I am floored. Flabbergasted. And, honestly, a bit saddened: saddened to see that, even today, some events organizations' direct marketing efforts are not only not getting it right, but are getting it very wrong.
The background: I recently registered on a (reputable) portal which, along with producing blogs, newsletters, etc., supports an online community, which struck me as a smart Social Media-based initiative. The company also organizes well-known industry events, including a fairly sizable event in a couple of weeks.
As part of their event marketing strategy – which may work perfectly well for this organization – the Early Bird deadline was set for two weeks prior to the event [this strikes me as a late Early Bird – more on that later]. Unfortunately, the deadline fell on September 4 – which, in the U.S., was the beginning of the Labor Day holiday.
Given that, I received an email on August 31st (last Monday) letting me know the Early Bird deadline was expiring on Friday. A perfectly reasonable communication to push the deadline and associated savings.
Then I also received another reminder on Tuesday.
And Thursday. And Friday. All with fairly similar messaging around the Early Bird Deadline discount which I Could Not Miss.
Of course, I missed it. So, on Monday (on Labor Day itself), I received an email that the deadline had been extended until Tuesday. And two emails on Tuesday letting me know The Deadline Was Near!
In short, in the course if six business days, I, Joe Prospect, received seven emails with fairly identical messaging that the Early Bird savings to this event was ending soon. Interspersed with a pair of emails (one last Wednesday – the one day I didn’t get an Early Bird email – and one today) letting me know I could get a free Exhibit Hall pass.
I forwarded one of these emails to a colleague, Roger Jarman, who very succinctly replied “They think that DM is short for Desperation Marketing.” I initially laughed … but then it bothered me. It’s these strategies and tactics which continue to present the Event Marketing in a negative light – historically, as perpetrators of “spray and pray” direct mail, and more recently as spammers. And of course, it does smack of desperation.
As Event Marketers, we need to move beyond such tactics. In this case, with proper planning, an alternate Early Bird deadline should have been utilized. (Also – see this previous posting regarding Early Bird strategies.) A longer lead time (more than two weeks) would have also allowed contingencies to be implemented if attendee numbers were below internal targets.
I certainly know and empathize that the industry continues to struggle both in generating attendees and sponsor revenue in our down economy. But in short, in the face of these challenges, resorting to a series of fairly identical daily emails is not the answer. Far from it, I would be surprised if this campaign doesn’t drive up opt-out rates and drive down open rates.
We, as Event Marketers, need to ensure our efforts and campaigns are using industry Best Practices, that we continue to go to market strategically and innovatively, and that we really need to think before we hit the “transmit” button.