marketing trend

Be a Better Event Organizer

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Lately, we have seen an increase in two requests from event organizers: send a customer to speak instead of you and/or speak for free. While made with the best of intentions, these requests are at the very least rude and at worst portray organizations as unprofessional. Why are these seemingly innocuous requests rude?Image

Mack Collier of The Viral Garden has articulated why it is wrong to ask experts to speak for free, saying that good speakers spend days creating material and preparing for a presentation. He estimated that he spends “anywhere from 15 to 30 hours preparing/rehearsing the presentation, and loses a minimum of one day due to travel, usually two days.” This is a big investment of time for anyone — and for experts, time is money. A good event organizer will not ask a speaker to speak for free and they will cover travel costs. Speakers understand the need to offset costs by giving speaking slots to sponsors. But sponsors are advertisers. Just because someone paid for a sponsorship doesn’t mean they have the expertise you need.

As someone who has organized numerous events, my goal is to secure speakers who provide the expertise participants will benefit from. The speaker’s expertise should be lending credibility and value to your event. Framing the event as a business development opportunity for the speaker is unprofessional; the reason to select speakers is for the value they bring to your program. A good speaker is not there to make a sales pitch; rather, to educate, entertain, and/or motivate the audience.

The second request is to substitute a customer as an expert. The underlying message is “you are good enough to do the work for a company but not good enough to speak at our event.” This request places the experts and their customers in a very difficult situation — who pays for the customer’s travel since many companies’ travel budgets have become restrictive, who prepares the presentation, who preps the customer since they are not experts, how do they handle Q&A’s, what if a company commitment comes up and they need to bail, and so on.

This kind of request often results in the experts paying travel for both the customer and
themselves, preparing the presentation since the customer doesn’t have the time or expertise, and having do a dive and catch when the customer has a last-minute schedule conflict. It also creates schedule challenges for dry runs, which can negatively impact the event attendees’ experience. It is easy to see that this particular request creates an enormous amount of work and additional costs for the experts and additional work for their customers with no payoff for either party.

In today’s environment, customers want to use their limited resources to reach their prospects and customers, to grow their businesses. Their time is money, too, and they want to invest where they will see the best return. If you want to be a better event organizer, stop making these two requests of the experts who can add tremendous value to your event.

Twelve Marketing Trends to Watch Out for In 2012

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Marketing predictions abound and we didn’t want to be left out.  Our predictions echo many you may already know or have heard.  Here’s the top 12 we’re following as we start the year.

  1. Digital Investments Grow: Most marketers already know that email and social will continue to be big trends for 2012.  According to StrongMail, 51% of businesses said they planned to increase their overall marketing budgets, 8% planned to decrease their budgets, and 41% planned to maintain existing budgets in 2012, with 60% increasing their email marketing budget  with a focus on engagement, segmentation, and targeting. 55% are increasing spending on social media marketing,  with more than two-thirds of businesses (67%) indicating they plan to integrate social media and email, compared to only 44% integrating mobile and email. More than one-third of businesses said they plan to increase their investment in mobile marketing programs, such as mobile apps (29%) and SMS alerts (20%). Building customer and loyalty (35%) was identified as the top benefit, followed by expanded reach (29%) and awareness building (28%). Direct mail (28%) and trade shows (23%) were cited as the top targets for decreased spending.
  2. The Fight for Loyalty: Customer loyalty and customer retention will remain the key priorities. According to Loyalty360, companies believe customer loyalty rather than customer acquisition is now the critical driver of sustainable business growth. In 2012, ensure all customer touch points deliver a quality customer experience.  This includes your social media properties and mobile. Juniper Research forecasts that the total redemption value of mobile coupons worldwide will be worth more than 43 billion US dollars by 2016, representing an eightfold increase from $5.4 billion this year. Start developing your loyalty initiatives by setting up dedicated analytical and account teams that understand each customer’s history, requirements and previous engagement with the brand. This approach helps to identify customers’ problems before they escalate and cause defections, as well as creating new opportunities to add value, either by up-selling with relevant products or offering promotions that match each customer’s profile.
  3. Mobilized Money: Handheld technology and smarter-and-smarter smartphones will increase opportunity for more mobile monetary transactions. With the value of transactions made over mobile devices estimated to be $240 billion this year (Juniper Research) and predicted to triple that size over the next five years, it’s not surprising that the battle over mobile wallets will intensify. With analysts at Forrester predicting that by 2016 consumers may be able to leave their traditional leather wallet at home and pay for most of their shopping over their handset, retailers need to think about the impact of mobile wallets as they build out their loyalty programs. Brands that do not facilitate small screen transactions will find consumers hanging up on them. Watch for increased credit card and promotional outreach, especially if the brand can customize the small screen experience.
  4. Engagement is Here to Stay: Engagement is the way empowered consumers do business today, out-dated awareness models will continue to ineffective. Marketers can and should plan with engagement methods like the right platform, program, message, or experience.   Look for more apps and their effective use to create interaction in order to increase consumer engagement and brand differentiation.
  5. Data, Data, and more Data: Rich information about customer buying patterns generated via loyalty programs and social media will enable creating more targeted personalized marketing/messaging.  The information on customer transactions, likes, dislikes and preferences gives brands the deep level of customer intelligence needed to deliver the most relevant, highest quality customer experience and drive long-term loyalty.
  6. Mobile Marketing: According to 2ergo, 2012 is likely to see not only an increase in marketing spent on mobile search and a widespread improvement in both speed and usability where mobile web sites are concerned, but also a growing battle between SMS, mobile sites, and the ubiquitous mobile app, thanks to a range of factors including marketing costs, user convenience, security concerns, and mobile platform technology considerations.  This means mobile search will increase, mobile sites will need to be easier to use, and mobile commerce will need to be smarter.
  7. Real-time Everything.  Real time response, real time service, real-time everything.  Expect to see customer and consumer expectations for near-instantaneous availability to rise.
  8. The Power and Influence of Friends:  Shoppers of all ages will increasingly rely on “friends” for product reviews and recommendations.  A quarter of consumers already say they now regularly use Facebook to see what their friends have liked (up from 22% in the March survey), 27% asking friends for product recommendations (up from 19%), and 21% checking which products their friends have bought and recommended (up from 15%). Friends’ recommendations remain the most important factor in making a purchase decision. They are now ranked as “important” by 74%, up from 70% in March. The importance of consumer reviews written by strangers also increased from 62% to 65%. Recommendations based on what Facebook friends ‘Like’ have increased in usefulness from 15% to 17%, while recommendations based on what Facebook friends actually bought grew significantly from 13% to 18%.
  9. Marketing and Sales Alignment: The alignment of marketing and sales will continue to grow in importance as the purchase process continues to evolve. Industry experts expect that marketing and sales teams will collaborate even more closely to ensure that salespeople have the information they need when they need it—and that marketing communications and lead nurturing are timed to match prospects’ stage in the buy cycle.
  10. Fact-based Marketing Cultures Take Center Stage: 2012 bodes well for the rise of analytics, particularly advanced statistical and predictive analytics and multi-channel analytics as organizations in general and marketing in particular strive to enhance the growing focus on being a fact-based culture. The high-priority status of analytics is closely related to the rising interest in big data as a tool for mitigating risk, predicting customer behavior, and developing new product or service offerings. The trend will entail using marketing to conduct far more sophisticated forms of segmentation and profiling to drive customer acquisition, retention, and share of wallet more effectively and efficiently.
  11. Marketing Process Integration and Automation:  Interest in sustainable business processes and practices for marketing continue to grow. Gartner predicts the continuing trend toward integrating and accessing multiple marketing processes and technologies.
  12. Show Me the Money: Dave Frankland from Forrester Research recently called the tight budgets we’re seeing “post-recession austerity.”  Expect the pressure for measuring and optimizing marketing to increase in 2012, better linkages between marketing and business results, as well as the ability to create and use marketing dashboards.