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VOL. 37 | NO. 41 | Friday, October 11, 2013

Southern entrepreneurs gather for Summit

By Hollie Deese

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A chocolate-dipped strawberry with Goo Goo coating, a bourbon Goo Goo milkshake and a Goo Goo Cannoli, all cooked up for The Southern Coterie Summit.

-- Photograph Courtesy Of Southern Coterie Summit

Beth Sachan has been to plenty of networking conferences over the years as the voice behind the incredibly popular food blog, eat-drink-smile.com, and as the director of marketing for Goo Goo Cluster.

Sachan also knows firsthand the importance of social media. It was her blog that landed her the marketing job at Nashville’s Standard Candy Company, home of the iconic southern treat.

Next up, she’ll be partnering with Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream to make Goo Goo milkshakes for The Southern Coterie Summit, a day-long networking, branding and social media experience for small business owners and entrepreneurs, coming to Nashville Oct. 17.

“If you’re a small business and you can spend some money, this [Southern] is a good one to spend it on,” Sachan says. “It’s not all flash, and it definitely has some substance to it. There are so many people who just don’t know that much about branding or PR or what they should be doing with social media, and it’s just a great overview of all those things.”

Sachan attended previous events, created by Georgia-based Cheri Leavy and her partner Whitney Long of Alabama, after the duo had launched the Southern Coterie social network.

The idea of the Summit is to draw bloggers, designers, restaurateurs and writers who have already connected online to help each build business relationships in person.

Sachan was able to pick up some retail accounts for Goo Goo from the first Southern Summit series at Jekyll Island, Ga., and again after the Athens event. “Just being there, networking and talking to people about Goo Goos, for us as a brand, was great,” she says.

“Even though Goo Goo is a Southern brand and it’s been around for 100 years, some people in certain areas of the South have no idea what one is,” Sachan adds. “At Jekyll Island not a lot of people had heard of them, so it was great for me. I had this captive audience of people who were really interested in things from the South, everybody from the media and Southern Living, to bloggers and small-business owners.”

At the Oct. 17 session in Nashville, Leavy anticipates filling up the 150 available slots. Attendees will participate in educational sessions and panel discussions with branding and marketing experts like Jeff and Elizabeth Moore of Green Olive Media and social media leaders. There will be keynote presentations and conversations with top bloggers.

Later that evening, party buses will shuttle everyone to Fontanel for a private tour of the Southern Living Idea House with Southern Living Editor-in-Chief Lindsay Bierman. The Goo Goo milkshakes will be on the party bus.

“The best thing that comes out of it, and the best reason to attend are the collaborations that will come from the people you meet,” Leavy says.

“You just can’t have that many Southern entrepreneurs in a building and not have great things come out of it. And that’s what’s been so fun to watch later on social media and see the people that we know met at the events and see they are collaborating and doing something together.”