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Big Event Marketing – Taking it to the Next Level

May 1, 2009
at 12:00 pm PST

imageWe are almost at the 3 year mark for TechWIseTV and Jimmy Ray and I could not be more surprised. There is always the very real fear that when you embark upon a program like we did that you risk getting into something that may not last. Good ideas come and go and marketing teams can often be guilty of chasing the shiny ‘next thing.’ To the credit of the people that created our team and the perserverance of a great group of people behind the scenes who have helped to track and continually improve our ROI…we not only remain an active team but we are still growing and pushing. International expansion is the biggest new focus we scramble to provide demand marketing services to our top 13 foreign markets in a way that not only scales our expertise but does so in a complimentary and familiar way so we are not simply forcing them to listen to these two Southerners talk tech. More on this in later posts.The point of this entry today -- what can or should be done next? The international expansion is largely a challenge of distribution, localization and buy-in. The team behind us is doing a good job with this. Jimmy Ray and I are forever concerned with not getting stale. We have a good rhythm right now producing almost 50 shows…but I don’t want that gentle rhythm to get too comfortable. One thing both of us miss…and it was highlighted with the success of our appearance at RSA last week is the energy of a live audience. Working with cameras has and continues to be a great development skill. But we miss being in front of and being able to interact with people. It took me 3 years to slowly convince our security marketing team to let us ‘run the stage’ on the expo floor -- last week we finally got to do it. Although the experience taught me a few things that I want to do differently…I think it was very successful. RSA was a blast -- JR and I LOVE security… but the big show for us (especially based on our audience focus) is CiscoLive! (formerly Networkers).Why do we love CiscoLive? -- CiscoLive! is THE big event for people (engineering types) focused on Cisco -- easily the largest gathering of Cisco customers fully focused on education, awareness and how to grow their own value in relation to Cisco as a top vendor. Its a love fest really and a fantastic time every year. It is chock full of our (TechWiseTV) audience. Every year Jimmy Ray and I attend the US conference and are struck by how many people reach out and say ‘Hi! Love the Show!’ (they really love Jimmy Ray of course…). This is such a natural relationship. -- CiscoLive! continues to grow the ‘virtual version’ -- the ‘virtual’ CiscoLive! will be run concurrently this year (as opposed to right after) based on the success it has had in the past. -- CiscoLive! is International -- which is a huge focus for our team as we are now fully focused on what is referred to as our ‘Top 13′What is the challenge with big events (like this and a thousand others)? -- Hassle Factor -- people have to travel to get to these things and although many do, it is coming under increasing pressure as budgets have either shrunk or disappeared. -- Scale -- how many people do you really touch with your message? Many stop by a booth simply for the entertainment or the giveaways and dutifully give up their contact info and are thus now ‘opted in’ to be marketed to. There is still value to this -- yes….but what is the balance on the ‘cost per name’ these days? -- Physical Touch -- I do think this is still needed. The ability to meet with an engineer, play with a solution, ask question…things are invaluable. They are not touching that many these days so this equation also needs to be balanced.CiscoLive is doing a nice job of integrating the physical and the virtual to address many of these things -- this is the right thing to do. I do wonder however if the value could be ratcheted up linking them better. As I understand it, these may run at the same time this year and stream many of the educational sessions but the dynamics of the expo floor would be missing from this. I think TechWiseTV could be a bridge, a conduit if you will, between these two versions of the show and make it so real for the virtual side that they could almost taste the buffet food and feel the aching of their feet. The people who are there at the show can grow their relationship with TechWiseTV in such a way that the relationship continues after CiscoLive is done. So. I think this could be a blast for all involved. Allow me to dream…I ask you to visualize a bit….Big Video Wall. Stage. A central location on the show floor featuring refreshments and comfortable chairs..maybe bean bag chairs. TechWiseTV Hostess Valerie St. John on stage and on camera moderating a flow of events throughout each day of the expo:TechWiseTV style demos -- TME’s and Product Managers bring their solutions to our on-stage lab with Jimmy Ray as we debate and demonstrate the merits of the technology both for our live audience as well as our remote audience. Telepresence Integration -- the ability to integrate engineers and guests via telepresence on our big stage will be huge! Anyone from around the world can continue to add value and interact with both our live and virtual audiences. Twitter Streams -- twitter and potentially other interactive elements allow our remote audience to chat with us -- a moderated flow of their comments scrolls across the bottom of our big screen on stage. Roving Reports -- we take our wireless camera out on the show floor and interact live with the big stage/big screen as we bring the booth action into the mix for both our live as well as our remote audience. Master Video Crew -- videos can also be edited on site, on the fly and offered to product teams to provide media rich blog updates each day. Packaged DVD’s featuring rich technical content, demonstrations and more can be offered as ‘gifts’ to departing attendees. We must continue to push the envelope on things like this. Conferences must show value and I think we could build a very repeatable model here. What do you think? Did I miss anything? Did I overstate anything? Will you be at CiscoLive this year?

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