Monday, February 22, 2010

Randi Rosenberg

It was a week ago today that I heard the indescribably sad news that Randi Rosenberg had passed away, entirely too young, after an extended battle with breast cancer. I’ve read the many online tributes people who she touched had posted in her memory, and have come to appreciate what a terrific person she was, and how dearly she will be missed.

I worked professionally with Randi in 2007, when she was recommended as somebody who could provide marketing expertiese on event I was working on. And even in that limited capacity, in that limited time frame, she was certainly – as she has been described – a force of nature. A wonderful personality, strong, supportive and tenacious in her efforts, caring. And this was only in this one project; I cannot begin to imagine the joy she brought to her family and lifelong friends and associates, although I did come to appreciate she was a person who touched everybody she met.

We kept in touch after the project was over, checking in with a “how are things” phone call or email. When I was separated from Gartner last year, she was one of the first people I called, and she was one of the people who, unsurprisingly, was a terrific help in suggestions and promising to keep her eyes open for me. She never mentioned her health challenges, never complained, which I’m sure is just the person she was.

So the news, of course, came as a shock; I had been thinking of her lately as I hadn’t heard from her, but could not (or did not) imagine the circumstances surrounding it.

One of the things I learned about Randi was that she was one of the founders and past presidents of Young Survival Coalition; the coalition is accepting contributions in her memory either online or via check made payable to:

Young Survival Coalition Inc.
61 Broadway
New York, NY 10016-2263

Randi will be missed.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Exhibitor & Sponsor Marketing Engagement: Why not go social?

It (almost) goes without saying that the investment Exhibitors and Sponsors make in an event does not end once ink is dry on the contract. Exhibitors’ marketing budgets – in both pre- and on-site promotions – are substantial. According to a survey published by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, respondents spent, on average, $32,000 - and up to $50,000 - on these activities per event. Add to this costs in human capital and the challenges measuring ROI and it becomes clear why the events budgets are prime for cutbacks when corporate marketing budgets are put under the magnifying glass.

It also begs the question: Why the lack of social networks as an inexpensive, effective marketing channel for attendee promotion?

According to the CEIR survey, Effective Methods for Visitor Promotion Part II: Exhibitors, less than half of the 218 responders reported using personal social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook) for visitor promotion (and this was the highest use of SM tools reported.) If, as I noted last week, the name of the game is engagement, Exhibitor Event Marketing leaders need to grow the use of Social Media tools as effective and cost-effective means to driving booth traffic.

Ironically, a key benefit cited in the survey, access to an attendee list (84% of the respondents said they wanted a list of pre-registered attendees from the event organizer), is one which Event Marketers can develop using these very tools. Social media tools provide the ability to develop these communities and networks as a way to not only drive booth traffic but to engage attendees, potential attendees, and your booth visitors on a year-round basis.

Using social media and networking tools strategically also provides you a voice before the event – and alleviates your not just being another face at a booth an attendee stops by on site. Ask yourself: as an attendee, would you rather visit a booth where you’ve connected with a representative of the company, or visit a booth cold? Getting a handle on and using social media goes a long way in humanizing what can be the large, industrial feel of many a show floor.

This can – and, I suggest – should be handled collaboratively between Exhibitors and Event Organizer marketing teams. First, Exhibitors should ensure that they, as sponsors, have access to and with attendees via a community or network managed by the organizer pre and post-event. [In this engagement, exhibitors of course should be sensitive avoid using such network or community to “push” booth traffic. Instead, use it to engage in conversations, answer questions, and listen.]

Secondly – and to step out of the event arena for a moment – exhibitors need to ensure they are utilizing the social media assets your corporate organization may already have in place. Use this as a way to not only reach out to event attendees, but to raise awareness around the event and your organization’s participation in the event. Your company’s blogs, gated communities, and networks are prime areas to include your presence at events as part of your overall corporate communication and branding initiatives.

Possibly the most telling item on the survey: While one of the lesser tools utilized by exhibitors, Social Networking was cited as the 3rd most effective exhibit promotional tool (behind Hospitality Suites and Guerilla Marketing) … and more effective than traditional avenues such as handouts, email, print, and premiums. Again pointing to social media that, as Event Marketers, we need add to our arsenals.

Good luck!


Friday, February 5, 2010

Social Media & Event Marketing in 2010: Engagement!

Social Media continues to grow as a channel in the integrated Event Marketing mix. Any of a myriad of surveys and polls validates this trend, including one conducted by eMarketer, which notes 60% of the respondents planning to increase spend in Social Media in 2010. The confluence of the platforms and technologies available and the recession has, in short, driven Event Marketers to look at Social Media as an avenue to cost-effectively generate interest and demand for event portfolios.

There are a slew of Social Media options available, and new ones appear almost daily. But  Event Marketing strategies, tactics and campaigns don’t have the luxury of waiting for the next big platform: once an event – either live or virtual - is set, marketing commences with the tools in hand. Which begs the question: in which basket should Event Marketing leaders place today's eggs?

The over-arching answer, of course, is to explore and test a variety of social media platforms to determine what works. My take is that social media in the communications space: blogs and micro-blogs (i.e. Twitter), professional and social networking sites (LinkedIn, Facebook), and content-sharing platforms (YouTube, Flickr, SlideShare, etc.) are the keys for Event Marketing. Between them, an Event Marketing campaign team should develop a strong social media mix to support an event or event portfolio.

HOWEVER, I also think these all are only pieces of the ultimate goal: engagement. Continued, ongoing engagement. Social media has quickly brought many changes to Event Marketing, including the altering traditional communication strategies for both attendees and prospects. Event Marketing communication should no longer be on an “as needed” basis, tactically starting at X weeks out with a Save the Date email and ending with a post-event Thank You email, then re-ramping when the next promotional cycle ensues. Instead, B2B audiences will increasingly come to anticipate and expect social media-driven communities, networks and forums in which interaction – and engagement – is ongoing. Event marketing leaders who invest their increased Social Media spend in this arena will, in short, have the most to gain.

At a minimum, utilizing LinkedIn and Facebook both for their Event listing capability and Group feature (and, with Facebook, for its Fan Page) should be a starting point. Ning is another platform which, while mirroring LinkedIn, is set up for individual networks and communities. (If you are not familiar with Ning, do check out, a site is built in Ning.) And of course, there are software options available as well. Pathable is one example of such software, this one happens to be event-specific and acts as an aggregator of various SM platforms. (I am not affailiated with or endorsing any of the above, but noting them as the types of options available. Please use due diligence if you explore them.)

Planning and executing Event Marketing using Social Media is a topic and discussion for another post: the take-away here is, if you have not already, begin to take a serious look at how you can start building continued, vital communities as a continued engagement strategy surrounding your events.

Good luck!