Event Marketing is Like Having a Chauffeur

Posted August 24th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

I read an article this morning about the virtues of traveling through Paris, France in a private car. The article was a blatant advertisement for a Paris car service that offers both cars and drivers, depending on your needs.

I’m sure it is true that “[t]raveling to the Eiffel Tower, the imposing Arc De Triomphe and the inspiring Sacre Coeur can be made much more interesting if you’re riding a comfortable Mercedes or an Audi.” But while I took in the shallow premise of the article I tried to think past how spoiled we are and decide whether the argument has merit.

The reality is, whether or not we like to accept it, we like superfluous comforts. You can have a wonderful time trekking through France with a backpack – as many twenty-somethings prove every year – but reclining in an air conditioned sedan with a driver maneuvering through traffic on your behalf makes the experience much sweeter.

Isn’t that what events are all about? The event marketers’ job is to strip away all the logistics, obstacles, and pains of business life that impede sales on a daily basis. We create a controlled environment where prospects can actually pay attention to the well-defined messages marketers work hard to create every day. A well executed event allows prospects to sit back and truly take in the substance of a product or service without distraction. If the details of one’s surroundings fade into the background a sales pitch stands a better chance of succeeding.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

Events in Microcosm – Small Business Case Study

Posted August 13th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

I’m a believer in the microcosm – if you want to know whether something works find the smallest example of it and watch closely. More formally a microcosm can be described as a small, representative system having analogies to a larger system in constitution, configuration, or development.

As event marketers, it’s fair to assume we sing the praises of effective events on a regular basis. But recently I was reading an article in Inc. magazine written for and about start-up companies. It got me thinking. When you have little to no money to invest in marketing how can you use events, and should you?

It’s important to doubt yourself sometimes. It makes you reconsider your daily raison d’etre and recommit or redirect. And since we at Starshot service a rather exclusive clientele of enterprise-level business, I had to ask myself about how events fit into the world of start-up businesses.

I thought and thought until Esco came to mind. Esco is a very small start-up providing clothing for men. They don’t even have a website! (They have a phone number though – and here it is, so you don’t think I’m making this up: 416 371 5953).  Sure, it’s a dime a dozen, right? Well, not quite. Esco comes to you and offers made-to-measure and imported clothing at a great cost compared to most impersonal retail shops. The real added value is that Esco is run by a sharp stylist and services men that aren’t likely to ever go to a stylist. So, those are the business basics.

Esco is a great example of events working in the microcosm of a small start-up. This business is largely based on relationships – referrals and loyal customers. Building those relationships from scratch is likely the most difficult hurdle to overcome. Nonetheless, Esco tackles this.

Esco informs some of its most loyal customers that in-office visits are available at any time. “Let your friends know when I’m coming by and I can bring in some samples for them to try on too.” And voila! Esco has a little event on its hands. In a law office, for example, this can mean a number of new profitable relationships based on quality referrals (lawyers need a lot of suits.)

Making these face-to-face connections are the life-blood of a small business. And Esco’s example demonstrates how the essence of an event is really all the matters. Don’t necessarily worry about the invitation or complex analytics. Leverage venues that won’t cost you a cent. And bring a notepad and pen to jot down names and contact information for interested prospects. All of a sudden your sales pipeline has leads.

At first I didn’t even realize the obvious event quality of Esco’s most successful marketing tactic. Nonetheless, this is truly an example of the powerful return on investment events generate.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

Headlines are Huge

Posted August 11th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

Ultimately, we are all looking to be heard, understood and validated. As marketers it is critically important to understand this element of human psychology. Without it we have little ability to connect with our audience and help sway purchasing decisions.

As an event marketer I learn time and time again that helping your prospect feel heard, understood and validated makes the difference in event registration and prospect conversions.

Being heard is all about knowing you’re not just another prospect. Reiterating common challenges and generic “we know how you feel” statements is not as effective as getting into the details of someone’s frustrations. If you are able to capture your target’s genuine fears, insecurities, and frustrations you gain access to that head space every marketer is trying to penetrate. You can become a trusted advisor and resource. And once you earn your prospect’s trust, you are that much closer to a sale.

Your best opportunity at successfully connecting with your prospect starts with a powerful headline. If the headline is all your audience is sure to read, you have one chance at getting past the door.

We all have tricks we use to attract attendees to our events, but free giveaways and cool guest speakers will not guarantee you the quality of attendee you are looking to attract. The one way to get real interest is to use the following formula.

Biggest & Most Intimate Challenge + Specific to Audience + Provoking = Powerful Headline

Here’s an example:

“Keep Your Financial Data Safe
…with Technology that Adapts with Your Intruder’s Tactics”

This headline pokes at the things your audience truly fears: Intruders and hackers

This headline incorporates the intimate things that concern your audience: Delicate Financial Data

This headline provokes curiosity: What do you know about the Tactics of Intruders?

Use your headline to show your audience they’ve been heard and understood. Validation naturally follows from that. Validation is a feeling of not being alone. It means that others in your industry understand why you’re facing the challenge you’re facing today. Validation removes this notion that you’re doing something wrong and reminds you that it is reasonable for you to be right where you currently stand.

By mentioning the right details, the biggest challenge(s), and provoking curiosity you begin to make use of basic and effective psychological tools – tools that will impact your event return on investment.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

The Bell and Rogers Couch Feud

Posted August 4th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

In an age of shameless attack advertising like “I’m a MAC. And, I’m a PC.” I’m left wondering if this is really a new age at all.

As a child I remember laundry detergent commercials that never went so far as to name their competitors but represented them with eerily familiar boxes just about anyone could identify.

Recently, Bell and Rogers went head-to-head in a couch campaign that had me looking at each ad to decipher whose ad was whose.

This undoubtedly caused confusion. I began wondering – Wait a second, wasn’t that a Bell ad? I had asked myself a few times as I was passed by a bus with the Rogers version plastered on its side.

I don’t know if it is good or bad marketing that these ads confuse me. They have earned my attention. They have got me talking. But I don’t think either attracted my allegiance. And, in fact, I may be mistaking one company’s message for another.

On the other hand, one brand cannot simply ignore a direct attack. History teaches us, especially in the Bell-Rogers feud, that politely sitting it out looks weak. That said, getting into a catty squabble may come across as weak too.

Before you wade into all out war with your competition, make sure your approach is sophisticated and carries merit. Make your audience think. Give them a message of value. Don’t just come out swinging for the sake of it.

Perhaps the real winner is startup Telehop. They have waded into the fray with ads that feature an entirely new couch putting a hole in the world of the giants. Suddenly the two big contenders are not alone and they’ve given a platform for smaller companies to stand on in preaching this message. While the giants battle it out, Telehop is offering better pricing and a customer-centric experience with its very own orange couch insert.

Here are the lessons I believe we can learn from this:

  1. Think long and hard before launching an attack campaign. It may not work out as you expect.
  2. If your company is attacked, you must reply. Just avoid cheap tactics.
  3. If you’re a small company with far less buying power than your competitors, leverage their campaigns to put your company on the map.

In this particular case, I think Bell looks strong (for the first time in a long time against Rogers) for coming out so quickly with a tactful reply. Telehop has put itself on the radar with an ideal start-up message – that the giants have forgotten about the customer. Rogers, on the other hand, came out swinging and may have lost the spotlight earlier than it expected – likely not what Rogers intended to achieve with this gutsy campaign.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

Positive Psychology and Your Business

Posted July 27th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

We regularly preach the virtues of pain-based marketing on this event blog. We do this for two reasons:

  1. Recognizing your customer’s pain is the best way to stay on top of your customer’s needs.
  2. It works – it captures attention and earns you the time you need to pitch.

Business challenges are the frustrations that lead us to purchase new products and services. If advertisers jump right into solution selling, they’re glossing over the real reason behind a purchase. Earning your audience’s time requires recognizing the problems that need solving. Without understanding your customer’s challenges you can never connect with them long enough to demonstrate the merit of your solution.

With that said, however, this post is about positivity. Basically, while understanding your prospect’s business challenges is vital, getting stuck in the misery of those challenges is not.

In fact, as espoused by humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow and studied over a decade of research, happiness at work—defined as pleasure, engagement, and a sense of meaning—can improve revenue, profitability, staff retention, customer loyalty, and workplace safety. For example, a social worker will make twice as many visits to clients if s/he feels appreciated.

These studies strongly suggest that postive emotion increases creativity, problem-solving, and stress fighting ability.

If this is indeed true, what does that tell us about pain-based selling at a sales event?

Positive psychology teaches us that once you’ve secured your target’s attention with a pain-based reality, your prospect is ultimately looking for a blue-sky outcome of satisfaction, ease, and positivity.

Business challenges need not be permanent. If the doom and gloom is destined to stay, why bother investing in a “solution.” Simply, there is no solution without positivity.

Make sure to hint toward the pleasure, engagement, and sense of meaning which – according to positive psychology – tends to inspire people to achieve greater productivity, creativity, and problem-solving success.

If Positive Psychology Can Boost Your Business, can it not also boost your sales?

Use every tool at your disposal – including a balance of pain and pleasure.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

The Main Attraction

Posted July 24th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

When you’re planning your event’s main attraction you must have thought about bringing in the big guns. You know, the expensive speaker whose name everyone knows? Let’s consider the reasons for and against.

External Speaker Pros

  • Name recognition
  • Mass audience draw
  • Potential media coverage
  • Expertise

External Speaker Cons

  • It’s expensive
  • You set that person up as “the expert”
  • You have less control over content

And, most importantly, according to Starshot Senior Account Manager, Romar Aguilera,

  • The speaker will be promoting his/her brand and yours will always be secondary.

Hiring an external speaker definitely has its benefits but those benefits often depend on circumstance. An external speaker might be the right decision sometimes. But never think an external speaker is your only option.

In fact, if you think about it, we’ve all shared that moment at a presentation with a hired speaker. The speaker forgets who’s hired him/her and says something to promote a competing product and insult the one s/he should be promoting. The audience snickers, the event organizer cringes and suddenly that big fee you’ve paid for an “expert” seems like a mistake.

Use your company’s internal resources. You obviously have experts in-house that can help you promote your business’s expertise. This option keeps the cost down and ensures you maintain control of the content.

If you use your own speaker you can be sure to close with a call to action that specifically meets your needs. As long as (1) the content you present is of high value and (2) you include your call to action, you can satisfy the needs of the audience and your needs at the same time to have a successful event and drive leads appropriately into your sales pipeline.

Perhaps the topic and depth of expertise is more important than the name of the person delivering the material.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

Why Be a Good Twitizen?

Posted July 22nd, 2009 by admin with No Comments

I stumbled across a blog post entitled, Twitter 102 – Good Twitizenship. It reminds me of a principle we challenge ourselves to live by here at Starshot:

>> Offer real value to your industry. <<

It’s so easy to forget this important and simple philosophy. The Twitizenship blog post identifies ways to be a good Twitizen (specific to Twitter of course):

These lists remind us that it is important to understand the selfish side of marketing. That is, that the selfishness of your target audience is the only one that matters. If you forget that fact you become a corporate entity and lose the ability to be part of the community.

If the purpose of event marketing is to build relationships, understand that no one wants to be friends with a person that is always self-interested. People who tend to talk about themselves push away genuine friendships.

Being a good twitizen is about recognizing there’s a community to which you want to gain entry and then making yourself an attractive participant. Kind of like recruitment into a sorority or fraternity, think about why your company, product, or service is an attractive candidate. And remember that listing your features or qualities will likely bore your audience. In order to demonstrate the benefits your membership will bring, offer value to your community from the onset. And before you know it you’ll be part of the clique.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

The Laws of Event Attraction: The Selfish Side of Marketing

Posted July 21st, 2009 by admin with No Comments

Let’s face it – no one cares about your sales pitch.

When you learn to accept this fact you can begin to set an event objective that will actually attract an audience. This means understanding what makes people attend an event. Why would you take time from your schedule to allow a company to market to you?

Here’s where the selfishness of the human condition plays a huge role. You can offer a freebie gift, a great meal, some high-end entertainment, but incentives alone aren’t enough. The fundamental purpose of the event must be enticing on its own accord.

Think about what truly matters to you professionally.

  • Are you looking to advance your company’s clout?
  • Are you in a bind to save your business money?
  • Are you working on advancing your career?
  • Are you hoping to network for new sales opportunities?

Sure the free gift for attending might entice me to open your email invitation and it’s a nice touch to have me leave the event with a smile on my face. Nonetheless, a free pen or trial software will not get me out of my comfortable office chair.

What is likely to garner a response from me is an event that offers real value to my selfish needs. Perhaps…

  • A case study to show me the inner workings of success for a big (and usually private) client of yours
  • An industry round table where I can hash out my daily frustrations with like-minded professionals to which I do not usually have access
  • An insider’s look at the latest in industry trends

If you have information that can make me look good, I am more likely to take the proverbial bait. If your event translates into a direct benefit in my life, you’ve got my attention and likely my registration too.

Keep the selfish side of marketing in mind when you plan your next event to optimize the Laws of Event Attraction.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

Experiential Marketing

Posted July 16th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

Having recently come across the Experiential Marketing blog, Beloved’s Experience, I cannot help but realize the power of experience and reassess how this is incorporated into events.

If your event is an experience in and of itself, it will indeed be remembered. Of course, picking a unique experience is difficult.

Experiential marketing events might include any of the following examples and benefits.

Bringing your best clients out of the boardroom and onto a prestigious golf course will make many business people sign up in a hurry.

A vineyard tour might teach your guests how to properly pair wines with a specific menu. This provides a classy venue that removes the business-as-usual boredom most business people would be happy to escape.

Perhaps an involved and relevant experience for the video gaming industry would be a real-time gaming tournament (e.g. MMORPG). Comic Condoes a great job of making an experience out of an event – when Wonder Woman and Wolverineare walking around in the true flesh and  you get to make yourself into Princess Leia, some might call that an experience worth remembering.

In short, interacting and engaging with guests will be more appreciated and carries more clout than a one-way presentation ever could. Regardless of how great your speaker may be, having your guest live the experience is always better.

The real trick is to find an experience that ties in with the product or service your sales event exists to promote. Then find a way to bring your theme alive in an activity you can all share together. If your event concerns promoting clean technology, host your event at a wind power facility and incorporate a tour of the wind turbine process.

Get creative. The richer the experience the more memorable your event can be.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

Event Marketing CPR

Posted July 13th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

A number of circumstances can unravel your event. Some issues you cannot control while others you can. Event Contigency Preparation (Event CPR) helps you take and keep control when you can. Here is a list of things you should never be without when running a marketing event:

·  Scissors
·  Markers
·  Large binder clips
·  First-aid gear
·  Gum
·  Extension cords
·  Power bar
·  Laser pointers
·  Plastic ties
·  Extra projector bulb
·  Notepads & pens
·  USB memory stick
·  Flashlight
·  Stain remover
·  Label maker
·  Blank name badges
·  Safety pins
·  Tape

You might need to extend this list as your experience progresses and you learn what further tools are a helpful lifesaver, job-saver, event-saver, etc. If you ignore this list, you’ll be kicking yourself the next time you’re in an event bind.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

Strategy Come Alive

Posted July 10th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

Hosting an event is very different than strategic event marketing. You can throw chips in a bowl, pay a celebrity to attend, and realize a huge attendance, but that doesn’t mean your investment is connected to anything other than a good time.

According to EventView 2009 Global Report, event marketing outperforms the return on investment you can expect from broadcast advertising, print advertising, or web marketing. While strategic event marketing outperforms various other forms of marketing, it does not mean you’ll see the immediate return if you host an event.

The necessary part to the equation is the strategy element. Without a strategy your event is nothing more than a gathering that has cost you time and effort.

Next time you want to host an event consider

·  Choosing an objective
·  Integrating a theme
·  Analyzing the results
·  Ranking each attendee according to lead potential.

Making the  most of your marketing dollars means more than throwing a party. The type of party should be relevant to the topic, audience, or industry. The give-away should be a business-related resource so you come to mind every time that resource is consulted. Your event should centre on a challenge your target prospect is struggling to overcome.

An event without a true, well thought out strategy to track return on investment is just that–an event. A marketing event requires that you track results and build upon the connections your event inspires.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

The Dry Run

Posted July 8th, 2009 by admin with No Comments

Having a pre-event dry run is perhaps THE best practice to trump all others. For such a simple step this element can make the difference between unorganized and sleek delivery.

After going through a number of barriers, once your attendees reach an event you have a serious opportunity. Your delivery may either rope prospects into your sales pipeline or lose them for good. You’re likely to get one good chance to connect with a lead. How you treat that chance will determine if you get another.

If you have one shot in the barrel of your gun and one bulls-eye mark, you’re sure as hell going to wish you practiced before. A sleek presentation is your chance to hit that bulls-eye.

We all know and love cliches that speak truth, like…

·  Practice makes perfect.
·  Preparation breeds confidence.

You know how important it is that you shine on event day. Don’t ignore the value of the dry run. If you do, you will regret it later.

 

Originally posted on starshot.com

Twitter