWesome

2016 is the year that you dominate. (Say that out loud. It feels good.)

The sessions at ASCEND covered a variety of topics, but two resounding themes weaved throughout each: To succeed in business, you must invest in yourself and know your customer.

The Year of the Personal Brand

Jason Miller, Content Marketing Guru at LinkedIn, declared that 2016 will be the year of the personal brand – the year where the marketer differentiates him/herself from the marketers beside them.

Jason broke down how to create massive pillar pieces of content, and deliver value and personality to your customers.

“There’s too much value here,” said no marketer, ever. @JasonMillerCA #ASCENDSUMMIT

— Diana Wolff (@di_wo) October 19, 2015

“Personality – don’t forget it. Wittiness is terribly underrated.” – @JasonMillerCA #ASCENDSUMMIT #contentmarketing

— Beth Wilson (@BethB_Wilson) October 19, 2015

ASCEND speakers declared that it’s becoming more and more important to invest in your own brand and platform.

Leading the “business of YOU” charge was entrepreneur Chris Ducker, who closed out day one. His energetic session (seriously, check out his dance moves) inspired everyone at the event to become a Youpreneur.

Dammit I wish I could dance like @ChrisDucker #ascendsummit

— Nathan Latka (@NathanLatka) October 19, 2015

Chris promoted F.O.C.U.S. – Follow One Course Until Success – as a means to build your personal brand, deliver value and to stop you jumping from one unfinished pursuit to the next.

What’s your personal brand? It’s what people say about you when you are not around.

FOCUS = Follow One Course Until Success @ASCENDSUMMIT @ChrisDucker #ASCENDSUMMIT

— Dayna Hawco (@daynahawco) October 19, 2015

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not around.” – @ChrisDucker #ASCENDSUMMIT

— AWeber (@aweber) October 19, 2015

Jerod Morris, VP at Rainmaker Digital, continued to lay the groundwork for attendees to invest in themselves and become true showrunners – content creators who deliver remarkable audience experiences. This starts by showing up!

Show up. Show up reliably. Show up reliably over time. @JerodMorris crushing it at #ASCENDSUMMIT #sustainability

— Tom Tate (@tnrt) October 20, 2015

Investing in your brand is just the first step. We live in an age where we can crowd source that investment with tools like Rocket Hub. Brian Meece, CEO of the platform, took the stage to share how to run an affective campaign. He offered some fantastic advice to deliver value and convince others to invest in your success.

“Be authentic. Be simple. Be credible.” – @RocketHub #ASCENDSUMMIT

— AWeber (@aweber) October 19, 2015

Know Your Customers (Before They Know You)

Developing yourself can only lead to profitability if you are serving customers in remarkable ways. Attendees at ASCEND were presented a slew of actionable strategies and tactics to get to know their customer personas and deliver sharp, delightful, and contextual experiences.

Ardath Albee, author and marketing strategist, offered some pro-tips on developing strong personas. One obvious tactic that never even crossed our minds – use LinkedIn to get to know your customers!

Personas are crafted carefully, or they may have no value for persuasion. What goes in? @ardath421 #ASCENDSUMMIT

— Michael Stricker (@RadioMS) October 19, 2015

Understand your customers by asking questions. This is what determines the context of your content. #ASCENDSUMMIT @ardath421

— Ashley Hinds (@ashleyhinds11) October 19, 2015

Tim Paige, conversion educator at LeadPages, and Oli Gardner, co-founder of Unbounce, shared their expertise on landing page creation, optimization, and conversion. Your web experience should delight your customers, give them what they want and make it easy to opt-in!

Tim Paige @LeadPages Value Bomb Reverse Squeeze Page – so much that you worry about giving it all away #ASCENDSUMMIT

— Michael Stricker (@RadioMS) October 20, 2015

“Always consider where someone is when you want them to opt in and make it easy for them.” – @TimThePaige #ascendsummit

— Liz Zelman (@LizZelman) October 20, 2015

Oli delivered of my favorite quotes from the event: “Delight should be the default, not the exception.”

Truth @oligardner #ASCENDSUMMIT

— Heyo (@heyo) October 19, 2015

For attendees looking to dominate email marketing (and selfishly, we can’t blame them) Justine Jordan of Litmus presented actionable strategies to create personal and impactful emails that look amazing on all devices.

Soaking up so much info already from @meladorri #ASCENDSUMMIT

— Heyo (@heyo) October 19, 2015

Justine’s session called back to the need to really define your customer personas. Understanding the context of where, when, and how your customers open email can dramatically impact effectiveness.

“Context can affect conversion.” — @meladorri #ASCENDSUMMIT

— Jerod Morris (@JerodMorris) October 19, 2015

Noah Kagan, Chief Sumo at, took the stage to share how he gained 50,000 email subscribers in 8 months. Noah’s “wow, can’t believe I didn’t think of that” tactics (like adding a simple call-to-action in your email signature) generated a lot of buzz amongst the crowd.

Andy Crestodina, co-founder and strategic director of Orbit Media, and Nathan Latka, CEO and founder of Heyo, took the stage to discuss ways marketers can dominate content and Facebook marketing, respectively. Their tactics continued to resound the theme of understanding and connecting with your audience.

“If you’re not making friends, you’re doing it wrong.” – @crestodina #ASCENDSUMMIT

— Tom Tate (@tnrt) October 20, 2015

Emotion compels your audience to move. @NathanLatka #ASCENDSUMMIT

— Ashley Hinds (@ashleyhinds11) October 20, 2015

The Latest Tools and Trends

Throughout the event, speakers revealed the latest tools and trends in digital marketing that are yielding great success. Gene Marks, president and CEO of The Marks Group, Peter Shankman, founder of Shankminds Business Masterminds, and Andrea Vahl, marketing consultant and speaker, each shared their strategic recommendations and predictions for the future. Here’s a quick sample of what attendees resonated with:

Business owners need CRMs! @genemarks #ASCENDSUMMIT

— Denice Whiteley (@DeniceWhiteley) October 20, 2015

“Twitter may or may not be the future.” – @petershankman #ASCENDSUMMIT

— AWeber (@aweber) October 20, 2015

“Don’t build your castle on rented property.” Shift your #socialmedia followers to your email list. – @AndreaVahl #ASCENDSUMMIT

— inferno, LLC (@creativeinferno) October 20, 2015

Gene Marks gave the audience a strong call to action – business owners must automate!

In 2016, business owners must automate and analyze data. – @genemarks #ASCENDSUMMIT #BigData

— inferno, LLC (@creativeinferno) October 20, 2015

To continue our mission to help small businesses succeed, AWeber’s Director of Product, Joe Cotellese, took the stage to debut our latest addition to our email marketing suite of tools – Campaigns, a powerful new email automation platform. With each speaker proclaiming the importance of developing strong personal connections with their customers, we’re confident that Campaigns will empower email marketers to do just that, and then take it to the next level.

The new @Aweber Campaigns will be able to segment your audience much better so you can deliver the right message @JoeCotellese #ascendsummit

— AndreaVahl (@AndreaVahl) October 20, 2015

Ready to Roll Up Your Sleeves?

“There is no easy button.” This quote by ASCEND opening keynote speaker, Jason Falls, was not forgotten. It’s up to you to focus, build a better business, and dominate 2016.

There is no easy button, you have to roll up your sleeves and do the work. Words to live by. @JasonFalls #ASCENDSUMMIT #AWeber

— Sean Cohen (@scohen) October 19, 2015

The good news is that you’re not alone, and when you do achieve the success that you’re proud of, the world will be a better place for it.

“The world will be a better place if you build a business you can truly be proud of.” @ChrisDucker #ASCENDSUMMIT

— Pablo Garcia (@PGarciaHC) October 19, 2015

Sincere thanks to all of our attendees, sponsors, participants, fans, and team members working hard to make ASCEND 2016 an amazing event to remember.

Want to devour everything ASCEND had to offer? We are editing the speakers’ videos which will be available for sale in the coming weeks. Click here to learn more and pre-order!

The post How to Succeed and Be AWesome – ASCEND 2015 Recap appeared first on Email Marketing Tips.

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