Denver Startup Week Wrap-Up



Here is my summary and analysis after attending four sessions of Denver Startup Week.

  1. Brand Camp
  2. SEO, PPC, & Social Media: The Trifecta of Digital Strategy
  3. It’s Past Beer:30 – How to Differentiate Your Product in a Saturated Market
  4. How to Turn You Data into a Digital Marketing Treasure

Brand Camp

This session was an informative and interesting perspective on branding. The brand relationship is an interaction, not a transaction, meaning consumers must be wooed and courted along the journey. You can’t give them one great video or advertisement and expect them to buy. Presenters included Andrea Stone from Brand Juice, CP&B creative strategist Dean Macbeth and BrandFolder CEO Steve Baker.


  1. Build a brand the same way that you would a friendship – engage, know your audience, and recognize when it’s time to change. Friendships are not stagnant. As you get older, you change the way you communicate and interact.
  2. Your brand is equity. It’s not a happy accident, it’s intentional. It can’t be all things to all people – it is created for a specific group of people.

Ex. “What Will Your Verse Be” – Apple commercial with Robin Williams

  1. Inspired Realism

Inspired: “breathed in” A brand is multi-sensory. It must be experienced in several different ways

Realism: “what is true to life” How will it work in real life? How can you make it actionable?

  1. Great communications solve a problem: “The product is the message is the media.”

Ex. Uber, Captain Obvious from

  1. Know thy consumer – Think tribes, not targets.

Ex. 3D printing attracts interest from several audiences. Think of the tribe you are speaking to.
It may include overlapping targets.

  1. Know your influencers

1-9-90 rule:

1% of creators (Kanye) – 9% connectors (bloggers, influencers) – 90% lurkers (everyone else)

Find niche communities, and let them spread your message to your tribes already following them. Don’t start from scratch trying to attract new followers.

SEO, PPC, & Social Media: The Trifecta of Digital Strategy

This session gave a base understanding of digital strategy, encompassing SEO, PPC and social media. This session talked mostly about the importance of a digital strategy and how you can start implementing a digital strategy, primarily through SEO.


  • Krista Chism, Clio Communications
  • Eric Elkins, Corp
  • Brian Grayson, Digital Age Marketer
  • Andrew Fischer, Choozle


  1. Your content should be timely, interesting, relevant, entertaining, and authoritative.
  2. Who:

Find out who your audience is using data, not what your perceived notions tell you about your demographic. Know more about your audience than just demographics, but also about psychographics, purchase habits. You can achieve this through data aggregators, competitive intelligence and predictive analytics (Facebook Insights, pixels).

  1. What:

Find out what people in your space need to know – and then speak to them. Phrase your content in a Q&A format and then answer the questions you know they’re asking. You can find these questions through Google Suggest, SEMrush, Spyfu. This is a microconversion. The goal is to put them on a pixel list, have them sign up for a newsletter or whitepaper, etc.

  1. Where:

Determine how people will find your content. Push your content where your audience is already gathering – don’t try to build your own following from scratch. Determine who the influencers and gatekeepers are in your space, and have them pick up your content. Don’t forget about the gatekeepers, the people influencing buying decisions to your target market. For example, doctors and wives are gatekeepers for the medicines that a husband may buy.

It’s Past Beer:30 – How to Differentiate Your Product in a Saturated Market

Differentiating your product in a saturated market – meaning a competitive market with high barriers to entry – is no simple task. While craft brewers may seem like they have the best job on the planet, testing beer every day and traveling around to meet other beer lovers, they are constantly fighting to keep their beer on tap, on the selves or perhaps to produce enough to meet high demand and maximize profits. Talk about someone who needs a drink.


  • Chad Melis, Marketing Director / Oskar Blues
  • Shannon Berner, Marketing Manager / Great Divide
  • Matt Neren, Owner / Cultivator
  • Grant Babb, Co-founder / Joyride Brewery


  1. Differentiating is about finding your uniqueness, not conforming to uniqueness models.

Oskar Blues has differentiated themselves through diversification. They are not only a craft brewery, but they also have a pizza restaurant, burger restaurant, Mexican restaurant, coffee, grass-fed beef ranch and bike shop. They recognize the brewery’s employees as consumers and take risks creating what they enjoy. When someone has an idea that “doesn’t fit the mold”, it doesn’t fall on deaf ears, but often becomes a reality.

Neren, from Cultivator, identified consumers as the owners of the brand. The founders, or even the marketing team, don’t own the brand. The consumers are the ones ultimately deciding if it succeeds or fails.

Great Divide identifies their uniqueness as their sub-brand – the characters they create for each beer. This has created their identity and culture within the brewery because every employee wants to be turned into a persona. It builds a buzz around new releases for consumers.

Joyride is unique in how they built brand awareness. They joined Kickstarter, not to raise money, but to build a buzz around their brewery. It worked – and they received funding.

  1. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

Great Divide is inspired by New Belgium. They have become a huge and successful brewery, but they still have a local feel and are plugged into their community. This is especially important for craft breweries that rely on loyalty. Growth is a great thing, but if it causes you to lose your culture, it can mean the end.

Oskar Blues is inspired by Red Bull. Red Bull may have started as an energy drink company, but they have quickly shattered being stuck in that box. They do things 110% and are an experiential brand, but they’ve maintained consistency across all mediums.

  1. Most craft breweries don’t have a digital strategy beyond social media. They are just “trying to keep up”.

They generate business primarily through events and social and are trying to drive customers to the tap room.

They recognize the digital landscape as “Pay to Play”. If you want your content seen, you have to pay for it. This is an advantage that larger breweries have.

  1. The balance of building a brewery brand vs. building a beer brand is really dependent on where you’re trying to drive traffic/sales. In a bar, consumers recognize the beer by the tap handle. In a store, they are looking for the brewery. Both need to be consistent across the board.

5. There are new competitors every day. You can’t rely on today’s brand recognition to carry you through the next year, 5 years or 10 years. You must be constantly have be innovating your own business and product offerings to keep clients at the top of their industries.

Craft brewing is a huge industry, but many of them don’t have digital marketing strategies in place. This is important because consumers need to be aware of where they can purchase their brewery’s beer – this is a loyal crowd. There is an opportunity for LLM, app development, website development.

  1. We can impact our current clients with this knowledge by constantly looking for opportunities to differentiate, diversify and utilize new marketing channels. Don’t just settle for “the way that things have been done”. Surprise and delight your consumers.

How to Turn Your Data into a Digital Marketing Treasure

This session was presented by agency representatives that manage data collection for mostly large companies.  They spoke mostly about different types of data – 1st party vs 3rd party – and how it’s worth spending a lot of money on data collection. They spoke about the importance of knowing your customer based on data rather than using your own assumptions about your consumers.


  1. Don’t use data just to find out basic demographic info. Use it to see how they perceive your brand
  2. Data is more readily available to companies, which levels the playing field between the big guys and the small guys
  3. Tag your data to an actual person – match them to a profile on Facebook or Twitter, their license plate number or loyalty card. Put a face to their “persona”
  4. Your data and type of product will influence your relationship with customers. Toothpaste is a more frequent and casual relationship than a luxury car, which can take 5-10 years for them to need you again.
  5. Loyalty vs CRM: They’re related, but CRM is a long-term rapport – “Who do I want to do business with?”. Loyalty programs are more frequent contact and less personal – “Where am I going to get the best price?”. This affects your messaging and content, voice and frequency.
  6. Identify valuable vs. invaluable customers. Prioritize your customer groups and then speak to the most valuable. Are they worth more effort? Better creative?
  7. Don’t just look at your current customers. Identify who buys like your buyer. They are your future consumers. For example, Jaguar consumers aren’t necessarily high-income individuals. They could be over-spenders. Find those who are overspending on luxury – they will maintain that habit.
  8. Shoppers vs consumers: They’re different. Speak to them differently. This also creates some gray area in legality. For example, video games have specific advertising laws, but moms are the shoppers, and kids are the consumers. Who is really advertised to?
  9. Clients don’t share their data with agencies for a couple of reasons.
  • It’s equity. They don’t trust you enough yet to release that property
  • They’re embarrassed of it. It’s incorrect, messy or not useful. They would rather start from scratch
  1. Don’t wait until your data is absolute. Use what you have, and test along the way. “The truth is in the sale.” What KPIs truly lead to sales.
  2. For startups: Even if you have a small CRM (less than 1000), you can create useful data. You can model your CRM to an audience of 5 million.
  3. Brands using their data well: Starbucks (ultimate loyalty), Target (predicted that a girl was pregnant before her dad knew), Home Depot (cater content based on your purchases), Red Bull (loyalty program is experiential and high quality)
  4. Unstructured data: what users are saying (blogs, review sites)

How Can We Impact Our Clients?

We can be sure to understand our clients’ consumers and how people interact with local listings in general. When looking at our clients’ data, it’s important to take a step back and understand their KPIs so that we are looking at the right metrics and finding the meaning behind them.


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