Stop Showing Them What They Don’t Want to See

Exasperated manby Tom Baer

Bob Garfield, long-time marketing and media reporter for Advertising Age magazine recently wrote an article about the commonly mistaken mindset many marketers have about using social media.  His article was really geared toward consumer marketers, but the idea behind it is extremely relevant for those of us who market meetings and events as well, so it seems well worth noting here.

The key message is clearly stated in his headline, “Social Media is About Cultivating Community, not Corralling Cattle.”  He feels, and I agree that while most marketers these days are smart enough to realize they need to include social media in their marketing mix, they still view it the same as any other media they use to help drive sales to the bottom line.

While the ultimate goal of any marketing is to drive sales, social media MUST be looked upon and handled differently if it is to help with that bottom line goal.  Too many marketers fall into the trap of approaching social media with the “advertiser” mindset – talk enough about my features, benefits, and brand to get the target to buy.  So their social media efforts are full of features, benefits and brand.  What happens?  Their target gets quickly turned off and wants nothing to do with them anymore.

The goal of your social media effort needs to be building a community, not selling a product, service, or meeting.  They already know you and are interested in you or they would not be following you.  Provide content that is valuable, engaging and interesting to them.  Content they want to share with others – that’s how you build community.  Content like relevant news, polls, contests, pictures and videos.

Then you won’t have to use your social media to sell, because your followers will do it for you.

C-h-i- What?

smart phoneby Mark Adamski

Being that this is my very first contribution to the venerable Heads Up blog, I figured it would be appropriate to talk about finding my way in marketing.

Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with a flowery narrative about my career path. Rather, I want to talk about the nearly microscopic GPS receiver in your smartphone that has the potential to revolutionize the world of marketing and meetings.

Last week I when I landed in Seattle, I opened up my Safari browser while the plane was still taxiing to the gate (yes, the flight attendant said it was okay to use cell phones at that point, and yes, I have an iPhone; Steve Jobs is “the man”…or rather was). As I started to type the name of the restaurant I intended to visit that evening, it only took three fingerprint smudges to jump to a recommendation for “Chisou Seattle.” Ta-da! That’s where I had planned to eat. At the moment I didn’t think this was anything unusual, but then it occurred to me that my domicile is a city that begins with the same letters, c-h-i, and there was not one mention of a place with 3 million+ people! (Perhaps you can guess the city.)

That Chicago-something didn’t appear under the recommendations, or “c-h-i-anything else” for that matter, was somewhat shocking because Chisou is a tiny little restaurant in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, not a sprawling metropolis, or even the world’s most populated country, which also happens to begin with “c-h-i.” Of course, it was no mistake that happened. As soon as I powered up my iPhone, it launched a relentless search for its whereabouts on planet Earth, unbeknownst to me.

The need to satiate my belly’s craving for mediocre Japanese food is just the tip of this iceberg.  GPS technology now offers a new world (loose pun intended) of possibilities when a meeting or conference comes to town:  there are thousands of new people who roam the host city (some might even call them tourists), exploring a place that’s to them mostly unknown.  Applications abound for GPS to be used to enhance the event for attendees, pre, during, and post, and even as ways to drive new sponsorship revenue.

Of course the gaming industry has been leading the charge for a while now with location based smart-phone games like Four Square and others, but it’s time to look into how GPS technology can add to your meetings.  “C-h-i-me” in with your thoughts on how to best use it by commenting below!

Searching for Attendees?

Word cloudby Tom Baer

More and more associations have realized times have changed, and are now ready to step up marketing efforts to drive annual meeting attendance back to where it needs to be.  But many are not so savvy when it comes to how to spend dollars that have been shifted to marketing.  Instead of exploring new opportunities, some are still just going with what they know – simply sending out more post cards or conference brochures to the same old tired list.

Time to change the mix.  The first place to add?  Online.  Why?  Because that is the world in which we – and more importantly your potential attendees – now all live.  Remember when people used to fill out and mail in registration forms?  How many do that now?  And if they are registering online, ask yourself, which is likely more effective, a post card where they have to get from their mail to their computer, log on, get to your site and register, or an online ad where they simply click right to your registration page?

So assuming you agree you want to promote your event online, then you have another decision – should you invest in display advertising, search engine marketing, or social media?  The best response would be all three, but that implies you have the budget to do so.  If not, you have to prioritize. 

If this is the case, here’s how you should do so:  1. Search, 2. Facebook, 3. Display.  Search should be your first priority because it offers the best ROI and is therefore more effective for lower budget campaigns.  Aaron Goldman, Chief Marketing Officer at Digital Marketing software company Kenshoo, puts it well: “Search is unique in that it reaches people when they’re in the right mindset. When people search, they’re in between activity on the Web (moving from one site to the next) and actively looking for something. This makes them more open to commercial influence. Display just sits on the perimeter begging to be ignored while consumers engage with the content they’re interested in.”  Admittedly this is a bit of an overstatement regarding ineffectiveness of display – otherwise it would not command more than 60% of internet marketing dollars as it does, but it does illustrate the point.

Facebook shares search’s ability to take advantage of consumers being more “tuned in” to content.  Yes, they are more interested in the “social content” of the page they are looking at, but just being on facebook allows the target to feel you are more in tune with their likes and needs than if your ads are found on non-social sites.  One caveat – if you plan on marketing on facebook, make sure you have a facebook page for your event that potential attendees can visit.

Another great benefit of marketing online is that you can monitor and tweak your campaign as you go, and get a great deal of data to learn from through Google analytics, but that will be the subject of another blog.

Bottom line, if you add online to your marketing mix you should see results.  If you can, invest in all three, but at minimum, test a search campaign before your next event…it will likely provide some of the results you are searching for.

Segment or Not?

Submitted by Sue Castro

Ever wondered what the big deal is about customer segmentation in association meeting marketing?  You sure see it tossed around a lot. But is it really that important?  When done right, YES!

Most associations either avoid it because it’s too complicated, or they don’t know how to identify the segments. 

Identifying your member segments is as simple as analyzing your member database.  I know, that’s easier said than done.  But it provides the basis to communicate appropriately with each of your various member or attendee groups.  Does that matter?  YES!!!  Why? Because it creates a message that is more relevant and thus more likely to be read. 

Group of people

Think of the last time you purchased a book on Amazon.com..  Immediately, Amazon shot back a list of other books that were similar.  By your ordering a particular book, Amazon was able to place you in a segment and marketed to you.  It was likely pertinent to you and you most likely responded positively.  With everyone so taxed for time, it’s simply better to provide information that is relevant to people; not information we think will appeal across a broad audience! 

Segmentation demonstrates you understand your target’s needs and desires.  It also helps you craft a message that is valuable to your audiences; eliminating the need for your target to search around for the information needed.  You are giving it to them in a way that is relevant.  And saving them time. 

Think about what’s in it for your members the next time you communicate to them., They’ll be more responsive because you took the time to communicate to them in their language.  I’ve seen double-digit response rates as a result of segmentation. Try it and you’ll become a believer!