Content, Access and Goal Branding Bringing These Groups New Revenue


Just to prove that there are some, ahem, creative marketing people out there, listen to this. The Oakland A’s baseball team is offering A’s Access fan members lifelike cutouts for $49 to be placed in the stands at the home games. Now if you want to have your cutout in the Foul Ball Zone, you’ll have to pay up to $149. But… if a foul ball hits the cutout with your face on it, the team sends you that foul ball. And two tickets to an exhibition game next year. How do you know that’s the actual ball?

Here are three more revenue-producing examples of using your head in these difficult times—even if it’s not a cardboard one.

1. Doubling down on content. Morning Brew has added a fourth newsletter, Marketing Brew, to go with Emerging Tech Brew and Retail Brew. At a time when others are cutting back, they plan on adding 15 new staffers this summer, many in editorial. Their “revenue comes from carefully crafted native advertising, in the form of a ‘Together with’ branding at the top of the newsletter and sponsored content,” according to an article on the site Flashes & Flames. “More than 40 clients (many in finance, computing and sportswear) are charged for every unique reader who actually opens the email, which averages some 45% of the current 2m (non-paying) subscribers.”

Once the pandemic hit, they “launched a guide telling readers how best to work from home. It quickly became a pop-up, three-days-a-week newsletter, The Essentials, with tips on how to be active, healthy and happy during quarantine.” More than 75,000 subscribers in the first three days later, and it’s now sponsored by a cold-brew coffee company.

“Another example of our mission and how we’re being a resource to readers, providing them with the content they need in every facet of their life, from professional to personal,” said Alex Lieberman, CEO and co-founder. “We are thinking differently about the media landscape. While our mission is still the same, we’re upping our content offerings—delivering more podcast episodes and dipping into opinion pieces from industry experts.”
2. Taking advantage of the access you might have to particular speakers. According to a Digiday article today, publisher Atlas Obscura has been leaning towards the experiential. Virtual attendees to an event can now pay $35 to learn mind control from mentalist and mind reader Vinny DePonto. They also put on a virtual premiere for the documentary “Spaceship Earth” for a movie studio. “The premiere included a conversation between the main characters of the documentary and moderator LeVar Burton. It was meant to replicate the post-viewing panel that takes place on stage at in-person premieres. That event brought in 32,000 views, an audience several times bigger than a typical movie theater would be able to accommodate.”
3. Putting a goal front and center… The Association of Proposal Management Professionals was headed toward a 10,000-member milestone when the pandemic hit. But Rick Harris, APMP’s CEO, decided to move forward faster. “When things are so disturbing and upsetting, there’s a comfort in normality,” Harris said. “We took the approach: We’re all in this together and we’re all moving forward as a team, an association and an industry.”
According to Associations Now, in the last four months, APMP has increased its standard one webinar a month to as many as four per month—they are free for members; some are sponsored—knowing that members needed more information to navigate the crisis. “APMP branded everything with the 10K initiative. Every new staff member was asked to commit to the drive to reach 10,000 members, and the goal was formalized in the strategic plan… Harris credits the book The Art of Membership by Sheri Jacobs as the guiding principle for reaching APMP’s membership goal. His main takeaway? “Keep membership front and center, and make it the center of your universe. Everything is ancillary after that.”

How to Best Help Sponsors and Attendees Succeed at Virtual Events

“The more interactivity you put into any of these [virtual events], the better and the more effective it’s going to be,” said Ben Hindman, CEO of events marketing platform Splash. The Atlantic Festival, their big event of the year, will try to accomplish this by including smaller breakout sessions and 20-person roundtables during the daytime portions of the festival to give attendees the chance to speak directly to the presenters and the editors, according to Digiday.
But that interactivity is crucial for exhibitors and vendors as well. A new report from Tradeshow Logic titled Redefining Value for Today’s Exhibitors & Sponsors (download free here) suggests that organizations need to help their exhibitors and vendors to succeed. “Even though virtual platforms are touted as ‘turnkey,’ they still require significant marketing and promotion investment from your exhibitors and sponsors [and you] in order to get a worthwhile return,” the report notes.
Over a 2-week period in May 2020, Tradeshow Logic surveyed 13,435 individuals at companies that exhibit at and sponsor events across diverse industries. Here are some findings and ways you can help your sponsors and attendees to succeed virtually:
Choose your platform with care. “Show organizers need to employ the same rigor for developing a virtual event’s commercial value propositions as they do for a live event. Develop goals, objectives and a strategic plan before selecting a digital platform. Like venues, not all platforms are created equal and it’s important to find one that meets the organization’s unique needs.”
Remember, this is a different game. “A virtual/digital event should not try to replicate a face-to-face event, but instead act as a new form of engagement that permanently augments the promotion of all future conferences/tradeshows.” Think about what digital is good at—looking up information quickly; taking quizzes and voting on polls; watching demos.
Have help ready. Make sure you, your virtual platform provider and/or an external resource are prepared to offer tutorials, detailed run-throughs and a virtual concierge to assist with the technical aspects of your event.
How’s your 3D? New product promotion and introduction is one of the three most important tools of engagement for exhibitors and sponsors. They still want to engage as much as possible in conversation. “They’re concerned about the loss of the physical interaction that allowed customers to see and touch products. Implementing a live demonstration or 3D video component in your virtual event experience is important and will be well received by your exhibitors and sponsors.”
Schedule time for attendees to meet with exhibitors. It’s important that your virtual event allow for as much networking and ‘face-to-face’ time as possible. Just like a live event, ensure that there are adequate opportunities for attendees to listen to industry education, view product demonstrations or meet in a group or individually with exhibitors and sponsors.
Maximize face-to-face time. Direct interaction with potential customers matters for exhibitors at virtual events, who want to offer education or product demos to attendees. Give them some choices to how they want to engage with attendees.
Make the value of participating clear. Exhibitors want to gain leads and make sales, and they’re not sure a virtual experience can deliver them. Articulating how those results are possible will help ensure exhibitor investment, the report says.
Engagement should take place before, during and after. If you’ve ever been to a live taping of a talk or game show, there’s usually a person on the stage to get the audience excited and ready to engage. You may need something or someone similar for your event—perhaps a webinar a week before or a 5-minute motivational talk to start each event day. And then after, when your content is on demand, don’t expect attendees to just flock there. Encourage it, advertise it, remind them. Have roundtables or articles that send them there.
Again download the report here.

How a SIPAward-Winning Video Attracted New Sales People for Behr’s

The scene: Four executives of a company sit at a long table. “Ms. Beisenhirtz, please send in the next candidate.” Enter a young woman, sneakers and a colorful dress, talking into her phone: “You know I got 25k on Insta, right? Do you know who’s following me? Celebrities, baby, celebrities.” She gets off the phone and tells the panel to wait a moment and if they could move in closer for her selfie. They acquiesce.

She tags them on social media and then says, “Sorry I don’t usually tag people under 15k.” She sits down and is now all business. “All cell phones off and everyone look over here. I brought a concept. Hand this out please but don’t look at it yet! First of all, only one thing matters to me: Sell. Sell. Sell. High-quality products for the benefit of the customer.” She tells them how many “A-list” followers she has and says, “Now let’s see what you have to offer.” Side note – “sell” sounds much better in German. Verkaufen. Verkaufen. Verkaufen.

This flashes on the screen: “Behr’s is hiring: Sales Manager for electronic products for B2B clients. Apply now.”
What’s so wonderful about this 2020 SIPAward winner for Best Use of Video in Marketing produced by Behr’s GmbH in Hamburg, Germany—besides the two key account sellers that they found within just a month!—is that the applicant is portrayed with respect. She’s full of life but gets to show her professional side. If anything it’s the “older” panel sitting there a bit stunned that looks out of touch.
“With this video we address self-confident young applicants who do not feel addressed by classical job advertisements,” said Behr’s CEO Arno Langbehn, who plays one of the panel. (You can watch the two-minute video here. Use “CC” for English subtitles.) In previous video ads, we’ve seen Langbehn playing the piano, the accordion—he had never played before and it sounded fine—and skydiving.)
“Every company looks for the best employees,” he explained in his SIPAward application. “In former times companies got many good applications and they chose the best candidate. Nowadays the game has changed. The best applicant can choose the best company him or herself.
“In this video for job applications, we turned around the relationship between the applicant and the company to stand out from other job advertisements in order to get more applications in particular from young professionals.”
It worked. The scope for this job advertisement video on Facebook reached 21 times more than a previous text ad they placed on Facebook. It also drew 40 times more impressions but only at 7% of the cost per result. They also posted it on Xing (the German LinkedIn equivalent) and on their website.
In order to use this video for future job positions, they produced four types that differ only slightly. “The beginning is the same in every video,” Langbehn wrote. “The applicant (colorfully dressed) enters the board room and behaves in an unusually [outgoing] way (continuous calls on a mobile phone). The four employees of the publishing house are irritated.
“Normally the applicant presents herself with her strengths. The market has changed: today the applicant makes the demands. In this video the applicant defines her requirements to the employer. The explanation was adapted to one of the four different videos for job positions. And we integrated an individual slide with a short description of the position.”
The whole series cost just $2,100. Langbehn said that in addition to the many views, about 50% of the interested applicants watched the video up to the end.
“Even better from our point of view is the rate when we [put] this video in front of YouTube clips as paid ads. YouTube users click on a video they want to watch. Instead of that video, our ad video appears first as an advertisement which they can click off after 5 seconds. Nevertheless, 20% of the viewers watched our two-minute-long advertisement video up to the end and did not click off.”
A well-deserving SIPAward winner. Again, you can watch it here.

In Creating Virtual Events, Best to Look for ‘Sustainable Models’

I saw two industry quotes today that both pointed in the same direction.
“What can you create now that will become a product forever?” a media company revenue officer asked.

“We were looking to build a sustainable model for a relevant digital program, not a one-and-done,” said Rochelle Richardson, senior VP of expositions and events, AVIXA, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, commenting on their pivot in June to a virtual InfoComm 2020 Connected event. “We wanted to build a model we could continue to tweak and enhance for our other events around the world.”

Last week, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released the results of its latest poll tracking the impact COVID-19 is having on the B2B exhibition industry. One of the numbers is that 81% of companies cancelling in-person events are pivoting to virtual events. Since we can be pretty sure that it will take a while to fully come out of this crisis, it makes sense to, as Richardson noted, strive for a sustainable model.
Here are some helpful virtual event tips from Richardson—in a Trade Show Executive article—and Jen Laloup, CEO of the Mobile Growth Association—in a story on Trade Show News Network.
Ensure that all exhibitors have access to the platform at least three to five business days before you go live. “Because of the timing, we were not able to do that, so we had to layer in additional staff from around the globe to get everyone up to speed before the event started,” Richardson said. That’s interesting because, of course, vendors just need a half day or so to set up for an in-person event. But remember that we are all in unfamiliar territory.
Break down communication silos. The importance of good internal communication can’t be stressed enough, Richardson said. “We formed task teams across the different regions, without asking anyone to stay strictly in their lane, and that worked really well.”
Include gamification aspects to further entice attendees to visit exhibitor showcases. This is a good idea in person and apparently it works just as well virtually. AVIXA put on a highly popular trivia night contest for attendees.
Seek a virtual platform that allow events to recreate an engaging in-person experience online. Not only does the use of comprehensive tools improve the attendee experience, Laloup wrote, but the metrics and insights gathered on attendee behavior also provide a great opportunity for events and sponsors to further optimize their approach. AVIXA used Grip, an AI-powered event networking solution. Attendees scheduled more than 1,000 meetings with exhibitors on the platform and exchanged more than 14,000 chat messages.
Look at new ways to sell your virtual event. “Selling a digital product is a whole different ball game,” Laloup wrote. “It’s vital that [your teams] get creative in how to tackle this. Hosting webinars or social media live streams in the run-up to the event is a great way to showcase speakers and engage potential customers.”
Think hybrid. “By offering a virtual experience as well as a physical one, conferences will have access to a significantly wider audience pool, while still being able to offer an in-person experience for those that want to travel to the event,” Laloup wrote. Remote panelists can be streamed into a live event. Audiences, live and virtual, will have ample opportunity to interact with the content and speakers in a meaningful way. And polling can be comprehensive.
Make your content on-demand. “This helps to solidify the value of the sessions in the attendees’ minds and creates a platform for continued connection between the event and audience,” Laloup wrote. InfoComm 2020 Connected will have its content online and available through Aug. 21. I think the reason for the hard stop is that we all need deadlines. Whenever I get a survey, I quickly check when they need it by. You also need to come up with reasons and easy links for people to go back to the content. I was on a call this week where everyone—maybe 10 of us—agreed that the on-demand content was excellent. But when asked who has gone back to review it, maybe one person had taken a quick look.

Think Virtual-First, New Sponsors, Fast Following and Editorial Selling

You know how there’s speed dating and speed networking and speed reading and speed friending and speed skating and speed eating and speed walking, etc. I’m turning to speed ideating today. See if any of these ideas from the last couple months triggers something good for you.
Build something new. Maybe we need to put aside the pivot for a while and create an event that’s virtual-first—like we used to say digital-first a few years ago. What works best on Zoom? I like moderated discussions there. Or think of five speakers you never would have thought you could get pre-pandemic. Try calling them now. I just read something that said celebrities are turning up (virtually) in all sorts of unexpected ways these days. This gives us a chance to re-format.
Come up with new sponsorships. Vendors still want to vend. They need new opportunities. What fresh and exciting sponsorships can you come up with? The Washington Nationals have Bathletix hand santizer. Start a podcast. Or a puzzle. Or a quiz.
Talk to your customers. The natural inclination at this time might be to withdraw or think everyone is on vacation, but the opposite might be true. It’s the time for strategic conversations and important questions. Pick up the phone—yes, you do NOT have to Zoom. “How are you?” should be the lead question. “What do you need the most help with?” “What are your pain points?”
Empower staff to have these same conversations and then share. Anecdotal information from the conversations/emails your staff is having with your audience should be shared at your next Zoom meeting. Everyone should be empowered to ask these questions. A short personal email is fine if you don’t want to call and then listening for what comes next from them (after “how are you”).
Follow the money. Asked why he might go into popular verticals rather than more obscure ones, Industry Dive CEO Sean Griffey said, “Crowded spaces means there’s money there. I’d rather go where there’s money today rather than create a market tomorrow. If it’s between being first in something or being a fast follower, I’m not in the first one… At the end of the day, we like verticals that are impacted by technology or regulation so there’s a need to follow the news.”
Try “selling without selling.” Brian Cuthbert, group vice president, Diversified Communications, said that he has an audience that doesn’t like to talk to sales. So an editor will contact them and say, “I’m the editor and my job is for you to get value from the site. Is there content that’s not there that you need?” He calls it selling without selling. “It’s non-intrusive but takes the right type of editorial folks who get that.”
Create content bundles. People have more time now so come up with new courses or e-learning initiatives. Bundle that with a new newsletter or report and special access to something.
Get more social. Despite social media’s effectiveness for driving traffic to organization websites—it’s number one at 90% in a recent survey—only 1 in 5 respondents in that survey feel strongly that their organization’s social media strategy is well defined, and only one-third strongly agree that social media is a high priority for their organization. There’s a definite disconnect there.
Do an honest assessment of your product bucket. Use that to inform future products. A reallocation of resources is something real that has to happen and now is a good time.
Focus on the “gap methodology. The plans that we all put in place 4-6 months ago aren’t the plans today. And who knows what the future will bring. Our key stakeholders are experiencing a level of uncertainty that we’re all experiencing. There’s a place now between the current state (unarguably not great) and the future state. Make the most of the time now.
Get back to your core products. What do you do best? What do you have—in the archives perhaps—that you can tune or adjust to solve your audience’s current challenges? Maybe you once did something on crisis communications or managing remotely or hockey in August.
It’s been a long week.