The Age of Ruthless Prioritization

15 07 2011

A colleague recently forwarded me this great article by Ron Ashkenas on HBR, entitled “When Managing Complexity – Less is More”. I believe that with the help of social media revolution (and the internet) we have entered a new age of complexity (or just lack of control) in conference marketing. Gone are the days of sending brochures to 10,000 people, finding out which lists work and sending more brochures to these list again, then repeating again and again and again. We now have twitter, facebook, linkedin, you tube, online PR, web analytics, email (and more email), SEO, PPC SEM, PPC advertising, banner advertising, bloggers and multiple other new forms of communication to get our message out. All of which we have embraced, and in most cases, all of which have their own unique form of measurement (or mystery) which is often only loosely tied back to a meaningful impact on our events.

As Ron articulately points out that “The reality is that without ruthless prioritization, smart workers will always identify new opportunities, therefore perpetuating a cycle of increasing activity that is difficult to break”. That’s what all these very smart event marketers are doing! We live (& market) in interesting times and we are in desperate need of ruthless prioritization, as Ron points out we need to do less, not more.

For event marketers, I think ruthless prioritization involves:

  • Developing ‘purple cow’ events
  • Focusing on ‘remarkable’ content tailored to delegates needs and different levels of the advocacy ladder, customer funnel or product life cycle to drive inbound enquiries
  • Developing one delegate acquisition (DA) strategy coordinating all activities and a separate sponsor acquisition strategy
  • Owning our keywords – We have to own our keywords and give great directions to our websites
  • We have to get the entire event team to be more active on social networks
  • Test, Test, Test – Continue what works and abandon what doesn’t
  • Measuring absolutely everything we do!

According to Ron “the number one problem facing managers today is complexity”, how much time do you spend working out what you can stop doing?

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SEO Rapper throw’n it down for inbound marketing

24 04 2011

Our friends of “You ‘oughta know inbound marketing” fame at Hubspot call in The SEO Rapper for a new spin on things!





Lanyrd.com – Powers a conference marketing revolution…

14 03 2011

A new site called Lanyrd – The social conference directory (www.lanyrd.com) was recently launched that could potentially help event marketers promote their events and significantly help our delegates, speakers and sponsors not only choose events but enhance their networking at them. Not unlike events on LinkedIn or Facebook, it connects users of the site with an event, but with a twist.

How’s it work?

The site is relatively new but they are already being called “the IMDb of conferences”, except that the content is crowdsourced. Lanyrd users add conferences which leverage users twitter network to create links to events – It’s genius and simple.  

Lanyrd’s interface with twitter is crazy. Sign in with your Twitter handle, and you get a list of people and upcoming conferences drawn from your Twitter relationships. They know who spoke at a trade show or conference last month, or who will be speaking at an event in the future. The site already lists 6,000 plus crowdsourced conferences and 30,000 user profiles. So when you log in you see the events the people you follow are attending or speaking at. Because people likely follow the people they’d like to know or the speakers they’d like to see, it falls together nicely using twitters social graph. As a result, Potential delegates have already composed a list of the thought leaders they would like to network with at upcoming conferences and by using twitter, Lanyrd is well positioned to find the sessions of social relevance to potential delegates. Think influencer profiling via twitter….for your event.

It gets even more crazy…. Since users are encouraged to add speakers and their Twitter names to sessions, the speaker need not be a Lanyrd user to have a Lanyrd presence. On signing up, you may notice your conference history has already been charted for you by your Twitter followers, organizers or fellow attendees. And I suspect this is only the beginning. The email updates ae also an incredible piece of insight into related events in your area of expertise.

So….

If you haven’t already, I suggest you login to Lanyrd using your twitter name and add your conferences.

Once you have created the event, you need to add your topics, add some speakers using their powerful twitter search functionality or find the speakers company and add them, add some content via the coverage tab, add some session details and you’re away!





Infographic – Digital marketing trends in the Middle East from IQPC Dubai

13 03 2011

Very cool infographic created by the IQPC marketing team behind Click, shows some great insight into the impact digital marketing is having in the region and where marketers are focusing.

Click 5.0 The digital marketing event for the middle east





Six Things I Know about B2B Conference Copy

4 01 2011

A colleague recently forwarded me a post called, “Six things I know for sure about marketing to engineers”, by Robert Bly. Robert happens to be a copy writer and an engineer, so he boiled down 10 years of writing copy for engineers into 6 tips. Engineers happen to be a primary market for a lot of B2B conferences and as always copy writing is a hot topic in most of our offices!
 
Here’s a summary of Robert’s summary and what it could mean for your event:
 
1) Engineers look down on advertising and advertising people, for the most part
 
So avoid the fluff, don’t make it look like advertising, appeal to them by adding value to their work life, in fact add more value than you can capture. Use content to filter your audience for relevancy and move them up your advocacy ladder. Just make sure the content is valuable, make it remarkable, and maybe they will share it? 
 
2) Engineers do not like a “consumer approach”. (They prefer to be approached as knowledgeable, technical professional in search of solutions to engineering problems)
 
Acknowledge their expertise early, avoid looking like a piece of consumer marketing, avoid stock photography,

3) The engineer’s purchase decision is more logical than emotional (Rather they carefully weigh the facts, make comparisons and buy based on what product best fulfills the requirement)
 
Again the facts: How many hours of education, how many CPE points, how many case studies, which ones are new, how is this event better to other options! Exhibit an understanding of their problem and show them the how attending your event solves the problem. 
 
4) Engineers want to know the features and specifications, not just the benefits
 
Again the facts….give them all the details. Don’t be afraid of the length of the copy. If it’s good copy, relevant, informative, they will read it. 
 
5) Engineers are not turned off by jargon—in fact, they like it (Use jargon, speak their language) 
 
I think this is the biggest fallacy of all. I have often heard copy experts tell producers and marketers to turn down the jargon, one consultant even presented a “fog” index created by jargon. I say turn up the jargon, your letter should only make sense to your target audience, they should be the only ones that get it, you need to be part of their secret club and speak their secret language. It shows that you get it! Also worth remembering that they will probably search using these terms.  All that said (especially if you are working in a multi language market) you should beware your own local expressions and colloquialisms – this is not the same thing as technical universal industry language.  

6) Engineers have their own visual language (It tells them straight away this is solid technical information, not fluff!)
 
A picture still tells a thousand words. One of our most popular pieces of content and one of our most successful subject lines ever is about a “fish bone diagram”! The right chart or image will tell your audience in seconds that you get it!
 
I like Bob’s tips, straight to the point, factual, logical, just like an engineer. Whilst some of the tips might break the typical copy rules for many events I think they highlight the most important rule of all – Keep your audience in mind. Start with them, how do they communicate, where do they communicate, and build a compelling story that talks their language. It’s really that simple! (and remember to spell check!)

Can anyone come up with 6 tips for copy writing to Bankers, CEO’s, CFO’s or marketers???





A New Marketing “Train” map

29 07 2010

B2B Contact Marketing in the UK created this great marketing map using the London underground as the inspiration. It’s a great way to map out the modern landscape of marketing; even though it uses trains, it’s exceptionally well done and gives anyone from expert to novice great insight into the challenges and opportunities for modern marketers.

The main lines on the map:

Advertising – For me this is the dying channel, maybe that’s why it’s in blood red. It’s a communication “corridor” that’s becoming less and less relevant, it includes a couple of great quotes “Each of us sees over 3,800 advertising messages a day”. People are not passive consumers of marketing messages any more; they are seekers of high quality relevant information, participants in conversations and electors of what they consider to be competent authority. Its these characteristics that are at odds with traditional “interruption” advertising methods. Maybe this is the line that has the constant breakdowns.

Database – I really like that this “line” is a closed loop and central, in a data driven world it has to be at the heart of any effective marketing organization. It also means it touches every other line, modern marketing is even more data driven than before, the measure is moving from traditional DM metrics to include more and more online metrics, but I believe you need to start by measuring everything and then honing on what are the key metrics, all with out taking your eye off the prize – profit (Money in the Bank). There’s also a marked shift away from valuing the sheer size of your database towards the quality and depth of information in it.

Direct – Covers it all really, I think this channel is being overshadowed by some of the more popular trendy digital channels, which are all part of direct marketing in a pull marketing world.

Digital – Talk about being web centric, this line cuts right through the middle of town! I like how it talks about the different digital channels without really focusing on some of the actual sites, facebook, twitter etc, which I am sure over time will change…. Has anyone ever heard of QQ, Xaonei or Kaixin01? I hope this is a hi-speed train line?

Event – Obviously a personal favorite, I’d add an IQPC station. Event marketers take note – this line crosses digital and database lines twice, begins its journey by moving away from advertising and finishes with a second crossing of the relationship line. There’s a message about how you fit and where your focus should be!

Relationship – A black line for the dark arts, most of the things on this line have two things in common. They are becoming ever more important parts of the B2B space and they very difficult to accurately measure or gauge their true impact. I like how conferences, social media and networking are all so close. Measuring awareness is becoming an increasing challenge.

Anything missing? Not much…

My only real criticism would be where are the customers? I would have made the customer or audience central to the whole thing, maybe the hub in the middle between Google, Social Media and Blogging. I think before you do anything you need to have well defined buyer personas, and a solid message that matches your audiences world view (step 1). Maybe “customers” should be the main hub on the relationship line or the direct line, it’s in there, the demographics stop is in there, I would have just made it more defined.

Content marketing? Maybe change the contract publishing station on the Advertising line or drop it into digital… But for me it’s really all about the intersections, and particularly for conferences, I think the intersections are crucial to your events integrated multi channel marketing plan.

But just for fun and in honor of being in NY for the summer, I decided to apply the same thing to NY Subway system, here’s my poor mans effort:

Grand Central Station = The internet, the heart of all modern marketing. This is a web centric train map.

 Social Media is the N, Q, R and W line, crossing the whole island…

 The A, C, E line is my Event line crossing with other multiple stops. Making it fully integrated into the marketing mix.

The 4,5 and 6 Train are the digital lines. Connecting grand central and most of the other lines.

The 1, 2 and 3 train is the Advertising line, cutting right through Times Square Station, renamed Advertising Central or Billboard Station.

Path Train or the LIRR = Direct Mail line… It’s a separate system, kind of connected, and kind of old, slow, rusty etc, it still works but we all know we won’t be riding the train for much longer.

Great map, there must have been some great debates whilst putting it together – Thanks to B2B Contact Marketing for creating and sharing it. The modern landscape is difficult to navigate – Anyone got another map?

(Special thanks to Emma, unofficial Nomad Editor, for some big contributions to this post!)





Content Marketing – The only marketing?

7 06 2010

As a company IQPC is in the business of sharing highly practical, case study driven information created by leading business executives at the cutting edge of their industries. As part of that service we also provide face to face networking opportunities and allow sponsors some access to the interaction.  I like to think of IQPC as an information intermediary, it’s just that our chosen form of delivery to date has been conferences, seminars and exhibitions. But our recent launch of online industry communities has changed that and planted us firmly in the content marketing camp.

It’s a natural fit for our business, we capture so much first person research during the development of the event, and have so much content at our events, we simply need to find effective ways to capture and leverage it to grow our niche communities. We charge a premium for the live events, that’s the head of the tail, where all the immediate, urgent value is, but what is live content worth tomorrow or the next day….how can it help add more value and build our brand?  

There’s been a lot written about content marketing, and most of it under lots of different names, but I like this definition from www.copyblogger.com best:

Content Marketing is a broad term that relates to creating and freely sharing informative content as a means of converting prospects into customers and customers into repeat buyers.

Whilst it appears simple, like the rest of this business the devil is in the detail. Some marketers get confused on what they can and can’t do, what is acceptable and what is not, what is valuable and what is not. So here are my tenets of content marketing:

You must add value – Your community should be better off for spending the time it took to read, listen to or devour your content.

You must be authentic – Don’t hide behind the content; let the value of the content speak for itself.  

You must be unique – There’s little to no point in re-using existing content unless you are providing a unique spin or syndication service, helping great content spread is fine, if it adds value.

You must be relevant –It must highly relevant to the target audience, resonate with their world view and be of immediate help.

You must be aligned – The content must be very much aligned to the problems the event is looking to solve or the skills it is looking to develop.  This alignment is critical if you hope to convert the content users from strangers to customers.

You must leverage your content – A small snippet or introduction or insight to the content must be promoted via your partners, social media sites and well written press releases. This will ensure you have maximized your effort beyond your internal database.

You must be remarkable – You don’t have to win the Pulitzer Prize but you do want people to remark, you want them to forward your content.

And it’s OK to sell, not in the content, but it should be implicit what the customer or prospective customer is getting into, you should not hide behind the content. If you are going to call the prospect, they need to remember that you provided them with that valuable piece of content and that should lead the way to a more valuable conversation.  If you are going to go to all that trouble to create valuable, unique, relevant and remarkable content you want the association or alignment of the content and your brand to be implicit, loud and clear, no confusion.

I strongly believe that content marketing is the only type of marketing we have left, but it must be aligned with the overall campaign message and goals, we all have to pay the bills. Your content marketing strategy must be integrated into your entire marketing plan; it must feature in every drop, in every campaign online and offline, and be visibly associated with your brand. Most importantly online, you must focus on the content, as this will help pull people in via search, social media and your online partners. If you succeed in capturing their attention you must know what to do to convert that attention so you also need to make sure the sales channel is fully briefed and understands the value of content and where they can take the conversation.

By providing this valuable content you are trying to shift brand perception beyond the actual day of your event, add value and build your advocacy ladder, helping customers find you.