Magic beans, direct mail, email, fax, phone, radio, tv and the web

15 04 2010

I have often quoted Seth Godin’s great riff on magic beans, I love it, I come back to it often, probably too often…But I think it resonates with B2B conference marketing. The days of sending out a 4 page agenda dominated brochure and expecting people to register from it are basically over, it’s time to move on.

We can no longer rely on our basic “template” marketing plans to resonate with our audience and expect them to react. Sure it still works in some cases, but we must start to “think” about how we can really engage this audience and add more value than we can capture.

These two posts on hubspot by Brian Solis, who just published a book called “Engage” (which I just bought), help to explain the new landscape even better.

I quote Brian:

What lies ahead is an inflection point in the maturation of social media, publishing, marketing and communications. And, it all begins with the realization and the corresponding actions that businesses must become media in order to earn greater relevance and ultimately thought leadership within their respective markets.

Every Company is a Media Company: EC=MC

The Social Media Challenge for IQPC

11 04 2010

You would think social media would come easy for a conference company, at the end of the day we are in the business of networking and information sharing…right? Don’t get me wrong, we have some amazing marketers at IQPC, who are doing some amazing things in social media and online marketing in general. But it’s not easy… nothing worth doing ever is!

The challenge is not doing it, it’s when to do it, it’s how to do it, it’s who should do it, it’s how often do you do it, it’s who should measure it, it’s how to measure it, it’s how to cost it, it’s how can my event become an overnight viral web sensation…… It’s a BIG question. And let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water here!  We have to find ways to integrate this new ‘conversation’ into the customers’ experience.

Seth Godin put it nicely in his blog post, Magic beans, TV and the web, which I have pinned on my wall, which says:

Marketing online takes too much measurement, patience, creativity, technical knowledge, flexibility, speed and authenticity. It requires too much thinking and not enough going out for dinner with clients.

I also believe as Drucker once said,  “Managers may believe that industry structures are ordained by the good Lord, but they can – and often do change over night”. The Conference business is changing, Marketing is changing… and the process of change is never easy, especially with complex business models.  Just look at this great post on the notion of complex business models and change by Clay Shirky, it’s a long post, but well worth the journey.

For IQPC, we have started tackling this challenge in multiple ways:

  • Launching our own online communities, like;,, and others. We have staffed these teams with online marketing specialists and  industry knowledge.
  • We have also started hiring more specialised skill sets in search, analytics, content creation, and web development
  • We also work with numerous external solution providers
  • We are active on lots of existing social networks in our key topic areas
  • We share lot’s of information and case studies, frantically, like a torrent of information sharing
  • We listen, we watch, we learn, we practice…. repeat.

The goals for us is to “Add more value than you can capture“, expanding the customer experience beyond the conference to offer a blended learning and networking experience that helps our delegates and sponsors exceed their objectives.

It’s a lofty goal, but the progress to date has been phenomenal. “The Future is here it’s just not evenly distributed”.

Zen and the art of conference marketing – step 5: Planning & Strategy

7 04 2010

This is a big one! and I am not sure I will do it justice in this post but here goes…

Now you start building an integrated multi-channel marketing strategy and plan that ties all the other steps together with an effective timeline & budget.

Before you start building you plan, you should also be building your database and your permission asset.  Take the things you learnt in the previous steps and find data, find out who has the data, scramble it together from as many sources as you can, and build up your opt-in in strategy.

Your plan needs to include multiple channels dictated by your research, but by no means limited to:

  • Direct Mail
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Trade magazines
  • Trade associations
  • An online strategy and social media optimization plan.

You should also develop a content strategy at this stage, how are you going to pull people into your permission asset, how will you use it online to build a small groundswell of interest. It also needs to be remarkable, you want people to remark on it, and pass it on. Part of your strategy here should be to “add more value than you can capture”, share powerful information, and people will engage.

You also want to maximise the timing of your campaigns, balance the drops and channels to maximise your returns. AND remember, as Chris Brogen says, there’s a fine line between, “hey nice to know, and wow you’re annoying me”.

Balancing the timeline, frequency of communications and multiple channels on a tight budget and deadline is the key. The clock is ticking…always.

Enthusiasm is contagious

6 04 2010

Just watched this great Tom Peters video on BVO. I’m huge fan of Tom Peters, I haven’t read enough of his stuff, but what I have read is excellent, his blog is great, very insightful on Marketing, leadership and being ‘remarkable’ all done with incredible wisdom.

The video is full of highlights including:

  • When he talks about hanging out with freaks – How we need to challenge ourselves and allow others to challenge us. I love the analogy of going to lunch with the same people all the time…you learn nothing, ask someone in your office you don’t know that well and see what you learn.
  • Leaders are rarely the best performers, but they must be able to support the best and deal with all the personality issues that come with the best.
  • Nothings is as contagious as enthusiasm – It’s the most important trait in leadership.
  • Leaders are responsible for painting portraits of excellence; they are dealers in hope…
  • Experience is the brand… we forget this a lot in events, I often say “we live and die by our last event”, people often take this wrong way, but what I mean is if we have a good event, people will remember it, the experience.  I once put together a year long media partnership with an industry association based solely on the colossal shrimp tower. There was more to it of course but this partner remembered the experience and wanted to be associated with brand.
  • Who’s the most interesting person you have meet in the last 90 days?
  • You must recruit talent and organisations must be cathedrals to talent.
  • Life is a learning experience…

Also this gem, damned if you, damned if you don’t, just plan damned!