Digital Summit Atlanta brings savvy speakers from the largest, most cutting edge organizations to speak about the latest trends in digital marketing, technology and design. Education is at the forefront of this two-day event, but never fear, networking and laughter make appearances as well. If you couldn’t make this year’s event, we’ve recapped the biggest lessons learned this year at Digital Summit Atlanta.

You can’t be everything to everyone. More than anything else, the reoccurring theme in almost every session was that you need to define your messaging to your specific audience. Going after a broad group will be a waste of time and budget. Determine your minimum viable audience, and work one human at a time. But how do you define that audience?

Know your audience. To better serve your customers, you need to know what they ultimately want, how they live. But don’t make guesses. You’ll need to find out how they live by interacting, studying and interviewing. Browse related message boards, follow a focus group and don’t be afraid to ask them specific questions about your brand.

Be the source. Content is only king if it resonates with your audience, provides them with new information and establishes you as a reputable, dependable source. Your customers should be able to lean on you for the latest, accurate and entertaining information. Your customers should miss you if you’re gone, not seamlessly transition to a competitor. Make sure your content is fresh and tuned specifically for the channel where you are placing it.

If content is king, authenticity is queen. Truth and authenticity has never been more important. In an age of information overload and fake news, customers are more skeptical than ever before. Authentic stories that are timely, reputable, unique and relatably human have the power to connect brands and customers. Customers are human. So talk to them first.

Take risks. Playing it safe is mediocre, even dangerous. Don’t be afraid to go outside the box with your concept, campaign or design. Try something different because different stands out. When you try something new, understand that it might not go as planned and be ready and able to pivot, change course or respond to the results. As the opening Keynote Speaker Seth Godin proclaimed, “Everyone asks for authority. Artists ask for responsibility.” Take responsibility for the greatness you could produce if only you just step outside the norm.

We’re all human, afterall. Traditional marketing lumps consumers into large, general segments. But today the proliferation of information and accessibility to the web has facilitated the rise of a myriad of micro-segments defined by interests, not traditional demographics. While many marketers look at the digital audience as a sea of data points, digital users are actually leveraging technology to create and express unique, individual identity like never before. To communicate effectively in this environment, brands need to focus on connecting with consumers on a human level, meeting them where they are, respecting the user-driven culture of the space and engaging them in an authentic and honest way.

We left Digital Summit energized, motivated and with many new insights on our work. One week later, we’ve already implemented some of our learnings! Will we see you next year?

Want to see all other attendees’ insights in 140 characters or less? Search #DSATL on Twitter!

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