The Great (event) Debate – Live vs. Virtual…or do they have to compete at all?

I’m a marketer. I’m used to fire drills in the midst of planning. It’s a new year and not-surprisingly, many critical pieces of the marketing puzzle have changed. Rapidly. For most marketing campaigns, preparation is key. Yet, how do you plan for something if you’re unaware that process may have to be altered? Sometimes you must adjust in order to gain the greatest return on your investment.

Let’s talk specifics – specifically events: virtual, live, or even a hybrid of the two. Marketing departments are beginning to make significant changes in how they use events to market their products or services. With options in technology, budget and social innovations, there are numerous ways to produce (and market) events and conferences.  As marketers, we know how crucial the planning piece is, so if our strategy is outdated, our initiatives fall short and goals are not met. It is critical to be aware of the tactics that will be most effective in generating leads while being cost efficient. What is the best way to capture your target audience? Craft the right message and find the right venue to do so.

Recent industry research shows virtual events are cost-savers in a number of ways (time, reduced travel, logistics, etc.); however, they are starting to be used in conjunction with live events and tradeshows, rather than a replacement. Consider these benefits:

  • Ability to attract larger audiences: virtual events can cover more people in more time zones
  • Expansive content AND niche content:  Audiences at an event can be targeted and/or broad. The virtual piece enables the them to choose from multiple content tracks that might not all be accommodated at the physical event alone
  • Access to keynote speakers: high-demand speakers can skip the travel and pre-record their presentations for the conference
  • Monitoring attendee engagement: the ability to track audience activity (chat, downloads, survey questions) and time spent in each area make for enhanced, targeted follow-up; data that funneled into CRM systems for faster sales outreach
  • On-Demand Archives: those that were unable to attend a particular session or had multiples that overlapped can now access any presentation that was recorded


If the landscape of events is evolving and you’re still stuck in your ways from years past (of producing or marketing to), you’re missing out on a big chunk of the pie. Join us for an upcoming webinar on January 25 to learn more about the current state of virtual events from both producer and attendee perspectives. Steve Nesich, Principal of MarketStrike, will discuss how these different event types are currently being used and measured. What you'll learn may surprise you. See what's working, what isn't, and how this could impact your company's marketing and sales strategy and performance for 2012 and beyond.

 

What have you seen to be successful in your event marketing strategy? Or what would you warn others against? How do you feel about combining both the live and virtual aspects? Share your feedback and questions below and we’ll ask Steve to address them during the webinar.

 

Simone has been involved with both the sales and marketing teams at ReadyTalk and is currently the role Marketing Demand Manager and manages the monthly ReadyTalk Webinar Series, which is a free  forum for professionals to interact with their peers and other experts on topics ranging from sales and marketing to nonprofits and funding to leadership and professional development. Simone is an outdoor enthusiast – skiing, climbing, triathlons, and trail runs with her dog, Bucket, are just a few of the things she enjoys outside of the office.

New Year, New You

It’s 2012.  Everyone typically has great intentions this time of the year in putting foot to pavement and nailing down some concrete resolutions; things they really want to get done over the next year. I’ve been thinking a lot about this in the context of my current role at ReadyTalk and the roles of those who surround me. One of my resolutions is for personal improvement.

Professional growth, and getting better at “your craft” is one thing that is constantly on my mind.  With my team, I'm always stressing that failure is a learning opportunity, but how do you learn and advance without waiting for failure? Simply put, you practice.

Ok, that sounds easy, you say. But, when you sit down to think about it, how exactly do you practice things like project management or people management or even software engineering? My day is filled with  productive meetings, but does going to meetings allow me to practice my people skills? Does making a spreadsheet or facilitating a story-pointing session give me ample opportunity to practice the craft of agile coaching? And more important to me directly, how does one practice effective leadership?

Dan King, our CEO, is an amazing leader and his thoughts and ideas inspire me. So I took a step back and examined what I see Dan doing almost constantly. The answer was reading, and asking questions. Dan is a voracious reader, and he uses the management and leadership books he reads to help formulate questions about how lessons learned by others could have been applied to his own experiences or how they could be applied to challenges that ReadyTalk may face as the organization grows. So, my goal is really about practice. Practicing leadership by way of reading and thinking more about leadership in different industries and domains. Also on my agenda is helping our engineers practice their craft of software engineering, but that is a blog post for another time!

I’d be curious to hear how you may have tackled this problem. How do you practice something that isn’t quite tangible, such as leadership or people management? Drop me a line and let me know!

Jason Collins (aka JC) is the VP of Engineering at ReadyTalk and the self-appointed Chief Happiness Officer. He's been either writing code or managing engineers for nearly 15 years and has a passion for technology and agile development practices. The happiness of the engineering team is his top priority and he can usually be found wearing a ReadyTalk cape and the infamous "idea helmet" around the office to help keep people entertained. When he's not hanging out with his work family, he's at home with his wife and four boys doing all sorts of geeky things, like playing video games and watching campy Sci-Fi and Action flicks.

Spring Cleaning Customer Data

2012 is the year of clean data for ReadyTalk.  If you think of your marketing campaigns and processes as the engine of your demand generation car, you can think of clean data as the motor oil. If you put in poor quality oil or no oil at all, your million dollar engine will not perform to standard no matter how hard you press the pedal.

There are really three stages to cleaning your database. Assessing the current state of your database, cleaning/appending  current data and then looking at all your inputs and standardizing those. Within each of these steps there are multiple stages, but that is it at a high level.

Let’s look at the first phase assessing the current state of your database. First, you need to decide which contact fields are critical to your marketing and sales efforts. These are the fields you lead score, fields that relate to your ideal customer profile and fields that impact deliverability.  You can assess these fields in a couple of different reports.

Total Marketing Reach:  # of contacts with a valid email or phone – (bounce backs + unsubscribed)

Total Email Reach: # of contacts with valid email – (bounce backs + unsubscribed)

Profile Completeness:  % complete of your marketing critical fields in your DB. This report (shown below) gives you a view of your database and what fields need the most work.

Armed with these reports you can begin to assess the health of  your database as it relates to your marketing efforts.

As the senior demand generation manager at ReadyTalk, Mike helps manage and execute ReadyTalk’s demand generation programs, which include email, online advertising, telemarketing and tradeshows. He also oversees ReadyTalk’s lead management process and marketing funnel by using Eloqua and Salesforce.com to automate ReadyTalk’s nurturing programs and lead follow-up.

Guest Post: Are Your Prospects Disappearing into Black Holes?

By Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling & Selling to Big Companies

Don't you just hate it when hot prospects suddenly stop returning your call?  It's especially hard to deal with when they'd been so eager to move forward with you only weeks before.

At first, you assume their lack of responsiveness is an isolated situation that will quickly self-correct. But after repeated failed attempts to connect, you start to question your own sanity.

You could have sworn they were interested, but their current behavior indicates otherwise. And, not wanting to appear too desperate or to come across as a real pest, you're stymied in terms of what your next steps should be.

Truth be told, they've disappeared into the infamous "Black Hole" – sometimes never to be seen again.

Why They Disappeared

As a seller, it's always important to analyze what may be causing this behavior before taking action. In my experience, these are the typical reasons why prospects disappear into "The Black Hole."

  • They're totally swamped. Without a doubt, this is the most common. In virtually every company today, people have way too much to do and not nearly enough time to get it all done. They fully intend to continue the conversation, but not right now.
  • Priorities changed. This can happen overnight. Changing market conditions, bad 3rd quarter results, and new leadership are just a few of the possible root causes. But when this happens, it's darn near impossible to regain your momentum in the short term.
  • Lack of urgency. Sometimes sellers confuse a prospect's interest level with a desire to take action today. As such, they share all the glorious details about their offering instead of building a business case for immediate change.
  • Column fodder. Occasionally prospects just need comparative bids/pricing to justify their decision to go with another company.
  • They know everything. When prospects feel they have all the information they need, there's literally no reason to talk with you any further.


Different reasons call for different actions. Some you can prevent by doing things differently in your customer interactions. Always be open to this possibility since prevention is your best cure. Others you have no control over.

 

In any case, you need answers! Is it "yeah" or "nay"? Are they still interested or not? Should you keep pursing them or find new prospects?

If these are issues you're struggling with, join me for my Friday webinar on How to Keep Sales Momentum Going. You'll get lots of ideas you can use right away.

 

Lost while working remote? 5 tips for virtual collaborators

Working from home can be challenging. The temptation of the comfy couch, the allure of daytime TV, and the overwhelming urge to not change out of your pajamas can be daunting. However, I'm not here to discuss these issues. More often, working from home or from a remote location may cause you to feel out of the loop from your colleagues. I've compiled 5 quick tips to make your remote collaboration sessions more effective.

  • Utilize collaboration tools and communication techniques to be a more active remote participant. 


Often times remote collaborators listen in on team meetings while the rest of their colleagues are sitting in a conference room. This can cause a whole slew of communication issues resigning the remote collaborator to be frustrated or, worse yet, tuning out the entire meeting. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available to you to be come a more engaged member of the meeting.  Use an instant messaging application to stay engaged with others in the meeting. Utilize web conferencing tools, like ReadyTalk, to share your screen and view the slideshow of others while meeting. Politely ask your colleagues to speak clearly and be more verbose instead of exchanging non-verbal cues. Be a more deliberate communicator from your end of the meeting and don't be afraid to interrupt so that you are heard.

 

  • Establish ground rules at the beginning of your remote collaboration session.


At the beginning of any remote collaboration session, whether your colleagues are all remote or you are the only remote participant, establish ground rules for communication  to set yourself up for a successful meeting. It's easy for only the loudest or most opinionated people to be heard; by setting simple ground rules and being a little more patient, all members of the meeting will be heard even if they can't be seen. When getting buy-in on a topic or when asking for feedback, individually call out all members of meeting to get their specific feedback. 

 

 

 

  • Make sure you are speaking on a headset and have a solid internet connection. 


The easiest way to ruin a remote meeting session is to have a poor audio or web conference connection. Do yourself and your colleagues a favor and invest in a headset or headphones with a mic if you're on a cell phone. If you're working from home set up a simple workstation with a wired internet connection so that your web conference has less of a chance of failing or being so slow it's unworkable. This simple tip will go the farthest in setting yourself up for success while in a remote collaboration session. 

 

 

 

 

  • Don't multi-task.

 

 

 

 

Lets face it, who doesn't love working on email and other projects while sitting on a conference call or web conference. While multi-tasking is nice, wouldn't it be more enjoyable to just work with some music playing over headphones than listening to the drone of a meeting in the background? The fact is you will get back to work faster if you are actively participating in the meeting you're currently listening to, not to mention you will feel more engaged and feel more camaraderie with your colleagues if you are paying closer attention.

  • Make it fun!

Just because you can't meet in person doesn't mean you have to lose your personality. Make a point to reserve the first few minutes of  a meeting to catching up with colleagues you haven't seen in a while, vacations you have planned, or something funny that happened to you recently. This fosters a team rapport and will ultimately help your virtual collaboration sessions by creating a more personal remote environment.

 

 

Paul was formerly an Account Executive at ReadyTalk gaining valuable experience with competitors and the state of the web and audio conferencing industry. Currently in his role as Product Marketing Manager, he is in charge of the competitive landscape, on-demand audio products, and the web meeting interface. Paul loves the outdoors, his pup Huck, his wife Jess, and getting to the ski slopes as much as possible.

 

 

Collaboration, Audio Conferencing, telecommuting