I am involved in several conferences each year, either in promotion, attending or speaking. I find many conference hosts are looking for that particular format, hot speaker or subject or a new venue to create a profitable event. Many of us look at our marketing the same way. Some of us call it a silver bullet, Dr. Deming called his version; “Instant pudding.”
I use conferences or workshops as an example because they are the most recognized event style marketing efforts. I also used this thought process, event driven marketing, when I first start working with clients. This allows us to complete a launch cycle either using Explore-Do-Check-Act (EDCA) or CAP Do (a version of PDCA). During the process, we may choose to do interviews, podcast, blogs, PR releases all very typical marketing tactics. At first glance, there is not a silver bullet. However, the silver bullet is in the execution. As Dr. Deming said, there is no “Instant Pudding.”
Many of these events are for trade organizations, and most of the work is done by volunteers. I am involved in one at the moment, The ASQ Charlotte Section Annual Conference 2013. Promoting the event and coordination is not easy as the committee members also have real jobs. This particular group has done a very good job and I look forward to participating in an outstanding conference. Review this blog post to get a taste of the process: Quality Conference of the Carolinas and a recent podcast, Is Influence your Path to the Leadership Table?.
What I have found about most events is the lack of building a path for information flow, and as a result, hindering the natural flow of marketing. Road blocks are put in place for people to access information and create flow. This mind map will give you a general idea. The mind map is not meant to be inclusive of all marketing efforts or distribution of content.
What I do for clients or what I believe a conference host should do is provide a bank of information resources that are very explicit on how they should be used. At a minimum, you should have a press release for the event and a brochure. Often times, duplicate content for press releases that center on individual tracks can be useful. I like to do interviews with key people for the event through YouTube or just a normal podcast. These items should be collected either in a Dropbox or a FTP account to share. At a minimum the links should be distributed.
How to make it viral? Your ability to provide a ready resource of information for the participants of the event is critical. It takes all stakeholders to include attendees to make an event successful. If you review the mindmap, you will see that each block contains online and offline branches. You must engage and set expectations for stakeholders to distribute through these channels. When you look at a list of speakers for your event do you provide them with a press release for their track? Sponsors often times provide the largest constituency of attendees. Do you create content directly aimed at that group? A deeper dive may be to provide attendees and sponsors ideas on how to get the most out of a conference. Such as the guidelines discussed in this blog post, Turning your Conference Learning into Action.
How does apply to regular marketing? Using event style marketing allows me to capture what clients are presently doing and apply it to something tangible. It may be something as simple as a webinar or in a grander scheme, a product launch. In a Lean way, we capture present marketing tactics (identify value add) and stakeholders (map value stream). Solidifying both into an uninterrupted flow (create flow) to create a viral network (establish pull). We repeat the cycle improving (seek perfection) on the next event. As Dr. Deming said, there is no “Instant Pudding.”