For years, retailers crafted well-proven best practices with approaches like print and direct marketing, through tactics like catalogs and mailers and more. But then along comes the digital age. Our options for communication and marketing explode seemingly overnight, and everyone seems keen to copy the 380-billion-dollar gorilla in the room: Amazon.

But here’s the thing: While most marketers scramble to rethink their entire playbook based on new market leaders, smart brands avoid that arms race entirely. Instead, in today’s multi-channel, fast-evolving world, some retailers are avoiding copycat thinking, stealing new insights from the Amazons of the world, and applying it in unique ways to proven tactics. And just by taking that different approach, they compete in a category of one.

With this fast-paced, inspiring talk, former Google digital media strategist, startup marketer, and venture capital brand builder Jay Acunzo will share stories of innovative marketers who, when faced with disruption, refuse to follow the trend to copy the innovation of others. You’ll learn how to break away from conventional thoughts — but not proven practices — in order to break free from competitors. And you’ll walk away feeling ready to take on any disruptive force the market throws your way — not by catching up to the trend but by creating your own.

Are you ready to zig when others zag?

My approach to moderating a panel is simple: Have extreme empathy for the audience. The audience heads into the panel thinking, “The topic and people seem interesting. But here comes 45 minutes of glorified commercials and each person saying, ‘I agree with Jane, and here’s 5 meandering minutes so I can hear myself talk.'”


The best way to moderate a panel is twofold:

Pinpoint which panelists (1-2 max) can best answer a question and direct it their way. Involve everyone over the course of the panel. Not during 1 answer that goes down the line.

Create conflict. Not in a nasty way (though bonus points if the panelists choose to get passionate). Rather, a simple mechanic like submitting 5-10 statements ahead of time and asking panelists to rank answers from 1-5 (strongly disagree to strongly agree) creates a well-balanced, smart debate between 2 or more panelists AND provides highly entertaining discussion for the audience.

My role is to move the discussion forward, keep it punchy and non-commercial, and summarize if/when needed.

Ultimately, everyone is in on the panel secret: great in theory, horrifyingly dull in practice. I’m there to ensure it’s both nutritious and delicious for the audience so they walk away surprised and delighted that a panel could be so great.

How Innovative Businesses Ditch the Playbook & Innovate By Doing What Others Deem Unthinkable

We live in an era of unprecedented technology advancement, but too often, companies are built on “what’s worked.” In this constantly changing world, however, this means we wind up repeating the same old, same old — from internal processes to external tactics, how we organize and develop talent to how we service and sell to customers.

We know this needs to evolve. We’ve watched new upstarts inspire loyalty, and we’re ready for our counterpunch. And we know we need to add new value to existing markets and work hard to reach new ones. But where do we start?

Here’s the thing: Transformation doesn’t have to be scary. It doesn’t take broad, sweeping change. And creativity and innovation aren’t reserved for a choice few.

In this fast-paced, hilarious talk, startup veteran-turned-VC brand builder Jay Acunzo will guide you through stories of how companies break from old practices, get un-stuck from themselves or from industry norms, and become truly creative, modern successes — undisrupted and irreplaceable.

You’ll learn how fierce customer loyalty comes not from emulating best practices but from crafting your own. You’ll hear how widespread change starts with simple-yet-atypical attempts to influence the first few. You’ll go outside our industry echo chamber and get inspired to stop reacting to your market and start SHAPING IT. And you’ll walk away ready to transform not only your own approach but the thinking of those around you.

All of it starts in answering one question: What’s better than being the best?

How a new generation of successful media moguls turn audience into customers.

It goes like this: We get our readers’ attention through great content, and then we hand them on a silver platter to our advertisers, who in turn ask them to act–purchase a product, download a whitepaper, or fill out a lead-gen form. Why are we giving our audience away?

What if we did the unthinkable?

What if we stopped redirecting our audience to advertisers, and instead owned every moment of the customer life cycle–from attention to purchase to loyalty, and every step in between.

It turns out a whole new generation of media companies are reinventing their revenue models by owning every layer of the audience relationship. They’re going full stack.

In this 60-minute keynote presentation, startup veteran-turned-VC brand builder Jay Acunzo will share frontline secrets and stories from publishers who dare to stop selling advertising and start selling products.

You’ll learn what it means to be a “full stack” media brand. Jay will challenge you to transform a passive audience into active customers and exponentially increased revenue. You’ll see how niche publishers are growing into world-changing businesses. You’ll walk away realizing just how valuable your audience is, and ready to own attention in a way you never thought possible.

Every product-led company on the planet right now is trying to figure out how to be a media company. We’re perfectly poised. What will you sell?