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Archives for Event Promotion

Web technology makes it very easy to quickly communicate with so many people that it’s easy to forget the overriding purpose of creating a powerful web site.

It’s cool to be able to interact with customers who come to a web site. We can share a great deal of information, gather more profile data than we think we can use, and provide an entertaining, informative, and educational environment.

It’s so cool that we sometimes lose sight of what we’re trying to accomplish with this technology. Sure, we want to sell products with e-commerce or generate leads for salespeople.

But how does this impact the audience? I mean, really impact them.

Many people involved in Internet marketing feel that they’re helping members of their audience improve their lives through the information and products provided on the web.

Some time back a series of TV spots ran for iVillage. They talked about women with real problems finding real help from people like themselves. Because many ailments are shared by very small groups of people, these groups are so small that local support organizations aren’t always available to help. The Internet provides access to those communities of people who share common interests and needs, and are willing to help.

Speaking of TV commercials, another company is advancing the concept of one-to-one marketing and mass customization. Xerox periodically runs a campaign with the theme, “keep the conversation going.” This campaign shows that providing personalized information to customers appeals to people – on paper, of course. Xerox makes a good case that profile data can be used to personalize more than just web sites and e-mails.

Influence Decisions

But all of these – from communities of like-minded people to personalized web, e-mail, social media, and, yes, paper-based communications – are done for one reason, and that’s to influence decisions.

Communication is a give and take. Whether it’s an online community where people share their experiences or an e-commerce site where merchants provide products (and get paid). We communicate when we want to influence those around us to be like us, respect us, and sometimes buy from us.

Internet Interaction

But how do we actually use the web to provide the kind of interaction that touches people and influences their decisions? The slogan used in the Xerox TV commercial has the answer: Keep the conversation going.

The conversation we use in everyday life is also aimed at influencing the decisions people around us make. We know that we need to speak the language of the person we’re trying to communicate with and understand what they’re feeling.

Have you watched a couple of Internet techies talk to each other? At first they ask a few questions to learn about the other person’s experience level and background. Then they shift into a very different level of talking that uses a language of their own, sometimes called “technospeak” (and sometimes called “technobabble”). They don’t care if the non-technical people around them don’t understand their TLAs (three letter acronyms), because those conversation shortcuts help them communicate better.

Building Relationships with Conversation

They can quickly form a bond of trust and understanding that frequently allows them to learn from each other. That respect can lead to learning something new that influences their decisions.

So how can we use conversational techniques on the web to influence visitors? Portions of the Xerox web site are written in a conversational style, but there’s more to making a site conversational than the style of writing.

A truly conversational site learns about visitors, saves that information in profiles, and then uses that knowledge to react to different interests.

Here’s a quick test to see if your web site is conversational:

  • Does the site ask questions aimed at learning about each person?
  • Can the site determine if someone is just starting to learn about products like yours or has researched the market and is about to make a purchase decision?
  • Does the text on the site change to match the interest and knowledge level of the visitor?

These are just a few of the ways that profiles about people can be used to make a Web site more conversational, but the real focus should be on getting in step with each visitor and matching what the site says with what people are thinking and feeling. The art of conversation is taught in books, classes, and seminars, so there is a procedure for doing it. Why not use the same procedure on the Web?

Intuitive navigation and great design help people find the right document. But taking advantage of meaningful profile data allows dynamic Web and e-mail to make an impact on members of the target market and influence their purchase decisions

Cliff Allen, cofounder of SureToMeet, president of Coravue

People visit Web sites for many reasons, but the quality and the depth of the content are the primary reasons people go to a company’s Web site.

Customers want to find out — whether through product descriptions at a consumer site or extensive product information at a business-to-business site — how products can satisfy their needs.

The quality and amount of content are major factors in the success of a site, because it’s the content — text, photos, and illustrations — that helps customers determine whether they want to do business with that company.

Can you imagine any commerce site being successful without describing the products it sells? Obviously not. Yet many sites have extremely limited product information. This leads to apprehension because customers don’t know if the product meets their needs or not.

Visitors are not interested merely in detailed product descriptions. They also want information about how people like themselves have used products successfully.

Here are several reasons why the quality and quantity of content have so much influence on the success of a site.

Content Builds Relationships

Many purchase decisions are “considered decisions” that are made over time as the customer weighs the alternatives before making a purchase. During the sales cycle, it’s important to continually provide additional content.

Some sites do this by continually providing new material, such as case studies and white papers. Another approach is to store the number of visits in the person’s data profile, then display new links to content each time the person returns to the site. This is especially effective when an e-mail campaign of messages is triggered by the number of visits to the site.

However new content is presented to returning visitors, the benefits become clear as the total number of sessions per person increases with the growth of the content.

Content Reduces Apprehension

Customers always want to feel good about the purchases they make. So any lingering questions about a product that go unanswered reduce the chances that customers will buy that product.

As they understand how they can use a product, and how it will help them, their anxiety about making the purchase is reduced.

So … the more questions you can answer, the more likely you will make the sale.

Content Creates Differentiation

You probably sell products that have a unique combination of features that make your products different from the competition’s. However, if your product descriptions are similar to those on other sites, customers can’t tell how you’re products are different from – or better than – the competition’s.

You can drive home your competitive advantages by making sure there is sufficient content on your site that appeals to people most likely to buy your products.

In other words, content should be meaningful to your potential customers. It should help readers solve problems, accomplish tasks, and, of course, help improve their lives.

A Content Case in Point

An example of how content differentiates two major competitors is the home-improvement market. The Home Depot and Lowe’s are similar in many respects. Both have large warehouse stores. Both sell everything from lumber to kitchen appliances. And, both have good prices. But when it comes to their Web sites, there is a significant difference.

The Home Depot home page leads off with products it wants to sell, but the top of the Lowe’s home page links to educational articles about how to use the products it sells.

In other words, the Lowe’s Web site is both a commerce site and an information resource.

While Lowe’s has a little less than half the revenue of Home Depot, the Lowe’s Web site receives about 85 percent as much traffic as Home Depot. If the amount of traffic to both Web sites is any indicator of future growth, it looks like Lowe’s is building a successful Web presence.

Every successful company has a continuous flow of new products and has new uses for existing products. Marketers can leverage such innovation to improve a company’s competitive position by continually expanding descriptive content about every aspect of its products.

The Content Management Challenge

Quickly creating Web pages that combine high-quality graphic design with compelling text requires exceptional teamwork and coordination. Combine that with the technology challenge of tailoring content based on profile data, and it becomes clear that new tools and production techniques are needed.

Coravue and other vendors have developed content management products that separate the design function from the authoring tasks. These content management products combine the text and graphics to automatically create Web pages and promotional e-mail messages.

Today’s content management tools help marketers take control of the workflow process of authoring, editing, approving, and scheduling content. This makes it easy for marketers to create the steady stream of quality content. But, more important, adding in-depth content to a site helps customers learn more about a company’s products and feel more comfortable making a purchase.

By Cliff Allen, cofounder of SurfeToMeet, President, Coravue, Inc.

Bob Bly is a long time writer about marketing and sales copy, and it was interesting to see his latest article in “Target Marketing” about how long different kinds of marketing copy needs to be to get productive results.

Several firms researched the optimal length for the following communications forms:

Type of document Length Results
Blog Post 1,500 words SEO results
Podcast 22 minutes / 2200 words
Blog posts (research by SEOMoz) 1800-3000 words Attracts over 15x more inbound links
Blog posts (research by HubSpot) 2500 words Get more shares on social media
Web pages 500+ min. words
2,000 words
Rank higher in search engines
Article length/Web (research by serpIQ) 2,000 words or longer Highest ranked on Google search engine
Whitepapers (Gordon Graham) 6-8 pages Effectiveness and readership
Press release 400-1000 words
Google AdWords advertisement 85 characters

There has been a long term argument between sales and marketing teams and graphic design teams because more words are harder to design in pleasing ways.  I know because I’m both a designer and writer!  But results speak for themselves.  People who are truly wanting to buy your product or service want the FULL story, not just teasers or headlines and beautiful colors.  They want to know the features, the value, the benefits to them and their companies.  And they will take the time to read the details if they want to buy.

So the question — the elephant in the room — becomes, WHO do you want to read your copy:  serious buyers or browsers?

This is not to downplay the role of design in communication tools — but to change the focus from downplaying the copy, to arranging and highlighting it for easy, productive reading. And design can also lead the eye in a logical fashion to get the facts, evaluate them, and ask for action:  either a free trial or an outright purchase with full understanding of the risks and the guarantees and service that will accompany the purchase.  And the results they can expect!

We’re facing a brave new world in marketing communications every month, it seems, and new tools, new channels, etc. keep us challenged.  But the consistent factor in the mix is our brain!  We absorb information in very specific ways, and we make decisions in very specific ways — so it is important for marketing and design professionals to work together to create the message and deliver it in a way that our brains work.  We love words!  And we love color!  And we appreciate great design that gives us value and results!

Carolyn Allen
CEO of SureToMeet, experienced in marketing communication including writing, editing and design.

Meeting people at networking events is a great way to grow your professional network of connections — plus increase the frequency of visiting with people you already know.
People who share a common interest, problem, or profession benefit from spending face-to-face time with like-minded people.
You know networking is great — however, there are times when you can’t find a well-matched networking group near you that meets your needs.
Solve this networking dilemma — when there’s no networking group near you, start one.

Benefits of starting a networking group

Starting and running a networking group is a lot of work, so you need to think about how you will not only spend the time necessary, but benefit from your time investment.
A few years ago a few friends and I started a networking group because we wanted to network with other entrepreneurs like us, and there was no group in our area. Some people start a networking group to turn it into a business, while others start a networking group that’s part of their existing business. And yes, some want the social benefits.

The three Ps of a networking group

There are the essential ingredients to a successful networking group:

  • Purpose — How will attendees benefit from attending meetings and making new contacts? Is there a “passion” that will encourage participation?
  • People — What common interest or need will hold your community together?
  • Place — Where will your networking group meet that attendees will find comfortable and convenient?
  • Promotion — How will you reach out to new people in the area who share an interest in the networking group’s purpose for meeting?

Mission and purpose

Here are several leadership questions that will help you create a clear picture of what your networking group will accomplish:

  • What interest will your attendees and members have in common?
  • How will people benefit by attending your networking events?
  • How will people meet new contacts that will lead to beneficial relationships?

There are a wide variety of networking groups, such as:

  • Business and social networking group — People who want to socialize and form relationships with others in their specific profession or industry.
  • Networking leads and referral group Salespeople and business development people who work together to help their customers.
  • Job leads group — People who share job opportunities with others who are looking for a job.

In addition to helping the people who attend your networking meetings, think about how you will benefit, too. It takes a lot of time and work to start and run a networking group, and you need to think about how you will benefit from taking on this leadership role. If you don’t receive a reasonable return on your invested time and money – chances are you will burn out before the group can reach critical mass.
Networking needs people
Every networking group needs several types of people:

  • Founders — People who lead, plan, and recruit others to attend.
  • Supporters — People who help the networking group grow and thrive by inviting their contacts to meetings, making introduction, and, in some cases, sponsor networking meetings and special events.
  • Attendees — People who attend the meetings, participate, and engage with other who are looking to network and create mutually beneficial relationships.

Networking groups need programs

Many networking groups get started with the idea that people will just naturally attend and mingle and meet people. This can work well in the early days when the founders and supporters invite people they know and who have a core shared interest in socializing.
However, as the group grows, it helps to have a “program” that attracts new people to attend. Each meeting’s program also shapes and develops the common interest of the people attending each meeting — new people know that those who share an interest in the programs topic will attend.
The typical program at most networking groups, association chapters, and other interest groups is a guest speaker from outside the group. However, there are several other types of program formats, such as:

  • Featured member presentation
  • Every attendee makes a mini-presentation
  • Every attendee participates in a “speed networking” activity where everyone meets everyone else one-to-one

Places to network

Finding a location for a new networking group to meet is usually easy, but it becomes more difficult as the group attracts more attendees.
New networking groups normally start by meeting at free locations, such as:

  • Conference room at a member’s office
  • Coffee shop
  • Restaurant
  • Lobby of a large hotel

An example of location used by a lot of small and casual networking groups is their nearest Panera Bread location. Their locations have plenty of room, good coffee and snacks, and free WiFi!
Free locations like these allow a networking group to avoid charging for attendance. Each person just pays for whatever they eat or drink.
However, as the number of people who attend increases, it will become necessary to contract with venues that handle larger meetings and events. This means that the organizers need to pay for the room, and for the food and drinks provided to attendees. And, this means that attendees need to pay to attend the networking events. Collecting fees can be handled by either having people register online before the event or pay at the door.

Promoting a networking group’s meetings

Networking groups thrive when there is a mix of regular attendees who frequently attend plus new, interested people at each event — and this takes promotion.
Some networking groups try to promote their meetings by just posting a notice on their Web event calendar and sending a personal e-mail to the people in their contact list. This doesn’t work well because it usually doesn’t reach a significant number of people who might attend, and it doesn’t remind people frequently enough to break through the clutter of media overload.
The very best way to promote a networking event to your core participants is to send several e-mails to everyone who has attended in the past. The easiest way to do this is to use an online meeting promotion and RSVP service, such as SureToMeet.
Networking groups need to attract new people to attend, participate, and become loyal members. This is effectively achieved by promoting the group’s meetings and events in several ways:

  • Referrals — Make it easy for previous attendees to invite their friends and associates.
  • Social media — Post announcements on social media sites where like-minded followers and friends can click through to the event Web page and RSVP.
  • Traditional and online media — Post announcements on Web calendar sites, and send announcements to local newspapers with calendar sections.
  • Sign-up form — Make it easy for people to subscribe to your meeting notices with an online registration form.

Planning the new networking group

Each of the start-up elements of starting and growing a networking group has a lot of details, so to make your networking debut easier for you, we’ve created an interactive planning tool for starting and running a networking group. Just start at the top level of the interactive mind map, and drill down to the specific action items and tasks that will help you create your networking group’s meetings and events.

Read more »

Big events used to be a great way to pull people together, motivate them, and update them on new information. Corporations held large internal meetings. And, industry associations held large annual conventions for their members.

However, the low cost of the Internet and the high cost of convention halls, hotels, and airlines – plus the lost productivity – has resulted in a decrease in the number of those huge corporate events and week-long industry conferences.

Seth Godin questions big event value

Seth Godin sparked a conversation on the Web on whether big events are still valuable. He was referring to large events such as product introductions, but the meeting/event industry used his piece to discuss the challenges of their industry.

And, the meetings and events industry that produces large events is facing some big challenges. I can name almost a dozen large conferences I used to attend that don’t exist anymore. And, many other large events just aren’t so large these days,
For example, a few weeks ago I attended a large industry association conference in Las Vegas to help a startup company research a manufacturing technology. Not being from that industry, we needed to get up to speed quickly, meet vendors selling that technology, and evaluate the technology.

Unfortunately, the conference had no educational sessions on this small, emerging technology. So, we met with the handful of vendors – whose booths were scattered across multiple buildings. And, since attendance at the show was down the people in the booths had plenty a time to talk with us.

It turned out that it would have been much more productive and inexpensive for us to attend a day-long seminar with presentations by just these vendors.

Replacing conventions and big conferences

What’s replacing those huge conventions and conferences? Two things.

  • First, of course, is the Internet. Initially, e-mail discussion groups and forums provided information more quickly than trade magazines and annual conferences. Today, webinars and self-paced e-learning deliver information and education where and when you need it.
  • Second, local/regional meetings and events provide an easy and inexpensive way to meet with likeminded people face-to-face more frequently than at annual conferences. In addition, the quality of presentations at local groups and chapter meetings is frequently as valuable as those at large national conferences.
  • Facebook is launching internal corporate networking to replace emails. “Workplace by Facebook” will be a paid service, Facebook’s FIRST paid service, that charges a monthly fee for enterprise-grade security and administration of the system that allows corporate employees to collaborate, news feed with posts, and live video as well as share documents.

The big, expensive conferences will survive on lower attendance. They just won’t be so big and expensive.

Local events & meetings

Expect to see a lot more local groups and organizations produce high-quality meetings and events around the narrow, specific interests of their members – which will reduce the need to fly off to large conventions.




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One of the problems that event organizers constantly face is finding good, inexpensive meeting locations.

We started hosting a free monthly networking event here in Los Angeles and faced this problem ourselves.

One of the people helping start our networking group suggested that we meet in the lobby/bar of a large hotel because it has plenty of room for a group to network, it’s easy for everyone to find the building, and is usually not very busy. It turns out that it’s not easy to find a large hotel lobby/bar that can easily hold 100-150 people, but after visiting several hotels we found a good venue for our networking events.

We originally wanted a lobby/bar to avoid the costs of a meeting room while we started the networking group – especially since it’s free to attend our networking events! It turns out that there are other benefits, too. It’s easy for everyone to find our networking group when they arrive, the chairs and couches are comfortable for groups to sit and chat, and we attract people who are in the hotel for other meetings and events.

So, when you need a place for a group to meet, consider a nearby hotel lobby.

The Web-based webinar has become a popular way to make a presentation to people no matter where they are. However, online webinars have gotten a bad reputation – audience members do other tasks during webinars, and some people say they have left the room while a webinar is in progress.

Since SureToMeet provides event registration services for organizations holding both in-person meetings and online webinars, we have an interest in organizations having successful webinars!

Improving the webinar experience

It has become so easy and inexpensive to hold a webinar that it’s easy to neglect the event planning and content preparation that’s essential for a quality webinar experience. So, we created a free, interactive webinar planning tool as a source of “webinar best practices.” These webinar planning ideas can help all webinar producers improve their webinar results.

Just start at the top level and click down to the specific action items and tasks that will help you produce a successful and beneficial webinar.

Read more »

If you’ve read any books or articles about networking, then you’ve seen the suggestion to come up with what’s called an “elevator speech” pitch. The idea is that you should be able to completely describe what your company sells and why customers buy from you in less than a minute — during an elevator ride.
For a long time I tried to do this. I worked on creating an elevator pitch for networking events, but I found that the elevator pitch monologue just didn’t feel right. After all, it was supposed to be a conversation.

Then, I found the article Kill the Elevator Speech about abandoning the idea of having an elevator pitch. What it said made sense — convey the same information that’s in an elevator speech, but do it step-by-step in a conversation!

I’m not saying that an elevator speech isn’t helpful.

Just writing an elevator pitch is helpful to clarify what your company offers. But, it turns out that an elevator speech is useful only for events where delivering a short pitch is the format for the meeting. For example, the pitch fest meetings where entrepreneurs pitch potential investors on investing in their company in less than a minute is an interesting and entertaining format, but it seldom results in a worthwhile new connection.

Elevator speeches are also valuable at “speed networking” events where the objective is to tell your pitch quickly, or listen to the other person’s pitch, so you can make the most of the few minutes you have — before moving on to the next person’s pitch. However, in the casual, conversational setting of a networking mixer, it’s better to use a slightly different technique.

Here is a simple, one sentence format for introducing your story in a way that’s easy for the other person to remember:
[Company] provides [product or service solution] that helps [type of customer] [benefit].

Here are some examples to show how this template can be used:

  • Apple Computer provides computer-based products that helps people use digital content.
  • Honda provides cars and trucks to both consumers and businesses that are used to go places.
  • The Los Angeles Times provides news and information to people in Southern California that helps them stay in touch with their community.
  • SureToMeet provides meeting registration services that helps event organizers attract more people to events and meetings.

Most of these companies provide more than one product or service. But, people at busy networking events can only remember one thing that your company provides.

Start conversations with your one sentence introduction, and be ready to answer questions about your company as they come up in the conversation.

So, set the elevator speech aside for when an event calls for you to deliver a short pitch. Then, come up with a short way to quickly describe the one thing you want people at networking events to remember that you can provide.

Over the last few years there has been tremendous growth in the number of meetings and events in every city and tour in the country.

Some of this growth has come from local chapters of professional association adding special interest group meetings and “satellite” group meetings in outlying areas.

However, the biggest growth in the number of local meetings and events has come from individuals starting their own group or organization. These local groups are holding public festivals in neighborhoods, monthly networking meetings at bars and restaurants, and conducting educational seminars at a wide range of meeting locations.

It’s hard work to create a group and its series of ongoing meetings and events. But the riskiest part is marketing an event. You know who a speaker will be and where you’re going to hold an event, but you don’t know who will attend.

Effective promotion reduces risk

The best way to reduce the risk and uncertainty of holding an event is to use the most effective event promotion techniques possible.

For event organizers who are on Facebook this means sending an e-mail to your contacts. But, for many association chapters and local groups their members aren’t on the typical social networks. And, many organizations hold public events, such as street festivals, where it’s not practical to obtain e-mail addresses from attendees.

With so many more opportunities to attend local events and meeting, it has become harder for an event organizer to attract the number of attendees needed for a successful event. This is creating a special challenge for local chapters of professional associations that typically charge an annual membership fee in addition to a registration fee to attend the monthly meetings.

Increase event promotion to attract more attendees

For an upcoming talk (50 Ways to Promote a Local Event) I looked back at every event I’ve helped promote to identity the 50 best event promotion tips and techniques. The illustration shows the interactive event promotion mind map that I created for event organizers.

The mind map allows an event organizer to turn on or off the promotional techniques that are appropriate for each of their organization’s meeting and special events. A mind map is also a good place to store notes, links to vendors, and create project/task lists.

To cover most types of local events, I divided the “50 Best” list into these sections:

Over the next several weeks I’ll share the detailed event promotion techniques, along with examples, from all of these sections.

As you plan the promotion for your upcoming events, consider using new techniques to increase attendance and improve the experience for your existing members.

Here in Los Angeles many people on the business side of technology companies have attended the Santa Monica area LINC Face-to-Face business networking events over the past several years. These stand-up mixers have helped entrepreneurs and executives at technology companies meet people like themselves, which helps grow the community.


We expanded LINC with small breakfast and lunch networking meetings for business development people at local technology companies. LINC BizDev meetings were designed to help bizdev people tell their company’s story to their peers so everyone can work together in growing our community.


If your bizdev person is looking for more business networking opportunities, have them request an invitation to local networking meetings in your area. And if you are a potential sponsor of face-to-face events, connect with a highly connected networker and propose starting a bizdev group in your community.

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