A HIPPO Internet Marketing Training blog by Corey Creed

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Charlotte 2011 Marketing Forecast Event – #CltMktg

January 13th, 2011

Tonight’s Charlotte Marketing forecast event is being sponsored by nine different organizations.  The room is full and it looks like about 300 people are here.  Before it started, the bar area was absolutely mobbed with people before it started.

Greg Caller (WFAE News Director) is the moderator.

Tonight’s panelists are…

Scott Pacer, Marketing Communications Director at Duke Energy
Scott Provancher, President of Arts and Science Council
Lori Wilks, Sales & Marketing at NASCAR Hall of Fame
David Oakley, Co-founder & Creative Director at Boone Oakley agency

The moderator started by asking the audience who feels we are out of the recession.  Only about a dozen of us raised our hand.  Most feel we are still in a recession.

(Obviously, we are.  But some industries are thriving.  The blanket question is really not fair.)

Duke is currently trying to market products that involve using less of what they sell – electricity.  It is a new marketing style for them.

David Oakley was asked if people are starting to spend more.  He feels businesses are just starting to spend more than they did two years ago.  All agencies are starting to be held more accountable and there is a lot of belt-tightening.

Lori was asked how her marketing budget for the NASCAR Hall of Fame was affected.  She says her budget is getting slashed based on the revenue.  Everything has changed over the last three years because of the economy.  Previously, it was “Build it and they will come”.  That’s not true anymore.  They have gone back to the drawing board to make sure the word gets out.  They are fortunate that Charlotte is the home of most NASCAR companies.  It is similar to the auto industry in Detroit.  She is marketing to families and people “crazy” about NASCAR.  She feels creativity solves all problems.

Scott Provancher says that people go to the Arts, even in a down economy.  Ticket sales have been up.  These opportunities are cheap and close to home.  However, 50% of the money coming in is from donations, not from ticket sales.  The Arts and Science Council has been spending less money on advertising and more on getting smart people.  Smart people can pull off better marketing with less money if they are creative.  That’s not the way they looked at it a few years ago.

Duke Energy is currently really good at energy.  They are doing some soul-searching to see if there are others that they should be using for specific functions in marketing, such as customer insight, analytics, etc.  They are looking at concentrating on their core strengths.

David Oakley just gave props to NASCAR Hall of Fame.  He gives Charlotte credit for winning the opportunity to have it here.  (True.  However, we are Charlotte, the world headquarters of NASCAR.  Sorry, I live in Mooresville and it’s hard to be proud of that at times.)

Lori was asked if you should spend more on advertising in a down economy.  She says yes.  You still need to prove ROI, but spend more in a downward time.  The competition is less.  She adds that they are budgeting that the economy is not going to change.  They are budgeting that things will not improve.  If they do, bonus!

What about social media?  What have they learned?  Duke Energy explains that their customers don’t necessarily want to talk to them on social media about the things they want to talk about.  They would love to push new products via social media but see the need to have healthy conversation first.

How are you using social media?  What’s effective?  Duke is trying hard to not fill the air with fluff.  They monitor what is said about them.  They have made Twitter accounts specifically for when your power goes out.  It allows them to get you information you want when you need it.  It has grown to be more than just announcements.  It is now interactive and they talk with customers.  Right now, they feel social media is good for answering questions customers have.  It is about value and education.

Lori adds that social media is about more than just Twitter and Facebook.  It is good to find various spaces, including niches.  She feels it is not about a consistent sales message, but about developing relationships.  You have to be in the space.  The successful campaigns have dedicated personnel.  You have to be on it all the time.  You have to pay attention and nurture it.

(Interestingly, Lori says she feels that good social media marketers are typically just interns around 18-20 years old.  There was a low and steady boo from the audience.  I gotta agree with the audience on this one.  I know my work with Harris Teeter feels that they would never put their social media brand in the hands of a teenager.  Unfortunately, this was a passing comment and the Twitterverse lit up about it.  Poor Lori.)

David adds that social media is so hard and so different from everything we’ve done.  Honestly, the whole growth of the Internet and social media is an explosion and is scary.  Yet, it is also exciting.  The advertising business can be really repetitive and boring.  This change is exciting.  It’s good to have young people involved.  But everyone in the room should be completely engaged in social media.  Everyone should use it.  People have helped him learn Twitter.  He is fascinated with Quora right now.  (He is clearly excited about social media.  Good answers.)

Scott Provancher adds that social media opens up new opportunities that were not available before.  They use integration with Facebook to spread the message.

Lori is asked about the balance between legal and marketing.  She apparently has been an attorney.  It enables her to communicate well with lawyers.  She feels lawyers should not get in the way of marketing.  Make lawyers prove risk.

Lori was also asked why the NASCAR Hall of Fame uses a marketing agency outside of Charlotte.  She says they use Wrayward as the agency of record.  (Duh!)  Nice answer, Lori.

What do you consider metrics for success?  (I turned to Nathan Richie at this point and said “money”.  We laughed and I think the moderator might have heard us because he mentioned that money is the ultimate metric right after.)  NASCAR Hall of Fame says ticket sales and rentals of rooms for events.  David adds that Bojangles gives them a report every day on sales from the day before.

What should marketers know?  Lori says we need to have a lot of different skills and tools.  In this region, we are seeing an increase in diverse business during this downturn.  We need to be adaptable.

(NOTE:  I just asked on Twitter what people would rate this meeting so far on a scale of 1-10.  I’m getting mostly 3’s.  The highest mark was one 5.  Also, people are starting to walk out now.  That’s disappointing to me.  I had high hopes for this event.  It was not terrible.  The turnout was fantastic.  But I have to admit, it could hav been better.)

How should marketers with little to no marketing budget reach their goals?  Lori says “be creative”.  She gave props to the Charlotte Checkers for the things they do with little or no budget on social media.  (YEA!  Way to go Checkers! – One of my students was the social media director for the past year.  He credits Brandon Uttley and I for helping him.)

As a final question, the panelists were asked what important things they want to add before ending.  They said things like “Content is King”, “Be true to yourself”, “Know your marketing objectives”.  David Oakley said that “All marketing is conversation.  Don’t just talk about yourself.”

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  • Corey Creed

    PS: For those of you that are curious about the free 2011 INTERNET Marketing Forecast meeting that Brandon Uttley and I are doing, you can learn more here – http://www.meetup.com/HIPPOIM/…/

  • JenK

    Great re-cap Corey. Glad to see you were honest about the evening. Many bloggers only 'fluff' everything to make it sound better than it was.

    • Corey Creed

      Thanks. It was good to see you there. The Twitter audience can get a little snarky and gang up on people at times. I think the event was not as good as it could have been. But it really wasn't terrible. Look for the good in everything, I say.

  • I agree with JenK, nice recap! Handful of good takeaways. There's always a silver lining!

  • Thanks for the recap Corey. I enjoyed reading your interpretation of the panelist's responses and added a link to here from my recap on my blog. I hope the organizers of the event take the feedback as our desire to see the event improve, and not just an opportunity for bashing their efforts.

    I'm also very much looking forward to the HIPPO event next week which, incidentally, I signed up for the same day I signed up for the SMC event.

    • coreycreed

      Thanks Christy.

  • Thanks for this, Corey. I didn't attend, but as I watched the twitter stream slide downhill all I could think was this could have easily happened at an event where I've appeared on the panel. Success depends on so many things: setting expectations, attracting the right audience, asking the right questions and even such details as how questions are communicated to the moderator. Christy's post mentions that the lighting was very low and it was difficult to read the paper slips the questions were written on.

    In the end, a lot depends on the chemistry of the evening too, which is tough to predict. I love seeing how you, Christy and others are looking for the high points and offering helpful suggestions for improvement. Offering to appear at an event is an act of courage and leap of faith, since many times the defining elements are out of your control.

    I hope the conference organizers are paying attention, as feedback from this year's event could lead to planning an outstanding event for next year.

    • coreycreed

      Agreed. Well put, Lisa.

  • If I could summarize event marketing in 2011, it's this: A panel discussion that didn't deliver as expected Wednesday night gains new life, depth, dimension and flavor Thursday morning on blogs.

    There's a lesson in there somewhere, right?

    As a marketer, I'm looking at last night and salivating. Three hundred people paid money and showed up on a cold night hoping to get something, and they didn't get it. Then they all went online and talked about how disappointed they were.

    Anybody want to swoop in and give them what they're looking for?

    Lisa's right: It's easy to criticize. And we need to pull the conversation back up to civilized level (thanks for getting us started, Corey). At the same time, online chatter like we've seen is a reality every company/brand needs to recognize and plan for. To dismiss it because it's snarky or because it's only “those Twitter kids” would be awfully risky.

  • There were a number of factors in why last night was a disappointment- one is the audience was very savvy, so naturally we had high expectations.

    The main problem I saw was the prototypical problem with most panel discussions: that the moderator was nice, but ineffective. First of all, I know that high-quality questions were prepared by the groups beforehand. He should have used those instead of the surface level questions the crowd poured in. (And as a side note, those questions should have been shared with the panel and they should have been prepared.) Second, he should have pushed for more in depth answers. Instead of just saying that Lauri uses attendance as a performance metric, why not push for specific tools or benchmarks for success they use? Does anyone calculate ROI on twitter for example? Is a 5% increase in traffic/sales considered success or 10%? Third, the moderator was not a marketer so isn't familiar with the everyday decisions we have to make. He didn't know how to push for more in depth answers because he didn't know their answers were superficial. Fourth, they didn't get into forecasting, which is what everyone came for. How will things change this year? What very specifically are you doing differently? Again, this happens so much with panel discussions all the time. When are we going to learn as organizations that picking a moderator is so important and they should all get together ahead of time and prepare?

    Lack of lighting on the panel probably didn't help the focus to remain on the panelists, but honestly trying to keep up with the twitter feed probably didn't help either 😉 It was so great to see such an active community of tweeps at the event- it made it more exciting to be part of the Charlotte marketing community.

    • coreycreed

      Nice comments. Very true. I think a little better planning with better moderation was all that was really needed for this event to be more of a success. Thanks for your insights.

  • Sounds like less of a forecast and more of a recap. It is tough to avoid interviewing panelists sometimes as opposed to challenging them to predict and state opinions on trends.

  • Corey, thanks for getting the discussion flowing.

    Lots of people were quick to bash the evening. As Lisa & Scott pointed out, there are lots of factors that go into a successful event. I have a feeling in hindsight the organizers realize they didn't do enough advanced prep work (which is tough with very busy panelists). tThen you add the live factor (and in the case of David Oakley, the live wire factor)…and things take on a life of their own. Probably with a crowd this size and heightened expectations, there should be more structure with future events. Overall, I was glad I attended. I always get more out of the networking personally.

  • ppnc09

    Thanks for your summary, Corey. I missed the event but read the Twitter commentary and recaps written by others. OUCH! on the “interns & social media” comment but Lori offered her mea culpa so I'm cool with her response, although her original statement reveals a rather pervasive attitude about social media in general.

    I've done lots of event planning so I can empathize with those who have to make sure every detail is perfect, and of course, there's always some last-minute snafu. If ever you need my help on something you're running, I'll be happy to pitch in. Sometimes, something as simple as having a couple of greeters mill around at the beginning of the event to ensure everyone is happy allows minor adjustments (lights, parking tokens, etc) and quick fixes (like making more coffee!)

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