Author Archives: Ian McGonnigal

Strategy

Owning The Show: The Art Of Building Share Of Voice

brand, "brand experience", conferences, "digital marketing", "engagement marketing", "entertainment marketing", "event marketing", events, experiences, "experience marketing", "experiential marketing", marketing, "social media", "trade shows"Locked in every trade show is a number. Someplace deep inside event demographics, and underneath all the hype and buzz of exhibitors, speakers and attendees you will find it. The number of people you really want to talk to. These are your targets – people who have a high propensity to become your customers.

Often event-producer-provided audience descriptions can be somewhat biased and useless from a marketing perspective. Case in point: Aren’t we all “decision makers”? Wherever possible, its a good idea to insist on third-party audits to drive true marketing discipline into your program and the event industry at large. All said, chances are you don’t want to attract and start a conversation with everyone who attends a trade show – You want to engage with the folks that really matter, your suspects and prospects.

I’m always amazed at the size and scope of the spend many companies make at major events to drive awareness and audience. I wonder if anyone ever bought anything because of a 24-story building wrap. I’m not saying awareness vehicles have no value. On the contrary, awareness is critical in driving pipeline. My point is: each and every tactic and investment at every event should be scrutinized and prioritized to ensure it is the best tool to accomplish your business objectives with your targeted audiences. Event marketers don’t have to have the largest budget, the biggest booth or the most impressive sign to win. They just need to be strategic in their approach and apply intelligence to their process. Here are some ideas that can help you own the show without breaking the bank.

BYOA – Bring Your Own Audience: The audience is the most important part of any event. Don’t rely on someone else to provide it. Be sure to link with sales organizations and have them personally invite key customers and prospects to the event. Design experiences just for them when they get there. Leverage business partners to participate in your presence and ask them to do the same. Use search (both standard and social media) to identify and invite suspects. Engage in a direct marketing campaign with key media properties to drive awareness for targeted audiences that meet your demographic and psychographic profile requirements. Its a lot easier to catch the right fish if you stock the pond.

Get The List: Negotiate sponsorships with event producers that include the pre registration, registration and attendee lists. Sort and parse the list to ensure you’ve boiled it down to just your target audiences. Communicate with this audience before, during and after the show. Ensure you build a communication stream well-before the event to determine how you will handle opt-ins, hot, warm and cold leads and ensure this process is followed.

Engage The Press And Media Early And Often: An event is not the first time you should contact the press and media. Its imperative you build relationships with key media properties well-ahead of time. Remember, if you can provide content that is relevant to their audience and is easy to execute you will go far. Just like any business relationship, press and media relationships are predicated upon a mutual exchange of value. Make sure your content is newsworthy and you spend time helping them succeed. Its not always about your company, brand or products. Hold a press conference before the event to drive mindshare and monopolize the media. Remember to invite prominent bloggers in your industry who are respected by your target audience – they often have greater pull than mainstream media.

Be Everywhere That Matters: Fill educational tracks with experts that can provide high-value content in sessions relative to your companies niche in the subject matter of the event. Secure a keynote speaking opportunity. Participate in panel discussions and roundtables. Remember, audiences spend far more time in sessions and attending speaking opportunities than they do on the show floor.

Get The Smallest Booth Possible: That’s right, I said smallest. Your largest investment should be in engaging with your audiences. You don’t need to bring every product in every product line. You don’t need 300 signs scattered throughout the booth. You don’t need every employee in your company to staff your booth. What you do need is enough space to manage flowthrough of your targeted audience over the course of the show. You also need space for the appropriate number of staffers to manage these attendees.  Ensure your experiences and demonstrations have enough room to comfortably be executed. Other things to consider include business theater and meeting space. Take advantage of off floor or off site meeting space. The cost per square foot is often less and you can control the experience more effectively. Above all, make sure your booth is open and inviting, and most importantly, efficient.

Use Time As A Competitive Weapon: Create experiences and engagement activities that monopolize the time that your suspects and prospects spend with you. If you have days filled with demonstrations, booth tours, speaking engagements, meetings, etc., audiences will spend more time immersed in your brand and will have less time to spend with competitors.

Leverage Social Media Or Virtual Technologies: “What happens in Vegas…” or more appropriately, “What happens at the event often stays at the event.” This is unfortunate considering the huge investment made. Use social media to enhance, expand and extend the event experience for attendees and outside participants as well. Videos, Photos, Blogs, Twitter, Linkedin Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, private social networks, etc. can all be potent additions to your strategy. Remember an event is a point in time, relationships are long-term. Engage and interact with your communities both on and off line to improve the ROI of the event.

Follow Up Quickly And Consistently: Remember the communication stream? Execute the plan to follow up with and engage opt-ins, hot, warm and cold leads. The reason for investment and participation in the event was most likely to obtain these suspects. Don’t waste the investment by dropping the ball when the event is over. Leads are gold. Covet them. Communicate with them. Build relationships with them. Now.

Creating mindshare and heartshare doesn’t have to be expensive. Recognizing and engaging with a targeted audience is more effective and efficient than betting the farm on broad-based awareness efforts. With the proper alignment of tactics to business objectives, and the discipline to scrutinize and prioritize each and every investment, you’ll be well on your way to building the right share of voice to own the show.

Have other ideas? Please share!

originally published 9/24/09 and updated www.experientialmarketing20.com

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Experience

Storytelling in Social Media and Events

brand, "brand experience", conferences, "digital marketing", "engagement marketing", "entertainment marketing", "event marketing", events, experiences, "experience marketing", "experiential marketing", marketing, "social media", "trade shows"Storytelling is critical to successful brand engagement on the social web as well as at face-to-face events. Here are a few tips that you can apply to your own stories, no matter where you tell them.

1.  Have a purpose. Know what you are trying to accomplish as a result of your story. Make sure that every element of your story contributes to accomplishing your objectives. Why are you telling the story? What reaction are you looking for from your audience? What do you want your audience to do as a result of reading or hearing the story?

2.  Clearly articulate the theme. Ensure you have defined the ideas, messages or lessons you’d like to get across to your audience.  What knowledge or feelings do you want the audience to walk away with?

3.  Keep it simple. Start by telling your story in just one sentence. Then expand on relevant points and give enough detail to craft a truly compelling tale. Be careful not to go into too much detail. Leave enough room for your audience to fill in the blanks and become part of the story.

4.  Ensure your story has a structure and a well-defined plot. Every story needs a beginning, middle and end. Or as we learned in grade school:  Introduction, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action and Resolution. You can tell your story all at once or in parts. This is true whether you make postings to social networks via blogs, tweets, videos, etc. or spread your storyline across audience generation, experience, through case studies, in speaking opportunities and follow up tactics for an event. Also, Use a single, effective narrative device to help guide your audience through the plot. Avoid mixing devices as it leads to confusion and distracts the audience.

5.  Use the right tools to tell your story. Photography, Audio, Video, Text and Interactive Multimedia can each play an powerful role in getting your message across. Use them appropriately. Understand the message and the best way to present your ideas. Think of the audience first, and how they prefer to receive your message. Know what the most effective vehicles are for your audiences to profoundly understand retain and share your message.

6.  Engage your audience. Wherever possible engage your audience so they become part of the story or at the very least, vested in the outcome. This can be done through digital or physical interaction, imagination or emotions (humor, shock, etc.) Another good Idea is to entertain your audience at the beginning, end and middle of the story. Start and end with a bang.

7.  Choose the right protagonist. The best stories in marketing are those that the audience identifies with ~ where they can see themselves as the hero. Remember, its not about you, its about your audiences. Your brand is the enabler. Who is the hero of your story?

8.  Defeat the antagonist. Well, first you need to describe an antagonist that is relevant to the audience. This might be a pain point your product(s) address or a new service that propels your audience beyond their competition (perhaps it really is an arch nemesis!) The key here is relevancy. Relevancy to your industry, and relevancy to you audience on both an emotional and rational level. If there is nothing at stake, there is no story. Make sure the conflict is believable and the solution is compelling.

9. Communicate like a human being. Just because you work for a company, doesn’t mean you have to speak like one. Building a brand personality that people can relate to, whether you’re BtoB or BtoC, will help establish and foster relationships with your audiences. It will also help drive emotional connections with your brand. No one wants to have a conversation with a corporation, they want to have a conversation with a person.

10.  Be Authentic. Seth Godin writes “A great story is true. Not necessarily because it’s factual, but because it’s consistent and authentic. Consumers are too good at sniffing out inconsistencies for a marketer to get away with a story that’s just slapped on.” Authenticity drives trust which is critical to long term relationships and engagement between brands and their audiences.

Events and social media alike provide brands an amazing opportunity to connect with their audiences. Whether you are engaging with suspects, prospects, customers, loyal advocates, shareholders, analysts, or the press and media, its critical you can communicate with them effectively. Storytelling, when done correctly can engage your audiences intellectually and emotionally. This will help drive meaningful relationships resulting in long term success for everyone. Engage, interact and become part of the story.

originally published 9/2/09 www.experientialmarketing20.com

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