Step Right Up To See The Two-Headed, Conceptualizing Marketer

To date in my marketing career, I have had the great opportunity to assist and / or manage engaging events. They ranged from webinars (complete with a cornucopia of virtual food for the attendees lol); speaking engagements; 2- and 3-day, sales-representative seminars; local, national and international trade shows; an 800+ attendee annual gala awards evening; to a nationally and internationally attended 50th company anniversary celebration, which was held in Niagara Falls (to coincide with the trade show in Toronto) and planned in BC. Also, I have had the opportunity to be a photographer at many events that included weddings, fashion shows, and a renowned charity, to name a few.

Whether partaking in an event as a marketer, or photographer, one needs to execute the planning with meticulous details in mind as if to write a script for the entire event. Further, during the event itself, one requires to be quick on their feet expecting, and positively reacting, to anything that requires immediate attention not written in the script. For example, not having the ability to initially visit the venue, I only noticed this when we arrived on site the day prior to the event; but the Niagara Falls celebration offered us a room that had ample space between attendees. Despite the event being well attended by company staff and sales reps from various parts of the world, the extra space depicted otherwise. Venue crowd spacing should portray a well attended event, no one wants to attend an empty event lacking people. So, we divided the room in half to minimize large gaps between the attendees. Whatever the theme of an event, with attendees present, there’s always a sense of excitement.

There was an event marketing case study I read a few years back outlining a radical idea. The marketer had the concept of a company withholding its advertising spending until the Summer Olympics. From what I recall, he used Ford as an example of the company that would purchase all Olympic sponsorships in the form of tv / radio commercials, outdoor signage, basically all forms of tie ins with the game. Then, after the games, he suggested that every Ford sales person treat a customer for lunch with the objective of pitching Ford’s lineup of cars—in hopes of landing a sale.

Live experiences, whether it’s meeting a person over lunch, attending a concert or sporting event is always memorable. For example, I know people who’ve shared their experience with me in attending Superbowl games. In fact, one story involved an associate (former sales rep for a former company I once worked for, to be exact), sitting as a guest in the family box of his former brother-in-law Brian Bellick, who was then the coach of the Baltimore Ravens that were victorious in SB XXXV over the NY Giants. Now how memorable is that? Even the story was memorable to me, despite only being told about it.

During a live event, the true product / service offering, including the company’s brand ambassadors (staff and any other influencers), come to life before all eyes. At this moment, there’s no hiding behind slick ads, virtual monitors or a dramatic, Hal-Riney-like voiceover. The brand’s true essence will surface as the company engages in dialogue with existing and potential customers.

In closing, the idea behind events marketing is an experiential activity where the customer is engaged by the brand first hand—not through a tweet, for instance. The offering needs to live up to the sum of all the synergestic media efforts that came prior.

Brewing Fresh Copy

Brewing Fresh Copy

“Not many of us ever get close to our childhood dreams. Copywriters do.” John Lyons, former Creative Director, Ketchum Advertising.

John’s quote—including the legendary ad man Tom McElligott (read further down this post)—inspired me to write engaging, advertising copywriting-style tweets for I Am Someone‘s 2nd Annual Ultimate Online Charity Auction, ending a few days ago. IAS is a non-profit organization who’s goal is to end bullying, text ‘211’ 2talk.

Despite IAS being new to twitter with only about 250 current followers, yet growing, these three sample tweets were able to generate low four-figures impressions and was well received by people.

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IAS Kardashians win win win

As an aside, and to give credit, “Bid. Win. And Give Back.” was IAS’s President Greg Moore‘s contribution. I thought that slogan-like phrase he tweeted was strategic and should close some of the tweets, where it was possible to do so at maximum of 140 characters on twitter.

Writing these tweets forced me to think and research about anything and everything I knew since childhood that was fitting to the auction items in hand, and to attempt to extract witty, intelligent copy from those findings. It was about getting thoughts down on paper, and examining them to determine if they would appeal to a varying target market.

Writing straight copy is easy. But to produce unique and fresh copy that’s captivating is where the challenge lies. That challenge was addictive and a pleasure to the brain, despite, in some cases, having to write, rethink, write, then rewrite over and over. Accuracy with simplicity are some of the key factors; and tweets at 140 or less seemed to have made the effort easier versus having lengthy copy. If the copy was magical, the outcome was satisfying to the creative soul.

As mentioned earlier, I also drew from one of my advertising inspirations, Tom McElligott, who produced amazing work and attracted lucrative clients to his then Minneapolis-based agency. Tom gave a Mid-West flavour to his ads, which was an otherwise big-city NYC, LA, Chicago advertising look and feel. Here are some of his iconic treasures…

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Mind Games

A classic marketing concept is Positioning, which was originally an article by Al Ries and Jack Trout that appeared in Advertising Age, circa early 1970s. Later in 1981, both marketing professionals published a book by the same name.

According to Ries and Trout, “… positioning is not what you do to a product. Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect. That is, you position the product in the mind of the prospect.”

They claim that changes to the product—or service, company, organization, even a person—are mere cosmetic alterations. (This is actually the branding aspect. Another blog entry altogether.) In my interpretation, and from a philosophical perspective, the essence of the product is inherently in the product itself that the prospect (in this case consumer, either as existing or potential) has already pre-categorized.

Ries and Trout furthers their argument by claiming that to change the mind of the prospect is expensive. Hence, working with the prospect’s pre-existing mindset will be the best opportunity. This is analogous to gift giving during the holiday season, which is engrained in our minds; and changing this occasion to the Spring season will be a huge marketing undertaking.

Positioning is how long-time, loyal fans of professional sports teams continue to lend support regardless of current win-tie-loss table standings. A fan has deep-rooted memory to the day when their beloved team won universal bragging rights. Their favourite player was able to heroically score the last-minute buzzer beater to forever be immortalized (positioned) in their mind as a galactic champion. Yet, these days, that same team, sans heroic superstars, are mere mortals in the loss column. One sees these boisterous fans on tv, or during live events, with painted faces adorned in their team’s uniform. That’s the power of the product entrenched in the prospect’s mind. The power of Positioning.

Email Marketing. Sans Envelopes and Stamps To Lick

Similar to other forms of digital marketing, email marketing can be well measured with telling results. As an aside, I recall this opinion about print advertising. In purchasing print ads, it is like asking 200 of your friends and relatives to fly with you to some exotic location on a seat sale—for $5 per seat. You and your cohorts will know precisely the costs, plus departure and arrival times. However, the time everyone will leave the exotic local is a mystery. In that example, you will know when your ad will appear in the magazine, and who, for the most part, will be the recipients of the publication. On the other hand, you are unaware as to when your ad will precisely be seen by the potential buyer.

With email marketing, key analytics will indicate email opens, forwards, and those that bounced (2 types: hard bounce can mean email address is no longer active, or soft bounce indicates a full mailbox). Then as a form of follow-up, the sales staff, for instance, can be provided with a report as who showed interest in the email. No guessing game with respect to time of engagement with the reader, or potential client.

Also, like traditional printed newsletters, the digital version can contain content that engages the reader. Avoid self-serving-related content, rather content that will benefit the reader. One way of determining what type of content is popular is to write the opening paragraph, followed by “click more” to read further. The majority of the article’s content will not be seen unless the link is clicked. So, the analytics can log as to which article link was clicked; and hence, appealing to read. This way, popularity of specific content can dictate future articles.

Email marketing systems are usually executed through 3rd party vendors. An excellent company that I have used since 2004 is Mailout (formerly Industry Mailout). Founder Gregg Oldring and his team are a proud Canadian company that has been in the email business since 2001, where they have sent out a billion emails for clients. And they claim about a third were opened, compared to a minimal 2-3% rate of open for traditional, more expensive direct (snail mail) marketing.

What I enjoyed about working with Mailout is the helpful and immediate support I receive every time I called. For example, I was confused about spam regulations in Canada (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, CASL) and the US; and they were quick to demystify them. In addition, and what is imperative, is that Mailout’s system addresses spam-related issues, both through the delivery side and recipients’ side.

Other email marketing tips, for example:
• Do not email on a Monday or Friday; try and email in the middle of the week and not around holidays where the email will sit in someone’s inbox unopened
• To avoid spam filters, subject header and content of email should avoid spam-related words such as buy direct, earn moneyyou’re a winner, etc.
• Be honest to your customers and reflect your true company brand
• Experiment on what content will work

Other benefits of email marketing include, but not limited to:
• Email template can be consistent with established branding
• Tradeshow follow-ups
• Reinforcement messaging of internal sales announcements and promotions
• Targeted region through a specific sales representative
• Precise segmentation of data list
• Add names to the data list obtained from tradeshows, seminars, web site, social media, etc.

There is more to email marketing than what I outlined. Planned and crafted properly, the medium is an effective part of the Marketing ‘P’romotion—and with measureable outcomes that can meet company (or non-profit) objectives.