The Beal Deal Interview Channel

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The Beal Deal with Brett Tabke (@btabke)



Congrats! You made it to another weekend!

Brett TabkeYou don’t get a prize, but you do get to read this week’s Beal Deal interview with none other than Brett Tabke. Brett has built Pubcon into one of the biggest and best internet marketing conferences around. I sat down and asked him about that and his decision to sell the WebmasterWorld forums.

Let’s get to it!

Q1. Congrats on the continued growth of Pubcon. What’s the secret to its success?

Ultimately, that is our secret – to be able to move where our audience is going and is at.

We do one thing and do it better than any body else. I have seen 5 major conferences fail in our time and dozens of smaller ones. The majority of those failures are because the conference is an “after thought” or side show to their main business. We have been successful because this is “what we do”.

Secondly, we are not a generic niche conference. So many of the niche vertical conferences have failed (Twitter, anyone, Twitter conference?). Being a big and broad conference gives us room to do things like add social media when it is hot – or mobile as it heated up.  We can go where our audience goes.  Ultimately, that is our secret – to be able to move where our audience is going and is at. We are not chained to search, affiliate or even webmaster topics.  We don’t have to change our name, everytime the internet winds blow.

Q2. Which keynote speaker is at the top of your wish list?

Oh, I have a few:

Current top: Sheryl Sandberg.
Usual suspects:  Brin, Page, Zuckerberg, Mayer, Gates.
Unusual suspects:  Ray Kurzweil, Sir Richard Branson, President Bill Clinton.
Fun Suspects: Aston Kutcher, Barry Weiss, Shawn Achor, Tom Peters.

Q3. What’s the single biggest mistake you see speakers make at conferences?

A good presentation has to hit a mix of ‘big pretty eye candy pictures’ and ‘they just read a dozen bullet points’.

Honestly – not preparing enough. You can tell when someone has only run through their setup a few times. It takes atleast 4-5 times walking through the entire thing (on top of the time you put into it while creating it). I feel a good presentation should take one hour of prep time for every minute of fresh content you put into it.

The other thing is too many presentations go with the fads of the day. Right now in executive circles the “Presentation Zen” or “Haiku” format with large pictures, a few words on every slide is the hot format. However, those presentations are scoring very low with attendees. They score even lower if you send the slides around. A good presentation has to hit a mix of ‘big pretty eye candy pictures’ and ‘they just read a dozen bullet points’. There is a sweet spot in the middle if speakers work at it.

Q4. You recently sold WebmasterWorld to Jim Boykin, what made that a good decision for you?

I knew he would take great care of the community and raise it like it was his own.

When I first talked about it with Jim, I heard him use phrases of praise and adulation for WebmasterWorld. It sounded alot like I did in the early days of WebmasterWorld. I knew he would take great care of the community and raise it like it was his own.

Selling the site, has given me the opportunity to focus on the Pubcon conferences. The conferences have been so big that they need full time attention to continue to expand the way we want them too.

Q5a. You’ve seen it all. What technology or internet channel were you most surprised failed? 

CueCat. I thought it would be a great way to link TV and the internet. Whew – big fail there.

b. What technology or internet channel were you most surprised succeeded? 

GoogleGlass – I thought the privacy concerns would be bigger and it would be DOA on arrival. Although, we have yet to see how the ‘creepiness’ factor will play out when people start wearing them more in public. I can see them being banned in a lot of private spaces.

Q6. If you weren’t in the internet space, what would you be doing?

I’m not in the internet space primarily – I’m in the events space. Think about it.

Thanks Brett! I promise, I will think about it! ;-)