Every now and then I get asked about the networking events that are available in Charlotte for business professionals and marketers. It’s been 3 years since my last list. So I jumped on Twitter today and pulled a list together in about an hour, thanks to many helpful and friendly Twitterers in Charlotte.
A colleague of mine is talking about starting up a new networking event for the Charlotte area that targets entrepreneurs and marketers, especially those that focus on Internet businesses and marketing.
It will be different from what I’ve done and from what others are doing in Charlotte. For example, it may have some fairly significant financial backing, which means we can pull in some fairly big names.
The idea is to keep it light and fun and not necessarily just informational. In other words, he’s hoping it will be attract marketers and business owners, but high-end and more like a party than a typical networking event.
Attention Charlotte Marketers: Here’s your chance!
I’d like to know who you’d like to hear from. Who would you like to bring to Charlotte that you would enjoy hearing from? This is our opportunity, so I’d like to hear your thoughts.
Here’s some ideas to get started…
NOTE: No promises on these or any others.
Obviously, some may be too expensive. More likely, they just aren’t available.
MORE IMPORTANTLY: I would like some help with this one. Who can you think of? Who would you most likely enjoy hearing from right here in Charlotte?
If you are in the greater Charlotte NC area and spend much time online, you probably at some point will hear about Social Media Charlotte. Known online by the hashtag #SMCLT, this is a group that was started many years ago by Jason Keath (Social Media Speaker and Consultant and business partner of mine). For several years now, they have moved from just one person organizing it to a group of board members.
This morning, the new board of directors held their first event of the year. The events are named Social Media Breakfasts and this year started with a discussion of the new networks, platforms, and strategies. The discussion focused mostly around Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+. I did not agree with everything that was said, but I did agree with most. But that’s not important.
I have always enjoyed meeting other businesses and learning from them.
I especially enjoy small businesses with just a few employees. I think that’s the sweet spot and it’s where I try to keep my business. They are typically more diversely capable than a freelancer, yet not as cluttered with politics and meetings as a larger business. They require good teamwork and appropriate leadership. They can offer comparatively great pricing. In my opinion, that’s the ideal size.
In fact, I’ve noticed that small businesses (with just a few employees and some contractors) are typically best suited for providing solid, personalized services to other businesses. When I was taking clients, I knew that 9 out of 10 times I could out-perform and provide more personal services than most of my competitors that were freelancers or larger businesses.
By now, you have probably noticed that I launched Hippo Academy on April 19.
The launch involves making three videos and then a sales page. The first video is giving some general ideas of why you can believe me. The next video will explain the actual details of the academy and why it will work for you. The third video will answer any questions that come up.
But you want the inside scoop, right?
The reality is that I stopped teaching my classes about six months ago for two reasons. (more…)
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.”