Case Study: Email Marketing for Web 2.0

19 07 2011

A while back I received this great email for the web2.0 conference. It struck me as a great email case study to highlight for conference marketers, it’s an excellent email and a remarkable piece of content tied together into an amazing piece of conference marketing.

The email has a lot of valuable points, but for me the highlights are:

  • The from address is two of the most influential people in the space – You open it ASAP.
  • In case you forgot there’s a photo of them talking to one of the most powerful men in the world in the header.
  • There is a clear call to action – Register Now & Save, repeated 4 times – twice as a button, twice as a link (not too much but just enough).
  • It links to an amazing interactive piece of content, a blog post explaining it and to the conference page. More value and engagement with the audience, past and present.
  • It has the main social media sharing tools and ways to stay engaged (if you want).
  • A strong tie into last year including – A highlight that this amazing piece of content has been updated, and made more interactive, video, slides and photos from last year in case you forgot what an amazing event you attended. And how they are planning to delve deeper this year.
  • Still highlights speakers (with photos – they are real people!) and you can check out how they crowd sourced the event with the advisory board.

The content and the blog post also help drive the engagement:

  • The map (content piece) is interactive, it pulls you in, if you are into the topic.
  • The blog post is informative and also pulls you into the notion behind the event (with some very valuable insight and data).
  • Both are aligned to the topic area, viral, interactive and highly relevant to the topic.

I’m not saying every event needs interactive maps or infographics, but we should be working on remarkable content like this that drives engagement and think about how we communicate our event VP in different formats whilst still driving registrations. Of course, it’s not perfect, there are some improvements I (and no doubt you) would make, but….. compare this to the last email you sent for your event?


The CMO Exchange London

12 07 2011

Thanks to the team at IQPC Exchanges in London I was lucky enough to attend a couple of sessions at the CMO Exchange in London.

I was able to sit in on a session about Aligning Sales and Marketing by Nick Eades the CMO at Psion. Nick’s presentation was the most insightful content I have seen on sales and marketing alignment, since reading this landmark HBR article.

I can’t really do Nick’s session any justice, but he gave some remarkable insights. For me some of the highlights included:

  • Understanding the personalities involved is critical but understanding what motivates the sales team is even more important.
  • A great analogy to understand the “lethal personalities” at play – Think Captain Kirk as the leading sales guy and Dr Spock as you’re a typical CMO and you get a good picture!
  • It’s not that hard – Sales people want to hit their sales targets and marketing love their data (maybe too much).
  • Career marketers (vs accidental marketers) know how to keep it simple and not hide behind complexity. We need analytics but we must keep it simple!
  • The forgotten p – Price is one of the most effective tools we have (and likely least understood) to impact the bottom line and help drive sales.
  • Better lead generation and management is a bigger issue for most companies than they think, and can most likely solve a lot more problems.
  • Functional strength is an important aspect of marketing, you are only as strong as your weakest link!
  • Meaningful objectives – You must have goals that can be conveyed across channels, functions and the boardroom. That means having 100,000 followers needs a little more work.
  • Find simple ways to express simple strategy – Retain customers, grow prospects!
  • Take an account vs product approach to sales and marketing.
  • Profitable growth is the ultimate measure!

Nick’s insights may not be applicable to all businesses, they are certainly more B2B than B2C (for a change), but I think it was one of the best marketing presentations I have seen in quite some time. Congrats to the exchange team and the speakers for a truly outstanding marketing event.

Infographic: Conference addicts?

10 05 2011

Great new infographic from Fast Company highlighting some of the conferences changing the shape of our industry (and planet). It also highlights the high level people who attend and the deals that get done!

The Conversation Prism by Brian Solis

26 04 2011

The art of listening, learning and sharing…

For more information go to

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!

Review: CEO Keynote Panel @ the Conference for Conference Professionals

18 04 2011

Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the Conference for Conference Professionals, but I did finally get around to watching the free web broadcast of the CEO panel. The panel included; Greg Hitchen from Terrapinn, Laurence Julliard from Alcatel-Lucent (courageously representing the sponsor side of the equation), Tim Weller from Incisive Media, Uday Singh form Osney Media, Neil Stewart from Neil Stewart Associates, Kim Myhre from George P Johnson and Peter Rigby from Informa via a brief video. After a slow start, a rough audience survey and then intros the panel eventually featured some great insights.

You can watch the whole thing here (I recommend skipping the first 10 minutes and the last 10):

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”, and this industry is changing rapidly. Fuelled by social media, smart phones and empowered consumers the events business is under going significant transformation. The increasingly low barriers to entry also mean a flood of new entrants, outliers, whom without the burden of standard industry processes will rapidly improve our core product and meet customers needs better than traditional B2B conference providers. Unless we adapt…

Some of the panel highlights for me included:

  • Good insights on the threat and potential of technology from Peter Rigby (via a pre-recorded video) got it right when he said technology is a boost not a threat. In my opinion the key is how, where and when you implement it. Apart from the many marketing advantages – technology should be leveraged to add to the experience at the event and potentially improve pre and post event sharing, learning and networking! He also high lighted how the days of sending 50,000 brochures and getting 400 people in a room to sit through 8 presentations are long gone!
  • Here’s Peter’s top 3 pieces of advice for any event business:  1) Be innovative and entrepreneurial 2) Create market leading events (and ring fence them) which incorporate multiple media formats and 3) Listen to the customer and adjust the programme and format to meet those needs.
  • Greg Hitchen from Terrapinn raised TED multiple times as example of the power of conferences to engage people. He also highlighted his belief that conferences have come of age and that TED is a sign post for the future. He also mentioned how some TED speakers spend 6 months preparing for their session, which is a lot different to some of the prep for a typical B2B event. Greg also shared an interesting concept on the pre and post Laidlaw Paradigm. We have to change the way we think about conferences, what they are, how they are produced and how they are marketed
  • A heated debate over sponsored speaking positions polarized some of the panel and didn’t resolve itself, but most agreed sponsors are a key part of our business and their involvement in the agenda needs scrutiny. Interestingly the session ended with a presentation from a sponsor!
  • There was a lot of discussion about technology and the need for investment, but eventually there was agreement that technology is a means to an end, it has to enhance the product or experience. Ultimately the events business needs to tap the most powerful element of the medium, the physical exchange of ideas, and technology can help. 
  • There seemed to be general agreement that virtual events still need some work. The current format and clunky interface doesn’t enhance the event experience.
  • Interesting debate on how live streamlining has the potential to cannibalize traditional incomes. But it lacked any real insight into how this ultimately opens your event to significantly broader audience who may not be able to attend that year, but could become advocates moving forward. Neil Stewart shared some insight on how women executives with family commitments may be unable to travel, or just time constraints in general can limit your audience and broadcasting your event can over come these issues, but there was no real debate on the complicated issue of pricing.
  • There was general agreement that blended learning can be very powerful, all shared various concepts but the idea of pre-event, live and post event interaction is definitely resonating.
  • Kim Myhre shared a great analogy during the discussion about whether face to face events are dying, on the how people thought TV wouldn’t work and its impact on radio. Of course live events will always have a role, if they add value, and we take advantage of the technology to enhance the experience. I think Tim Weller added another interesting analogy that you can’t mate through, eventually you need to meet.
  • Neil Stewart had a great quote, “Play with Free you play with Fire…”, he was talking more about broadcasting events but I think it’s relevant to more than just technology, post recession the whole industry is struggling with guesting strategies and trying to recover delegate revenue. If you come for free one year, its very hard to turn around pay the next.
  • Some question on ROI and Margins, Greg Hitchen said it best when he said, high margins will continue for those who deliver quality. Quality being defined as quality content, quality speakers and quality audience, with a great brand that perpetuates.
  • Someone in the panel summed up the change in our industry simply as, at the start of the modern conference you now say “Please turn your phone on”…

Good panel session, with about as much insight as you can expect from CEO’s whose organizations compete at many levels, there seemed to be some twitter action that it was a little boring but I enjoyed the panel from the comfort of my desk as I cleared my emails from my last trip! That says it all, maybe. A great question from the audience at the end also put the panel in perspective! She pointed out how she (and a colleague) had been unable to download the event app, and didn’t have a smart phone, and how as a result of the chairperson mainly taking questions electronically they had been frustratingly left out of the conversation despite having paid to attend!

What does all this mean for us conference marketers… well it repeats some of the things I bang on and on about on this blog including:

  1. Times are changing…
  2. We must adapt our product or outliers will eat our lunch
  3. We must utilize technology to enhance our market reach and enhance (not detract) from the conference experience

Thanks to all the panelists and the organizers for the free broadcast!

“Forget the quotation marks”

21 03 2011

I want to rant about testimonials and the power of sharing in conference marketing. I blogged a while ago about FREE, and the powerful effect it had on TED conferences, but really it was about sharing ideas, this is a well documented story. I also think sharing in and of itself is the best testimonial anyone can ask for, we like our testimonials in conference marketing, but they tend to be more quotes from happy sponsors or speakers, as opposed to people sharing the power of your event, which is much more powerful than quotation marks.

I recently came across three incredible ideas that essentially revolve around testimonials and sharing that all conferences could use:

1) The testimonial video: We all love video, and one can doubt the power of it as a medium for sharing and spreading the word for your event. But I have seen so many rubbish testimonial videos, so here is how you do a testimonial video:  (Please note there is some swearing)

Why? It speaks directly to it’s audience, it’s fun, it’s got inside jokes, and it will spread… other people in the relevant audience will “get it” and want in! The early bird offer on this event has already sold out.

2) The post event ebook: This is a great idea from Seth Godin and the Domino project, put together an ebook on people who attended your event and made a dramatic positive change in their business or life as a result of attending your event. Here’s the Domino Projects ebook from SXSW:

Why? This will be the ultimate testimonial for anyone wanting to attend SXSW. It’s already a huge event, hard to define but full of resonance with the community and an event that will only grow as a result of this ebook.

3) Publish the findings, actions or ideas from the event:

Why? Your event’s benefits should go beyond the conference hall it was held in. Through sharing the findings with the whole community more people will want to justify the time and expense to come next time, and the more likely your event will drive real progress, making a mark on it’s community that only makes marketing the event next time easier. It’s the ultimate testimonial, proof your event had an impact!

All conferences must create social objects that are worth sharing, they become testimonials for your event. The kind of testimonial that people share is more powerful than your quotation marks.