3 Ways to Maximize Conference and Event Marketing

One of the real world marketing questions I’m asked often is whether events and conferences matter, from a marketing point of view. Do they help to generate business? The answer is a qualified yes – as long as you do it right.

PodCamp Boston 5

First, if you don’t know why you’re going, don’t go. “Because our competitors are there” isn’t a great reason. Ask if your audience is at the show. The easiest way to establish this? Look at the previous year’s hashtag on social media and who used it, then randomly sample the Twitter biographies of people who used the hashtag. If their names and titles are your audience, then you have a reason to attend the show.

Events are excellent for introducing your company to the target audience, but you have to provide ways for people to have those introductions.

To make the most of the show, you need three key elements. The first is the spotlight. Obtain this however you can, if you are committed to attending the event. This may mean earning a speaking slot or paying for it. This may mean a significant sponsorship that ensures show organizers will name drop you repeatedly throughout the event.

The second element is the anchor. This is the exhibitor booth. At some shows, particularly larger ones, sponsorship and exhibiting are separate animals. You need an anchor at the show, a physical location you can use as a base of operations, a rally point, and a focus. When you have speakers on stage, it’s easiest for them to say, “If you have questions after this session, come meet me at Booth 176” rather than have them loiter around, especially if the show has a packed schedule.

The third element is the foot soldiers, the street team, the ground staff you have at a show. These are the folks who move around the show floor, providing intelligence, gathering competitors’ collateral and speaking to competitor sales personnel. Your army can help staff the booth in a pinch, but also goes out and networks with attendees. For those connections that are relevant and valuable, foot soldiers can direct people back to the booth or to a speaker’s session. Foot soldiers also use social media effectively during the show, sharing other speakers’ content but heavily promoting your own. Given how many conferences feature social media leaderboards for most retweeted speakers, content, and people, your foot soldiers can play a key part in being seen.

With these three elements in force, you can maximize your appearance at a trade show. People will remember you, connect with you, and quite possibly do business with you. The very best executions of this plan make you so prominent, you’re on equal or greater footing than the show itself.


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Travel Day: DIY Sodastream Soda Maker

David B. Thomas inquired, based on a Facebook post I’d made a month or so ago, about how hard it was to make your own Sodastream-like machine at home. The answer is, not terribly hard – and much more cost effective in the long run.

One of my annoyances at the Sodastream I owned was that I had to change out the canister every month or so; it made about 30 liters of carbonated water, which was okay. The cost per liter was about 50 cents a liter, which is still a savings over the grocery store.

In typical hacker fashion, I asked, what if I could do this myself? What if there were better gear? It turns out that of course, there is significantly better gear to be had – from the beer world. Beer kegs tap CO2 and/or nitrogen all the time to add that last little punch to a brew. The equipment is surprisingly simple.

What you need:

– A CO2 canister. Most welding shops carry these. I paid $100 for a 10 pound canister. Unlike a Sodastream, this should let me make between a liter and two liters of soda per day for over a year, possibly close to two years.

– A length of hose with clamps to connect the tank to…

– A pressure gauge regulator. This tells you how much pressure is in the tank, and lets you set the pressure for your soda water. I usually set mine to 40 PSI.

– A ball lock and hose. This goes from the regulator to your bottle of soda and connects to…

– The Carbonator. This plugs into the ball lock and is what connects your soda bottle to the whole business.

– A used soda bottle, clean and free of cracks. This is the best part: you get to recycle. Sodastream bottles aren’t dishwasher safe, so over time they can get nasty, and of course, buying a new one costs a fair bit for what’s essentially just a plastic bottle. A used soda bottle obviously can hold soda (at much higher pressures), so recycle!

When put together in order, you get this:

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The trick with making soda at home is to have the water be ice, ice cold. I usually fill the soda bottle with about two cups of fresh water and then place horizontally in the freezer. This makes a giant ice cube. Once thoroughly frozen, fill to the point where the side of the soda bottle begins to curve. Then attach to the carbonator, turn on your gas, and shake vigorously while the CO2 dissolves in the water. After a minute of vigorous shaking, turn off the gas, remove the bottle, and enjoy!

Enjoy your DIY sodastream maker!


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How to measure live video impact on marketing

1950 - 60 Television and lamp

One of the questions marketers have struggled with in recent days is how to make all these new video services work to drive business. How do you make Periscope, Blab, Meerkat, etc. generate some actual results? How can we measure the effectiveness of our online video efforts?

First, let’s establish what we want to accomplish in terms of goals. Do you have sales objectives? Lead generation objectives? Awareness and brand objectives? What your goal is determines how you’ll measure.

The simplest way to measure the effectiveness of any channel is through quarantine. Establish unique, distinct methods of contact for every channel in your marketing toolbox, including online video. For example, domain names are still cheap to buy. Considering Periscope? Buy a domain like YourNameOnPeriscope.com, and use it exclusively on that channel. Even if you just redirect it, there are ways to push data into services like Google Analytics to track visits to it. Got a call center? Set up dedicated phone numbers to track your video channels.

Next, consider your options for calls to action in video. Simple plugs by the video host with an easily spelled domain name and frequent repetition ensure that people know where to find you.

Consider on-screen advertising. Just because an app doesn’t offer lower third banners or interstitial full screen ads doesn’t mean you can’t have them. Students of theater and TV set design have an arsenal of different ways to put visuals on screen. There’s absolutely nothing stopping you from putting your calls to action on a sheet of paper and occasionally panning the camera to it.

Finally, consider all the tactics that made ads successful on television for so many years. Operators may no longer be standing by, but your website, social media channels, and email marketing systems are. Offer compelling content to an audience that’s on target, combined with offers that are relevant and creative content, and you can make any channel work for you.


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