I am excited and honored to be participating in the Influencer Project, billed as the shorterst marketing conference ever.  WIth 60 thought leaders talking for 60 seconds max each, this is a fresh and innovative way to dispense information, in bite-sized nuggets.  I asked one of the organizers of the conference, Steve Haase, to write a guest blog about this breakthrough idea.

SH:For 8 years, I lived in Washington, DC. Every weekend, I’d invariably run into the well-educated, dreadlocked, drum-beating idealists who showed up to disrupt our lives and sell their wares. While some might have found their presence annoying, I actually liked them. Why? Because they had a remarkable self-confidence and philosophical conviction that I resonated with.

Plus their merch was eye-catching: bumper stickers and t-shirts that bore the phrase, “Stop Bitching Start a Revolution.”

Now, what I’m about to say may not make my starry-eyed friends too happy. After all, I’m going to exploit (gasp!) their motto for our business gain (yikes-capitalism!). Because I think the essence and spirit of that simple phrase can transform the way we all go about our marketing. Let me explain…

Why Create a Revolution?

Often people who do business online wonder why more people aren’t visiting their site, why their brand hasn’t caught on, and why online sales are so slow.

And while they might not go so far as actually bitch about it (at least not out loud), they often aren’t taking action that could be called revolutionary.

But the fact is, with so many voices competing for our attention, unless you ARE revolutionary (and not just saying that you are), you simply won’t get traffic.

I say this from experience. My company’s been around for a few years now, and for the most part, we approached online marketing as a “side project”: a few tweets here, a couple blog posts there, but nothing remarkable—and certainly nothing revolutionary. Not surprising, our traffic didn’t exact look like rush hour in Manhattan.

What Happened When We Decided to Stop Bitching

Fed up with being Cirque-du-So-Lame, we decided to do something radical with our latest project. And it’s beginning to look a bit like a revolution. At the very least, it contains some business lessons that might help you in your marketing.

The event, called The Influencer Project, features Carol Roth and 59 other speakers talking for 60 seconds each about how to increase your online influence. And the buzz it’s generated has brought us more traffic and interest in just 2 weeks than we’ve seen in the last 3 years.

Reflecting on it, we’ve found 3 key factors that will move people’s hearts and minds to join your cause:

1. Old doesn’t capture attention. New does. – Your idea has to be new… at least something about it must be. If you’re more or less copying what everyone else in your field is doing, you just won’t stand out. And you can’t get people to join your cause if you don’t stand out. It’s a simple point but incredibly easy to overlook.

Here’s what we did:

Rather than create an hour-long event featuring a talking head or even a panel of speakers (how many times have you seen that already?), we brought together 60 speakers and gave each of them one minute. No more.

Not only were the speakers excited by the challenge, and happy to participate given such a small time commitment on their part, but the audience was thrilled to see valuable information delivered in a fresh format.

2. We’re in it together – It’s not a revolution if it’s just you and your bowling team. Your idea has to spread. It has to catch fire and ignite a cultural ethos. You have to be tuned in to the collective zeitgeist and create something that people are looking for, even if they didn’t know they were looking for it.

When your offer brings people together, you’ll harness a power that goes so far beyond just you and your brand that you won’t believe your eyes. When people take your event and start doing creative things around it on their own, you’ll know you’ve got something revolutionary on your hands.

One of the ways we did this in our project was by involving so many speakers, many of whom are friends with each other and were excited to connect and be part of something bigger than themselves.

But it wasn’t just the speakers. Our topic also had powerful cultural relevance (influence), especially for the community we were trying to reach (social media). By choosing a topic that was near and dear to so many people in our community, they couldn’t help but be inspired—and even to take ownership of letting their friends know about it. If it had been about something that our intended audience didn’t care much for, we would have gotten a lackluster response at best.

We also opened up the 60th speaker spot to one deserving, up-and-coming influencer. Who wouldn’t want to speak alongside Carol Roth, Guy Kawasaki, and Gary Vaynerchuk? And who among doesn’t love the underdog story? We knew that by giving our audience a chance to be onstage, it could catalyze something in our burgeoning community. And, hundreds of tweets later, it certainly is.

3. What the…? For your idea to be revolutionary, it needs to be disruptive. It not only needs to be something new, but it has to open up new possibilities for how to do something. Think about Woot or Groupon and their business model of 1-day sales—it’s not that they suddenly destroyed the online retail industry, but they created a new groove for others to follow. And indeed, “deals-of-the-day” are popping up everywhere.

Our disruptive action: we created an entire event around sixty-second speeches. Our society is used to short nuggets of knowledge through decades of sound-bites and now through tweets, but to do an entire live event that way? That’s a new possibility that can be used for many different purposes (remember, you heard it here first—and we have a bad-ass intellectual property lawyer).

So what do you think? What could you do to make your marketing more revolutionary? Let us know in the comments.