“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.