Bloomington, Indiana, just keeps getting cooler. Case in point: The Combine 2018. For the eighth straight year, our city hosted this unique “place to be inspired by the people, ideas, and environments that drive innovation.” It was certainly an excellent experience for us here at Content Cucumber, and one that makes us proud to be part of Bloomington’s vibrant startup community. Here are a few things we learned this weekend that we wanted to share with you:
Email Signatures Matter
With so many fascinating topics and presenters lined up, choosing between The Combine’s simultaneous growth-themed and creativity-themed events was difficult. But as co-founders of a content marketing startup, we found the decision to attend Brad Beutler’s growth-themed workshop on “Laying the Foundation for a Content Marketing Machine” to be a no-brainer.
The event covered some truly insightful topics, such as the benefits of planning your content marketing strategy with a content calendar, and the advantages of using a dynamic email signature. Our biggest takeaway, however? Have more fun! As a content writing company ourselves, we were blown away by how darn good Sigstr’s blog is, and we especially admire their mixture of brainy, information-driven blogs and social media friendly content such as their recent “ Tournament of Fictional Email Signatures.”
Location is Irrelevant
Paul Singh is a dad, entrepreneur, speaker, and investor who is currently traveling the country in an Airstream, meeting with startups on his North American Tech Tour. Between his keynote speech on Friday afternoon and his workshop on Saturday morning, Paul shared an immense amount of useful information -- but his message that “location doesn’t matter anymore” was especially inspiring to us at Content Cucumber, since we provide remote web writing services.
A few other thoughts Paul shared that we found particularly intriguing:
Far too many startups are overly eager to get investors, which causes many entrepreneurs to get into “bad marriages” with investors, who are very difficult to divorce.
The biggest sign that a B2B company will be successful? That organization completes one hundred outbound actions per day. (Sales calls, emails, meetings with potential clients, etc.) According to Paul, B2B startups looking to get off the ground should view themselves as sales teams that happen to have a product/service.
Dogs can develop a impactful social media presence, too. Give Jack a Twitter shoutout @JackDuncanDC!
Projection Mapping is Even More Amazing than you Think
Blockhouse.media is a Bloomington, Indiana, media company that focuses on offering services ranging from analog and digital audio recording, full stack cinematography, and awesome tech projects such as projection mapping.Their purpose is to provide spaces for culture and community to thrive -- a mission that oftentimes means hosting musicians, comedians, actors, dancers, writers, music lovers and patrons of the art.
At The Combine 2018 event on April 6-7, Blockhouse put on an unforgettable spectacle in downtown Bloomington. Their projection mapping show had our imaginations running wild, as we imagined this incredible tech applied to event spaces, concert halls, sports stadiums, and maybe one day even the moon! Sometimes a video is worth a thousand words, so rather than rambling on we will simply recommend checking out Blockhouse projection mapping for yourself.
Talk Triggers Beat Ads
Great marketing may not be as expensive as some think. “It’s impossible to advertise your way to success,” said Jay Baer in his keynote speech on Sunday afternoon. Jay argues that smart marketers should focus on a strategy that he dubs “Talk Triggers.” The Cheesecake Factory is an excellent example of how this strategy can work: despite spending significantly fewer ad dollars than their competitors, this chain stays in the public eye through word of mouth, thanks mostly to their famously detailed menu. You can learn more about talk triggers at Jay Baer’s website.
Don't Let Bad Ideas Go to Waste
“Your ideas suck,” announced Jeff Ready, only minutes into his morning workshop, entitled “9 Truths to Starting a Business.” Somehow, this message was profoundly inspiring. Ready outlined his process of building business ideas, proposing that entrepreneurs should track every notion that crosses his or her mind in a so-called “big book of crappy ideas.”
Ready put heavy emphasis on reaching out to potential customers -- not with the intent of selling, but with the intent of learning. It is far easier to create a great idea out of a mediocre idea than it is to create a great idea out of thin air, which is why seeking feedback and recording your ideas is so important. To sum up the lessons learned in this event concisely: great ideas are born through hours of perspiration, not brief moments of inspiration.
Before we wrap up this article, we’d like to highlight our favorite Exhibitors at The Combine 2018:
The Dimension Mill Project focuses on renovating unused spaces and historic buildings to create a new “trades district” in Bloomington, which will be an incubator for startups, entrepreneurs, and innovation.
Cheddar is a metric-oriented solution to subscription management and recurring billing. Their awesome team was extremely knowledgeable and helped answer all the questions we had about subscription billing, which is obviously a topic very relevant to us here at Content Cucumber.
The Bee Corp. is (not surprisingly) a B Corp. that provides IoT sensors and software to Beekeepers across the country. They aim to make the world a better place by prolonging the life cycles of bees and helping beekeepers provide optimal conditions in their hives.
Blue Line Media is a design agency with a unique approach. Their booth at Combine featured a slow-motion camera with actions that attendees chose by spinning a tiny ticker wheel. Dozens of Combine visitors (ourselves included) had a blast juggling and catching candy on camera, and the videos produced on the spot were truly impressive.
To all that attended Combine, Thank you for supporting your local business community and being a part of the future we’re trying to build together. We at Content Cucumber are really excited to continue growing alongside this wonderful community.