21 Feb Q & A with……Kelvin Newman, Brighton SEO
Giant deckchairs. VW Campers. A day out by the sea. Selling out faster than Glastonbury. No, it’s not an achingly cool alt-rock festival, it’s Brighton SEO! From humble beginnings above a pub, Brighton SEO has grown to become one of Europe’s biggest and most essential digital marketing events. Now firmly embedded in the cavernous Brighton Centre, the show that everyone just calls “Brighton” has featured keynote sessions from marketing industry mega-speakers like Rory Sutherland, Dave Trott and Gary Illyes. Binary Bear recently caught up with Brighton SEO head honcho Kelvin Newman to chew the fat about trends, talent and talking-slots.
10 years ago, we started hearing consultants saying “SEO is dead”. And yet here we are in 2018, and it’s bigger than ever. Why?
Because consultants and agencies thrive on exaggerating change. A dramatic statement that something is dying and you need to act differently is a much more convincing business argument than, “it’s slowly shifting over time in the general direction we all expected with the occasional slight diversion”. The reality is that digital marketing in all its niches is maturing. Even social media marketing has been around for the best part of a decade. The early days of digital were marked by a huge sense of urgency, now it’s more about pragmatism and realism. And that’s why SEO is growing, if you’re imaginative it can be a really effective marketing channel.
What do you think is the biggest trend in digital marketing right now?
TBH I never care about the next biggest trend, I care about the old trends that nobody has quite responded to properly yet.
One of the topics we hear time and time again is that companies have trouble recruiting the right talent. Why is that?
I think there’s two reasons why it’s so hard to recruit good digital marketing professionals. First, it’s a relative ease for anyone working in an agency or in-house to go solo, SaaS tools and other lower barriers to entry mean it’s very easy to go solo and maybe even set up your own firm. So, for a lot of people, rather than moving up the career ladder they break out on their own. Secondly, it’s hard to recruit in any specialist non-traditional profession. Take law, they’ve got a pipeline of people working their way through the education system who’ve already decided that’s what they want to do. Marketing as a whole might have a similar appeal but the biggest opportunities, especially for people early in their careers, is as a specialist.
There are plenty of talented people with interesting ideas that want to get themselves on to the speaking circuit in digital marketing. What advice would you give to them?
If you want to get on the speaking circuit you need to write more, firstly the process of getting your ideas together for a written piece of content isn’t that different to constructing a talk, it also creates a way for people programming events to validate your knowledge and expertise. If I read a great blog post I take note as a potential future speaker. Also, if someone pitches to speak at an event I ask if they’ve spoken at events before or can share with me things they’ve written before. If you’re starting out blogging is a great way to get speaking gigs.
Your event famously went from a couple of jars above a pub to a 5000-capacity arena. What do you think Brighton SEO does differently?
I think culturally and philosophically we have a very different approach to organising events or other companies. On one hand we organise fewer events, so we can actually pay attention to every event. A lot of event organisers are on a conveyor belt churning out event after event. And as the kind of person who attends a lot of digital marketing events I’m always looking for what they do well and what we can learn from them.
What does the future hold for Brighton SEO?
The event’s got so big we’re going to find new ways to break the community and content down into a more manageable scale, so expect spin-off days dedicate to specific verticals or smaller scale networking events away from the conference. We’ll always have an epic multi-track conference but we want to find ways of making it easier for people to meet like-minded marketers and get more specific ideas for their job.
Brighton SEO next takes place on April 27th https://www.brightonseo.com/