How Events Hurt Major Gifts — And What to Do About It

I was in a meeting with the fundraising staff of a very prominent and successful nonprofit, and the leader of the major gifts program told the familiar story of how he and his staff had been pulled away from their major gift work to organize an event that “meant a lot to the board.”

eventIt happened again.

I was in a meeting with the fundraising staff of a very prominent and successful nonprofit, and the leader of the major gifts program told the familiar story of how he and his staff had been pulled away from their major gift work to organize an event that “meant a lot to the board.”

I was stunned by what I was hearing, because the major gift staff already had its hands full with substantial increases in goals for the fiscal year, and now it was being recruited to spend a good deal of time and money organizing a feel-good event that, quite frankly, had nothing to do with fundraising.

It was true that the event would net $50,000. But when I heard that number, I asked if staff time had been calculated into the cost. No, it hadn’t. And when we did the math, that $50,000 net disappeared in a nanosecond.

What is it about nonprofit boards, leaders and staff who so easily catch events fever and lose their way on thinking objectively about this topic?

Yes, a well-organized event, with the right content, can raise the profile of a nonprofit. But then, why not have the public relations or communications department handle it? Why pull the major gift folks away from relating to their good donors to do this work? I know. Because it’s the donors on the caseload that will be the core group who will make the event financially successful.

Hold on. Did you just hear what I said? The donors on the caseload will make the event financially successful. Hmm. So we are moving money from the major gift officer’s caseload to the event and increasing the expense to secure that money? Yep. Crazy. And, likely, the gift the major donor gives at the event will be far less than what she could have given if the major gift officer had managed the giving outside of the event.

But these major donors will bring their friends, and we can make them our friends, and everything will be grand. It’s true. I have seen this happen. But not very frequently. Here’s why. The friend has come at the invitation of the major donor, and two things are working against them getting further involved:

• The friend is simply servicing an obligation. They have no intent to get involved. It is a nice social time out with a good friend and that’s that. Or they are trading favors. “You came to my gig last month. I go to yours now.” And while you could turn this around with a compelling program, the fact is …

• There is no compelling program presented. This has always amazed me. We get all of these wonderful people together. And they have a ton of capacity to give. But all we offer, besides a nice meal, is some quick facts about who we are, a testimonial, an award to a board member or key volunteer and other nicey-nicey things. And everyone goes home feeling good.

If the leaders in your organization have events fever — in other words, hardly any argument or reasoning will dissuade them organizing an event — then make the best of it by doing the following:

1. See if you can get some other department to do the heavy lifting. Get PR, communications, the volunteer coordinator, the assistant to the executive director — someone other than you — to organize it. In other words, protect your major gift time as best you can. Time is all you have. And there is very little of it to put toward relating to your caseload donors. So have a mindset of delegating as much as you can.

2. Sell tickets to cover costs. This isn’t a new idea, and it’s regularly done. I only mention this to set up the next point. Your objective is to break even or have a positive net to cover the labor involved.

3. Create a compelling program that presents an “I can’t avoid supporting it” project. Yes, you heard correctly. I am suggesting selling tickets and asking for gifts at the event. And the ticket-selling process should clearly outline what you are doing. “I am selling tickets to cover costs because I want you to come with your friends and hear about this exciting must-do project.” Obviously, you have to create something that the donor and their friends and other prospects want to attend.

Think about this like you do when you go out with friends to dinner and split the check. That’s all that is going on. The donors are covering the cost to attend a presentation. The whole event must then be carefully choreographed, from start to finish, so that the donors and their friends are completely engulfed in the drama and journeys of the people who will be helped when they get involved. When I say start to finish, I mean things like:

  • The look of the ticket and program.
  • Signage at the venue.
  • Material on the tables or, if outside, those materials as well.
  • What the greeters say to people coming in.
  • The sequencing, cadence and messaging of the program — every single element is discussed and programmed. Nothing is left to chance.
  • The testimonials and comments of people invited to speak.
  • The pictures, videos, music and any other program elements.
  • Every single element is strategic — even when and how a meal is served. Everything.
  • The price tag for the project needs to be large enough to accommodate the giving goals you have set for every donor on your caseload and their friends and other non-donors who may be present. You do not want to have a $100,000 project when the sum of all the goals of the donors present is $750,000. Doesn’t make sense.

Here’s the thing. Nothing is left to chance. Everything is intentional. And all of it draws you to this amazing thing “we must all do!” That is what I mean by compelling. You are drawn in and compelled to act. That is how engaging the program/project is.

4. Seed the event and the giving at the event with up-front giving by selected donors. Go to selected caseload donors and ask them to come to the event and make a commitment to the project. You might ask for a matching gift that can be unveiled at the event. It could really be quite dramatic. Picture this. The project is $850,000 and one donor, in advance, has pledged a $300,000 matching gift.

At a strategic moment at the event, the executive director calls on the donor to speak. She says something like, “When I heard about this project, I just had to get involved. Think of the difference we all could make if, tonight, we funded the whole thing! It would be so exciting. Look at all the lives that would be forever changed. That is why I am putting up a $300,000 challenge grant. Whatever you give tonight, up to $300,000, I will match. Come on, let’s get this done!” Wow, that would be something.

***

So, you get what I am saying about the same old, same old event vs. a version of what I am describing above. This is a real fundraising event. Not the faux event that so many nonprofits spend so much time on. If you are going to do an event, do it right. Make it cause-oriented vs. just a happy time.

The cause is why the donors are involved — they want to make a difference in someone’s life. Program your event toward that reality. It will make a tremendous difference in the financial outcome and how the donors feel about your organization.

6 Strategies Behind the Trend in B-to-B Client Conferences

Producing an event is expensive and risky. What’s the benefit? Should you launch a client conference of your own? In conversations with several marketers, I have identified six reasons to consider it.

Have you noticed how so many B-to-B companies seem to be running their own proprietary conferences these days? I can’t turn around without another customer event popping up on the radar. AppNexus has its Summit, three years now. Quad/Graphics relaunched its Camp Quad last year. MeritDirect celebrated its 16th Co-op this year. This got me wondering: Producing an event is expensive and risky. What’s the benefit? Should you launch a client conference of your own? In conversations with several marketers, I have identified six reasons to consider it.

Customer events are especially popular in the tech world. Kathleen Schaub, vice president of IDG’s CMO Advisory Service, reports that customer events are twice as common (at 48 percent) as participation in trade shows (27 percent) among tech marketers. But the trend appears in financial services, manufacturing and business services as well. Here’s why B-to-B companies are jumping into proprietary events.

  • Uninterrupted Face Time: What a great way to get your customer’s full attention, especially compared with a trade show, where you have to compete with zillions of others. SiriusDecisions, the marketing consulting firm, views its popular Summit as a place to deliver fresh research to its clients, as part of its paid advisory service. The Summit brought a capacity crowd of 2,300 attendees to Nashville’s Opryland complex for three and a half days, with 150 sessions. No distractions, just 100 percent client attention.
  • Efficient Prospecting: Although primarily for clients, many of these conferences are designed to include prospects, as well. Who better to sell for you than happy current customers? NewsCred deliberately added an extra day to its #ThinkContent Summit that would be open to non-customers, by invitation. “We worked with the sales team to identify target accounts, and we invited marketing leaders from those companies to bring their teams,” says Jasmine Cortez, event marketing manager. These attendees were treated like leads, with post-event nurturing communications and sales follow-up.
  • Customer Retention:Events that are perceived as valuable translate into customer good will and loyalty. For NewsCred, the primary objective is to deepen customer relationships, says Melissa Blazejewski, B-to-B events manager. Client conferences also serve to deepen the host company’s understanding of its customer needs and stimulate account penetration. Says Brad Gillespie, head of global marketing at SiriusDecisions, “Sifting through data about Summit attendees makes us smarter as marketers. But the primary benefit is in cross-buying. Attending the Summit is clearly associated with clients’ subscribing to new service lines.”
  • Brand Value Expansion: Quad/Graphics cleverly positioned its Camp Quad event to serve senior marketing people, although the typical day-to-day customer for the large printing company is a production specialist. The Camp Quad event was located near its network of Wisconsin printing plants, which showcase for their newer technologies and service offerings. So the attendees not only picked up new marketing ideas, they broadened their understanding of Quad’s capabilities. Says Maura Packham, marketing and communications VP, “The post-event feedback shows that people feel differently about Quad’s value proposition. This was our goal.”
  • Content Production:Conference programming serves as a valuable source of new content for various uses throughout the year. “We advise our clients that the best B-to-B campaigns are centrally themed and extend over time. We practice what we preach, by using the Summit as the launch event for a year’s communications,” says Gillespie. For Quad/Graphics, the client event becomes a useful reason to call for the sales team, who follow up with non-attendees saying “Here’s what you missed.”
  • Make Money: Many client events, like Camp Quad, are hosted entirely by the organizer, with attendees paying only travel expenses. But some, like SiriusDecisions, are run like a profit center, with sponsors and exhibitors paying the freight. “Our value proposition is convenient access to useful information,” says Gillespie. “Our sponsors deliver over 100 case studies, which are highly valued by attendees. We run the event as a business, but its main purpose is to educate and enrich our customers’ experience.”

Convinced? It’s a challenge to organize your own event, but the payoff can be huge.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

5 Ancient Storytelling Methods Copywriters Can Use Today

What does Ancient Greek and Shakespearean storytelling have to do with direct marketing today? Perhaps more than you realize. Today we dissect a proven five-step process that has been used for centuries to hold the reader to the end of a story. Direct marketers can use this timeless framework to write compelling copy for

What does Ancient Greek and Shakespearean storytelling have to do with direct marketing today? Perhaps more than you realize. Today we dissect a proven five-step process that has been used for centuries to hold the reader to the end of a story. Direct marketers can use this timeless framework to write compelling copy for storytelling that engages and sells.

Marketers clamor to have their messages go viral. We want our customers to become advocates and evangelists for us. We want them to “like,” comment, and share our messages for us. A mention on the evening news can skyrocket the number of views on a video into the tens of millions, all for a “feel good” moment.

How do you reach a goal to reach the masses? Most likely through effective storytelling, since it’s not too likely your hard-hitting sales message is going to be shared or talked about.

This column was inspired by an article in the Harvard Business Review titled “The Irresistible Power of Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool.” It reveals how a five-step process in Freytag’s Pyramid has been a successful storytelling framework going back centuries.

Personally, I think storytelling can be used by direct marketers today as part of the “for good movement” that has permeated into our culture, largely fueled by social media. Your challenge is how to engage through story, and effectively monetize these efforts better than your competitors.

To illustrate this point, I turn to an analysis that I completed for an organization that balances “for good movement” messaging with selling. In this case, the “for good movement” messages drive interest and traffic from videos of performance and behind-the-scenes stories. We see the interest build and go viral in the likes, comments and shares of certain types of social media messaging. More importantly, it translates into more web traffic. And more web traffic has translated into more event and product sales. The numbers don’t lie.

A few illustrations:

  • An informal video—recorded on an iPad and put on YouTube—where the organization performs for a boy wounded in a school shooting is posted on Facebook and Twitter, yet is watched thousands of times in just a few days. Nothing was sold here—just the feel good story.
  • A behind-the-scenes interview is watched by thousands so fans get something they don’t hear elsewhere. The video closes with a subtle reminder of an upcoming performance. Again, nothing sold here—just insider information shared.
  • A static post overtly selling an upcoming event doesn’t get much traction for likes, comments or shares. That doesn’t mean it was a failure. It simply says that people don’t want to be sold. They want to choose to buy. And in this case, they choose to buy in bigger numbers when a series of stories have lead up to the event.

People want to be part of a movement, and when they can experience an event, they are ready and willing to buy. When there is product available for sale, demand has already been generated because the customer is ready to buy before you ask them to buy.

With that distinction in selling style, it’s vital that you don’t forget to strategically weave into your “for good” messaging a way to monetize the effort. That doesn’t mean that you add an intrusive sales pitch in the message. It means that you naturally lead your customers and prospects through a planned sequence, timed in a way that takes the individual to the ultimate goal: purchase.

Using your imagination, you can see how the five-step process of Freytag’s Pyramid applies to direct marketing copywriting and story:

  1. Exposition
    The exposition is the portion of a story that introduces important background information to the audience; for example, information about the setting, events occurring before the main plot, characters’ back stories, etc. Exposition can be conveyed through dialogues, flashbacks, character’s thoughts, background details, in-universe media or the narrator telling a back-story.
  2. Rising Action
    In the rising action, a series of related incidents build toward the point of greatest interest. The rising action of a story is the series of events that begin immediately after the exposition (introduction) of the story and builds up to the climax. These events are generally the most important parts of the story since the entire plot depends on them to set up the climax, and ultimately the satisfactory resolution of the story itself.
  3. Climax
    The climax is the turning point, which changes the protagonist’s fate. If the story is a comedy, things will have gone badly for the protagonist up to this point; now, the plot will begin to unfold in his or her favor, often requiring the protagonist to draw on hidden inner strengths. If the story is a tragedy, the opposite state of affairs will ensue, with things going from good to bad for the protagonist, often revealing the protagonist’s hidden weaknesses.
  4. Falling Action
    During the falling action, the conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist unravels, with the protagonist winning or losing against the antagonist. The falling action may contain a moment of final suspense, in which the final outcome of the conflict is in doubt.
  5. Denouement
    The dénouement comprises events from the end of the falling action to the actual ending scene of the drama or narrative. Conflicts are resolved, creating normality for the characters and a sense of catharsis, or release of tension and anxiety, for the reader.

I wrap-up with an insightful quote from author Maya Angelou that succinctly sums up why storytelling in copywriting is so important:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Feeling good is what effective copy in storytelling, and the “for good movement,” leads to. And leading people to feel good is how you move them to respond.

Riding Coattails

Situated neatly between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a lesser known, but growing, shopping holiday called Small Business Saturday. (with the apropos tagline of Shop Small). Founded by AMEX in 2010, and officially recognized by the U.S. Senate in 2011, Small Business Saturday has quickly become a noteworthy event. Posting numbers of more than $5.5 billion in additional revenue to small businesses across America last year alone, this date presents a unique opportunity for marketers to grab some coattails and hang on.

Situated neatly between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a lesser known, but growing, shopping holiday called Small Business Saturday. (with the apropos tagline of Shop Small). Founded by AMEX in 2010, and officially recognized by the U.S. Senate in 2011, Small Business Saturday has quickly become a noteworthy event. Posting numbers of more than $5.5 billion in additional revenue to small businesses across America last year alone, this date presents a unique opportunity for marketers to grab some coattails and hang on.

Often what stands between you and successful integrated marketing—the cross-channel marketing of a consistent brand message—is a brilliant idea. As marketers, we may be more challenged seeking creative inspiration than we are by deploying the actual campaign. Events, such as Small Business Saturday[1], are apt fodder for an integrated campaign that will speak to and engage your customers on many levels: philanthropic-type support of small business, special offers at a time when shopping is especially top of mind, social sharing, community building, and much more.

Our approach to an integrated campaign is to draft the content and then brainstorm to choose in what channels we can publish the content to “give the project some legs.” In the case of Small Business Saturday (SBS), AMEX has provided a fair amount of content for participants; while it may not be ideal for the channels you choose, it’s certainly a great start, as that first step is often the biggest—and hardest.

As an example, we sifted through the promotional content and chose to first launch our initiative as a Facebook campaign where we invited our friends and fans to like the post to support small business. For our network followers, who are small business, we asked that they comment on the post, adding their logo and an offer valid only on 30 November.

With the social postings making a regular appearance in our timelines, we then created the email campaign to educate our small-business clients about SBS, give them ideas for participating, and direct them to the site’s resources for launching full-blown initiatives in their own communities. To both gain support for the event and foster a closer relationship with our customers, our email offered a complimentary, branded email theme they could use to specifically promote their own SBS offer—no strings attached.

While it wasn’t planned as part of our integrated campaign for SBS, blog articles such as this could easily be developed in a way to extend the reach of your campaign.

Big business (B-to-B) can also benefit from promoting events (like SBS) when selling to small businesses, just as we did by offering our clients an email theme. A larger enterprise can nurture goodwill by becoming involved in a way that is beneficial to their clients beyond the bounds of their typical day-to-day business relationship. Clients are much more likely to show loyalty to vendors with whom they feel a connection and benevolent events give both parties a place to come together in a like-minded pursuit.

Campaign inspiration surrounds us, and it’s not always about discounting, selling and downloads. As any salesperson can tell you, developing qualified leads requires relationship building, and that is seldom done using email alone. Intersperse your typical business and sales emails with feel-good content that benefits the customer beyond your products and services, and you’ll find that engagements become more valuable, last longer and, yes, drives sales.

Join us in celebrating Small Business Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013.


[1] If Small Business Saturday isn’t right for you, think about other charitable or community events, such as breast cancer walks, balloon festivals, food fairs and the like. Coattails come in all sorts of fabrics. Be receptive to events where content is readily available, and this will reduce the demands on your internal team or external resource needs.

Destination Marketers: Turn Facebook Fans to Paying Customers

Destination marketers like hotels, resorts, tour operators or even airlines and travel-related businesses can convert Facebook fans to paying customers right now—and have fun doing it. After a year of interviewing the best social media sellers in the world I discovered a secret: giving customers a reason to offer more than a “like” creates leads and sales.

Destination marketers like hotels, resorts, tour operators or even airlines and travel-related businesses can convert Facebook fans to paying customers right now—and have fun doing it. After a year of interviewing the best social media sellers in the world I discovered a secret: giving customers a reason to offer more than a “like” creates leads and sales.

You can do this too if you start using Facebook to generate questions that your destination, service or venue gives answers to. Just start focusing your everyday efforts on solving problems for event planners and/or travelers. It’s that simple.

As it turns out what you already know works (before social media arrived) is the key to success.

The Gurus Were Wrong
Social media gurus claim that posting a certain number of times, on certain subjects, on certain days is the key that unlocks leads and sales on Facebook. Yes, tactical skills are essential to have but earning a customer’s business (whether it’s an event planner or vacation traveler) demands focus on their specific needs—not technical wizardry.

The true secret is getting back to basics and that means solving customers’ problems.

Forget about destination marketing for a moment. Harris-Teeter, a grocery store and pharmacy, pays customers to ask its dietician health-related questions on Facebook. Why would a grocer—or your organization—do that? Because helping customers put out a fire, right on the spot, is powerful. Answering burning questions opens the door to make a suggestion. It can be a friendly tip or useful trick or, if appropriate, outline benefits of selecting your venue or taking a FAM trip.

Solving problems for customers is not a new idea. It’s what your business likely does each day “offline” and that’s powerful.

Hand Out Candy to Create Response
Getting back to basics on Facebook, blogs, YouTube and other social media works but only if you provoke responses from your target market. Everything you put “out there” on social media—your updates, posts, tweets—must be designed to generate a behavioral response from your buyer. That means planning a bit before you for instance publish your next blog post or Facebook update.

Think of it this way: Want to generate more inbound inquiries or FAM tours? If so, your job is to provoke responses from your buyers. The key here is sharing useful, original (previously unknown) knowledge with buyers in exchange for understanding where they are in the buying process. In other words, entice them with something ridiculously valuable about your destination or property and generate a lead.

Ask yourself:

  1. What do most buyers not know about our destination/property that is honestly opportunistic given their specific need?
  2. How can we help event planners avoid unnecessary risks? Can we help them avoid risks they don’t even know they have yet?

The idea is to start showing customers opportunities they’ve never seen before or providing solutions to problems they don’t yet know they have. That’s the candy. That’s how you can become truly provocative and earn leads. The trick is showing customers ways to capitalize on opportunities and solve problems that ultimately connect to your venue.

Think of it like making everything you do on Facebook, YouTube or a blog scratch meeting planners’ or travelers’ itches.

That’s when the fun begins. Once you’ve identified the candy you’ll hand out think of a way you can highlight the value your location adds (to your buyers’ life) in ways that scratch that itch for the buyer using a blog, Facebook or YouTube.

Give Customers a Reason to Move Toward Transacting
So just remember to make everything you do on social media help event planners or travelers’ solve problems or aid them in getting something important done.

Here are tips on getting started:

• Change it up: Resist asking, “What should we be doing with Facebook?” Rather, ask “How can Facebook make what we already do for event planners better?”

Talk to me: Give your buyers a reason why they need to think about something important to them in powerful new way that gives them a reason to talk to you … so they can more clearly understand what you just provoked.

Make it easy: Use contests, calls to action, bold statements—do what it takes to prompt a reaction and make it easy for buyers to qualify themselves as leads.

Re-purpose content: Are you already helping buyers put out fires or do more with less? How? Where? Collect and organize this information using simple, accessible tools like a blog. Consider ways to prompt event planners within Facebook to visit your blog, induce a response and capture a lead.

Good luck!

Digital Developments in B-to-B Event Marketing

Event marketing has long been a staple in B-to-B, where the face-to-face conversation enabled by a trade show or corporate event plays a valuable role in launching or deepening a business relationship. But these days, business events are taking off in new directions, empowered by advancements in digital technology. I’ve been keeping an eye on some of the new developments, and happily share a few here.

Event marketing has long been a staple in B-to-B, where the face-to-face conversation enabled by a trade show or corporate event plays a valuable role in launching or deepening a business relationship. But these days, business events are taking off in new directions, empowered by advancements in digital technology. I’ve been keeping an eye on some of the new developments, and happily share a few here.

Harnessing attendee word of mouth. Event organizers can help registered attendees spread the word about upcoming shows with tools like Plancast, where members share news of their plans-both consumer and business-with friends and fellow social network members.

A private social network for attendees. Both Pathable and CrowdVine offer tools to help show organizers create a private social network, where event attendees can post their photos and profiles, search for connections and make appointments with people they’d like to meet at the event. This takes a lot of the randomness out of networking and lets attendees use their time more efficiently. A boon for exhibitors, who can interact with attendees in advance and follow up with them later, in a dynamic virtual environment.

Events designed for both virtual and live audiences. Some companies are moving in the exciting direction of “hybrid meetings,” where live content is concurrently streamed online, engaging both attendees on site and people at their desks. To pull this off, considerable advance planning is essential, says Pat Ahaesy, of P&V Enterprises, a NY-based event agency. “The hybrid event needs to be rehearsed and staged, with high definition video cameras. Speakers must be trained on how to engage with both audiences. And the content has to be terrific.” But the benefit is huge. You get double the audience, plus an archive of content that can be repurposed for years of additional value.

“Smart card” badges for richer data capture. Show badges built with “near field communication” (NFC) technology are gaining attention from organizers and exhibitors alike. Instead of scanning, exhibitors tap visitor badges using a mobile device, and the data uploads to the cloud in real time. So the post-visit message stream can begin right away. The attendee badges can even be loaded with money (remember, this is the technology behind Google Wallet) and followed up with a message like, “Thanks for coming to our booth. Have a macchiato on us!”

Bob James, head of marketing at ITN International, shares another interesting application of the technology: The satellite manufacturer Harris Corporation knew they’d have a busy booth at a recent show, and they were concerned that they might miss connecting with some important prospects. So they set up 22 self-serve kiosks around the booth, where visitors could tap their badges, request a case study or video, and indicate what kind of follow-up they’d like. A neat way to expand the reach of the booth staff.

Program book on your smartphone. I am always vexed at being handed a heavy conference guide to lug around, so I really appreciate the ShowGuide technology from RiverMatrix, which moves the entire show program off my shoulder and onto my phone. That’s including sessions, speaker bios, maps, the works.

Virtual events. After years of experimentation, virtual events still struggle to enter the mainstream. A study by the Event Marketing Institute says 93 percent of senior executives polled find value in virtual events. But Exhibitor Magazine’s survey suggests that 60 percent of businesses have yet to try a virtual event, even a webinar. Making the trade-off between the value of face-to-face contact and the cost savings of online interactions remains a challenge for B-to-B marketers.

Digital is making events faster, cheaper, better. What new digital developments are you seeing as part of the business event marketing mix?

A version of this post appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Interact Virtually at InterACT!

I’m excited to tell you about a new virtual event that’s taking place on Aug. 23 produced by Target Marketing, DirectMarketingIQ and Printing Impressions, eM+C’s sister brands.

I’m excited to tell you about a new virtual event that’s taking place on Aug. 23 produced by Target Marketing, DirectMarketingIQ and Printing Impressions, eM+C’s sister brands.

It’s called InterACT! Virtual Conference & Expo, and it’s a free virtual event (attendees can access all sessions from their computer) that will explore multiple marketing channels, tools and techniques and how they work together for maximum success. Topics of discussion include:

  • multichannel lead nurturing — turning prospects into customers;
  • QR codes — scanning your way to success;
  • integrated marketing ideas (that work!);
  • augmented reality marketing;
  • social media case studies; and
  • so much more!

I’m particularly excited about a session I’m moderating titled Customer-Preferred Marketing: Data Predicts What Channels to Use Next. Stephanie Miller, eM+C blogger and vice president of email and digital services at Aprimo, will discuss how marketers gather, analyze and, most importantly, utilize demographic, behavioral and social data to improve the subscriber experience and earn higher response and revenue.

There will also be plenty of opportunities for attendees to interact with their peers via live chats and social networking opportunities, as well as downloadable resources and giveaways to be had. Register for this free event here.

I hope to “see” you there!

Virtual Retailer Roundtable TOMORROW!

I wanted to let you know about a great event our sister publication Retail Online Integration is launching tomorrow. It’s the first of four monthly Retailer Roundtable Virtual Conversations we’re hosting this year. The series is comprised of monthly, 45-minute virtual audio chats revolving around a different retail marketing topic each month. Panels of retail experts will make up the roundtables each month.

I wanted to let you know about a great event our sister publication Retail Online Integration is launching tomorrow. It’s the first of four monthly Retailer Roundtable Virtual Conversations we’re hosting this year. The series is comprised of monthly, 45-minute virtual audio chats revolving around a different retail marketing topic each month. Panels of retail experts will make up the roundtables each month.

This month’s conversation, scheduled to take place Sept. 17 at 12 p.m. EST, is called “Using Social Media To Rev Up Holiday Sales.”

During the event, hosted by Bronto Software, you’ll hear from our expert retail panel, which includes Jeffrey Grau, senior analyst, eMarketer; Valerie Hoecke, vice president of experience and commerce at Benefit Cosmetics; and Jay Steinfeld, CEO/founder of Blinds.com. The panel will discuss how to incorporate social media and social networking strategies into your retail holiday promotion plans, ultimately helping you reap more profits.

You’ll learn the following:

  • best practices around offering special holiday deals to your fans and followers;
  • how to entice your fans and followers to see what’s new on your website, sign up to become a member and stick around to buy;
  • how to create a holiday social media strategy; and
  • so much more.

There will be a live Q&A session during the hour, so come armed with questions. You’ll be able to submit your questions directly to our panelists. We also encourage you to tweet about the event via the hastag #ROIWebinar.

Can’t wait to “see” you there!

Melissa Campanelli
@RetailOnlineMag

Mobile Marketing’s Must-Attend Events for Fall 2010

Mobile phone sales continue to defy the global economic slump. Smartphone sales grew nearly 49 percent between Q1 2009 and Q2 2010, according to analyst firm Gartner. More than 314 million smartphones and feature phones shipped in Q1 2010 alone, 17 percent more than one year earlier.

Mobile phone sales continue to defy the global economic slump. Smartphone sales grew nearly 49 percent between Q1 2009 and Q2 2010, according to analyst firm Gartner. More than 314 million smartphones and feature phones shipped in Q1 2010 alone, 17 percent more than one year earlier.

All of those figures add up to an enormous opportunity for brands and marketers, including those looking to add interactivity to advertising campaigns that center around traditional media such as print, broadcast and billboards. That’s because whether consumers are buying their first Java ME feature phone or upgrading from an older smartphone to the latest Apple iPhone, that handset is now one of the most effective ways to build a brand, promote products and distribute coupons, to name just a few ways that mobile marketing is used today.

But there are no slam dunks in mobile marketing. Success depends on understanding factors such as the types of mobile phones used in a particular market and how that affects campaign strategies.

For example, at the most recent Mobile Marketing Forum (MMA Forum), held June 7-9 during Internet Week New York, one speaker noted that in India, 33 percent of SMS traffic is media content and/or advertising. Why do so many mobile marketing campaigns there use SMS? Because virtually every handset and network in India supports text messaging, and because SMS is affordable for more of the population than other types of data services.

If you missed the New York MMA Forum, there are plenty of other opportunities to get up to speed on mobile marketing. The first is by checking out some of the success stories presented at the New York MMA Forum, such as Lipton Tea’s mobile campaign that grew sales 47 percent, or the several brands — from florist chains to detergents — that reported 20 percent response rates for their mobile campaigns. Those and other highlights are recapped on the blog of one of the event’s many renowned speakers, author Tomi Ahonen.

The second opportunity is to attend one or more of the upcoming MMA Forum events. Each one provides an overview of mobile marketing, along with actionable insights into the world region where the event is held. The next three MMA Forum events are:

Latin America: Coming Sept. 2 in São Paulo, Brazil, this event will feature case studies of successful campaigns in Brazil and other regional countries.

Europe, Middle East and Africa: On Oct. 5-6, MMA’s Forum series will bring together leading marketers from across the world to share their experiences, challenges and successes with the mobile channel.

North America:
The final 2010 Forum on Nov. 17 in Los Angeles will feature speakers from across the mobile ecosystem, including many leading global brands and agencies.

The diversity of locations reflects the fact that although the mobile channel’s reach and effectiveness spans the globe, each region has unique market conditions, opportunities and needs. The New York event highlighted those by featuring insights from all four MMA regional directors, who represent Asia Pacific (APAC); Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA); Latin America; and North America.

All of the MMA regional directors provided plenty of real-world examples of mobile marketing’s bottom-line benefits. For instance, in the U.K., the Ariel detergent brand sent text messages to 400,000 housewives, achieving a 20 percent response rate and boosting in-store sales. In Japan, the AXE Wake-Up Girls mobile campaign increased deodorant sales 300 percent, a success that’s been duplicated in countries such as Turkey, too.

But don’t just take my word for it; see for yourself this fall.