Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It’s Not (Only) What You Say, It’s How You Say It

I recently read an interesting post by Marc Munier of Pure360 on Econsultancy detailing social media tactics and incorporating them into marketing channels – mainly email (Pure360, FYI, is an email marketing service). A couple of specific nuggets he suggested:

Encourage response: Part of the allure of Blogging is its interactivity – the potential to engage, post comments and participate in discussions. Munier suggests including this invitation to respond in email communications –and not to expect flood of response, but because including this feature of two-way communication increases the value to the reader.
Unsubscribe comments positioning: Moving the unsubscribe to the top of the email, while this it would make some marketers nervous, would show you are a “legitimate Marketer, and that you don’t want to email people who don’t want to receive your emails,” Munier notes.

While I won’t reiterate the entire blog here, the post raises a good point: social media, aside from being a different platform/channel (which underlies part of the “buzz”), uses a different communication/tone (which is the unspoken part of said buzz). And it is time to take a look at the voice used in traditional channels.

For example, printed collateral (a.k.a. those direct mail pieces that are just not delivering ROI) has not changed its core components in ages: intro letter, session descriptions, sponsors, registration/hotel info. All of which speak to the recipient, not with the recipient. The same scenario frequently exists with Event-specific emails; although there have been advances in weaving more content into promotional marketing e-mail communications, the overall message remains ‘register for my Event!’

In the face of challenged clicks, opens, and ROI on traditional channels in an integrated Event Marketing campaign, we are not (yet) at the point of cutting these channels from a campaign. Event Marketing leaders are, however, certainly at the point of needing to think through (and test) incorporating key elements driving Social Media, specifically:

Making it a conversation: Include informational elements to brochures – for example, I’ve done brochure with one page (in a 12-page brochure) dedicated to results and discussion around a pre-event survey on topics, issues and solutions. This could be done in conjunction with a drive-to-Web link to a discussion board or further information on the site.
Pull, don’t push: intersperse content, insight from White papers, statistics, etc., from the organization that the prospect would find helpful.
Allow prospects to interact with the event: include speaker Twitter IDs and LinkedIn URLs (easier done in email unless customized); also, share your event Twitter ID, Facebook fan page, and/or LinkedIn Event page at every available opportunity. (Make it easy to communicate and be transparent in how they can find you!)
Share the organization’s expertise: if you have a free e-newsletter, whitepaper, podcasts, Webinars, etc. let it be known – make mention of it and provide links in your print and email.
Truncate it!: As Munier suggests, part of the success of Twitter is its brevity. The same can be applied to emails and print: put the 75-100 word session descriptions on the Web. Aside from being green, this will produce a more visually palatable piece.

In regards to print, incorporating the above will and should go hand-in-hand with thinking about covers – moving away from traditional Event/Location/Key Reason to Attend messaging to content points – drawing people to specific pages in the brochure.

And again, these are suggestions and elements to test – I welcome comments from anybody with examples and results of any initiatives taken along these lines to date.

Good luck!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where's the Spend? Social Media Budgets for Event Marketing

As we melt through the dog days of August, Event Marketing eyeballs are beginning to focus on (if they have not already started) planning for 2010, and specifically budgeting. This is going to be a big challenge for a number of (in some cases obvious) reasons. Forecasting the economic environment as a baseline to develop budget revenues and attendee volumes will be challenging … and then there is the expense budgeting exercise.

With the advances we’ve seen in social media as a channel over the past year (even in the face of - or maybe because of - the economy) the question that needs to be answered is “What do we spend on this 'stuff' in 2010?” My concrete, set-in-stone answer is: it depends. Taking a look at a chart from a MarketingProfs/Forrester Research report, “B2B Marketing in 2009: Trends in Strategies and Spending,” certainly shows that across the board, drive-to-web marketing spend was up in 2009, traditional/branding channels were down. Do note: this chart isn't a guide: how “up” or “down” really varies and is a question to be answered strategically by each marketing group. In the realm of social media spend and the % of marketing budget to allocate, however, I’d suggest centering the answers around a few interrelated questions/points:

1. What are you looking to achieve? Are you looking to use social media as a way build year-round community around an event? Drive-to-web? Lead gen mechanism? “Revenue” is end game; and there are a slew of SM options available (and combinations thereof). But in short, do make sure you have a strategy in place first before starting to think through and detail social media tactics around this. The thought and discussions put into this will pay off in the long run.

2. What sort of infrastructure do you have in place? Social media is inexpensive in the context of marketing channels available – setting up a Facebook page, for example, is free (!) But I think, in the next 18 months, event marketers will be asked to produce more report on the ROI of social media initiatives. Not clicks, not hits, not bounce statistics – lead acquisition and conversion. And to do that you need to make sure your back-end infrastructure is defined and in place. And this may take additional investment – so make sure this maps to item #1.

3. Do you have people in place? Again, social media tactics are comparatively inexpensive. A hidden (or overlooked) expense is, as I’ve noted before, bandwidth. Are there people in place who will take ownership of producing content? Doing content right takes manhours – with today’s lean workforce you need to make sure this is taken into consideration – and ensure this area is properly staffed.

In the context of setting your marketing budget for 2010, this is the time to follow the trend of re-allocating marketing spend from direct mail (being more targeted and, of course, integrating into these other channels) into online marketing. One additional thought, pending your budget process: do establish this spend as an established budget line – avoid entering it in a soft, “testing” category. If the industry is soft and expenses need to be cut, this could be the first money to go – not a desirable result.

Good luck!


Monday, August 3, 2009

In Case You Missed It....

While The Event Marketing Insider has been posting for six months now, within the course of recent weeks, I’ve been practicing what I preach and doing more outreach via Social Media channels. As a result, there has been a larger volume of readers and followers with each post (and thanks to all!!!!).

To that end, I’d like to share the earlier posts, when three followers (myself included) was a good thing. While these columns are all in the archives, I do realize and appreciate (if I am a case study) there is not a ton of time and incentive to dig through these unless looking for a specific article. Here, then, are a list of old posts and brief descriptions for easy access.

And ... this brings us up-to-date! Please do continue read, tweet, and comment on these articles – any insight and feedback is great and appreciated! (P.S. A quick note/reminder: please re-tweet any post from the button in the lower left)

Good luck!