Super Glad: My Wrapup of BOLO2010

Just tweeting a thank you is not enough, so first I want to share some effusive thanks and praise for Bret Giles, Lacey Brown, and the fantastic Agencyside crew for putting on an outstanding BOLO conference. This was my second year in attendance, and everything about the conference jumped up a notch from last year’s excellent event. If you’re an agency (or something that walks and quacks ¬†like an agency: design shop, consultant, marketing guru, etc) and you’re not already an Agencyside member and a regular attendee at BOLO, make sure you get in on this goodness.

What was awesome about BOLO:

  • The speakers. Dozens of smart, engaging, and informative experts sharing their insights about critical topics in online marketing.
  • The location. Scottsdale’s Valley Ho is a masterful modernization of a deliciously retro landmark.
  • The weather. One of the two reasons I wouldn’t go home until 1 a.m. any of the three nights of the conference. Sitting on the patio and drinking cocktails on a late October evening is Scottsdale’s gift to the world. The other reason I wouldn’t go home until 1 a.m.:
  • The people. Every year I’ve attended BOLO I’ve met bright, funny, interesting people from around the world who are earnestly solving the challenges of digital marketing…and consuming cocktails.
  • The sponsors. At a lot of events, the sponsors are invisible, or get a couple minutes on stage. BOLO’s sponsors are there in the sessions, at a rapidfire “speed dating” card exchange, and of course rubbing elbows over the cocktails and great food that these sponsors generously paid for.
  • Vaudeville 2.0. The conference wrapped up with an entertaining event that featured 5-minute, 20-slide presentations from a batch of hilarious and smart and, in some cases, inebriated conference attendees. This unique capper had many of us ROFL.

There’s only one heartbreak about BOLO: With the extensive speaker schedule and often 4 breakout sessions running at once, you are constantly faced with crippling decisions about which awesome presentation to attend. I know from the Tweet stream that I missed great ones from Brandon Willey, Josh Yeager, Kristina Halvorson, Brian Wong, Kimberly Koehly, and Michael Gass. And probably many others, too.

I did, however, attend these awesome breakouts and keynotes, and I highly recommend you check out the videos and slides on the Agencyside site (I assume it will take a few days to get all this great stuff up there…be patient):

  • Tim Ash of SiteTuners showed us how some often simple changes to a website’s landing pages can make a huge difference in conversion. His Four Pillars of Trust are going on a sticky note on the bulletin board above my computer, for reference whenever I work on a site. You might also want to grab his book, Landing Page Optimization. I did.
  • Jay Baer of Convince & Convert rolled out some of the principles from his forthcoming book, The NOW Revolution, including the 7 key roles that agencies need to fill for their clients. If you’ve never seen Jay speak, check out his website, find out where he’s going to be, and book a ticket.
  • Tom Martin of Converse Digital laid out his Trojan horse strategy of using social media tactics to get a foot in the door of big brands who won’t otherwise take your call. His flagship example was his work using social media to reposition Mardi Gras as a family-friendly event, which led to meetings, proposals, and projects with Tabasco, Embassy Suites, and other big hitters.
  • Susan Baier of Audience Audit rocked her audience with, believe it or not, the sexiness of data. Her Quantitative Attitudinal Audience Segmentation eschews the not very useful consumer attributes like age, sex, and household income and gets to the really useful “why” of consumer behavior. This is the kind of data that even embittered agency creatives start to drool over.

I said there was only one heartbreak about BOLO, but I lied. There are two. The other is waking up (and sobering up) and realizing that it’s over for another year.

Thanks to all the awesome people who put it on, and to all the cool friends, old and new, who shared these few exceptional Fall days with me.

What was your BOLO highlight?

PS Be sure to check out my post on handling post-conference overload.


  1. Jay Baer on 20 October 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Ed, I agree with all of that. Thanks very much for the kind words. BOLO was indeed a fantastic event – one of my favorites this year in fact. Can’t wait for the next one. Drinks on me.

  2. Shannon Johnson on 20 October 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Well said, Ed. Heh, that rhymes!

    I couldn’t agree more with your comment about too many great breakouts happening at the same time. Even though I got a lot out of what I attended both days, I still feel like I missed out on a lot. Anyway, it was great to see you again. See you at #bolo2011 I hope!

  3. Michael Barber on 23 October 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Great recap, Ed. Agree with everything you mentioned. BOLO 2010 was an all around great conference.

    • Ed on 23 October 2010 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks for your notes, Jay, Shannon, and Michael. It was great to spend time with — and a learn a lot from — all of you.

  4. Joe Romanelli on 27 October 2010 at 7:09 am

    Thanks for this great post Ed. You nailed it. The conference was great and even though there were two of us in attendance, we still missed a few breakouts that I would have liked to attend.

  5. Ryan Miller on 27 October 2010 at 7:23 am


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on BOLO. Couldn’t have said it better myself. I thoroughly dug @JayBaer’s keynote and many of the sessions as well. But the biggest takeaway was meeting the other participants, whether I’d spoken to them online before via Twitter or meeting for the first time. It’s a great group of peeps whom I look forward to carrying on conversations with via the web (and hopefully at BOLO again next year).

    PS – thank for you participants guide that you posted leading up to the conf. It was quite useful


    • Ed on 27 October 2010 at 8:00 am

      It was good to hang out at BOLO for a second year with you, Ryan, and a pleasure to meet Joe for the first time. I’m really excited about the extended community that is growing out of the connections made at BOLO. Stay in touch!

  6. Bret Giles on 9 November 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Thanks Ed for the kind words on BOLO. We have fun organizing it but much more fun meeting digital marketing professionals from around the country (and New Zealand too!). Hope to see everyone next year.

    • Ed on 11 November 2010 at 7:29 am

      You and your team should be proud of the conference you put together, Bret. I talked to a lot of people who were thrilled with the content and the conversation. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

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