BUSINESSES should spend 90 per cent of their marketing effort doing just one thing well, a conference has been told.

The Daily Echo-backed You Are the Media conference has brought prominent marketers from as far away as New York to Boscombe’s Shelley Theatre.

Opening keynote double-act Andrew and Pete specialise in content marketing for small businesses.

Their joke-filled presentation challenged the common idea that “doing something is better than doing nothing” when it comes to marketing online.

Introducing their “90/10 rule”, Andrew said: “We should spend 90 per cent of our marketing efforts doing just one thing remarkably well.”

The other 10 per cent should be spent experimenting or "scratching an itch", the pair said.

New York-based Margaret Magnarelli, executive director of group marketing for Morgan Stanley, talked about the importance of empathy in marketing. She showed how reading data alone without empathy could go wrong.

She urged marketers to listen more deeply to their customers before proposing their solutions.

“You have to say ‘I understand the problem’ before ‘I have the answer’,” she said.

Morgan Stanley's marketing efforts include looking at customers’ conversations online. “How are they talking about your company? How are they talking about your industry?” she said.

She added: “Simply by sitting and listening to me, and being open-minded about it, you’re becoming more empathic people.”

Doug Kessler started his career with New York advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather but is now creative director with the business-to-business content marketing company Velocity Partners.

He told of the agency’s early experience creating a comedy video that no one shared or found funny. “It was the internet walk of shame,” he said.

“If you don’t’ have flops, you’re not doing it right. They hurt, they’re not fun, but if they aren’t part of it, then you’re probably not doing it right.”

He urged businesses to “find your mojo zone”.

This involved targeting their ideal prospects and being unafraid to alienate those who were not good prospects.

Tone of voice in marketing was all-important he said. Marketers should “serve buyers religiously, “learn in public”, “milk your failures” and “be insanely honest”.

Jake Moore, who went from being Dorset Police’s cyber crime prevention officer to working for the UK head office of internet security firm ESET, in Bournemouth, told of his journey.

He realled how he had been obsessed with bank robberies as a teenager and how his mother had told him: “If you love bank robberies that much, why don’t you go and work for the police?”

After doing more than 100 talks in the community for Dorset Police and producing YouTube videos that were widely shared, he went to work in a job created for him at ESET. He has been quoted more than 400 times in national newspapers and spoken internationally.

"The face of trust is more important than brand values," he said.

Speaker and podcaster Janet Murray shared tips for putting the reader at the heart of social media content.

“When you’re willing to share a little bit about the person behind the brand, that’s when the magic happens,” she said.

Among her suggested kinds of content was the “grenade post” that provoked a response and divided readers.

“People want to do business with people. They don’t want content by boring people who haven’t got any opinions,” she said.

Steven Lamb, of River Cottage on the Dorset-Devon border, told of the importance of story-telling to its brand and to the events it offers for customers.

“One hundred people turn up and they know they’re coming for dinner but they have no idea what they’re going to eat and they will all eat the same, apart from dietary requirements. They won’t know what they will get to eat until the chef comes out and tells them the story of the meal,” he said.

The brand’s founder, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, sent a message to the event, saying: “We are the standard bearers for those who believe passionately in the life-enhancing importance of seasonal, local, ethically-sourced food.”

The event was wrapped up with a “beernote” speech by author and speaker Jon Burkhart.