Virtual Conference – Digital Marketing World – MarketingProfs

Today I had a luxury of attending most of a virtual conference first time. MarketingProfs’   Virtual Conference – Digital Marketing World.  Last year I would log in for a few minutes, or just review something in recording… “walk” through an empty lounge… or download a white paper or two from an unattended booth… (the booth’s owner follow up would still find me…)

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Virtual conference is more useful and engaging while it is live. Particularly interesting:

  • Communicating with the other attendees before the conference, while everybody is trying to find their local or specialty counterparts.
  • Twitter name exchange… interesting – people are eager to post their twitter name everywhere (it is not as guarded as an e-mail address)… but I think I gained a follower too 🙂
  • Ability to follow not only chats on the conference web site, but also reviews of the conference on Twitter.  Though sometimes overwhelming… it is quite exciting to see in real time what points of the presentation the rest of the audience found important…  And not as rude as during the live event.
  • Ability to see opinions of the attendees of the parallel track about the presentation that I missed…  Based on these comments, I quickly made the decision if I needed to review the recording
  • Oh!  I just realized!  I forgot my briefcase at the conference… Oops… I will need to go back and pick it up…  it is not too far – just a couple of clicks 🙂

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I think we, the attendees, were quite confused about some of the virtual trade show rules, that one entrepreneurial and helpful marketer quickly posted “user advice” for a virtual trade show attendees on her blog – thank you!!  Of course, I retwitted it during the event 🙂

Virtual conferences are just starting to become a part of the business environment… and I see a few advantages and a couple of changes that will probably come in the future…

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Advantages:

  • Everybody has a profile and no company would need to manually “enter” business cards left in the booth into the database.  Marketer’s dreams come true!
  • The “evaluations” of the conference sessions are not necessary – if may be impolite to leave the auditorium during a live presentation of a disappointing speaker, but clicking “lounge” button after a few boring minutes of online presentation is quite OK
  • All the materials are in the “briefcase,” that can be picked up any time… or forgotten at the event… 😉

Future changes: vc-booth

  • I think virtual conferences are at the period of the development where web sites were about 10 years ago (I still remember infamous “guest books” 🙂  ). At that period of time, true potential of interactive marketing was not discovered yet, and the sites resembled print brochures. But in a few years everything changed. Something similar will probably happen with virtual convergences. Right now too much effort (graphics, space, etc.) is expanded to “recreate” the atmosphere of the real live conference. It might be necessary for the “transition” period, but the use of the space will change. Soon.
    • The picture of the realistically looking booth with a city background would probably morph into the company’s logo, pictures of the company’s representatives, and… useful facts and materials for the “booth’s visitor.”  The intricate booth design (thought quite interesting for the first time) does not contribute to the satisfaction of the need of the conference attendee – it is not necessary.
    • Lounge will probably “learn” to devote more space to the images of currently talking people… Maybe – just maybe – Twitter-type threads?  Maybe some “official” method of finding attendees from the same locations or marketing verticals? Thread categories? At the current virtual conference, generic images of the lounge dominated the prime real estate, and the people (who I came to meet 🙂  ) were hidden on the bottom.  Ha!  The arrangement worked quite effectively anyway – seeing images of others I hurried up to place my picture into my profile 🙂  
    • Would it be interesting to see fellow attendees during the sessions?  Bottom of the screen would be quite nice…  Maybe…  it depends on privacy and other goals, but we will see…  Virtual conferences are here to stay, and it is absolutely wonderful!
  • I believe the categories of the virtual conferences will also change soon to a user-centric navigation…  It won’t be “auditorium, show floor, lounge” but something closer to “presentations, vendors (or prizes? 🙂  ), networking.” Right now they reflect the “building,” but they will soon reflect “the benefit” that this type of building used to provide for the conference attendee. 

Great event!  Yes, I had to “bring my own snack” but it was a wonderful opportunity to expand my knowledge in the field of interactive marketing that I love and connect with other enthusiasts.  All from my own home computer…. Free. Thank you, MarketingProfs,  and, just like everybody else who filled out the survey, I was happy to propose the new tagline for your organization 🙂

MIMA – 2008 Summit

As usually, MIMA Summit was fantastic!

The main point in my opinion was communicated by Matt Wilson, MIMA president, in the beginning of the event: interactive marketing is graduating from its “geeky” niche and becomes part of business strategy. The increasing number of older (and more likely higher ranking) conference attendees also seems to support this point.

A few ideas from the conference:
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Once upon a time, advertising was an exchange of content for the time spent and exposure to advertiser’s message. Now consumers can create content too and advertisers should join the conversation.

Don’t compete with the content, become the content.

Several businesses provide the content to consumer first to provide content that the consumer would want and second to promote the brand. The branding is not as obvious on the sites created by brands. The examples are the site for pet lovers by Purina, the site devoted to baby-related information by Johnson and Johnson, and baby-related video channel on YouTube, also provided by Johnson and Johnson.

Johnson and Johnson - YouTube Baby Channel

Johnson and Johnson - YouTube Baby Channel

Johnson and Johnson - Baby.com

Johnson and Johnson - Baby.com

Purina

Purina

Brands no longer use media to promote themselves; brands are creating their own media.
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Interesting note about optimization: pure approach to optimization without usability can lead to optimizing concepts that happen to be popular, but totally unrelated to the business (such as kittens for Amazon web site). Optimization must be approached holistically with usability and business objectives.

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Interesting approach: digital is not a medium, but a way of thinking. (Still, I think it is just a medium….  Otherwise, DM and other channels also can be considered a way of thinking… 🙂 ).

However, the questions posed by the presenters were so fundamental; and they were answered in the most inspiring (from my perspective) manner.
– What is the role of strategy?
– What is the creative product?
– How business and client relationships should be structures?

Strategy: brand behavior rather than brand messaging. What is the brand and how it can be defined or redefined rather than simply “announced” by the advertisement? The “great idea” disappears from promotion and becomes embedded into the fundamental business questions.

Example: Polaroid – provide service to encourage printing rather than advertising the product.

Digital thinking goes beyond online and can be used to enhance physical products.

Users change the way they consume media every 6 months.

Sometimes, just building the application and trying it is cheaper than researching if the application will be accepted by the consumer.
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Mobile:
– your competition is dong it already
– plan…  and specify a budget for the effort (still, I think it is a little early for some industries… but time to start trying… 🙂  )

Challenge: in the mobile space an experienced partner is necessary because of technology complexity (many different carriers and devices with different standards and applications).
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Caring Bridge

Caring Bridge

Caring Bridge

Interesting: started accidentally… grew over 11 years into a very well known site. Does not use corporate sponsorship – only user donations. Very “soft sell” for donation solicitation.

Very interesting (and very smart) – does not use “bleeding edge” technology; uses only what is absolutely necessary for the user need. Centered on the user need (what I am afraid many other marketers forget in the attempt to equip their marketing efforts with the latest “bells and whistles.”

Great business (even if non-profit). Great mission.
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I also must express total satisfaction with the food!  The best summit lunch ever was accompanied with wonderful snacks.  Healthy food was available during the entire day; unfortunately, I was so tempted by smooth and decadent chocolate cake that my apple had to ride home in my bag. Great food, wonderful choice, and spectacular dessert!

MDMA – Conference – It’s a Brave, New Marketing World

MDMA conferencewas enticing enough to attend, and the event did not disappoint my expectations.

I must admit that John Sweeney, the keynote speaker was spectacular. I don’t have much interest in theater as a art form, but this presentation was the most memorable, and I would say one of the most useful. It opened my eyes on value of idea generation… and power of no fear of rejection. If the ideas are criticized before they leave the mouth of their creator…  not much will be shared…  Hm…  Interesting…  I also experienced the “removal of constrains” myslef…  very interesting… 🙂

Other little notes from the conference:

  • Retail: web site can be similar to the layout of the store to help customers fining what they need
  • E-mail (or other channel) – paying attention on opt-outs. Why do they leave?
  • “multi-channel customers” might like to purchase through multiple channels
  • Telemarketing is the method of marketing the most disliked by US adults
  • Segmenting messaging can increase response rate three times
  • Initial customer segmentation may not be based on data…  but rather industry/company structure or tradition… Oh, yes… 🙂