Incredible India… Brilliant Bangalore!

30 09 2010

I just got back from my first trip to our new IQPC office in Bangalore and was very impressed by the team and the energy of India. The team has so much enthusiasm I was blown away, the hunger to learn and improve is contagious, it was the best business trip I have taken in a long time. What the team has managed to accomplish would have taken significantly longer anywhere else and I am sure they will play a central part in our future growth.

The Tuk Tuk ride to work was… interesting. Put it this way, I didn’t need a cup of coffee to stay awake. The adrenaline from riding to work on a Tuk Tuk dodging 5 million people in traffic was enough to keep me awake. Only to be topped by the trip home one night when we meet, “The Boss”. “The Boss” races his tuk tuk on weekends and is 17 for 28. We couldn’t work out if that meant he won 17 races out of 28 or injured 17 people in 28 accidents, but we laughed, held on tight, screamed, laughed and cried!

Big shout out to the Empire Hotel, for the best Chicken Tikka outside of London and Mani’s Dum Biryani for the best Chicken Biryani outside of Ravi’s in Dubai! And all the staff at the Royal Orchard Hotel who also did an excellent job!

 Every where we went we meet very nice people, helpful, and friendly! If you get a chance to go to Bangalore, Grab it!

Why your conference needs a Social Object

30 09 2010

I recently came across an excellent blog post by Hugh MacCleod introducing the idea that “Social Objects are the future of marketing” it resonated with me beyond simple social media or marketing rhetoric. Hugh blogs about marketing, cartoons and more (they are excellent cartoons), you can read Hugh’s full post here or search his blog for more and he gives lots of credit to others who helped shape his theory of Social Objects.

So what is a social object?

To me it’s a connection between people and ‘things’ (technical term!). It’s based on the assumption (And lots of other theories) that people don’t connect directly to people, rather they connect via objects, and not always physical it can be a shared experience.

So two attendees at your event who have opened a conversation after a presentation and agree it resonated with their work create a new connection around your event. Friends may be created, or conversations may be started by a mutual respect or interest for anything from music to wine.

So why is important?

If you can create a social object, that evokes passion in your audience or community, people will talk about it! So in this world where we are bombarded by messages, creating a social object can help your audience form a connection to your product, it can help early adopters spread the word, it creates a link between advocates.

So why is it important to conferences?

It struck me that as a conference or event company we are in the business of creating social objects. Given the nature of social media and the emerging power of referrals and word of mouth. We need to hone our thinking around this idea and ensure every event has a social object built into it, it should already, it may not, if it doesn’t, start thinking of one.

I also recently meet Josh Spear who gave some senior people here a very insightful look at the broader impact of social media, and as he said, of course non of this matter if your product is crap. In fact it might make things worse. It’s more important than ever to have good products, authentic leadership and… a social object built-in!

I’ve been diagnosed with SNF

6 09 2010

I have managed to self diagnose my summer health issues as SNF – Social Network Fatigue.

I think Brian Solis invented the term in his book, Engage, but I didn’t know how bad I had it until a two month stint in NY when I came across Leo – I feel for Leo.  But fortunately, I am not as much of a “socal media whore” as he is… plus I have two kids and a wife, who I prefer to spend time with them rather than twitter or my blog.

SNF refers to the phenomenon of user exhaustion, caused by recreating social network profiles in every new, hot, or popular network that appears on the social radar screen. SNF also stems from burnout associated with the emotional, intellectual and time commitments required to stay connected to peers in one or many social networks concurrently.

Social Media has been dominating marketing blogs, trade press and the general media for some time, with a new widget or site announced almost daily – It’s hard to keep up. I have heard of a lot of companies recently hiring a head of social media, I also feel for this person as much as I feel for Leo.

Social Media can’t be left to one person. It’s the whole organisations responsibility, producers, customer service, sales and marketing must all leverage social media. Obviously we can’t (nor should we) ignore this powerful channel, but we also can’t let it distract us from effective marketing. Marketing is about communicating a story, a story that resonates with our audience, regardless of the tools. Effective marketing is about measurement, some of these new tools also have great new metrics but we shouldn’t forget it’s about driving revenue or attendance at our events. Integrated direct marketing is about wrapping it all together, measurement, channel and message. Alignging them is where success lies.

I believe in Porter (link to the best article ever written on internet strategy), Godin, Drucker and others … Social Media or Internet technology will not be the source of long term competitive advantage, it may not even be short term (How quickly did facebook rip off foursquare? I mean I wasn’t even the mayor of my house yet and already I have to do it in two places….).

However, that said, we must be aware of the new social media tools, they can be very powerful in reaching our audience. We must employ them to fish where the fishes are by choosing the tools that are being used by our audience and enaging them in authentic communication. More importantly we must find influencers in the social media space and engage them in our events. It’s not always about the latest or greatest tools, it’s about telling a story (and measuring success).



P.S. Another desenting view from the FT!

P.S. I got some advice from HBR and I’m now cured…. I have to go as I heard there’s a new version of DIGG out!