Four Tips for Shaking Up Your User Conference Engagement Strategy

Give yourself permission to explore the edges of what’s expected and possible to shake it up for your attendees.
<p>Today’s typical user conferences are hardly typical at all. With top notch entertainment, vibrant creative scenes and surprise and delight experiences around every corner, what was once a simple sit-down business event has become something that looks more like a buzzing arts festival. Here are four tips for shaking up your user conference strategy to give it a more competitive edge.
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<h3>1. Create ‘Micro Experiences’</h3>
<p>Successful user events are doing away with the “general session plus exhibit floor” model and are creating more unstructured physical spaces filled with immersive, tangible and tactile engagements—“experiences within an experience,” says Brent Turner, SVP, Solutions at Cramer. “People are taking inspiration from and being influenced by the more general trend around consumer activations.”
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<p>TED 2016, for example, offered rock climbing walls and ball pits for its attendees. The C2 (Creativity and Commerce) conference in Montreal erected a full-scale Ferris wheel inside its event space. Bottom line: the same people who are coming to your show are comparing you to what they experienced at South by Southwest, Coachella and other festival-style events.
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<h3>2. Become One with the Destination</h3>
<p>Why host an event in a killer host city when you’re just going to lock your attendees away in a nondescript ballroom? “The biggest and best conferences become microcosms entwined in their location,” says Turner. “They’re authentic and true to where they are.”
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<p>For example, think about how Austin, Texas, and South by Southwest have become synonymous with one another, and how you can bring that same sense of place and destination to your event. Some ideas: treat attendees to local musicians, artist engagements, and tasty fare by local chefs (even food trucks!) that infuse your user event with the local flavor—and a whole lot of energy.
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<h3>3. Create a Next-Gen Environment</h3>
<p>Smart environmental design is just step-one in the modern user conference experience. To truly differentiate your event, you have to give it a sense of special energy that goes beyond the static identity work. “You’re not just branding a space, you’re figuring out how to take your business’s purpose and keep that tied into all the spaces,” says Turner.
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<p>Can attendees collaborate on a digital graffiti wall that embodies your company’s spirit of collaboration? Can a local artist create customized takeaways that align with your product’s personalized features? “It’s about how you keep what’s special about your company’s message going on outside the general session, so when you walk out there’s something big and meaningful—a space of activation and activity versus passive signage illustrating just your brand identity,” Turner says.
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<h3>4. Be Courageous</h3>
<p>“Give yourself permission to explore the edges of what’s expected and possible—of stepping into the irreverent to find something that may not make a lot of sense on paper,” says Turner.
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<p>Like the <a href=”https://www.c2montreal.com/” target=”_blank”>C2 conference</a>, which offered attendees the chance to climb above the show floor, circus style, and have meetings suspended in chairs. “You may amaze and engage your audience in a way they didn’t see coming. That alchemy of physical reaction becomes so much bigger when you are tapping into those emotions in a way that’s not expected or planned for.”
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<p>As an added bonus, quirky and unexpected moments are also highly shareable ones, and that viral effect is an imperative piece of any healthy user conference.
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Advertising should be about everyday magic

Ryan Newey - Everyday magic

What better job is there than creating little moments of wonder that stop people in their tracks, even if it’s just for a brief moment? Fold7 Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Ryan Newey, discusses the need for everyday magic.

When I was a boy, I recall telling my neighbours that I was getting a pet bull. Not your average bull either but an imperious Spanish fighting bull. I thought bulls were cool. Lamborghini had one on its logo and I had a poster of that on my wall (a red Countach – what was I thinking?). Four feet tall at best, I pitched to my neighbours that the bull was coming and would be living in the back garden of a small bungalow in the Midlands. The neighbours smiled and I thought no more of it. Until, that is, two days later, when a few of them showed up at the door.

My folks answered with an air of innocence as I offered a smile of apprehension. Just to clarify, my street wasn’t a zoo. Animals didn’t roam the gardens. The idea was ridiculous. But, nonetheless, the neighbours were here and they were alarmed. And so they explained their concerns. Had we thought it through? Is it not dangerous? While hiding behind the curtain, I thought: “You’re kidding me, you can’t have believed a word I said – I’m just a kid!” Stood on the doorstep, the neighbours waited for my dad’s thoughts on the matter.

Cue a long, dramatic pause. Then: “He’s getting two bulls.” Boom! Dad was in on the lie – he had my back and I started to think this bull thing could become a reality. Holy shit, what was happening? My mind was dancing. After scraping the neighbours off the floor, my dad conceded: “He’s pulling your leg – he’s got an overactive imagination.” That spoilsport. And there it was. What an amazing campaign I had cooked up, rallying neighbours around a common goal, filling their lives with dread, fear, delight and imagination. What fun. Surely life should be full of such augmentation of the everyday? In that moment, I understood a little more about the power of communications and how they should be considered, aimed and fired.

Cut to today. Open on an alarm clock beeping from an iPad, cut to shower, close up on face (not for long: need to fix that in the grade), journey, meeting, work review (highlight), cut to wide of client meeting, travel, tracking shot through street and – boom – there’s a dog with dreadlocks! There it is: the moment of the unexpected, the moment of everyday magic that I crave. This is what I get up for: to experience and inject a drop of magic into the everyday. When all is said and done, what more should we expect of the idea babies we send into the world than little parcels of magic that just temporarily make people miss a beat? In that beat lives a creative director who is in all of us.

Everyone has a creative soul and, as creative professionals, we are tasked with helping others see it – even if it’s just momentarily. Everyday magic can’t be bottled – it’s the very thing clients can’t manufacture and it’s the only thing people really feel. No-one likes “advertising”. But everyone likes to pause their day for a moment for a creative blip that takes them to another place. What a gift that we have companies and brilliant minds dedicated to crafting spells to augment the everyday. Happily, the days of advertising as a tax on entertainment are long gone. Now, it’s all about owning the magic in consumers’ everyday. And, as creative businesses, filling our stables with such magicians. No bull necessary.

The article was first published in Campaign magazine.

JOB LISTING: Product Marketing Manager

JOB DESCRIPTION:

Liquidus and Cofactor have recently joined forces to become a truly unique provider of media and ad tech services to the nation’s largest advertisers and their agencies. We are currently seeking a Product Marketing Manager to help build a new go-to-market approach and execute strategic marketing plans and tactics for our combined product portfolio. This individual will report directly to the Senior Director, Marketing.

The Product Marketing Manager will be an expert on our customer value proposition, how it informs our internal stakeholders, and ultimately how it solves customer problems. The role is truly cross-functional in nature, and must be able to interface effectively and establish quick credibility with the following:

• Product Managers; to help inform the development of products & solutions that address the needs of our customers
• Sales & Marketing teams; to help position products for success in the market and articulate differentiated value propositions per segment
• All market-facing teams; to plan the market launch of new products, coordinating cross-functional efforts to ensure business and revenue objectives are met

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES:

Market + Customer Intelligence

• Maintain a thorough understanding of the market, including industry trends, market dynamics, key influencers, and a deep understanding of the competitive landscape
• Develop expertise of our customers, including market segments, customer perception, value drivers, business process & needs, and use of our products/competitive products
• Maintain close relationship with Sales team to gather feedback from sellers and customers regarding needs, pain points, objections, product issues & opportunities for future product development
• Articulate and communicate market & customer insights cross-functionally to help inform Product, Marketing and Sales team efforts

Go-to-Market Activities

• Collaborate with Product Managers to help inform key components of product plans
• Lead Go-To-Market efforts for timely launch of new products including development of product value prop, positioning, packaging, pricing, messaging and value delivery
• Enable the sales team to prospect, pitch and close business by creating and conducting product training, developing marketing materials, pricing rate cards, and internal sales tools & communication
• Act as product SME to other Marketing team members as they develop integrated plans and tactics for all owned, earned and paid campaigns

Post-Launch Success

• Assess relevancy of product positioning, packaging and/or messaging
• Conduct win/loss analysis; remedy post-launch issues & recognize opportunities
• Analyze & communicate post-launch sell-through data to relevant stakeholders
• Collaborate with the Sales team to provide qualitative feedback to Product team
• Use product performance data to tell compelling value stories
• Recommend sales & customer communications, programs & tactics as needed to retain accounts and grow new business

Leadership

• Act as a leader and facilitator across the organization to gain support for plans and programs, keeping all stakeholders informed and engaged
• Proactively contribute critical thinking and analysis to overall strategic business plans

REQUIRED SKILLS:

• Demonstrated proficiency in B2B product marketing a must
• Thorough understanding of the digital advertising landscape
• Strong interpersonal communication and project management skills to work effectively across a matrixed organization
• Innate ability to lead and motivate
• Excellent critical thinking and analytical skills
• Ability to identify and articulate business issues/opportunities
• Excellent presentation skills
• Demonstrated ability to execute and deliver on priorities
• Attention to detail is critical, along with the ability to grasp and translate technical functions into customer benefits
• Proficiency in Microsoft Office including expert knowledge of PowerPoint & Excel

EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS:

• A bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications or other business concentration from a four-year college is required; MBA a plus

EXPERIENCE:

• 3-5 years of relevant experience, preferably for a digital business with a B2B focus
• Knowledge of current digital media and marketing practices
• Experience supporting sales teams
• Experience working with CPG, Retail & Auto verticals helpful but not required

APPLY NOW

5 Extremely Useful Digital Marketing Stats: January 2017

We’re back with five more extremely useful digital marketing stats that will help any brand kick off 2017 on the right foot.

To provide context and actionable takeaways, we’ve pulled three in-market examples and asked for the expert insights of Jeannie Walters, CEO and Chief Customer Experience Investigator of 360Connext, and Brett Herter, Director of Product Development and UX/UI at Liquidus.

Jeannie Walters + Brett Herter

EXTREMELY USEFUL DIGITAL MARKETING STAT NO.1:

Most marketers are uncertain if their digital strategies engage customers in ways that reach their intended goals. (3 percent say they are falling below expectations, 38 percent say they’re showing mixed results, 34 percent are still testing and learning, and 6 percent say they are unsure.) (CMO Council)

What does this mean?

Brands should stop deploying digital ads that do not record their impact accurately and they must stop partnering with agencies or ad tech who make the same mistake.

Facebook recently released a case study for Southeast Toyota Distributors. Together with the ad agency 22Squared and Oracle Data Cloud, they tracked and mapped Facebook impressions to the brand’s “Find a Dealer” feature and then connected it to offline purchasing behavior. They found 46 percent of Toyota buyers in the region were exposed to Facebook ads and that viewers of the ads were 2.5 times more likely to purchase after seeing a Facebook unit, compared to the national baseline.

This is a great example of a brand working with the right partners. The “heavy lifting” was left to the experts and for the brand it resulted in a traceable path from online impressions to offline purchases.

EXTREMELY USEFUL DIGITAL MARKETING STAT NO.2:

Grocery consumers rate high-quality produce (57 percent), convenient location (56 percent) and product availability (54 percent) as more influential in store-selection decisions than the lowest price. (Nielsen)

What does this mean?

JEANNIE WALTERS: “Meaningful experiences are those that help customers make proactive, informed choices in the ways they want to make them. Allowing shoppers to scan items from their own pantry, purchase items via an app, select a delivery or pick-up option – those experiences are all ways brands can drive a deeper level of loyalty with consumers because they speak to real value.

Today, convenience really matters. There is an entire generation that has grown up with an “on-demand” mindset. If they make the effort to go to the store, what they were told will be there must be there. And we’re seeing shoppers pay more without even comparison shopping for convenience with services like pantry re-stocking subscriptions.

Forward-thinking organizations eliminate all the ways they currently inconvenience their customers, even if it’s just a clunky ad experience.”

EXTREMELY USEFUL DIGITAL MARKETING STAT NO.3:

62 percent of U.S. adults own at least one connected device and 65 percent of them are open to receiving advertising on that device. (The IAB)

What does this mean?

Brands need to start tapping into the profit potential of connected devices.

Last month, Samsung rolled out an update to its smart TV’s app menu. They now feature small display ads viewers cannot opt out of. They can, however, opt into targeting based on personal interest. The units were designed to be inconspicuous, offer a layer of personalization, and not interfere with entertainment viewing by only appearing on a menu functionality.

Placements like this work because they are delivered to the consumer in an intimate way, but don’t interrupt their favorite TV show.

EXTREMELY USEFUL DIGITAL MARKETING STAT NO.4:

55 percent of consumers say Amazon provides the best personalized experience – coming in 16 percent higher than Google, 17 percent higher than Facebook, and 22 percent higher than Netflix (emarketer/OneSpot)

What does this mean?

BRETT HERTER: “Purchase data is wholly different from engagement data because it is the best indicator of where someone will spend next. Because Amazon has direct access to years (in some cases decades) of consumer purchase history that they don’t share with others, it has a major leg up designing a better site experience for consumers. That is why Facebook wants ecommerce to occur on their site and why Google has pushed very hard to get some sort of Google “Wallet” to take off. They want purchase history data because it is so useful to driving better sales.

Amazon also isn’t beholden to advertisers. When you surf its site, there are very few ads, and usually they are for Amazon services or are native ad experiences. It doesn’t have to stuff ad units into the design to make money, so they focus instead on user-experience.

It makes sense that publishers with fewer ads can deliver a better user experience. I say “can deliver” because not every publisher could pull it off and stay in business. However, using meaningful consumer data to inform design and focusing on intuitive experiences that put the consumer first are universally applicable lessons to take away from Amazon’s success.”

EXTREMELY USEFUL DIGITAL MARKETING STAT NO.5:

33.3 percent of CPG marketing executives say retailer websites are the most important touchpoint for a digital marketing strategy with 18.7 percent reporting that brand/retailer loyalty programing is the most important. (P2P’s Shopper Marketing Mag)

What does this mean?

To maintain an edge and drive more sales for their brands, retailers need to focus on creating more engaging site experiences and content.

Retailer Barneys New York’s website looks very similar to Vogue magazine’s. It provides robust product information, recommendations, and an extensive editorial section that houses lookbooks, trend pieces, videos, and more. This content-first approach reassures customers the high-end purchases they make are “worth it” because Barneys is a luxury fashion authority.

screen grabs of Vogue.com (left) + content-rich Barneys.com (right)

Luxury retailers are frequently more cutting edge online because they must move more expensive products and their customers’ demand the best products and shopping experiences. Building content-rich site experiences are just one way retailers who sell CPG brands can connect more meaningfully with their target audiences.

Did we miss anything in our round-up that you feel should have been included? Share it with us in the comments or on social. Also, be sure to check out last month’s stats here.

How To Do Keyword Research FAST with SEMrush Pro in 2017

Keyword research is one of the most important aspects of SEO. But do you know what makes it so significant? Or how to do it in 2017? Or which tools to use? This post is a guide for beginners.

Read the full article here How To Do Keyword Research FAST with SEMrush Pro in 2017


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