Zen and the art of conference marketing – Step 7: Reactive marketing

30 05 2010

Before we get to the seventh and final step, a quick recap of the 7 steps to event marketing Nirvana (as I see it):

1)      The story – Why this event? what’s the message? what’s the value proposition? what makes your brand stand out?

2)      Audience – Clearly define your audience and the larger community. Find out where they hang out online, what magazines they read, what associations they are part of, what other events they attend, what they need to hear about etc.

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

4)      Analysis / research – Investigate what has worked in the past, what new channels may be available, what you have already, what you need to get and sanity check your audience profiles.

5)      Planning and strategy – Build an integrated multi-channel marketing strategy that ties all the above together with an effective timeline & budget,  including an online strategy and social media optimization plan.

6)      Execute – Start building your partnerships and execute all the campaigns in a timely manner.  As Bossidy and Charan said in their book, “Execution is “the missing link between aspirations and results”;  the biggest obstacle to the success of any conference is the absence of execution.

And so step 7 –  Analysis / Improvement / Reactive Marketing – Monitor everything and repeat what’s working, cut what’s not working.

Analysis, as with any marketing, is central to the cause. It’s key in the short time frames we typically have to market a conference that we monitor performance of everything. During the planning and strategy stage you should have set all your key targets, and you should be measuring performance against these targets, making allowances for past performance. Some of the analysis you should look at includes, but is not limited to:

  • Web traffic – Not just traffic and source, but what have people been clicking on, what has been resonating? Use social media tracking tools (like www.socialmention.com or even just Google alerts ) to see if the conversations have changed, and if they are taking place in new areas where you are not active.  Go into the active groups on linked in and other networks, search Twitter, seek out and get involved in the conversations.
  • Channel and Campaign Performance – Review all your drops, review the channels and see what trends you can spot? How do they compare to past events or other experiences?
  • Booking Patterns / Timing – How were you doing at this stage last year or in your experience where should you be now? What was the mystical double point?
  • Budget (spend to date) – Any review is not complete without your spend to date. How much is left, do you need to spend it, do you need to spend more, where should you spend it…
  • Audience review / feedback – Don’t be afraid to go to the source, make a couple of calls to past customers if they aren’t engaging with your message.
  • Review your content marketing statistics – What has been the most popular content? Why? Can we get more?
  • Review your media partners – Was performance what you expected, better, worse, indifferent? Speak to them are they experiencing similar trends?
  • Speak to the sales people and customer service – What are they hearing?
  • Monitor the industry press – What is happening in your target industries and job functions?

And after all that, use your experience, go with your gut and make some decisions to chase the winners. This leads us to perhaps the most important and least understood parts of event marketing.

Reactive Marketing – It’s pretty simple, do more of what is working and cut what isn’t.  Move money to what is working, as much as you can, don’t hesitate to cut what is not working, it will not make you feel any better, and the speed at which you react will decide the measure of your success. If need be go to your boss and ask for more money, but show them the potential impact on the bottom line.

It’s very rare to build an event marketing plan and execute every part to a T without having to adapt. Conference marketing may not be rocket science, but it can be complicated, and some of that complication is not of our own doing (some of it is… but that’s for another day). External factors can, and should play a huge part in your event marketing plan. You should be on the look out for changes you could leverage, or changes you just need to react to. It could be industry news (good or bad), a new speaker, a sponsors announcement, a change in government policy, new technology, a new group on LinkedIn, anything… but by keeping your ear close to the ground and reacting you could find that one little piece of information that could be the tipping point for your event.

Your ability to be reactive and think on your feet is a key part of marketing a successful B2B conference. As Billy Connolly once said, “Stay Awake, because it’s all going to change tomorrow”.

IQPC blows the doors off the joint!

21 05 2010

One of our events recently received some great feedback I thought I would share.

According to one of the participants from our Information Retention & e-Disclosure Management conference this week the Judges panel was a huge success. The panel titled “The View From The Bench: The Judges Panel” gathered leading UK and US jurist on eDiscovery, and for me, clearly illustrates how quality content and creative formatting can provide a richer experience for our customers.

Great job by the entire UK team!

Are you committed?

19 05 2010

On my walk to the NY office this morning I stopped off for a coffee and saw this old, but wise quote:

“It’s like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved. But the pig is committed.”

So which are you? Pig or Chicken?

Adding more value than you can capture

17 05 2010

I often talk about creating more value than you can capture with our marketing teams at IQPC, I didn’t invent it; I copied it from Tim O’Reilly.

Here’s a link to his presentation on Slide Share. 

I saw Tim give a similar presentation and it stuck with me… It resonated because our business creates so much value for people, but I think much of it remains under utilized. So I started challenging IQPC marketers to tap this vast well of information, whether information from events, or information gathered during the research of our conference, we want to release the power of this information for the audience. We are a commercial conference company, we make money from running events, no apologies, but the information provided at the events is only a small proportion, the lesser proportion I believe, to the value from attending and networking with leading decision makers. So why not share it?

Better still, by releasing parts of this smaller value – we can empower people to share our information, spreading the word about how powerful our conferences can be if they choose to attend.  Social media has really allowed us to leverage this sharing, helping us add more value than we capture. It’s simple, it’s not about us. It’s about the power of our service whether free or paid to help people drive change, whether for their organization or for them.

Questions we should ask ourselves:

  • Have we released information to the events core audience that helps them do a better job?
  • Better still – Can they share or spread it? Adding more value, maybe some of it will come back to us?
  • How can we involve our past delegates or sponsors in ways to further increase the value of an event?
  • Have we found the key influencers and engaged them in sharing this information?

Our entire product improves through participation, this is only the beginning, we must add more value than we can capture.

Why Blog?

14 05 2010

People often ask me why I blog.

I have no ambition to be the next Seth Godin or Chris Brogan. They do it way better than I ever can, and I love my job with IQPC.

I blog,  because I can… It helps refine my art, marketing! I think sometimes we forget why we get into marketing, between all the deadlines and all the sign offs we forget that marketing is about communication. My blog helps me communicate with people who work for IQPC, people who are looking to work at IQPC and maybe the odd customer or competitor.

Recently I interviewed two very talented marketing people in New York and they had both read my blog. The fact they found my blog shows they know how to do research, and shows they care about what they do or what they are trying to do. It opens the door to a more meaningful conversation at a more advanced level.

I was also recently approached by one of our most talented marketers, Emma Cobbledick, who offered to help me out, why did she do that? Well she noticed I sometimes forget to use spell check (Yep, I am that busy) and because she gets it. She’s a smart marketer, she’s a communicator, she’s knows the art of story telling, and so she has “unofficially” become the editor of my blog.

Blogging is about communication. Telling and sharing stories…..Why don’t you blog?

Zen and the art of Conference Marketing – Step 6: Execute

3 05 2010

Step 6 in my 7 step KISS approach to conference marketing…

Step 6 – Execute – As Bossidy and Charan said in their book, Execution is “the missing link between aspirations and results,”  the biggest obstacle to the success of any conference is the absence of execution, the most common complaint from marketing managers is also time, it can be a suffocating tandem.

The time issue for conference marketers comes from the fact that the clock is always ticking. Once a venue is chosen and confirmed the clock has started. Time can be your worse enemy and your best friend.  Use that sense of urgency to fuel your execution.

During the planning stage you built a timeline which you should now start putting into practice.  Some small tips:

  • Stick your timeline on your wall in a prominent place, cross it off as you go! Give a copy to your team members, or better still stick up in front of them!
  • Put your timeline into outlook, and include the people you may rely on for material in the reminders. Better still set a reminder a couple of days before the deadline, and email your team a reminder before it’s to late.
  • Start building your partnerships, don’t leave this until the end.
  • Prioritise your activities, make lists and keep them up to date…

Timely execution is critical to your success. As Nike said…. Just do it!