Traditional marketing broadcasts messages to the masses via print, radio and TV.
Broadcast marketing is also considered interruption marketing. Commercials interrupt TV or radio shows. Ads interrupt articles. Spam interrupts our daily work flow. Online popup ads interrupt or web experience.
Marketers count the number of impressions (interruptions?) that people see or hear and identify reach and effectiveness. The goal is to repeat the message enough times so that the audience will remember it and act on it.
Typically, the same principle is applied to conference and event marketing. A major message is broadcast and distributed to past and potential attendees in emails, newsletter and magazines. Social networks are seen as additional channels to post the primary conference message.
But does that work? Is that really using WOM (Word Of Mouth) and social networking in the best way possible?
Impressions: From Advertisers And From People We Know
Forrester’s Q4 2009 research found that consumers create 256 billion impressions within social networks by talking with one another about products and services each year. Customers create 1.64 billion posts in blogs, discussion forums and online review and rating sites. Those posts create at least another 250 billion impressions per year.
That’s more than half a trillion impressions created by consumers in the U.S. alone. An average of eight impressions every day for every person online.
By comparison, Nielsen Online research shows that advertisers delivered 1.974 trillion online ad impressions during the same time as the Forrester survey.
People receive about one-fourth as many impressions from each other as they do from online advertisers.
So which impressions do you think most people paid attention to? Does your conference or event marketing strategy reflect the reach of WOM? Is your event marketing strategy working for or against you when it comes to empowering your customers?
Three Reasons Why Event Marketers Have Not Harnessed WOM
Most conference and event marketers understand concepts like reach, positioning and key performance indicators. So why don’t more conference marketers understand WOM concepts and strategies?
1. Lack of WOM strategy, vocabulary and experience.
Unfortunately, most event marketers do not have a strategy for word of mouth. Nor do they have the vocabulary or experience with it. Monitoring and measuring WOM are foreign concepts.
2. Most marketers are used to working with masses, not individuals.
Marketers work with masses, not individuals. That’s the customer service department’s job. Marketers need to begin to address individuals and see their marketing as part of the customer service opportunity.
3. One-size-fits-all cookie-cutter marketing strategies are used.
Advertising and marketing is created for a large audience, at the head of the long tail. Reaching smaller niche groups as part of the long-tail is overlooked.
Conference And Event Marketers Must Think About Individuals As A Marketing Channel
Event marketers must begin to think about individuals as potential sources of marketing influence. Your past and potential conference attendees are a marketing channel.
In his book Groundswell, Josh Bernoff called this concept, “Energizing Your Customers.” It’s a new way to think about marketing, service and your conference attendees.
Forcing traditional marketing strategies through your social channels will not work. Conference marketing must begin to identify the connectors and mavens, as Malcolm Gladwell calls them, which will help you spread WOM.
What specific WOM of strategies have been successful for your conferences and events? What have you seen that worked?