5 Tips for a Fantastic Marketing Conference

I recently attended a marketing conference in Indianapolis, IN called Connections – “Inspire the Future”. The event was put on by ExactTarget, an international email marketing service provider. The event pulled together 4,000 marketing clients and industry thought leaders all learning together. Inspired by how well this event was executed, I thought I’d share 5 tips from what I saw at the conference that in my opinion made it successful.

  1. Tell Success Stories – People love stories and are excited to learn if the content is structured like one. Start off by introducing the problem. Mostly likely your audience is in the same boat. Let them put on their detective hats and walk through how you attempted to solve it. Show them your methods and each step along the way. When you get to the end, leave them with the positive results. It’s helpful to bring in your clients, your partners, and experts. The more stories you tell, the better.
  2. Bring in the Big Dogs – Not every company has the resources to hire famous celebrities, bands, and entertainers to attend their conference. If you can (ExactTarget Connections featured Michael J. Fox, The Fray, and David Blaine) then you’re surely able to excite your attendees. However, if you can’t afford it then you should at least bring in the thought leaders. No matter what your industry, there are people with deep expertise and knowledge. Bring these keynote speakers up on stage to tell their stories. Some of them might come from your company but it is much more powerful if they don’t. Get some big names in there and you’re on your way to a successful event.
  3. Embrace Social Sharing – If you’re going to throw an event or conference then you need to be prepared for people to talk about it online. Embrace the conversations by setting up Twitter hashtags, Facebook pages about the event, or other channels for people to share. Lead the conversation by talking with people online. Let non-attendees participate by following the attendees’ profiles and news feeds. ExactTarget created a “Social Media Lounge” space that automatically posted tagged Tweets, Instagram photos, and Facebook posts.
  4. Make Your Guests Comfortable – The last thing you want people to remember about your conference is that they were hungry, or they didn’t get enough breaks, or they they didn’t have access to water. If you’re going to put on an event then be a good host and go overboard in providing the essentials. ExactTarget connections had hundreds of coffee stands (might be exaggerating but it seemed like it), water bottle towers, snack tables, drink carts, and served food. Go above and beyond expectations with the little things because they really do matter.
  5. Make Your Pitch – Once you’ve got all your attendees excited, educated, and comfortable then you need to give your pitch. Although the event may be about customer appreciation, you have to remember you are a business that needs to make money. Design your conference so they you can close, up-sell, and cross-sell your products. There is no better time to adding extra value to your customers than on the high of a great event!

Have you been to an event lately? What made it stand out?

SMS Marketing vs Social Media Marketing [Infographic]

A recent infographic by Mogreet, a leader in mobile video and MMS messaging, stacks up the usage and engagement of SMS & MMS mobile communication against social media’s top players Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. They separate the two into what they call Narrowcast and Broadcast.

Narrowcasting is the sharing of information directly to its intended recipient, thereby breaking through all of the clutter. Broadcasting is the mass public sharing, such as a post or tweet. The infographic supports that you’re not only more likely to reach your audience but they’ll be more apt to respond when you do it. This conclusion is drawn from some very interesting statistics.

What does this mean for marketers?

SMS and MMS are powerful marketing tactics that can get your message directly to your audience and more importantly, they’ll see it. What is the average click rate of your last email? It’s unlikely it was above 15%. If it was, you’re part of the lucky minority. How many people viewed your Facebook page? Yes, you can see that now.  Tweets go by even faster. How many of those get a mention or retweet? According to the infographic, 98% of all SMS and MMS messages are opened. That’s a remarkable percentage and clearly demonstrates how much this medium is valued.

Build a Personal Touch-point with Your Loyal Customers

Recently I was talking with the owner of a small family restaurant in my area. They were experimenting with SMS messaging. At first, it was slow going collecting their customer’s information but after a while of asking nicely, displaying signs, and not abusing those already in the program, they started to get a good base of numbers. The owner has had great success with using this channel in a number of ways. In fact, it has become their primary means of communication that trumps email, social, and traditional advertising.

Here shows how they are using SMS messaging.

  • Timely deals – Restaurants have predictable, and sometimes non-predictable, slow times that sack profit. Instead of making employees go home early, they send out a promotion offering a discount within the next few hours.
  • Upcoming events – If you’re a local business then you know how valuable it is to be involved in the community. They announce where they’ll be and what they’ll be promoting. This is also a great way to include your partners and benefit from each others audiences.
  • Special Announcements – Nobody can predict the future and sometimes weather or other events cause a change in regular business. They use the SMS channel to instantly inform their customers if they are closing early, not open on particular day, or a change in staff.

Below is the infographic titled “Is Bigger Always Better?”

Infographic by Mogreet

Success Tip: Don’t Multitask [Infographic]

If you’re looking to be more productive then it’s helpful to understand exactly how multitasking affects your brain. According to a recent infographic by OnlineUniversities.com, your brain “wasn’t designed to handle the amount information it is currently processing.”

In an age where 695,000 Facebook status updates, 1,500 blog posts, and 168 million emails are sent every 60 seconds, it remains difficult to focus and keep from multitasking. It pays however to limit your tasks to a maximum two at a time. According to the infographic:

When the brain is faced with two tasks, the medial prefrontal cortex divides into so that each half can focus on one task. The anterior-most part of the frontal lobes enables the switch between two goals. When a third task comes into play, it’s too much for the brain to handle at once. Consequently, accuracy drops considerable.

Some more interesting stats from the infographic:

  • 50% of Firefox Users have 2.38 tabs open on average.
  • 25% of Firefox Users have 3.59 tabs open on average.
  • People with email opened switched tabs 37 times over those without email, who opened at 18 times.
  • The average computer user checks 40 websites a day.
  • The average computer user switches programs 36 times an hour, or every two minutes!
  • Media consumed in the year 1960 per person was 5 hours. That number has jumped to 12 hours per day.

Here are some tips from the infographic that can help you combat stress and digital information overload:

  • Set only a few times per day to check email. Send messages in batches
  • Schedule time to check your social networking sites.
  • Subscribe to RSS feeds so you can read your blogs all at once and in one place.
  • Turn off the tech when with  family and friends.
  • Take a break from technology after hours.

Measure your time on a task to minimize your multitasking and reduce your stress:

This “Digital Stress and Your Brain” infographic, combined with the more scary side-effect of sitting down all day, caused me to think deeply about breaks. I’m often so involved in what I want to accomplish that day that I spend too much time hammering through tasks without getting up. I know I need to stand up, drink water, and recharge but often forget.

A small Jquery tool I created that anyone is free to try, take, or modify is a countdown timer in the browser. The timer counts down from 30 minutes and then pops up an alert window saying “times up!” The idea is to stand up, drink some water, and take a short break. You can modify the time to anything you want by changing the query string.

Example: http://codyward.com/countdown/?time=14:52

Click the image below to open the countdown timer.

View the infographic below:

Via: OnlineUniversities.com

Mobile Websites Are a Customer Requirement

The recent popularity of smartphones and tablet computers has led to an influx of mobile web traffic. On any given day, more and more of a site’s traffic will come from mobile users. In this ever-changing technological climate it is now more important than ever to provide mobile users with a compatible, easy to use mobile site. Failing to adapt is sure to lead to a decrease in traffic and resultant financial loss. The following reasons will illustrate the need for a mobile version of a website.

1.  Desktop Versions Look Sloppy on Mobile Devices
The web was not set up to be used by mobile devices. Even the most beautifully designed site looks awful on a four inch screen. Links can overlap, making it nearly impossible for touch screen users to click on anything. Graphics look distorted. Important information at the top, bottom and sides of the page can be obliterated. A desktop website viewed on a mobile device looks like a mess. Site visitors will become easily frustrated and find a comparable mobile enabled site to complete their tasks.

2.  Ordering is Close to Impossible
If the site relies on online orders for revenue, the need for a mobile accompaniment increases ten-fold. No longer is the site losing viewers for lack of a mobile version; now it is losing actual money. Filling out an order form on a desktop site with no mobile component is practically impossible. Tablets are quickly replacing laptops and desktops; many people have done away with large and cumbersome computers entirely. For many, ordering from a desktop is not even an option. The lack of a mobile site will result in sales losses as customers take their business to a competitor.

3. A Mobile Site Can Garner Notice
Google supplies a separate index for mobile sites. Since the mobile bandwagon is fairly new, this index is comparatively empty. Those searching for a mobile site on a mobile device will be shown far less options than those using a desktop. Sites with mobile components are therefore far more likely to climb to the top of a Google search.

4. Mobile Advertising is the Wave of the Future
Mobile advertising is expected to surpass $6.5 billion this year. A well-visited mobile site can earn a fair share of advertising revenue, especially when the market is currently wide open. Mobile advertising is expected to grow exponentially over the next ten years and a successful business would be wise to get in on the ground floor of this boom.

Do you have a mobile version of your website?

SnapTags vs QR Codes

A colleague of mine recently introduced me to a marketing tool to engage with mobile customers and prospects.

It’s called the SnapTag, powered by SpyderLynk.

With the rise of mobile smart phones usage, readable codes have gained popularity among marketers as a unique way to engage with customers and prospects. Many companies have had success by getting their audience to scan with their mobile phones and submit their contact info for a contest, donate to a charity, or simply visit the brand’s website.

One problem is that these scanable codes are visually non-descriptive of the product or company. Although codes, the QR code seemingly becoming the most popular, work when scanned by an mobile smart phone, there isn’t anything to distinguish one brand from another. They ‘re mostly random dots, squares, or other shapes.

The SnapTag is a solution to that problem. How would you like to have your logo the code? How would you like to add some brand awareness points to your marketing dashboard?

Snap Tag vs. QR Code