Yesterday I was having lunch with a friend who was lamenting about the fact that most high-tech company marketing departments she deals with are still so silo-ed – with budgets for events separate from budgets for PR and now even influencer marketing being set up as a separate activity. She was also telling me how many companies were disappointed with the results of sponsoring recent events.
To me these kind of statements make my blood boil. So many companies are so stuck in old ways of doing things that it is surprising to me that they succeed at all. There are two major problems with this. First off – some of the comments show that there is indeed very little corporate memory. Companies stopped doing event sponsorships after September 11th, 2001, because nobody went to conferences anymore. Now that people are traveling to conferences again – companies are rushing to sponsor events – forgetting that event marketing was something really hard to do well and with success before 9/11!
As a company you need to realize that most conference attendees are not going to those conferences to see YOU. Get over it! They are there because they have needs that most likely go way beyond what you have to offer. A good portion are probably there for reasons that you cannot do anything about.
But the problem with event marketing, and traditional interrupt-driven marketing in general, is much broader than that. You need to realize that what people have in deficit is “attention”. If you try to “hijack” that attention without delivering real value – whether through aggressive conference exhibit behavior or intrusive email actions – you will turn them off! We need to start thinking about how we can deliver value when we get their attention and we need to stop thinking about “interrupting them” or trying to get their attention in silos. A much better thing to do is to take a lesson from politics – in order to get the vote, you need to have a clearly articulated and well understood value proposition which needs to be delivered, and “received” by the voter, through at least three different channels.
And when you think about how to deliver “value” – keep in mind the inherent need that most people have to help others, but also to warn others. If you deliver true value and your value proposition is easily understood and retold, then people will pass that value on to others because they too want to deliver value to acquaintances. If on the other hand, they feel like they’ve been had, that same motivation will cause them to “warn” others about the dangers of wasting their time and energy with a particular product or vendor. And these days, when they warn others, it can hurt much more than it did when they did so a few years ago (i.e., my airline story was in top 4 Yahoo News stories for 2 days).
In general, companies have to think about marketing as a way to behave in the marketplace – not as an unrelated set of independently measured interruption activities. I know the metaphor is a bit overused, but it truly comes down to participating (no NOT managing!) in multiple market conversations that cross multiple media and that can last for a long time – and where the buyer is in charge.
It really is simple…