Takeaways and Review of Digital Summit Chicago [Aug 2019]

In August 2019 I attended Digital Summit Chicago Marketing Conference.

Here is my Digital Summit Chicago Review in 2019.

Digital Summit is essentially a marketing conference tour. They have around 20 different cities that they host a summit in, while also having an internet summit as well. A few speakers change in each location, and many of them are invited to speak at multiple locations across the country. I attended for a couple of reasons.

I have been researching new locations and marketing conferences to speak at.

Chicago is nearby so I went to talk to some speakers, see what they like about being part of the Digital Summit series, and get to know the conference and its attendees before pitching my talk. I always want to make sure what I bring to a conference is a good fit. I also love researching other conferences so that I am better equipped for my own conference I plan in Rockford IL #SocialRockCONF.

The second reason–Seth Godin!

Seth Godin at Digital Summit Chicago

Seth Godin was the lunchtime keynote speaker of the conference the final day and is an author who singlehandedly flung me into the world of marketing in 2006. More on that later. 


I want to share my ONE epic takeaway from each speaker I had the pleasure of seeing. While each speaker had several amazing takeaways, I believe in the power of intelligent brevity and you are a busy entrepreneur! 


Here are the things I pulled from each. By the way, I’ve compiled my personal notes in PDF format (forgive me if they are messy or incomplete, but you might find some more quotes or takeaways) … just grab them here.




John Triplett / @jktrip / Move prospects through the customer journey within a solid content and marketing strategy 


TAKEAWAY: You are ABSOLUTELY missing the mark if you aren’t polling your customers and using their feedback to build your content. 


John essentially talked about how you have a seriously vital content machine that is right in your hands. Its called REVIEWS and Customer Feedback. He talked about the power of utilizing reviews and feedback to both learn from your customer's pain points and repurpose the feedback they are willingly giving you to build out your future content and to find prospects.


By doing this you can also use semantically related phrases in content that are meaningful.



Scott Dikkers, The Onion, The AV Club

Scott Dickers / @itsscottdikkers @theoinion / Founding Editor of The Onion and The AV Club / Building A Brand with Outrageous Marketing


TAKEAWAY: You don't need to send press releases, you need to be press-worthy.

Invest in being the most outrageous version of yourself.


My synopsis of this talk is this: press releases are pointless if you aren’t doing remarkable things. Create remarkable environments and experiences, give people a voice, invest in being the most outrageous character of yourself. When you focus on what makes you remarkable, you will be noticed. A press release cannot do that for you. I LOVE this. 



Joe Federer / Tw: @JoeFederer / Understand the Hidden Psychology of Social Networks To Improve Channel Strategies


This one is a little bit layered so bare with me. I would also like to say that this session was standing room only; people were sitting double layered on the floor and standing along the edges with no room to move. Tall people literally pitied me and shuffled around a few inches each to let my 5’1” self stand in front of them which was very kind and I am so glad I did. There was obviously a reason this room was packed.


TAKEAWAY: The average social media user maintains 8.5 social media profiles across sites but not all sites are the same. Different social sites evoke different versions of ourselves and keeping that in mind when developing content or choosing the platform for your content is key.


For instance -- Facebook and Snapchat invoke the managed self: A platform where people are connected primarily to their offline friends and identified as their offline selves and positioning themselves to their social circles. 


Twitter and Instagram, however, invoke the Ideal Self: Where users are still connected to their offline friends, they have the same ability to reach people they don’t know yet giving the opportunity to showcase an idealized version of oneself. 


Then there is a platform like Reddit that invokes the True Self: Where users are free to be anonymous and are organized by interests and ideas. There is more freedom to explore different interests and express their truest selves without fear of judgment. 



Brian Fanzo, Digital Summit, Chicago 2019


Brian Fanzo / @isocialfanz / Fyre Festival: 10 Marketing Lessons Your Business Can Leverage


TAKEAWAY: The number one easiest thing to do with trust is to lose it. We trust people who relate to us but when they break our trust they will NEVER get it back. 


Brian talked about connecting with people in your truest most authentic way. If you take time to connect with people where they are, your marketing will skyrocket. This is why the disastrous FYRE festival marketing was so incredibly successful even though the festival itself was not. Figure out what your customer is experiencing, and what they are attracted to, and KISS - Keep It Stupid Simple.


I had the pleasure of hanging out with Brian not only here in Chicago, but also recently in Lima, Ohio at Social Media Week Lima. I got to hear some behind the scenes hints about how Brian was building this talk… And the talk was FYRE!! (See what I did there!?)


On a serious note, I am consistently blown away by Brian’s ability to deliver amazing energy and pull generations together to understand a common challenging theme.  



Carlos Gill


Carlos Gill / @carlosgill / What Marketers Can Learn About Social Media from DJ Khaled and Drake


TAKEAWAY: You can’t build a mansion on rented land 


Social media is great. It’s fantastic for connecting with people. But make sure you connect with your audience in your own house too, not on rented time and space. 


I actually found that I wrote down a BUNCH of bullet points from Carlos’s talk. There are too many to list together. I told you I would keep this as brief as possible. Make sure you download my notes for those here.



Seth is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, and speaker. In addition to launching one of the most popular blogs in the world, he has written 18 best-selling books, including The Dip, Linchpin, Purple Cow, Tribes, and What To Do When It's Your Turn (And It's Always Your Turn).


Seth Godin / @SethGodin / The Current State of Marketing

The purpose of marketing is to make change happen 

Quick note: I wrote down SO MANY Seth Godin gems. Maybe it’s because he is special to the story of how I personally came to be a graphic designer/marketer/store owner, but there were several times during his 30 min keynote I felt a little ferklempt.

Seth is all about connecting with people. You can see it in all he does. 



  • If you didn’t send out that update...Would your audience miss you?
  • Who would miss you if you didn’t show up today?
  • Have you earned their permission to be part of their life?
  • You can no longer make average things for average people 


THAT, my friends, is who you are speaking to. 

Seth talked about how you simply need the smallest viable audience. You need to identify with that audience, delight them give them what they DREAM of. There’s no advantage to being famous, only famous to the family 

I had the pleasure of chatting with Seth and telling him about how one of his books created the businesses I have today. He singlehandedly helped me find my way to stand behind being a marketer and also helped me co-create a successful brick and mortar store.


Seth is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, and speaker. In addition to launching one of the most popular blogs in the world, he has written 18 best-selling books, including The Dip, Linchpin, Purple Cow, Tribes, and What To Do When It's Your Turn (And It's Always Your Turn).


I want to tell you that story sometime in another article. But not today. 

I’ll tell you that Seth did tell me that I “...absolutely made his day.” It was a special conversation. 


Overall review of Digital Summit:

Overall Digital Summit Chicago met my expectations. It was great, because of the company (shout out to helpful and inspiring Josh Binning, fellow marketing conference enthusiast, business owner (Lucha Cantina) and buddy of mine who is one of the nicest people I have ever traveled with.) 



Um, also, I opted for a ticket that included a VIP resting room and let me tell you the perk of free cabernet and cheese was a pretty nice touch for this introvert. (See my post about networking as an awkward introvert, haha)


It would be cool to have more of a “community” aspect. I may have missed it but I didn't hear much from the facebook community where I could connect with people before, after, or during the event. Sometimes that helps attendees break the ice and connect with each other further. If I missed a lot of interactions, that is my error.


The audience was made up of many employees of agencies and fewer entrepreneurs and solopreneurs which is not negative or a positive but it is worth noting if you’re considering this conference. Many of the talks were geared as such, and while I have no trouble applying it to the multiple tracks of my life, I can see how it could be a challenge for others.


Would I attend Digital Summit Chicago again? ABSOLUTELY


Who would I recommend attends Digital Summit Chicago? Digital Marketers who are part of agencies, and who are looking to challenge the status quo of how marketing was done in the past. Solopreneurs and Entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid of the challenge of connecting the dots to apply the same principles to their businesses.


Let me know if you want more reviews from the MANY conferences I attend. I would be happy to make my notes available and review them like this. 


I’ve compiled my personal notes in PDF format (forgive me if they are messy or incomplete, but you might find some more quotes or takeaways) … just grab them below.


Thanks for reading! 



Lauren Davis
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