The Future is Bright in Detroit . . . yes, Detroit, and across the country: Part 1

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending, along with about 600 others, the first Future Midwest Conference held in Royal Oak, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.

Detroit gets a lot of national news coverage, like the Dateline special just last night, and the Time Magazine feature last year, that started a year-long blog and story coverage from Time, Fortune, and others in the Time/Life publishing family. But most of the images and representations of Detroit are about what is wrong, the dilapidated buildings (a.k.a. “ruin porn”), problems with the auto industry, crime, etc. I get a lot of interesting comments when I’m at an HR tradeshow and people find out I live in metro Detroit. The response is either one of pity or almost disgust of “how could you live there?"

But there are so many good things happening here that don’t get much attention. Check out this recent post from Urbanophile for “the other side of Detroit”.

Also, there is more to Detroit than the auto industry - there are quite a number of HR Suppliers based in the Detroit metro area as well – companies like Kelly Services world headquarters, Qualigence, nowHIRE, Workforce Software, JobApp Network, Resource Recruiting & Learning Solutions, to name a few.

So, if metro Detroit has positive energy about the future growth of business and economic opportunity, as witnessed at the Future Midwest conference, then shouldn’t the rest of the country?

Future Midwest is a technology and knowledge conference about the rise and importance of the digital era, social media, and how to leverage these technologies to grow your business. So, even though the focus was on Detroit and Midwest business opportunities, the lessons learned can be applied everywhere. Check out this short video from the conference: There’s a lot about Detroit, but some great social media and digital stats too that can get all business and marketing folks thinking about the opportunities.

The line-up of speakers was stellar and included Joseph Jaffe, author and “Chief Interruptor” of Powered, Jay Adelson, Entrepreneur and former CEO of Digg, Shiv Singh, author of “Social Media for Dummies” and VP at Razorfish, Scott Monty of Ford, Chris Barger of GM, Blagica Bottigliero, blogger and Manager of Emerging Media and Measurement at Edelman Digital, Ken Burbary, Head of Digital Strategy and Social Media practice at Ernst & Young, Beth Harte of Serengeti Communications, and many others.

Joseph Jaffe opened the conference with “Flip the Funnel: How to use existing customers to gain new ones”. The ideas he presented are from his latest book of the same name. He started out asking:

With most businesses the focus is on acquiring new customers. And the percentage of repeat customers is low. So, for every new customer you are probably losing an existing customer. What would happen if we started focusing more on customer service and transforming our clients into ambassadors? They could become our new marketing and P.R. to grow our businesses. And social media is the key tool to engage and communicate with our customers.

Some very thought provoking questions for any sales, marketing and business owner! I know I want our sales and marketing team to discuss this topic, and read Jaffe’s book!

A recap of some of the other great sessions will follow in Part 2.

Post by Jocelyn Cook

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