Zen and the art of conference marketing – step 3: Packaging and messaging

28 02 2010

You’ve defined your story and your audience, now you need to match these two elements with the parts of the event that will resonate the most, driving people to want to register for your event.

Most conferences have a mixed group of attendees, not just delegates, exhibitors, sponsors, and speakers, all possibly from very different industries. Put simply messaging and packaging need be tailored for each group letting them frame your story, and pointing out which elements of the event may best meet their needs, again hoping they will either attend or share the event with colleagues.

The messaging can be even more difficult as you will also have sub groups of your audience at different stages of the product life cycle (developed by Raymon Vernon TX wikipedia) which basically maps sales against time and four basic stages: Introduction, Growth, Maturity,  and Decline.  Understanding where your product/industry/topic is on this curve can be very helpful in framing your messaging.

Another great concept to keep in mind during the messaging and packaging stage is the technology adoption lifecycle, which is broken into 5 main groups: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. All of which is covered exceedingly well in Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore, which focuses more on the challenge of early adopters. A bit like trying to launch a new conference! Moore talks about numerous strategies to try and move people along the curve, including, but not limited to the whole product concept and positioning. That is what I am trying to get at when I say packaging and messaging. Start thinking about your communication strategy and what content might help you build interest…how can you add more value than you can capture?

Think about the whole product concept;

  • Will you offer streamed opportunities to address their specific needs
  • Are there alternative formats – Workshops, un-conferences etc
  • Do you need more informal networking and sharing opportunities
  • Is it more of a consultative situation with one to one meetings etc…

Positioning; There are a lot of conferences out their, how you position your event could be the only differentiator!

  • Will you be functional – Provide certain solutions to a problem
  • Will you enhance their professional image – Provide leadership in a key are of the company or industry
  • Will you help them belong – Meeting their social networking needs
  • Will you provide multiple methods for them to learn – Case studies, “how to” guides etc…

You have your story and you have defined your audience, the next step is to build a communication strategy, tailor your message and product to meet the various needs of your audience! If you frame it right, it will resonate and create the need for your event.

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4 responses

3 03 2010
Tyler Durden

Hi Nomad Marketer (if that is your real name),

What a great blog! I particularly loved your profile photo. You look a little like Indiana Jones (Crystal Skull vintage not temple of doom).

I am not in your industry however I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on a marketing issue I am grappling with at the moment.

I work in PR and marketing for a major cigarette company I don’t care to name who may or may not be considering a marketing research initiative targeting Children aged between 7 and 11. I don’t really want to get into the ethics of it suffice to say I sleep well at night and love my job.

RE: The project – It’s all fairly innocuous stuff, nothing too controversial. We plan on bringing together about 10,000 kids over the next year. Type A leaders with the ability to influence their peer group (I found this great direct mailing list of junior league soccer teams nation wide).

Of course we won’t be making the kids smoke any cigarettes, that would be illegal. All we want to do is get them to smell a range of cigarette packets and give us some unbiased feedback on what they like and what they don’t like. We are launching some new flavours (Cherry, Lemon Popsicle and red jelly bean). This marketing research initiative is a great opportunity for me to increase my profile in the company and I don’t want to stuff it up!

Re: Campaign image / theme – I am thinking FREEDOM TO CHOOSE.

Anyway, in my experience, people can get a little funny when I tell them what I do for a living and I am worried that this negative perception of my industry may taint the reception of this important research project. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.

Best regards,
Tyler Durden

3 03 2010
nomadmarketer

Thanks Tyler, Very interesting Dilemma….

As a parent of two young kids and the son of someone who has fought cancer I can’t really support your initiative. But hey we’ve all got to make a living right.

I admire your desire to climb the coporate ladder but I think your moral compass may have so many issue you will find it hard to find the car park.

I recommend you watch the movie, “Thank you for smoking” for some inspiration or maybe start up a face book page and use social media to test your ideas, I am sure you will get some very positive feedback. You may also want to experiment with different shapes and colors, i know my kids like orange! also found this article that may help your research http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070507202414.htm

10 03 2010
Chris Archer

Hi there

WOW – what a diplomatic response to a very unusual comment left by Tyler Durden.

FYI – Tyler Durden is the character played by Brad Pitt in ‘Fight Club’.

I agree with you Jason, either this is an elaborate hoax, or ‘Tyler’ should consider another marketing strategy. I highly doubt a cigarette company would endorse ‘Freedom to choose’ – neither would the government (unless maybe you’re in France?).

Either way – a very interesting read!

1 06 2010
Zen and the Art of Conference Marketing – Step 7 | Starshot - Strategic Event Marketing

[…] 3)      Packaging and messaging – Match the story and the audience with the parts of the event that will resonate the most. […]

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