Event Participation is an important marketing activity for any organization. The key benefits of participating in any event include:
- Ensuring your organization’s presence in multiple external / relevant forums – This is vital for the company’s brand image
- Business Networking – An opportunity to build new relationships and strengthen existing one’s
- Lead Generation – Identification of prospects to position your service offerings
- An appreciation of industry trends and perspectives from multiple views
- Insights into where your competitors and partners are headed
Many organizations invest significantly in participating in events. However, do they get the real return on their investments? After all, event participation comes at a price – both in terms of the event participation fee and absence from work for the identified attendees. If you / your organization are participating in an event, do keep in mind the following:
1) Objective of Event Participation – It is important to have clearly defined objectives of why you / your organization are participating in an event. Whatever be the objective, it is vital that this is explicitly communicated to the team attending the event and to the management who is approving the budgets for event participation. For e.g.: If you are participating in a Marketing Conference, then the primary objective for an organization could be to understand how to effectively utilize modern marketing platforms and social media as a part of your organization’s marketing strategy. On the other hand if you are a participant at Technology Product Event, your objective could be to understand the new offerings from the product vendor, build / enhance networks with peers / partners / customers & analysts and lead generation. While some of these objectives cannot be really quantified and measured, for other’s it is worthwhile to set an explicit target. For e.g.: Speak to at least 3 direct competitor’s to gain insights into their offerings OR to identify at least 10 qualified potential prospects who would be interested in your service offerings.
2) Selection of the Right Event Attendees – Any organization can get maximum benefit of its event participation if they identify and invest in sending the right individuals / teams to attend an event. For e.g.: If an individual who is playing a Marketing / Techno-Marketing role within an IT organization attends A Marketing event, then he / she will be able to appreciate, contribute and also possibly apply the learning’s from the event.
Also, Soft skills are an extremely important pre-requisite for the choice of an attendee – The key one’s being an ability to effectively communicate (and this really means an ability to be clear and brief in expression. And the pre-requisite for this is clarity in thought), an ability to build new networks with peers & strengthen existing relationships and most importantly, an openness to listen, learn, express and discuss your view-points in a larger forum. Of course, knowledge in the specified area needs no specific mention.
3) Action Plan for the Event – Many events tend to have a combination of speaker sessions, discussions, a networking lunch / dinner, etc. Based on the objective of your participation in an event, it is imperative to distribute the activities among the attendees. An internal discussion before the event is worthwhile as this enables in building a rapport among the attendees, and helps in articulating expectations within the team. A well-thought action plan provides a guideline to attendees on how they should structure their time during the event
4) Post-Event Activities – While there is great enthusiasm and fervor before and during an event, this usually dies down after an event. It is however valuable to invest some time in the following:
- Post-Event Review with the attendees and management to assess the success with respect to the stated objectives
- Consolidation of Event related materials in a common space which is a good reference for the future
- Knowledge sharing among colleagues / peers / teams on learning’s, insights, trends, interesting observations, data points, etc. One good best practice is to send out an event update communication (could be a simple mail) providing event highlights and key take-away’s
- Continue to maintain relationships with the event organizers, peers, analysts, customers, etc. This is vital for both professional and personal growth
5) Lead Conversion for the identified prospects - Very focused efforts are required to qualify the list of potential prospects. A set of 5 – 10 criteria can be used for qualification. For e.g.: Level of interest in your services, budget availability, historical spend-trend patterns, alignment of your offerings with customer’s requirements, etc. Once the qualification is complete, a discussion with the potential prospect is the next logical step to plan the way forward based on the customer’s need, priorities and interest.
What do you keep in mind before your participate in an event? Leave a comment to let me know
I had the opportunity to visit the Surajkund Crafts Mela. If you are wondering what this is, a quick introduction below.
The Surajkund Crafts Mela
In the backdrop of the lake, during the spring season, every year from February 1–15, a colorful traditional craft festival of India is held in the precincts of Surajkund. This fair was first started in 1987. Traditional craftsman (artists, painters, weavers and sculptors) from all parts of the country participate in this annual celebration named as the “Surajkund Crafts Mela” or “Surajkund Designer’s Village”. Designer items created by 50 best designers and craftsmen in wood, metal, bamboo, iron, glass, textiles and stone can be seen here. This Mela (fair) is visited by lovers of arts and crafts from all over the world. The fair is held with a different theme every year on Indian culture and crafts [ Src: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surajkund#Surjakund_mela ]
The Marketing Saga
One thing which stood out was the marketing strategies adopted. And here’s why?
• The basic and most important facts:
o There is a finite time period [Feb 1 to Feb 15, 2011] which is available for sales; and hence marketing is vital to attract the customer
o There is so much variety, diversity and competition; and hence marketing is the key to make a sale
o Every customer is valuable – Because he / she have the potential to directly contribute to the top line. And once a customer is lost, he / she will never really come back. Simply because from the customer point of view, it’s really easy to find something else of personal choice, an alternate venue and avenue to lighten the purse string…
o There are limited resources for marketing – Essentially Budgets, Real estate space and Human resources. So one needs to be creative to adopt the right marketing strategy with these frugal resources
• The skills exhibited by most of these individuals responsible for their business were impressive – And these are neither trained nor professional marketing nor sales individuals, but normal individuals who acquired these skills by necessity and by experience. And what did they do?
o Effective utilization of real estate space to showcase their best products to catch the customer’s attention – usually at the entry
o Customer Segmentation – A quick look at the customer and the key information is processed – “Essentially how much can he / she potentially spend?”. And how they were right in their assessment almost all the time is really impressive. Guess there is something about experience in understanding human nature and behaviors – which is so important and exclusive to the marketing and sales functions!!!
o Differential Marketing Strategies based on the Customer Segmentation – And the range of creativity that was at display was awesome. These differences were visible in
+ The tone
+ The pitch
+ The style
+ The words
+ The language
+ The assurances
+ The features highlighted
+ The time and efforts invested
+ The additional products that followed
+ And then of course, the price quoted!!!
o During a marketing pitch, the following stood out
+ Polite Conversations (Always!!!)
+ Clear Objective on what needs to be achieved
+ Well thought out dialogue
+ Rehearsed communications
+ Precise articulation (And in very few instances, random twaddle) – Both obviously aligned to cater to the customer sensibilities
+ A sense of importance to the customer – Almost as if to convey “You are important to us. We value your time. But we value your money even more”
• And so the key take-a-ways:
o Marketing is a skill. One which some are born with (almost as if it’s a part of their genetic constitution), one which some learn by circumstance, choice or lack of choice. And it is honed by repeated practice, successes, failures and experience
o Comprehension of the pulse of the customer is a very important pre-requisite in defining the right marketing strategy
o A customer-centric marketing strategy is usually always effective ; One which will produce the desired results and help achieve the stated objectives
And all this made me realize how important and integral marketing is in our lives – Not just for individuals associated with formal marketing roles, but for everyone of us…
Do we all not need to market ourselves (irrespective of the roles that we play) as a part of our professional lives?
Do we all not need to market ourselves (& possibly our spouses, siblings, children & …..) as a part of our personal lives?
And, the answer to both is “Yes”….
Probably we don’t plan,
Probably we are not aware,
Probably we are not conscious,
Probably we don’t really intend to,
But the reality is, “We Do!!!“
So in conclusion, just like there will always be a child in all of us, there will always be a marketer in all of us…
Originally published here
“What do marketers REALLY LOVE?”
On Valentine’s day, I wondered what do Marketers really LOVE.. As I observed several marketers and mulled over this subject, I figured that broadly there are a 5 Categories of Marketers based on what they LOVE
(1) The “Product / Service Centric” Marketer
This kind of marketer truly loves the product / service he / she is associated with. They believe in it, are passionate about it, and live breathe and dream the product / service.
The only issue is that they probably focus way too much on the product / service, and many times ignore the end-customer or the most effective way to market it, which generally has an adverse impact their marketing strategy.
(2) The “Marketing-Centric” Marketer
This kind of marketer truly loves “marketing”. The product / service is immaterial. The industry is immaterial. The channels are immaterial.
What matters to them is Marketing. And they can market anything anywhere anytime and to anyone; and end up doing a fantastic job most of time.
These are individuals who have “marketing in their DNA” and usually are an asset to any Marketing Team
(3) The “Customer-Centric” Marketer
This kind of marketer truly loves the “end-customer” and usually focus their marketing efforts around the “end customer”. They usually design and develop “customer centric” marketing strategies; and usually are pretty successful in what they do.
There are probably the best breed of marketers simply because at the end of the day the most important aspect of marketing is to connect, engage and create awareness of your product / service among your existing / potential customers
(4) The “Combo” Marketer
Most marketers are usually a combination of a “Product / Service” Centric Marketer + “Marketing-Centric” Marketer + “Customer-Centric” Marketer with varying degrees of focus on each; and varying degrees of success. Over time and experience, they hone their “marketing” skills; but most likely end up as “Combo Marketers” even decades later
(5) The “I Don’t really Love Anything” Marketer
This is the kind of marketer who does marketing as his job. They don’t really love anything – neither the product / service, nor marketing, nor the customers. They do an average job most of the time, and sometimes good and sometimes bad (Simply by the law of averages)! This is the kind of marketer you probably don’t want in your team (especially since most marketing teams are very small)
Those are the 5 categories I’ve come across. Have you come across any more? Leave a comment to let me know
Its the start of a new year.. The time when most organizations embark on the grand “budgeting” exercise.. And most senior leaders are scrambling to come up with those magic numbers – Revenues, Profitability, Operating Margins, Investments, Big BETS…
Whether it is a service or a product company, big or small…
This annual exercise is fairly common across the board…
And along with it comes the decision around the MARKETING BUDGET…
Having been a part of this budgeting exercise for several years now, and also having discussed this subject at length with fellow marketers, I can’t help but dedicate a post to this subject..
So fundamentally Who decides the MARKETING BUDGET in your company will determine
i) How much the budget is?
ii) What you can do with that budget?
iii) What you eventually do with that budget?
In my experience, there are only 2 ways the Marketing Budget is usually determined:
* The TOP-DOWN Approach
In this approach, the marketing budget is decided by those at the top – The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) or CFO (Chief Financial Officer) or CIO (Chief Information Officer) or COO (Chief Operating Officer) or all of them together, with some involvement with the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) / Marketing Head. Of course in some scenarios, the CMO / Marketing Head plays a major role..
Typically this number is arrived at by a rule-of-thumb, which is one of the following
(a) X% over and above last year’s marketing budget
(b) Y% of overall revenues (Y ranges from 0.001% to 10% is what I have seen)
(c) Z% less than last year’s marketing budget (since marketing costs can be reduced by leveraging Social channels???)
And this number is approved and shared with the CMO / Marketing Head as the annual budget for the year. In fact, several organizations strongly recommend marketing teams to leverage technology and social to reduce / further optimize on marketing costs.
In most scenarios, the Marketing Teams are dissatisfied with this budget. One because their views and opinions were simply not considered. And in most instances, they are left wondering what they can really achieve for the year ahead
* The BOTTOM-UP Approach
In this approach, the Marketing Budget is worked out by a team of Marketing professionals based on the Marketing Goals for a year in line with the Business Strategy. This is usually split up into quarter-wise milestones which include Events (Analyst, Partners, Industry, etc.), Global Branding campaigns, CXO Connects, Building Partnerships, Positioning, Strengthening Business Ecosystem, etc. Once discussed and approved by management, the Marketing team starts work immediately since they have already thought through the details of what they can achieve
In most scenarios, the Marketing teams end up more satisfied since their views, opinions and plans were heard by management. This makes them more excited and committed to start work as soon as they receive the formal approvals
In my opinion, the BOTTOM UP Approach is recommended than the TOP DOWN Approach
However, the fact is that most organizations continue to adopt the TOP DOWN Approach
What’s your view? Leave a comment to let me know
The first featured STAR in my Blog-o-Rendezvous series is JESSIE PAUL… Guess most of you know or have heard of JESSIE, but if you’ve not here’s a short Bio..
CEO – Paul Writer, Author – No Money Marketing, former CMO – Wipro, former Global Brand Manager – Infosys
Today (27 Jan 2012), Paul Writer turns 2! Stop by at her web-site @ http://paulwriter.com/ or tweet her @Jessie_paul to drop in your Congratulations…
I had an opportunity to discuss with Jessie Paul about her cross-over from the corporate world to entrepreneurship. In this post I will share with you the key highlights of our discussion…
Nischala: Hey Jessie… Good Morning… Happy New Year! And Congratulation’s on the completion of 2 years at Paul Writer . My first question is how has this shift been – from the corporate world to your own venture?
Jessie: It’s so much more fun. A lot of people scared me about the risks of being an entrepreneur. While definitely I’ve had my share of ups and downs – collections, cash-flow etc. – the upside is significant.
Nischala: Great to hear that… So after 15 years in the Indian IT industry, and 2 years as an entrepreneur what would you say are the key benefits of being on your own?
Jessie: It’s great to be on your own. It gives me a lot more opportunity and flexibility to define the kind of work to do and the kind of clients that we service. Most importantly, it gives me complete control on my work, plan and priorities. I’ve also been able to meet and interact with a wide, diverse range of people, both face to face and through social media – I feel that I’m constantly learning in this role.
Nischala: Did you plan the transition? How long did it take you?
Jessie: I was mulling it over for around 3 years before taking the plunge. The key criteria were that it had to match the 3Ps – Passion, Perfection and Profitability. I had to be clear about what services I can offer, the business model, my future plans and the financial viability. So there are many aspects. I wrote a book, No Money Marketing, which I felt would help create a thought leadership identity. Over time I want people to view me as Jessie Paul, marketer, not ex-CMO Wipro or ex-Infosys Brand Manager
Nischala: Any specific highlights on the personal level?
Jessie: It gives me the flexibility to balance work and life out of work. And also possibly invest my time in things that are important to me. If you look at the average split of time for an employee in an IT organization, it would look something like 25 – 30% of your work time goes over non-essential e-mails, committee meetings, form filling and administrative work like leave approvals. And commute can take anywhere between 2- 3 hours in a day… So in effect, you really work for 6 – 8 hours, though you are out of your home for 12 hours…. If you reduce the commute time, that’s a big bonus – So living close to your work place is a definite plus. And if you can find a way to reduce your non-essential overheads, that’s another big PLUS!
Nischala: Are you spotting any trends on women taking the plunge into entrepreneurship – specifically in terms of changes at / after a particular phase of life like say having kids, etc.
Jessie: See there 2 dimensions – One is women in the corporate world and one is women in the work force. What I am seeing is that women continue to be part of the work force, but not part of the corporate world by opting to be on their own – either through free-lancing or consulting or entrepreneurship. For e.g.: We’re seeing a lot of trend of women free-lancing in areas like Marketing, Communication, etc. Also, with the emergence of digital communications, this is a viable model.
The point is many women assume the primary responsibility of raising a child and managing domestic responsibilities. I don’t agree that this should be the default, but it is the case for many women, either by inclination or societal pressure. So flexibility becomes important to enable them to juggle their professional and personal lives. Not sure if you’ve heard, but there’s also a site called www.fleximoms.com which was conceptualized to enable women find jobs which are more suited to their personal context and also enable women to re-enter the workforce if they were on a hiatus from work.
Nischala: That’s interesting. Any other drivers that women are looking at?
Jessie: There is research to show that working women are not just looking for money from their work and but seek to view their work as contribution to a bigger picture either for the organization or the world at large. They have other criteria for the choice and selection of the kind of work they would like to do and also the kind of employers they will work for.
This is why a lot of women find immense satisfaction in working for the social sector. Another important dimension is that women like to see a direct and positive impact of their work and contributions – and in large organizations, it’s sometimes hard to see and gauge this impact, hence entrepreneurship becomes an attractive option.
Nischala: Any advice that you’d like to share with anyone who wants to start off on their own?
Jessie: If you are starting off on your own, you need to first be mentally prepared for the changes at many levels.
Small things like where and how you will work from. Like in my case, my last day in Wipro was 8 Jan 2010 and I walked into my new office on 11 Jan 2010. So I still had an office space, just that the location was different. The continuity was important for me – I was afraid that if I started hanging around the house sheer inertia would keep me there. I do not have the ability to compartmentalize which is a must to work from home. Also I felt clients view “working from home” as not being a serious option.
The reality is that there are benefits in being associated with large organizations. Things like a bank loan, health insurance are much simpler and easier to get if you are part of a large organization. If you are with a start-up, these things are a lot more difficult.
Also, you need to have a realistic assessment of whether you can stand on your own feet, what your key skills are, what services you can offer and how scalable is your model. Like in my case the services are based primarily on expertise in the industry which is based on my experience and personal brand – So the risk is significantly lower. Also, the fact that I do have a good professional network further strengthens my chances of success.
Nischala: Thanks Jessie for sharing insights from your personal journey. I am sure a lot of people will benefit from this.
Jessie: Cheers! Have a Good Day!
How did you like this rendezvous?
Leave a comment to let us know