CHICAGO Everything is the brand of an event. That was the message from Scott Stratten to attendees at the Professional Convention Management Association's Convening Leaders conference, which opened Monday at McCormick Place in Chicago. Stratten is the president of Un-Marketing and author of the book UnSelling: The New Customer Experience. He spends most of his time speaking at events for companies such as Pepsi, Adobe, Red Cross, and Deloitte on the topics of relationship marketing and viral and social media. Here are some of the ideas he shared on how to create and engage loyal fans for events.
1. Everything about your event and everyone working at your event is a reflection of your brand. Their opinions of the event are affected by every element, from the experience at the registration counter to the quality and availability of food to the accuracy of session descriptions.
2. People tend to remember two things about a brand: the most recent thing they have experienced or heard and the most extreme thing they have experienced or heard.
3. For content to go viral, it has to create emotion, whether that’s excitement, anger, humor, or sadness. “Nobody shares mediocre. We share extremes. If you want to have word of mouth, you have to do something worth talking about,” Stratten said.
4. Storytelling is important in marketing, but it can't be the brand telling the story. The brand should give the tools and ingredients to customers and let them tell the story. Branding is the message the customer or client says you are; it’s not what you say you are.
5. Every attendee is somewhere on what Stratten calls the pulse of ecstatic, static, or vulnerable. “There aren’t two types of people, attendees and non-attendees. There are levels in there and you have to figure out where they are in the pulse. If they are vulnerable, they probably aren’t coming back,” Stratten said.
6. Change their attitude by listening to feedback and comments on social media, and then responding quickly. “If somebody complains about something on Twitter … we have to realize it’s a pivot point. They are vulnerable, no matter how petty it might seem,” he said. “When people complain they are actually saying, ‘I want you to fix this.’ Because if they didn’t care, they wouldn’t say anything.”
7. You can’t stop mistakes from happening, but you can affect the outcome by how you respond. “When it hits the fan, it’s not time to hide behind the fan. It’s time to be awesome,” Stratten said.
8. When using social media, the speed at which you reply is almost more important than what you say. “Don’t have an event hashtag or an event Twitter account if you are not real-timing it. It’s not something you can check once in a while,” he said.
9. Direct contact with potential sponsors or attendees, such as through email, is a part of the traditional marketing funnel: the recipient has to decide whether to read it, delete it, or reply. Social media communication is not part of the funnel because some people will never see it. “It’s not a funnel, it’s a social sieve. I love digital connection, but it’s terrible for sales and marketing. Spam has a better click-through rate. [Social media] is great for conversation, connection, community, and customer service. Twitter is great for real-time event feedback,” Stratten said.
10. Don’t lock down your content. Record speakers and sessions and then repurpose those videos to create shareable content on social media.