Tag Archives: women

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"There Aren’t Enough Qualified Women Speakers" and Other Garbage Excuses for Why Your Marketing Event Isn’t Gender Diverse

Blog images by Alejandra Porta.

I’ve attended enough tech and marketing events to make a few generalizations:

  1. Women are hugely underrepresented; whether it’s a panel or a conference speaker lineup, chances are it’s overrun with white men.
  2. Sexism is prevalent, and it spans from subtle (think underrepresentation, pinkwashed girls’ lounges) to overt (think harassment, non-consensual advances).

There are exceptions (there always are), but this is the general rule, and it’s a huge stain on the industry you and I are both a part of.

Now I want to make it clear, I’m not here to chastise anyone. As a used-to-be conference organizer, I’m guilty of it too.

When I ran Unbounce’s first-ever Call to Action Conference (CTAConf) four years ago, I invited four women to speak, two of which spoke on a panel. The other seven were — you guessed it — white males.

My reason was an all-too familiar one: “There aren’t enough qualified female speakers.”

This is garbage. It’s unacceptable. And it’s not a reason at all — it’s an excuse. What it really came down to was, I wasn’t trying hard enough.

I wasn’t asking my network for recommendations. I wasn’t doing enough research. I wasn’t making the extra effort required to widen the pool of speakers. I wasn’t committed to gender diversity.

Fast forward to today and my perspective has completely changed. Not only because it’s important to me on a personal level, but also because it makes business sense.

See, when you pull from the same pool of speakers as other folks in your industry, everything starts to look like white bread — bland and borderline junkfood. Your conference looks like that other conference that happened a few months ago. And the content? Yep, it’s the same, too.


When you use the same speakers, your lineup looks like white bread—bland and borderline junkfood.
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By digging a little deeper and expanding your search a little wider, you can discover fresh up-and-coming talent with new perspectives, new things to teach. And you show female attendees that their voice and their professional development matter.

And did I mention you sell tickets and attract more female attendees?

Moz, which hosts its own conference (MozCon), reported that as the percent of female speakers increased so did the percent of female attendees. What else can I say but duh?

I see a lot of progress being made around improving gender diversity in marketing and tech. People are asking questions, they’re holding companies accountable, they’re having those tough conversations, which is a great start.

But what are people actually doing about it?

This post will dig into specific steps you can take to improve gender diversity at your next event. They’re the result of an honest-to-goodness desire to do the right thing and our own cringe-worthy fumbles (more on that later).

It’s my hope that these tips and tactics will help to alleviate any hesitation you or your organization might have about taking the leap.

Commit to gender parity

At Unbounce, we’ve been having conversations around gender diversity for months, so when Unbounce CEO Rick Perrault challenged us to commit to gender parity at CTAConf 2017, the response was a resounding YES, YES, YES.

Making progress one Slack convo at a time.

It’s as simple as this. And yet it’s a bit more nuanced as well.

The truth is, achieving gender parity did take a bit more time and a bit more effort. But the result is a more dynamic lineup of speakers and an opportunity to tap into an audience that otherwise might’ve passed on your event.

Forget ROI — talk about RO why not?!


Commit to gender parity at your #marketing event—the result is a more dynamic lineup of speakers.
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So how did we do it? How did we stack our lineup with talented male and female speakers? (And more importantly, how can you?)

  1. Leverage your social network and ask for recommendations via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (like Unbounce Co-Founder Oli Gardner did for the Unbounce Road Trip in 2015).
  1. Pull from existing comprehensive lists such as this list of 1,000+ tech speakers who aren’t men and this one featuring 100 influential women marketers.
  2. Trade past speaker lists and ratings with your network of event organizers. I sent personal emails to every event organizer I knew asking them for their past speaker lineups and ratings, and in exchange I shared our list and ratings. This tactic is one is my faves, and it’s how we scored a ton of speaker leads for CTAConf.
  3. Email past presenters and speakers and ask them for recommendations. It’s how we found Claire Suellentrop, who’s speaking about creating high-converting campaigns using Jobs To Be Done at this year’s conference.

Sponsor the women at your own company

I honestly believe that everyone has something to teach. EVERYONE. Regardless of gender, regardless of age, regardless of job title, everyone is an expert in something.

It’s this belief that gave me the courage to raise my own hand and ask to speak at last year’s CTAConf.

But I wasn’t a quote unquote speaker. I guess you could have called me a speaker in residence. I spoke at a few small-time events here and there, but I am not famous like Seth Godin. I don’t travel the world speaking at industry events or conferences.

I was caught in a classic Catch-22: I couldn’t become a speaker without experience, but I couldn’t get experience because I wasn’t a speaker.

But rather than focusing on what I didn’t have, our speaker selection committee focused on what I did have: enthusiasm and a whole lotta event marketing experience to boot.

Once the committee deliberated, I spent two hours whiteboarding my talk with Oli. He and Unbounce Senior Conversion Optimizer Michael Aagaard also reviewed my slide deck multiple times, providing constructive feedback.

Their expertise helped fill the gaps in my resume, so that when I stood up on that stage I felt prepared and supported.

And guess what? It went really well.

So this year we reserved one CTAConf speaker slot for employees, and we sent a callout asking for applicants. The response blew my mind: Four applicants, all women. And though the choice was a tough one, I’m pleased to say Alexa Hubley — Customer Communications Specialist and first-time conference speaker — will be on stage at CTAConf 2017 with her talk “Master Customer Marketing By Watching Romantic Comedies.”

So what can you do to improve gender diversity at your upcoming event? You can start in your very own backyard. Encourage high-performing women at your company to speak at events, and offer them mentorship and support to get them up on stage.

And if you’re a man who’s been asked to speak at an event, consider if there’s a woman you know who is equally qualified to speak on the subject. If there is, offer up your slot. In fact, Oli already did this, when he recommended me to speak at CIMC 2017.


For every man asked to speak at an event, there’s a qualified woman who hasn’t been. Find her.
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Create a code of conduct

A clear code of conduct helps create a safe environment for your staff and your event attendees by setting expectations for what is and what is not acceptable behavior.

From a diversity perspective, a code of conduct is an especially helpful tool for making women feel at ease, because there are strict policies in place to deter discrimination and harassment.

Creating a code of conduct out of thin air might seem intimidating, so I suggest pulling inspiration from existing codes and adding your own personal flavor.

When we created our code of conduct, we looked to other companies we admired, specifically Moz and Atlassian.

Wistia has written an exceptional post about how and why they created their code of conduct for WistiaFest, including how they made it visible. Humble folks that they are, they highlighted where they could have improved (so you can learn from their mistakes!).

You’ll notice three core principles outlined in all these codes:

  1. Be nice/respectful/kind/inclusive
  2. Be professional
  3. Look out for others
Wistia’s “Golden Rules.” Image via Wistia.

Including these three core principles and your company’s core values is a great place to start.

And remember, there are no rules when it comes to creating a code of conduct, except one… you have to be prepared to enforce it.

Enforce your code of conduct

A code of conduct is like insurance; you hope you never have to use it, but in those unfortunate circumstances, you’ll be glad you have something to back you up.

At this year’s conference, we’re making our code of conduct front and center with printed posters hung around the venue.

You’ll also find the code on the CTAConf website as well as in our conference app. And we’ve made it simple to report a violation by including a direct phone number to our event marketing coordinator in our code of conduct.

While I can’t go into the specifics of every reported incident, I can tell you we’ve enforced our code multiple times, with attendees and speakers.

Yes, speakers.

Remember when I mentioned cringe-worthy fumbles? Well read on, readers.

See, live events are a tricky beast. You have this very passionate person up on stage who’s pumped up and maybe a little nervous. You have no idea what’s going to come out of their mouth. You hope it won’t be anything offensive, but you really have no idea.

You do, however, have control over their content, specifically their slide deck. This is something we learned the hard way:

Props to Annette for calling us out. It wasn’t our slide, but as event hosts, the content that gets projected for all our guests to see is our responsibility. Period.

So what did we start doing to make sure this never happened again? We leaned on our code of conduct:

  1. We send all our presenters the code of conduct beforehand via email
  2. We include the code of conduct in our Speaker Field Guide, which contains everything a speaker needs to know, such as contact information, travel and accommodation info and slide deck specs
  3. (This one’s a biggie.) We review and sign off on everyone’s slide decks, slide by slide, to ensure there’s no offensive or discriminating content
  4. We don’t invite back speakers who’ve broken our code of conduct

And next year, we’ll take a page out of Moz’s book by including our code of conduct right in our speaker and sponsor contract.

So does all of this “extra stuff” add to our workload? You bet it does. But it’s something we account for now. And the payoff is invaluable.

We’ve still got growing to do

You may have noticed this post is focused on how to create a gender diverse event and not a diverse event. The truth is, we know we can #dobetter at elevating folks who aren’t typically asked to speak at events — not just white women, but people of color, non-binary folks and members of the LGBTQ community.

We know we have more growing to do and we’re committed to it, just as we were committed to achieving gender parity at this year’s conference.

I think we’ve come a long way as a company, and I think I’ve come a long way as a champion for women. The excuse I gave as a conference host nearly four years ago — that there weren’t enough qualified women speakers — is no longer an excuse.

We’re welcoming 10 exceptional men and 10 extraordinary women to the CTAConf stage in June, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Hope to see you there :)

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"There Aren’t Enough Qualified Women Speakers" and Other Garbage Excuses for Why Your Marketing Event Isn’t Gender Diverse

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How to Create Meaningful Marketing Experiences Before, During and After Conversion

landing-page-optimization-quest
Optimizing your landing page is a noble quest – but it’s only one step of the customer’s journey to conversion. Image source.

As marketers, we tend to focus (sometimes obsessively) on the conversion.

On our landing pages, we tweak this and that on an endless quest for the perfect conversion rate. It’s a noble quest, but an awesome landing page is only one piece of the puzzle.

As Mack Fogelson, founder and CEO of community building firm Mack Web, explained in our recent Unwebinar, landing pages are just one of many touch points that prospects have with you before they convert.

To create truly delightful and high-converting marketing campaigns, you need to mind all marketing channels: your landing pages, paid advertising, blog, website, social presence, event strategy and beyond.

When all channels are optimized and working together as a unit, everyone wins. You create delightful experiences for your audience and they thank you by converting (and even spreading the word).

So what does it take to create awesome experiences for your audience before, during and after the conversion? Find out by watching the webinar recording here – or keep reading for a breakdown of the key takeaways.

Understand your meaning beyond money

At the core of every business is a greater purpose. It’s what motivates entrepreneurs to quit their day jobs and it’s what attracts your biggest brand advocates.

Before you optimize any part of your marketing campaign, Mack says you should step back and ask, “What is my meaning beyond money?

Take GoldieBlox for example. While the company pay the bills by selling toys to young girls, their meaning beyond money runs much deeper, as their founder Debbie Sterling explains in the video below:

When she was an engineering student, Debbie was always surprised by how few women were in the field. That motivated her to create a toy company that would help girls develop an affinity for engineering, science and technology – ultimately working toward closing the gender gap.

It’s a purpose that resonates deeply with many of her customers, and adds an undercurrent of genuineness and authenticity to GoldieBlox. Mack explained why this is important:

Being authentic is what connects people to your brand.

Beyond that, understanding the core meaning of your business helps you align all your messaging and marketing efforts – starting with your landing page.

Convey that purpose on your landing page

Mack’s client Traveling Vineyard is a wine tasting company that creates stay-at-home jobs for hundreds of women.

When they started working together, Mack found that Traveling Vineyard’s messaging across channels felt disjointed and failed to communicate their unique value proposition. Have a look at one of their older landing pages:

traveling-vineyard-old-lp

While the landing page had some more obvious design issues (multiple CTAs and cheesy stock photos, for starters), Mack knew that the ultimate problem ran deeper: Traveling Vineyard needed to better communicate authenticity and genuineness.

After all, as Mack explained, Traveling Vineyard doesn’t just sell wine. Their company changes the lives of women by introducing a new passion into their lives and empowering them to work.

With all of this sorely lacking in their messaging, it was time to tell the story of real women on their landing pages and across all marketing channels.

Have a look at one of the landing pages they created to this end:

traveling-vineyard-kirby-lp

This new page tells the story of Kirby, a real woman who became a wine guide with Traveling Vineyard. It includes photos and anecdotes, as well as a testimonial of how working for the company has changed her life.

It also goes to great lengths to address fears that potential women might have, culminating in a lead gen form:

travelling-vineyard-lead-gen-form

But does the new landing page motivate like minded women to become wine guides, too?

The makeover, along with other efforts to align their messaging across channels (which we’ll get into below), resulted in a 57% increase in lead form submissions.


Transparency makes you human. It connects people to your brand & builds community. @mackfogelson
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Sync and optimize all your marketing channels

Once you’ve got a landing page that effectively communicates the core meaning of your business, your work isn’t done.

As Mack explained, your next job is to ensure that the message is being conveyed across all marketing channels, including:

  • Your blog posts
  • Your email marketing
  • Your social media campaigns
  • Your paid marketing efforts
  • Your automated email sequences to nurture leads

For example, once Mack had effectively communicated Traveling Vineyard’s purpose on their landing page, she got to work on other channels that prospects encountered at every step of the buyer journey:

  1. Blog posts that told Kirby’s story and drove traffic to the landing page
  2. Emails to existing customers to thank them for empowering women like Kirby
  3. Emails to existing wine guides to inspire them to invite their friends and family to become guides as well
  4. Follow up email sequences that communicated next steps and allowed them to deliver on their promise of changing lives
  5. Paid ads on Facebook that told Kirby’s story:
travelling-vineyard-facebook-advertising

All of these optimization efforts took place over the course of a year. As Mack explained, aligning your messaging isn’t a one-off campaign but a long game that adds durability to your company and makes for a sustainable and successful business.

It leads to evergreen content that people will find valuable for years to come.

And it leads to cohesive marketing experiences connected to the heart of what you want to achieve. That kind of cohesive experience resonates with and attracts prospects who share similar goals.


Cohesive marketing experiences allow you to convey your purpose. And they inspire people to convert.
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Start with the why

While Mack acknowledged that the “meaning beyond money” philosophy might sound a bit fluffy, it lends itself naturally to more concrete goals and financial benchmarks. She explained that understanding the why helps you break down the what of your marketing strategy:

core-goals-tactics

If you start with the why, Mack explained, you can then work backwards to establish concrete business goals – and the strategies and tactics that’ll help you get there.

Over to you. Are your landing pages conveying what matters to you as a business? And does that echo throughout everything you do?

– Amanda Durepos


core-goals-tactics

This article: 

How to Create Meaningful Marketing Experiences Before, During and After Conversion

Interview With Graphic Designer Anthony Burrill

Anthony Burrill is one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary graphic design, known for his thought-provoking posters, printed traditionally in letterpress. He has never worked for another design firm, and his first studio was at home — at his kitchen table.
Upon graduating in 1991, he has worked independently in loose collaboration with friends, designers, artists and a number of institutions such as the Design Museum. Some of his most famous work is self-published making graphic design, a standalone discipline in itself.

This article: 

Interview With Graphic Designer Anthony Burrill

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Infographic Design: Revisited

Editor’s Note: Last Friday, we published an article on the Do’s And Don’ts Of Infographic Design written by Amy Balliett which raised quite a discussion within the design community. Some readers agreed, some readers found examples contradictory, and some readers felt that there were some problems with the article which should be addressed in a further article.
Nathan Yau was kind enough to write a counter piece arguing about the practices and examples presented within the original article.

Continue reading here:  

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Infographic Design: Revisited

Gender Disparities in the Design Field

Walk into any design classroom, at any college in America, and you’ll see a comfortable mix of male and female students. Turn your attention to the front of the classroom, or down the hall to the faculty and staff offices, and that wonderful gender balance starts to skew. Travel outside the campus, and there’s really no balance at all. [Links checked March/10/2017]
But why? If there are design classrooms across the country with a 50⁄50 blend of men and women — and in many classrooms, there are more females than males — then why doesn’t the design field represent the same ratio?

Excerpt from:

Gender Disparities in the Design Field

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Awesome Mother’s Day Designs

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an inspiration post and I thought I would do one today. Well, I have something special for this post. As we all know, today is Mother’s Day (in the US, not sure about other countries). Mother’s Day happens once a year and it’s a day when we celebrate and recognize mothers and motherhood in general. In this post, I’ve gathered up some awesome Mother’s Day designs for your viewing pleasure.

Excerpt from:

Awesome Mother’s Day Designs