Posts Tagged ‘event marketing’

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The Tipping Point: When Do I Need A Mobile App For My Event?

April 2, 2014

Here is the article that I wrote for the April 2014 Issue of RSVP MN Magazine. You can read the article here.handmobile-300x259

 

The future of computer and social interaction at events is definitely seeing an explosion in the use of mobile devices as the primary tool for your attendees to interact with the Internet and the environment at your event. Social media channels are a common communication tool for events these days, and there is also the option of creating a custom mobile application for your event. Many companies are investigating the creation of such apps for their events but are struggling to justify the expense. Here are some tips that should help you decide if a custom event application is a worthy investment for your event:

What are the demographics of your attendees?

In 2013, 64 percent of all American Internet users between the ages of 18-60 are accessing the Internet primarily through a mobile device. In any case, you will need to accommodate both mobile and non-mobile users at your event until the day where 100 percent usage is achieved.

Can you provide the same benefits of a mobile application with existing tools?

Mobile applications tout things like expedited check-in, schedules, event maps and directions, and promotional materials via a mobile device. Many of these services can be delivered via social media platforms such as Eventbrite, Facebook, Twitter, and more. It would make sense to make sure you are maximizing your efforts on these channels that are free, familiar to the attendees, and duplicate the services of a custom mobile app.

Can you offset the cost of the application with sponsorships or event partners?

A benefit of mobile apps is the space and area in the application for an advertiser, sponsor, or event partner to promote their brand. If you are partnering with an A/V or technical partner for the show, many of these firms are offering their own custom event applications as a service. The opportunity to sponsor the event app could be part of a package offered to larger sponsors of the event which would provide them a greater opportunity to have their brand promoted to the attendees.

The bottom line is that this technology is nice to have at this point, and not a need to have yet. That allows some flexibility in wading into custom mobile applications. The technology of most applications is definitely an amenity appreciated by attendees, but in today’s economy it is always nice to have a path to adaption that won’t drive up the costs of your events.

 

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Real Time Marketing is a Myth

March 24, 2014

here is the article I wrote for the march Issue of RSVP MN Magazine. It originally appeared here.debunked

It has been the hottest marketing jargon tossed about since Oreo jumped on an opportunity at the 2013 Superbowl when there was a power outage to let their audience know it was still “OK to dunk in the dark.” The tweet went viral and was the most retweeted post (15,000 retweets) by a brand during the Superbowl. Everyone was super excited, especially marketers. So much so that brands spent hundreds of thousands, and even millions, to be the brand with the Oreo moment at the 2014 Superbowl.

Company’s like Papa John’s, Doritos, Verizon, Jaguar, JC Penny, Butterfinger and Reese’s all tried to get into the real time game. They tried to post about plays as they happened or predict outcomes, really without much success. The winner apparently was the Esurance commercial after the Superbowl which announced a million dollar giveaway in exchange for retweeting a hashtag. While the benefits of buzz and awareness do have some value—more social media followers were gained—the bottom line, from Oreo to Esurance, is what has been the conversion of new business dollars from this? Something no one seems to want to measure.

There is of course a better tactic. I propose you do the one action on social media that actually could drive your business forward: perfect the art of real time listening. As of 2013, according to PEW Internet, less than 50 percent of brands and businesses monitor the online activity that mentions them. How can you ever respond to and service your audience if you are not listening to them on the channels they prefer to communicate?

The same PEW report also indicated that more than 90 percent of consumers using the internet for business transactions expect not only that the brands and businesses have a presence online, but that they can interact with them online as well. For too long social media’s focus and intrigue to the C-suite has been its potential to drive sales. The real value of social media though is the ability to perfect and enhance your customer service. There are three steps you can take this year to perfect your real time listening skills:

1. Monitor the channels where you have a presence.

You need to listen, engage and respond to followers on all of the social media accounts you have set up for your company. All of these channels have the ability to push notices to the person managing your account. There are even management tools that will pull all your accounts into one tool, such as HootSuite.

2. Monitor review sites and the general internet for mentions of your brand or business.

Whether you use free tools or hire an outside firm there are different levels of monitoring that can be done. For some brands 24/7 monitoring is needed. For others it can be a daily or weekly situation. The tools can provide you with information as frequently as you would like it to give you reports.

3. Integrate customer service into your social media team.

The final piece is the human element that can respond to the information gathered during the listening. Put into place guidelines for response to customer issues. Empower your team to take action to a certain point to satisfy your customers as quickly as possible, but also have a plan in place where problems that need escalation will receive attention in a timely manner. Larger corporations are forming communication command centers that can achieve this, or are outsourcing to firms that provide these services.

Real time marketing will have to be able to be measured as converted sales dollars if it will ever be successful. While we wait for that to happen, if you aren’t even participating in the conversations by listening to your channels, you will miss any opportunity that arises in those conversations. Are you listening?

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The Hottest Social Media App for 2014: Instagram

January 28, 2014

Here is the article I wrote for the January Issue of RSVP MN Magazine. You can find it here.Instagram

The rise of the “Phonetographer” generation is upon us. Even though Facebook was the No. 1 social media app overall in 2013, its photo sharing subsidiary Instagram was the fastest growing app among the top 10.

Instagram is an online photo and video sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. It first launched in 2010. In 2012 Instagram was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion and made a subsidiary. Instagram saw a growth in audience by 66 percent to 32 million users in 2013 (according to Nielsen Data) and shows no trace of slowing down.

While Instagram is made up of the same demographics as Facebook, it is also still growing in popularity among teens, which are shifting to single purpose or messaging apps, including Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Whisper and others.

Instagram has many uses in event marketing from several perspectives. On the marketing side, Instagram is being used for everything from shots of the venues to displays, speakers, products, crowds and interaction. On the consumer side, guests, visitors and attendees are participating in contests, recording presentations, products and displays for co-workers that are off-site, and for reviews.

Here are three ways you can successfully integrate Instagram into your events this year:

Promote your event or participation in events:

If you are traveling to a national trade show or hosting your own event, document your location with Instagram to promote traffic to your booth or event. Shoot photos of the outside of the venue to help with directions. Share photos of your booth or event to allow people to see what they will see at the event. Post photos of your booth reps or event managers so that people can more easily recognize your team.

Promote your products, services or offerings:

Highlight any new products, etc. that you will offer at the event. Especially feature a product if it is an exclusive being offered during the run of the event. Photos of this sort are great to share across Twitter, Facebook and your other marketing channels such as newsletters. This can expand your reach even to people that aren’t in attendance at the event.

Engage your audience with a photo contest:

Have attendees take photos on Instagram and post them with a message that includes a keyword you are tracking (a hashtag for example) and offer a prize to participants. This extends your reach even further as they share the photos on their channels and to their networks.

The ideas are only limited by your imagination. 2014 is upon us and the trade shows and events are in motion. Smile and get ready for your close-up!

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Gazing into the Crystal Ball: What 2014 Will Bring Event Marketers

January 28, 2014

Here is the article I wrote that appeared in the December Issue of RSVP MN Magazine, you can find it here.Crystal Ball

It’s that time of the year again, when we reflect on the year that was and set our sights on what the New Year may bring. One thing we know for sure is that live events still reign as the No. 1 business driver for business-to-business companies (according to a recent survey by webDAM). In fact 67 percent of all companies in the business-to-business segment will be investing in and relying on live events. New technology will make those events much better. Here are some of the new trends you’ll be seeing at your next live events:

Digital Displays & Signage Graphics hung on collapsible backdrops are very outdated. New materials allow for high-resolution video displays on a variety of backdrops, from traditional flat screens to curved and flexible screens that can be wrapped around booths and positioned to create dynamic spaces. These screens have the ability to be completely integrated with computers to orchestrate programming and presentations.

Interactivity This is an exploding area of new technology. It incorporates everything from embedded cameras running facial recognition software, to smart sensors that can pinpoint when visitors are close to displays, or recognize motions and cause displays to respond accordingly. For example, when your potential decision maker from ACME company steps near your booth, they can be identified and the displays will immediately change to target and represent ACME’s branding and logos, personalizing the display for that individual. Facial recognition can be as sophisticated as picking out specific individuals or parameters can be set for age, gender, and many other demographics. Motion detecting devices utilizing the same technology found in video game systems like the XBOX Kinect will enable your visitors to interact with displays and programming.

Hyper Local Broadcasting Products like Apple’s newly announced iBeacon and its predecessors can broadcast on Bluetooth to mobile devices that are enabled to receive Bluetooth signals. Kiosks and displays can be equipped with Near Field capabilities where a person can touch a sensor with their mobile device to download a sales presentation or information about your company and products.

Wearable Technology Even your people working the booths can be supported by new wearable tech devices from smart watches and Google Glass to allow for hands free computing, to clothing that can recharge mobile devices from someone walking around the booth.

The future of tradeshows is definitely being shaped by new technology, and with the innovations for 2014 alone the future’s looking so bright you might want to wear shades (if Google Glass has some cool ones)!

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Five Tips You Can Learn From Food Trucks to Become a Better Tradeshow Marketer

November 4, 2013

This article also appears in the October 2013 Issue of RSVP MN Magazine. Click here to read it there.RSVP FOOD TRUCKS BLOG

Food Trucks have invaded your city. They park on busy streets in prime locations ready to serve their tasty wares, and have become quite successful in the last few years. Food trucks have been around since 1974 when Raul Martinez converted an old ice cream truck into a taco truck and set up in front of a bar. So why have they become so hot today? Their success is that by default, and the factors that shape their daily existence as a business, have forged them into razor sharp marketers. They leverage all the marketing tools available to them in their changing location each day. They have mastered the three tools that help them succeed in reaching their business outcomes through leveraging social, mobile, and local marketing. The following five skills they have learned can help you become a better tradeshow marketer:

Leverage or Overcome your Location It all starts in the planning. Food truck owners study maps of the cities before arriving, they determine foot traffic patterns, nearby attractions, and areas where people congregate during their hours of operation. You have that same ability in assessing tradeshow floor plans to determine where best to place your booth. If you are stuck in a poor location, you must use more tactics to draw your audience to you. You need to have a more disruptive or appealing presence to call out to your audience and draw them closer to your space.

Focus on Just in time messaging and Perfect the Limited Time Offer (LTO) You are in a tradeshow for a limited time. Messaging is best to capture attention or conversions right there as studies have shown that the further the time passes after the event before a sale or conversion happens, the odds of an actual sale or conversion decreases drastically. To a food truck, that means missed profit; what does it mean to your bottom line? If you are making a limited time offer for goods or services, make sure it is the best possible deal to induce the customer to become interested and buy right there. Many food truck operators know that missed sales on a day because of pricing may mean they can’t open their doors tomorrow. Imagine if that was your motivation during the show.

Maximize your presence locally on Social Media Channels Food trucks comb social media channels well in advance just like they would assess a map. They identify the powerful social influencers in the area they are going to be and try to engage and entice them to pass their messaging on to their followers. They follow local trends and keywords and try to leverage those in their messaging.

Align with like-minded businesses that won’t cannibalize your market Food trucks often partner to create their own mini event inside an event. Often creating a team effort to pull off creating a mobile food court. With the premise that a larger crowd of purchasers will be attracted, and that there will be a diversity of flavors and tastes, two or three will partner with the goal of raising the sales for all by attracting a larger group. The same tactic can work successfully in trade shows as well. Partner with synergistic vendors to draw a larger crowd and group of prospects to your area of the tradeshow. Banding together with others to cross promote, or sponsor a speaker or side event at the trade show will help you to stand out from your other competitors and can also allow you to have a larger presence than you may be able to have on your own.

Assess, Learn and Build relationships that will grow your Success Next Time Data is king. Building records and databases of places, vendors, venues and people in each city, will help you build quickly and exponentially each year. This is imperative in tradeshows that are stationary and annual. Learn what tactics worked, and where energy was wasted. You can change or replace these tactics for the next time. Food trucks build fan bases by returning often to locations that are lucrative for them to visit. How can your brand establish a fan base as well? Continue to show up with some sort of frequency. If one tradeshow is good for your company in an area, are there other shows there as well where you could have some form of presence? If so, then building your frequency of appearances in that market will increase your foothold there as well.

The keys to success in these situations is remaining nimble, innovative, and have the ability to strike quickly when the opportunity presents itself. You can use the same tactics of food trucks to maximize your presence and success at tradeshows. You have a limited amount of time to drive as much business as possible, and the clock starts now.

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Best Practices – Live Tweeting An Event

July 9, 2013

twitter-button-colorMary Lower, Founder and CEO of Sterling Cross Communications was recently asked to write an article for RSVP MN Magazine for the Meeting and Event Planner Industry on the best practices to use when live-tweeting an event. Here’s her article from the Summer 2013 Issue.

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5 Ways to Promote Your Restaurant on Pinterest

February 6, 2012

Proof that we are still a visual-based culture Pinterest has become the social media network to watch after growing more than 4,000 percent in the last six months (according to compete.com). At an average of 88.3 minutes per visitor, Pinterest currently ranks third on engagement behind Facebook and Tumblr and it ranks well ahead of LinkedIn (16 minutes) and Google Plus (5.1 minutes). Further proving that image based social networks and applications (like Foodspotting and Instagram) are rapidly gaining market share due to their high engagement levels with their audience.

From the Pinterest website:

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

Pinterest is a social network that also has a promotional value as well: Users share photos that they find online by “pinning” them, the equivalent of “liking” a status on Facebook or giving a +1 on Google +. That act in turn has the ability to create beneficial SEO and linking opportunities for individuals and brands alike.  

Users have to download a toolbar that can be used to pin items from any website. The photo and information then appears on your Pinterest board, and users who follow you can see your collection of photos and even “re-pin” them (like retweeting on Twitter or other forms of sharing).

This platform, while not specifically designed for marketing strategies may be a very effective social media platform for your restaurant or business when you take the following steps to market your restaurant.

1. Share your Menu, Photos, and Amenities

The most obvious way to use Pinterest for your restaurant is to pin photos of your own brand, logos, menus, staff, specials, venue, and amenities. Since you can create several boards, it is best to group your pins into different categories such as: Specials, Events, Food & Drink, Our Staff, Our location, and so on. By doing this, you are creating a rich story in images highlighting your food, brand, and service.

2. Add pins to the “gifts” section of Pinterest

When you create an entry for your pins, you can add a price tag. By selecting this option, you can then add a link, pointing back to your website. Items added in this way are automatically included in the “gifts” section on Pinterest, which is a virtual catalog of gift ideas. Be sure to select your best photos for pinning, and include a description. This gives you an opportunity to get your prices out there, and call attention to events like Wine Dinners or Gift Packages for certain holidays.

3. Show off your Event Spaces

By pinning photos of great events that are held in your event spaces, it allows people to get ideas and envision their own party in those spaces. This works great to promote seasonal spaces like patios, decks, and rooftop spaces as well.  Make sure you include any great photos of beautiful views from your venue as well.

4. Maximize the SEO benefits

When you pin your products, you have an opportunity to maximize your SEO strategy and drive traffic back to your website. You create high quality backlinks when you or other users link to your photos and pins. Using keywords when you write compelling descriptions will attract visitors and potentially compel them to visit your website. You can integrate your Pinterest account with your Twitter Account and Facebook Page and share your pins on these social networks. All of these efforts will help to drive more traffic to your site and to increase your organic search engine rankings.

5. Create and Pin content that people would want to view

Most of us can easily spot a corporate profile that is designed only to blast out marketing pitch after marketing pitch are likely not only to steer clear of your account, but to avoid and in extreme cases to bash your attempts. You can avoid many of those cases by creating interesting relevant content that provides an added value or is exclusive content to that audience (like posting recipes for some dishes for a fan to try at home or pinning specials only available to your Pinterest Audience).

Finally, just like any other social media platform, it has to be a two-way conversation.  Engage with your audience and listen and watch what they find most or least interesting in your brand. Pinterest is perfect for your brand if your brand can be displayed in images, and with the ease of digital photography these days, photos can be quickly taken, edited, posted and shared, creating great content for you to use to promote your Restaurant.

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Using QR Codes to Enhance Your Events

January 5, 2012

The Fall 2011 issue of Meetings +Events Magazine ran an article I wrote about using QR (Quick Response) Codes to enhance the marketing and promotion of your trade show appearances or events. It is based on case studies of current work we are doing for our clients, and the success of interaction, excitement, and conversion that they can provide. This has translated into greater traffic and attendance for our clients in measurable and impactful ways. Here is the intro to the article and a link to read the rest of it:

Quick Response, or QR codes, are popping up in all sorts of places: newspapers, magazines, billboards, drink coasters and even on the walls of restrooms. What started as a simple bar code stamp to track inventory parts for the auto industry is sweeping through many other industries as a tool for marketing, advertising, promotion and sales.

Sadly, many QR codes lead to material that is not very unique and engaging of the audience; more often than not, they lead to…click here to read more!

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