The Obliteration of B2B Tech’s Product Marketing Playbook

Tony Compton, Managing Director

Quick, somebody sell me a pen! There’s a phone number on my TV screen. It’s in a commercial – RIGHT NOW – and I need to write down the number before the 60 second spot is over. I need a pen!

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch the film The Wolf of Wall Street and pay attention to the diner scene about 30-40 minutes into the movie. Stick around to the end as the “pen selling” subject pops up for a second time when Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) leads a sales seminar. DiCaprio’s character patiently uses the “sell me this pen” line and holds a pen upright as a prop. After the movie, dig up the handful of articles on this subject circulating on LinkedIn and read about the various perspectives on the subject.

As you’ve noticed, I added a little twist to the “sell me this pen” line. Nothing major, I’m still sticking with the original premise which challenges somebody to sell me a pen. Except I’ve admitted the urgent need for a pen. I need one, and want one, now. Yes, for that cheesy, ridiculous reason of writing down that telephone number on my TV. I don’t care the color of the ink. I don’t care if it’s a plastic or metal pen. Don’t care which company made it, or who their competitors are. Don’t care how big or small the pen is. Heck, I don’t care if the ink-filled instrument from inside the shell of a pen has a case. As long it works. Now. A pencil won’t do, I need ink. I don’t have a piece of paper. Just try writing a phone number on the palm of your hand in pencil.

And I’ll pay.

This article’s for those in sales, marketing, and the executive ranks from the ~ 4,900 companies listed in the latest the Martech 5000. (There are 4,891 companies represented in the graphic, with a total of 5,381 marketing solutions.) I’ve seen the graphic in my LinkedIn feed these past several days, along with a number of innocuous comments from my network about the sheer number of companies and solutions represented in the grouping. It’s truly impressive work to gather and produce that visual.

But now, for those in the Martech 5000 mix, try standing out in that crowd. Yes, the graphic is segmented. But even the individual segments are crowded. So, try standing out in your segmented crowd. And competing in it. And selling your software and services. And winning.

The new Martech 5000 graphic was released on May 10, 2017.

For those among the 5000, your current product marketing playbook became obsolete that very same day.

Here’s why:

1. Yesterday’s Product Marketing Strategic Requirements Are Now Table Stakes

In the arena of B2B marketing technology, the product marketing function behind selling those technologies has become commoditized. Almost something that could be automated. (I wrote an article about it here.) Job description to job description, all those in search of product marketers use the same language to list the standard requirements of the position: technical aptitude, market experience, competitive knowledge, content creation, industry fluency, sales enabler, analyst whisperer, etc. Cookie-cutter product marketing career listings, all. That’s great, except who has time to spend on activities reminiscent of an academic think-tank than an active, aggressive, product marketing effort supporting a daily revenue-generating machine?

In a former product marketing life, I led a global market assessment for my business unit to support strategic marketing plans for an upcoming fiscal year. It was co-managed with an outstanding colleague in product management. Together, we dug into the business unit with our worldwide team from every possible angle, then presented our work and strategic recommendations to executive leadership. When we undertook the effort, we took a year’s worth of fiscal due diligence and made it happen in 90 days. Today, the business of product marketing in B2B technology is moving too fast, too quickly to wait a year. Or 90 days. Instead of a 12-month effort, I’m suggesting that the effort of knowing everything about the marketing technology arena – and the part your company plays in it – is a day-in and day-out ruthless business effort. Not 12 months, not 90-days, but every single day. For those first time product marketers new to a company, I’d allow three months of market and business orientation to get up and running. To fluently know everything that’s required from product marketing to checkoff that commoditized list. Then it’s time to move on to more pressing matters…

2. Launching, Getting to Market, and Differentiating

These performance areas are now squarely on the shoulders of product marketing. It must take the leadership role of setting the strategic direction for marketing, sales support and enablement, possibly the entire company. These deliverables won’t come out of marketing communication. They’re too busy designing websites, printing brochures, and making sure the corporate logo is being used properly. Digital marketing won’t do it. They’re too busy worrying about search engines, keywords, and social media. And the Corporate Marketing VP is knee-deep organizing a customer conference which looks, sounds, tastes, smells, and feels like every other industry gathering since before Ridley Scott’s original Alien movie burst onto the scene in 1979.

Time and again, yesterday’s B2B tech product marketers have notoriously limped across the go-to-market/product launch finish line. The result is that they find themselves adrift – anonymously lost in an expanding ocean of technology vendors. In the same way I can close my eyes and envision the repetitive product marketing job descriptions, and I can close my eyes and replay the countless number of product marketing-led launches and by-the-numbers offerings that bleed together and fade into the background noise of the industry landscape. It’s unfortunate. Product marketers who know they have good technology, who are well-versed in the feature/functionality of their products, who can provide a roadmap in the blink of an eye and relay stories about the delivery models at their disposal, but – when the time comes to go-to-market – the routine falls flat. The ability to crush the last mile to the market escapes them. Yesterday’s product marketers all employ the same set of activities: boring launch decks, text-heavy webpages, routine road shows, run-of-the-mill webinars, overview demos, predictable content, minimal sales enablement… It’s all driven by the outdated product marketing playbook and its strategy of May 9, 2017. That leads us to…

3. When Marketing Leads are in Stage 31a of the Pipeline, Sales Couldn’t Care Less.

I hope that section title captures the spirit of this section. Because while product marketing obsesses over which marketing lead is in which pipeline stage, and whether or not the lead is being subjected to the correct piece of product marketing-generated content, and if that content is being delivered by the mandatory piece of non-integrated CRM or marketing automation technology… By the time you try to explain all that to sales, they’ve disconnected. Long ago.

Forget that. Sales has to sell. It wants Product Marketing to get to work and do something to help. Anything, meaningful, that helps beat the competition — today.

Experienced inside sales people and external business developers have heard it all before from product marketing. Sales is grinding it out every hour of every day trying to hit their numbers and product marketing continues to preach of enablement, content, and technology from the ivory think tank. Yet after a decade of listening to the promises of all of the above, the song does remain the same. Content goes unused. Enablement sometimes can be nothing more than a stack of electronic stuff uploaded to an internal server. And while bought and paid for technology goes unintegrated, more and more and more vendors try to sell more and more software and services to an uninterested audience of skeptical buyers. Meanwhile, we see the competitive landscape growing.

Yesterday’s commoditized product marketing is in over its head. Sales knows this.

May 9th’s playbook is merely the opening chapter to May 10th’s revision.

Which means…

4. Yesterday’s Product Marketer Can’t Sell Me that Pen

Or software. Or professional services. Or managed services.

Even with an immediate need. Even with money on the table.

The creativity just isn’t there. It’s not there in mediocre presentations. It’s not there in road shows, events, and trade show booths that are long in the tooth with outdated messaging. It’s not there in illegible and outdated websites. In widespread poorly produced sales enablement content. In lackluster market launches lost in a congested world. In siloed, unused technology.

The sales grinder mentality isn’t there. When product marketing never accompanies sales to visit customers or prospects, the grinder mentality isn’t there. When product marketing is missing at the end of the quarter when contracts are due and revenue is counted, it’s not there. And when product marketing doesn’t participate in weekly sales meetings and doesn’t earn the immediate respect of the sales unit, it’s certainly not there.

The true enablers aren’t there. Content is only a modest piece of the sales enablement puzzle. Today’s overwhelming focus is on content, and the technology to delver that content. But can somebody tell me who is responsible for ensuring that the sales people who use the content are able to use the content? To communicate it effectively? To stand and deliver value props – without technology? To have and share a Point of View? To influence, motivate, and generate new business in front of a crowd? Or an executive boardroom?

The executive oversight isn’t there. I see too many corporate representatives (sales, marketing, executives) fumble their way onto the industry scene: poor stage presence at events, sleep-inducing webinars, mundane interviews, bad public speaking efforts. The other day I saw a video from a random trade show booth at a recent event. It was an interview. At least I think it was. Only I don’t think the interviewer or the person who was interviewed had ever done anything like that before. Product marketing should be on top of that before that ever happens. And so should executive management. It should be in the new playbook. Instead, the company will have to live with the filler-language filled interview with head-scratching content – forever.

I don’t remember the exhibitor’s name. I turned off the video after about 10 seconds. The participants didn’t appear as if they were happy to be there. Or really wanted to be there. Or knew what they were doing. Yet it was on-camera for all the world to see.

Why would anybody want to watch that? How was this acceptable to broadcast?

Yesterday’s product marketers could never sell me that pen. By the time they would finish showing me slides about the different colors of the pen and its various inks, and the comparison charts contrasting competing pens, they’d turn over the conversation to a salesperson enabled with case study content from 2013. Meanwhile, my TV commercial is over. Revenue lost.

Make no mistake about it, product marketing is responsible for breaking through and standing out in the sea of the Martech 5000. They, too, are also in sales whether they want to admit it or not.

The product marketer seeking to compete and win in all facets of the B2B tech game can’t be successful working off a playbook designed for a by-gone era. The new playbook must incorporate the old, while adding new game plans for true enablement, breakthrough product launches, sales toughness, revenue partnership, creative and effective personal communication, distinguished go-to-market efforts, and effective measurement.

Not only will today’s product marketers need to know how to effectively market and sell me that pen, they’ll also need to know how to cross-sell me on a blank sheet of paper. To do so, they’ll have to learn how to sit and interact with customers. And that’s not happening in the office.

The opportunity is outside, and so are those other 4,900 companies looking to put you out of business.

Get after it.

Movie Spoiler: Leonardo DiCaprio’s character doesn’t use any PowerPoint slides in The Wolf of Wall Street to help teach people how to sell that pen. At least not right away. Maybe he used some slides after the credits roll, but my guess he didn’t try to cram 100 proudly-developed, officially-sanctioned product marketing slides into a one-hour presentation.

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Sales & Marketing Quotes I Didn’t Hear in 2016, and Shouldn’t in 2017

Tony Compton, Managing Director

The opportunity to immediately possess sales, marketing, trade show, online, business #communication, and social #media competitive differentiators exists. I’ve itemized a number of these problems that are just waiting for you (and me) to solve them. For one lazy reason or another, these problems are tolerated by many and lackadaisically accepted by others. They persist. But if you can solve any one of them, the business opportunities are endless.

Over 25 years of experience allows one to see and separate #marketing fiction, wishful thinking, #sales bravado, and wasteful corporate spending from smart business investments, real lead generation results, and the economic value and opportunities offered by improving functional areas of sales and marketing performance. To me, problems are hiding in plain sight and I’m not surprised I haven’t heard anybody say any of the following quotes in 2016.

Allow me to present a handful of evasive quotes, and allow them to describe the problems and opportunities:

1. “Wow. That seven-person panel discussion was AMAZING!”

First, I detest the overuse of the word “amazing” but felt it appropriate here. Second, I’ve seen pictures from recent panel discussions where three to six people are on stage sitting in chairs or on stools. I’m sure you’ve seen many of the same photos. All share the same slumped drooping body language of panelists with microphones in hand, often wearing the same business casual attire. No positive body movement on stage, no physical presentation energy. The audience sits, stares, and strains to listen. With the demand for more memorable event experiences, why do event producers still employ near-valueless panel discussions? It’s an educational session format relic from a long-gone event era. There are so many better ways to actively engage event audiences. (By the way, posting pictures of these panel discussions doesn’t help.)

2. “Our postage-stamp size exhibit with cheap misfit filler pieces DOMINATED!” 

If you’re going to exhibit at an event, own the event. Just securing a undersized booth space in the back of the convention hall and cobbling together a cheap presence with misfit equipment and misaligned messaging won’t cut it. If all you’re doing is throwing together an ineffective trade show presence, don’t. You’ll get the more value from just attending, shaking hands and making the rounds versus waiting for attendees to wander to the back of the hall to find you.

3. “That team was AWESOME jamming 100 slides into an incomprehensible 60 minutes!”

Make that an incomprehensible 55 minutes. Maybe even shorter. Whether its an online conference call or in-person presentation, an audience deserves better than a crush of unreadable sides while uncoordinated, multiple presenters with various levels of communication skill and preparation “pass the ball” around the virtual conference room. Worse is when 60 minutes are scheduled, but the presentation leader doesn’t show up until five minutes after the top of the hour to start the show. As if you’ll get through all of those slides anyway.

4. “The lackluster monotone #presentation of your media content is INSPIRING!”

It’s all about #content, isn’t it? But effectively communicating content doesn’t seem to matter to some. The predisposition to overworking mind-numbing text and slides is common, but spending quality time on the #audio or #video portion that accompanies web and #mobile material nowadays is frequently short-changed by poor production values. It’s easy to find business material produced by somebody using a cheap smartphone, camera, or microphone in a back office or spare room to simply “get it done”. Content is important, but presenting it involves how a person looks and sounds. When amateur efforts are employed and development is rushed, your content, and marketing, sales, and branding efforts will suffer in this new era of dynamic media.

5. “Video Marketing is EASY! All I have to do is turn on my smartphone!”

The way some go about #video marketing today is reminiscent of the way kinescope was first used in the 1940s. There’s a new wave of video #technology that’s hot and trending today, just as it was 70 years ago. But somebody needs to remind people that an audience still needs to find what’s being produced as interesting, entertaining, and informative. Nobody is going to care if your video is in HD, in 4K, and was brought to us via your smartphone and selfie stick if it’s not capable of holding an audience’s attention. There’s more to video marketing than simply turning on your camera, sticking somebody in front of it, and posting a video on Facebook.

6. “It was worth it to send our team to the good-time trade show and get NO ROI!”

Similar to the first quote, I recently saw two more social-media-circulated #convention pictures of healthy teams of people gathered in their company’s respective trade show booths. Happy. Smiling. Enjoying themselves. Displaying great forms of teamwork. Duly noted.

What I also saw in one picture were stacks of garbage-bound paper brochures sitting on a counter. Pens and other assorted giveaways that will go from the company, to the attendees, and to the dumpster. In my mind I also saw the expense reports for each of the on-site staff members and the invoices for the company premiums. What I didn’t see was bold and effective messaging in the booths. I also saw one booth’s position on the show floor. A wide-angle shot was needed to get everybody in that particular picture frame, and it’s safe to say that it would be an accomplishment if a healthy percentage of attendees eventually found their way to that company’s hideout (exhibit) on the show floor. Meanwhile, back at HQ, those event invoices, expense reports, event sales, marketing summaries, and staff pictures will be reviewed by somebody in charge. I’m glad everybody enjoyed their exhibit space, but I sure hope they brought home some return on that event and booth investment and minimized the waste.

7. “I’m glad marketing had NOTHING to do with our January sales kickoff!”

For those who need reminding that sales and marketing teams are disconnected, at best, and adversarial, at worst – here it is again. Marketing must produce economic value to sales, and the organization. To think that marketing can survive disconnected from sales and stay heads down on electronic devices is absurd. Marketing can and should play a #leadership role in sales kickoff activities. And they should hit the road with salespeople to see what works in front of prospects and customers and what doesn’t. I’ve learned that marketing may get one half of one chance to earn the respect of the sales team. And now is the time of the year to do just that.

8. “For inappropriately inserting POLITICS into your business, event, presentation, or #workplace environment so that half of your attendees/customers/employees feel uncomfortable and unwelcome… THANK YOU!” 

No explanation needed. Enough said on that one.

Each one of these unheard of quotes represents an opportunity for sales and marketing performance improvement. Even the last quote. I also realize that most marketers, business developers, conference producers, webinars hosts, and trade show managers have to work within the confines of constrained #budgets and limited resources, and that the vast majority do the best they can with the hand they’re dealt.

But these problems are all too common, and chronic, and they continue to persist to this very day. Present solutions for any or all of the above, and the business opportunities will present themselves to you.

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Seven Audiences Itching to KO Marketing

Tony Compton, Managing Director

It’s time for a marketing ego check.

It’s time for a marketing ego check because audiences can, and will, bring arrogant marketing back down to Earth in an instant.

It’s a great time for marketing to be humbled. And deservedly so.

An Overflowing Industry Cup

So, which marketer hasn’t miraculously solved the problems of maintaining an impeccable customer database? Of implementing an octopus-like marketing automation solution that seamlessly ties all CRM, web, and social media tools together in an easy-to-understand, cost-effective, and low-maintenance fashion? Of creating and disseminating content that cuts through clutter and positions a team as expert storytellers capable of generating countless qualified leads and opportunities? (Even though few actually work with their colleagues on the personal communication skills needed to be effective storytellers…) Of designing and executing truly unique event experiences? Of filling the sales pipeline with more revenue-generating opportunities than any one team can handle?

The list of proclaimed marketing accomplishments is endless. And it matches the bravado audiences endure every single day by far-too-many self-centered marketing departments.

Your Audience Is Keeping Everything In Check

I know you’re doing a great job in marketing. All I have to do is watch and listen to your self-promotion. But I’ve leaned that as soon as you start drinking your own Kool-Aid, becoming too full of yourself, and becoming too big for your britches, the audience universe places a much needed wake-up call.

A nod to the audiences. All of them. Thankfully, they’re keeping overhyped marketing bravado in check.

So I’m writing this to give you a heads up. A warning. Let your marketing ego run wild, and you, too, will soon discover how an audience can snap anybody back to reality in an instant.

Sometimes, it’s when you least expect it. Usually, marketing is the last to know.

The Seven Audiences Itching to KO Marketing

1. Sales

This audience includes all those in inside sales and external business development.

It’s appropriate that we’re nearing March 31, because it’s usually near the end of a quarter when the separation between sales and marketing is most pronounced. Salespeople are fighting for deals. For revenue. For their jobs and livelihood. Marketing is notorious for being oblivious during this time, even absent. Nevertheless, marketing is infamous for claiming numerous accomplishments throughout any given quarter. But while marketing is reporting an abundance of qualified leads, opportunities, and meetings driven from content and social media campaigns that were supposed to be helpful, sales may not see the world the same way. While marketing was playing online, sales wanted partners to interact with prospects in-person. Sales didn’t want an avalanche of 1000 names on a spreadsheet, they wanted a highly-qualified group of targeted accounts. They wanted customized content, case studies, and personal communication skills they can immediately use. They didn’t want to be hung out to dry, directed to an internal portal or an overblown and outdated company website to rummage through years-old material. Sales wants to spend their time closing new business, not wasting it on the dissection of incomprehensible marketing programs.

But they’ll never tell marketing how they feel until it’s too late.

It’s not easy for marketing to keep sales happy.

Experience will teach you that one.

2. Customers and Prospects

Rarely do I inject politics into my posts, but there’s something I want to share in this one. This past week, I watched Dennis Miller on The O’Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel. Dennis compared the anti-establishment voting pattern in the Republican Party’s U.S. presidential primaries to the recent challenges faced by the fast-food chain Chipotle. Each was making their own customers sick. I understood the point, and laughed.

While marketing shouldn’t make their customers or prospects sick, it frequently does the very opposite of maintaining healthy business relationships. Spamming customers, neglecting prospects, and allowing data to spoil have become pandemic. Ever receive a nonsensical and poorly formatted email? With another name at the top? How about a snail mail box filled with postal junk?

Ever unsubscribe to KO a company’s ability to market to you?

You bet you did, and so have I.

3. Executives, Investors, and Board Members

Some in this group just don’t understand marketing, so instead of trying to knock it out, many executives, investors, and board members simply try to keep marketing in a box and at arm’s length. This audience usually just wants the facts: leads, opportunities, marketing-sourced revenue, expenditures, etc. There’s little room for creativity, and it’s generally a waste of time to try to explain it to those who have no interest. For some, marketing will never have a seat in the boardroom. Many in this audience don’t view marketing’s wonderful achievements the same way those in the department do. But two problems immediately arise in this scenario. The first is this executive audience’s pre-disposition that marketing isn’t strategic, while the second is that anything marketing is the first to be put on the chopping block when times are tough.

Both perspectives are grossly short-sighted.

For those executive teams that believe that marketing is purely a robotic, social, and online tactical cost center, they couldn’t be more out of touch. The marketing function has become the most strategic function under the corporate umbrella. Marketing strategy should provide a quantitative and qualitative foundation with business rationale for all corporate initiatives, including product development, business development, human capital, partner communities, global alliances, economic investments, and marketing program execution.

Marketing has, in fact, taken the internal lead at many forward-thinking companies. Unfortunately, for those stuck under the jurisdiction of laggards, marketing will continue to be undervalued and ignored until it’s knocked out in the financial cross-hairs.

4. Analysts and The Media

I’ve enjoyed meeting every analyst I’ve ever encountered. And I’ve developed great relationships with many in the media. But let’s be honest. Analysts have their own personalities, and especially their own opinions. So do many within the media. Contested debates and heated discussions with these audiences are common. Keep in mind that we’re not all wired the same way. Even though you may love your product, and everybody is friends with everybody else, analysts will never automatically see things the way you do. They will (and should) professionally challenge you about your product, customer base, and revenue accomplishments. Same thing for reporters. They’ll ask any one of a number of questions about your company and its products, services, and performance. And each member in this audience will definitely see through any of your spin.

For those dealing with any analyst or member of the media, if you turn up weak, unprepared, or arrogant, do so at your own risk. Your marketing efforts will be knocked down and you’ll be out in the first round.

5. Partners

How many of your partner companies are exclusively your partner? That’s right.
I haven’t run across a company yet that didn’t have multiple partners, if they had any at all. Each partner in that utopian alliance ecosystem of yours is competing for the same things: a greater attention of sales team mindshare, that five-six-or-seven-figure piece of business, and a seat at the table when the multi-pronged solution is built by the contract-winning vendors.

All partners will want in on any new deal. Many want control. Don’t kid yourself. If two or more competing partners are working on the same pursuit, the competition will ramp up. Your friends, er, partners will become your competitors and attempt to knock you out. Your marketing, sales enablement, and positioning within partner communities will come under heavy fire.

And there are few answers to this problem to be found in heads buried in online and social media channels, disconnected from the challenges of marketing into complex channels.

6. Competitors

Sometimes it’s behind the scenes. Sometimes it’s out in the open.

Your competitors are looking for the knockout punch every chance they get. Your approach to the market will be scrutinized by multiple competitors. Some will pick apart your content. Some will discredit your people. Some will steal from you. Some will team up against you.

All competitors are trying to put you out of business. (Or at least they should be.)

Whether it’s behind the scenes or in public, always remember that there are those who are trying to take your customers, your market share, and your revenue.

The competition is out there, waiting, and itching to exploit any opening to KO your marketing.

7. Event Attendees

(This audience is a blend of all of the above, but astute marketers would never allow competitors to attend their owned and operated corporate events.)

Today, every event must be about the attendee experience. And while far too many event producers – and their companies – embrace worn-out formats of past trade shows, conferences, and meetings, a different type of event attendee awaits. This new breed of event attendee demands more. More than classroom-style seating in cavernous convention centers. More than panel discussions with ill-prepared speakers in oversized, energy-sapping lounge chairs. And more than what was once an acceptable investment of time, energy, travel, and resources that’s turned into another event filled with mediocre demos and presentations, thinly veiled sales pitches, and pedestrian content of little practical use.

There’s an ample supply of event marketers who point to the diminished tangibles of their now run-of-the-mill events. Unfortunately for them, event audiences are looking for more. More meaning. Better content. Upgraded learning opportunities. And an event experience unlike anything they’ve ever witnessed.

Arrogant Marketing Should Expect to Be Humbled, or Even KO’d

If you think you know your audiences, check again. If you think you know your buyer persona, check again. If you think you know your buyer’s journey, check that again, too.

Don’t ever assume anything your audiences. Work hard to address all of them, and do so ruthlessly. But don’t ever think or act as if you know it all.

Because when you least expect it, an audience will KO your marketing efforts for any one of a number of reasons.

Unless you professionally hit ‘em so hard first with valued, innovative marketing, that they’ll always think twice about ever throwing that counterpunch.


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10 Ideas for Immersive Corporate Events and the Next-Generation Audience

Tony Compton, Managing Director

The other day I saw a picture. You may have also seen it. I’ve seen similar versions of the same picture a thousand times. And so have you.

It’s that picture of a business classroom setting. Rows of classroom style tables and chairs occupied by wide-eyed smiling attendees gazing at an instructor leading a session and standing next to a white board with faint scribbling on it.

Briefcases, purses, notebooks, pens, and all sorts of electronic extras decorate the meeting room. I’ve sat in that meeting room. Chances are so have you. On occasion, I’ve stood in front of that room to deliver a presentation. Maybe you have, too. Maybe you haven’t.

All good, well-meaning, people in that room. Attendees (customers) likely have paid to be there. The instructor is (hopefully) armed with knowledge, information, and an idea about what the audience will learn from the presentation. All are investing their time.

I’m certain you know about the business picture that I’m describing. It takes on different shapes and sizes. It can apply to any event, no matter how large or small. It’s intent is to demonstrate the value of an event which has just concluded, or convey the importance of an event that’s about to take place. After all, you see attendees diligently taking notes during a session embedded in an industry event which promises to unveil game-changing solutions that can be found nowhere else. Something important must be happening! Maybe. But the slog through another traditional three-day event of session, note taking, session, multitasking, session, lunch, session, reception, session, exhibit hall, session, airport has become outdated. There are better, more exciting methods to valued learning, content sharing, information retention, personal performance and event outcomes.

Performance Measures and Event Outcomes

Whenever I’ve produced a corporate event or have participated in one as a marketer from a sponsoring company, the primary objectives were clear: uncover new business opportunities within the current customer base, discover new opportunities outside the install base, help protect the current customer base and its revenue, and do so cost-effectively. That’s why time, money, and resources are invested. Yes, there’s a multitude of additional and very important objectives for any event which includes logistics, customer satisfaction, travel, alliance nurturing, etc. but the main goal of any event is to produce opportunities, generate demand, and secure downstream revenue. But while setting attendees adrift through three-days of a generic corporate event can produced some results, this approach has turned far too many programs into a global comfort zone of tedium. So many are so eager to overemphasize content lectures over learning, retention, and usage that the audience experience suffers. And it’s become a pandemic reoccurrence across industries, and companies.

When I look at that business picture of the hotel meeting room-turned-classroom,
I know. I know from experience that some (a handful) are actually paying attention.
I imagine a subset of that group will attempt to put presented solutions into practice. Conversely, I also know that a large portion of the audience is simply going through the motions. Through the motions of registration, travel, attendance, exhibit hall window shopping, and event expense reporting. Hard to find in that picture will be the attendee who isn’t distracted by some sort of electronic device. Easy to recall is the wear and tear on all attendees who are unreasonably expected to immediately implement newly-acquired subject matter on a moment’s notice upon their return to the office. And what you don’t see in the picture is all-too-common: salespeople on the periphery of every meeting room, trade show booth, and breakfast, lunch, and dinner activity with business cards in hand and account plans in mind.

Been there, done that.

I’ve produced multi-day commercial business conferences. I’ve sponsored and exhibited at large trade shows. I’ve hit the road for half-day, regional, owned and operated corporate events. But times have changed, and it’s time for a new combination of evolved content, instruction, and learning for next-generation events, involved audiences, and advanced outcomes.

Here are 10 next-gen ideas to consider:

1. Design a Radically New Event Experience

Instead of three-days of hotel-classroom-style seating in front of 15 presentations, add to – or change – the event environment. I’ve kicked around the idea of a week-long event that shares content ahead of time, then asks an audience to get on its feet to work with the content throughout the event itself. Instead of meeting rooms, cycle teams through a voice recording studio, video or television studio, or soundstage. Use material throughout a process which builds content that can presented, and retained, by the audience. Don’t lecture content, share it, and guide its usage on-site. Personal communication skills (especially on video) have never been more important. Tap into the trend.

2. Be Selective in Inviting Your Audience

Not discriminatory, but selective. There’s a difference in an attendee who only wants to travel to Vegas, sit in the back of the meeting room, see a show, and then go home, versus an next-generation attendee who wants to actively participate in a multiple day event which will enhance personal communication performance, information retention, storytelling abilities, and solution-developing skills.

3. Include New Instruction (and Instructors)

Frequently, event attendees are treated to an educational platform of product managers, sales leaders, technical engineers, solution marketers, and corporate executives. Some of those experts just love hearing themselves talk; few actually prepare for their sessions because the task of communication readiness is beneath them and they don’t feel as if they need to put in the work. (Wake me up when those sessions are over.) Instead, I suggest bringing in voice coaches, video instructors, and communication talent to lead event ‘sessions’ and activities. Different types of instructors who will know how to work with event attendees and creatively incorporate event content.

4. Rethink Event Sponsorships, and Exhibitor Opportunities

Instead of sponsoring more junk shoved into conference bags bound for the trash can, offer sponsorships for live video streaming broadcasts before, during, and after an event. Streams which create user groups bound for the event that share, build upon, and improve content instead of wasting it on one-off lectures and paper-based recyclables.

If you want an exhibit area or full-blown exhibit hall, you can still have one. But have one with purpose. Instead of attendees zombie-walking from booth to booth, require interaction and instruction in every booth location. The next-gen attendee will be informed, active, participatory, and in possession of high expectations from every event sponsor and exhibitor. No longer can an exhibitor simply show up – and check out – during a next-gen event. If the attendees are working hard during an event, so, too, should the exhibitors.

5. Cut Your Audience Size

Some equate a well-attended event with automatic success. Not me. The cost of hosting an event for attendees who do nothing but simply drain resources is a tough one to report at the end of the quarter. I’d rather host four or five teams of six-to-eight energetic executives for a week than a group of 200 or 300 disconnected passers-by.

6. Expand Desired Event Outcomes

Event producers are in the same boat of wanting new opportunities, customers, and revenue. And there is a point to working with your audience on their communication skills, with your event content, and its usage. Think. The next time your next-gen audience is asked to deliver an informed industry presentation, which material will they use – almost by default? When asked to talk to analysts in support of your submission for the annual technology report, how well will they be able to provide a reference and add the stories that they learned at your event – as opposed to mind numbing experiences provided by your competitors?

7. Expand Event Timeframes

Instead of one-off events, provide ongoing interactions with attendees who form user groups facing the same business and technology challenges. Guide these conversations. Use live, video apps such as Periscope, Meerkat, Blab, and Facebook Live. Anchor regular interactions to your corporate events. Remember, in radio the saying is “frequency sells” because it’s true. Apply ‘frequency’ to your event audience interactions before, during, and after an event.

8. Get Uncomfortable

Sure, it’s easy to keep doing the same thing. To keep hosting and participating in the same type of events, with the same pedestrian expectations. But I’m not talking about adding a trip to local golf course or fashionable restaurant district as part of your upcoming meeting. I’m suggesting that you throw out the playbook and give the audience what they’re craving: an exceptional event experience unlike anything that currently exists. An event experience that sends them home in a professional standing better than the one with which they arrived.

9. Ask Sales

Maybe you should “inform sales” instead of asking. Because any experienced salesperson knows. They know what goes into – and what goes on – at every single business conference, trade show, and corporate event. They know what it takes to produce a successful event, and how poorly planned and outdated events chip away at the effort to uncover opportunities and secure revenue. Ask sales if they want to you to keep doing what you’re doing with events, or if they would entertain the notion of a radically new type of corporate event that hosts targeted groups of passionate executive attendees. (We both know what the answer will be.)

10. It’s Next-Generation All Around

To produce next-generation events, not only will you need next-gen content, but next-gen sales and marketing personnel to execute. To interact and work with your audience. You’ll need the personal skills and communication expertise on staff, and the supporting technologies to complete the work. And you’ll need a next-generation approach.

Keep in mind the picture of that traditional classroom setting at a business conference. And the traditional outcomes those settings produce. Next time, leave most of the tables and chairs in the hotel’s back hallway. Find your targeted audience, create a powerful event process and program, work through content instead of lecturing, and measure the results.

I’ll take the business benefits of working with an elite, agile group of engaged event attendees over a room full of disinterested show-goers any day of the week.

So will sales, and anybody interested in fanatical customers and their revenue contributions.

My Ideal Next-Generation Event

As I wrote, I’ve thought about a radically-new type of a week-long corporate event. One that places small teams of executive attendees on microphones, on camera, and on stage. Using relevant corporate, partner, and industry content to create material that’s used in both short-form and long-form settings. Subject matter experts and communication coaches instruct active and engaged attendees. Sponsors sponsor event elements, while sales and marketing benefit from the deep and meaningful relationships built over the duration before, during, and after this type of event. I’d figure 30 or 40 senior-level attendees could be accommodated. And a great combination of presence, voice, branding, personal strength would be a fraction of the benefits. I haven’t worked out all of the details of such an event, but if for those wanting specifics, there’s a handful.

What are your thoughts on the state of the learning environments offered by traditional business and corporate events, and your ideas for producing next-generation events?

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What If Marketing Owned and Rocked Your January Sales Kickoff?

Tony Compton, Managing Director

I visualize the countless Vice Presidents of Sales who have just read this post’s headline and are cursing their computer and smartphone screens. To them, that suggested shift in power from sales to marketing with control over their meeting is laughable and will never happen.

I also imagine countless CMOs who would agree with those same sales leaders, acquiescing to possessive personal requirements that an outdated sales kickoff model remain in place, for ever and for all-time. And they’ll gladly accept marketing’s allotted, one-off, 60-minute session on Day Three of the mid-January agenda with a smile on their face.

But I can also walk over to the window and let two things in: the rapidly-declining temperatures of the wintry Chicago air mixed with the unleashed cries of a rapidly-growing group of revenue-driven global marketers and their business development colleagues who have been quietly and covertly talking about upcoming, but disconnected, sales kickoff meetings.

It’s 2016, time to recognize which way the sales and marketing wind is blowing, and fill the kickoff agenda with activity that excites the troops, fires up the team, and gets results.

Kickoffs Are Supposed to be Exciting

In 1983, I saw The Police kickoff their Synchronicity Tour at Comiskey Park in Chicago. As a fan of the band and of the baseball team that called Comiskey home, that was exciting. The kickoff to the NFL’s 50th Super Bowl in February will also be exciting. Pictures will be taken throughout the stadium, with the flashes of thousands of smartphones and cameras lighting up the stands in Santa Clara, California. Marketing campaign kickoffs are also exciting, as are the starts of political campaigns. Many fundraising kickoffs are also considered exciting, while some are even jazzed about the kickoff of roadway construction season when the Spring weather warms the Midwestern United States.

But I struggle to recall a sales kickoff that I’ve attended that I would classify as truly exciting. Informative, yes. Exciting, no. Please understand, I’ve worked with some outstanding sales people – and I take responsibility for my marketing contributions to various forms of corporate kickoffs and sales meetings over the years – but I’ve often wondered why a sales kickoff didn’t do more to actually increase the personal abilities of the sales team to do a better job at selling! 

Reviewing The Paint-by-Number Sales Kickoff Format

I’ve already bored you enough with that subheading, but I’ll venture a guess. You’ve got a January sales kickoff meeting scheduled to start the New Year. A three-day event set for the middle of the month. The Sales VP will talk. So will the CEO. Along the way, you may be joined by a product person, a sales ops manager, somebody in customer service or client retention, and a rep from a partner company. Of course marketing will get its moment to address the group, but it may be cramming a year’s worth of content in an abbreviated amount of time because prior sessions ran long and another extended coffee break is next. And let’s be sure to include exciting hours-long sessions labeled as “Account Review” and “Demo Presentations” to round out the festivities.

Sales VPs and CEOs will say that the outcome they desire from a sales kickoff would be to prepare their sales teams to hit individual and team revenue goals in the year ahead. There may be ancillary, but important, language about the exercise of a kickoff to include a prior year’s retrospective, team building activities, goal setting, usage of sales and marketing supporting technologies, forecasting, reporting, and negotiation conversations, debates on pursuit techniques, and adherence to departmental processes. Among countless other topics which (supposedly) must be covered during a kickoff.

All necessary, worthwhile aspects to the sales cause, but…

What (Fearless, Sales-Driven and Creative) Marketing Would Do Differently

Or better yet, this section should be called “What I would do differently…”

Strategically, I suggest doing three things:

1. Get sales and marketing to work together as a team on the kickoff. (Sales howls that marketing’s not involved in revenue-generating activities. This will change that.)

2. Intensely work on the personal sales communication skills of all business developers during the kickoff.

3. Inject passion into, and use select portions of the mountain of overlooked marketing content that has already been created, while producing new material.

Cover paper-pushing sales administration material another time. Yes, it’s crucial that sales people understand their numbers and compensation structure, and how to forecast, upload data, use the CRM system, and turn in timely expense reports. But most of that can be covered on quickly conference calls, internal webinars, and one-on-one phone calls early in January. There’s little need to gather salespeople to sit in a meeting room to review mundane administrative tasks. All of the above naturally falls under the domain of sales management, with support from other areas of the enterprise, of course, but when it comes to planning a creative sales kickoff, try turning over the reigns to marketing to produce a unique internal event.

Kickoff January 2016: How Salespeople Should Spend Marketing-Driven 72 Hours

Some January specifics. Salespeople should be practicing their craft, not sitting watching PowerPoint slides. However, I’ll compromise. If the CEO, VP of Sales, Product Management, and Client Retention Manager must address the group, so be it. Everybody gets 30 minutes – and not a second more. That part of the kickoff would be complete by Noon on the first day.

Next, go to the movies. Yes, you read that correctly. Go to a local theater and see The Big Short. Not to learn about the American housing crisis of the past decade, but to get thousands of dollars in presentation training and storytelling coaching for the cheap price of a movie ticket. Learn how to break down and communicate overly complicated topics to a general audience by watching how Ryan Gosling, Anthony Bourdain, and Selena Gomez (with Dr. Richard Thaler from the University of Chicago) explain complex housing and mortgage-related economic subjects as they respectively use Jenga, fish stew, and casino blackjack to make their points.

You don’t have to be an actor to understand how just three scenes in The Big Short apply to sales communication and presentation coaching, and how the clear messaging format of those scenes crush flimsy messaging frameworks, storytelling attempts, and weak content marketing efforts.

(Note: I didn’t include Margot Robbie’s bubble bath “explainer” scene because it’s not constructed the same way as the three scenes I mention. Moreover, neither Paramount Pictures nor anybody having anything to do with the film is providing me with any form of compensation.)

Immediately Address Two Dominant Sales and Marketing Topics

I dare you to turn on your computer without seeing yet another timely article which describes the pressing importance of 2016 business storytelling, and how video has quickly now become the new channel of choice for audience interaction in the New Year. It’s in your best interest to work with your sales team to immediately upgrade their writing skills. And presentation capabilities, both on and off-camera.


Instead of watching several days of internal presentations, work with your team to create and deliver complex product offerings and challenging customer stories with simplicity and passion. Instead of sitting in an office or hotel conference room, get into a professional recording studio and get your team on microphones to work on the power of their individual voices. Find a soundstage and have your people stand and deliver presentations – without slides. Locate a television studio, put your people on camera, and practice relating to audiences via video.

Even if you did a fraction of the above, the marketing-driven 72 hour sales kickoff will feel more like 72 seconds. You’ll want and need more time. Your sales team will demand more communication coaching and practice. Your audience will love what they’re seeing. Your stakeholders will devour the superior results.

What Additional Training?

There are those who say they’ll stay the course with a traditional, overly administrative three-day sales kickoff. They’ll say that the company provides sales communication and presentation training at alternate times throughout the year. Or that a spending a group afternoon reviewing how to give a product demo will suffice. Again, so be it. Some do provide comprehensive coaching, while others provide generic, ill-timed, and ineffective courses offered by distant and oblivious Human Resources departments. Far too many companies offer nothing.

But all demand sales results, including the CEO who I envision sitting at a snow-covered airport gate on a return trip back after the holiday break. The company missed its 2015 revenue mark by millions, and reality will hit on December 31. Meanwhile, somewhere there’s an investor who didn’t go on vacation, waiting for the complete 2015 results. Naturally, the investor will want to know about the January sales kickoff, and how a well-worn format is going to do anything differently this time around to help sales exceed expectations in 2016.

The Email Corporate Event Producers Don’t Want to Read

Tony Compton, Managing Director

You’re pumped about your next customer event. Everything is going according to plan. Hotel, check. Meeting room, check. Educational speakers, check. Collateral, check. Catering, check. Cheesy giveaways, check. Signage, decoration, and branding, check. Sponsors and exhibitors, check and double check.

But when you invite people to attend your next event, and you don’t get the positive reaction you were expecting, it’s probably due to the fact you didn’t design a program that aligns with your audience’s expectations. Event and speaker evaluation forms from your last event may have been disregarded and are aging in a dusty file, and the outdated blueprint for event production that was used so commonly in the 1990s has grown long-in-the-tooth.

Corporate event producers shouldn’t be surprised if they receive an email with any or all off the following in response to forthcoming event invitations:

Dear Company Event Producer:

Thank you for inviting me to your next customer event. I’ve applied a great deal of thought to your invitation, and wish to share perspectives on your event, my recent industry show experiences, and my potential participation…

1. There’s Nothing Special About Your Event Experience

I know you think your event is spectacular, but the reality is that the format of your function is no different than much of the rest – right down to the coffee pot in the meeting room hallway. Spending a couple of days in a nondescript hotel ballroom with a stage, predicable seating, and fellow attendees in business casual attire listening to speeches delivered by stuffed suits is so 1995. Please, no more stagnant slides with cool industry buzzwords on big screens adjacent to the stage. I know why I would be attending, and it’s not to be reminded of catch phrases or catchy slogans.
And no, the cheesy entertainment inserted into your program won’t help.

2. The Thrill of Your Destination is Gone

I’m not 21 years old. I’ve already been to Orlando, Vegas, New York, London, Toronto, San Francisco and many other destination cities, numerous times. So have most of my colleagues. All great places. All have their pros and cons. But I’m not going to your event just to see the big city, visit a theme park, walk on the beach, or play a round of golf. It’s your content that matters to me, and the manner in which it’s presented.

3. If Your Event Is Free, You May or May Not Actually See Me

Thanks for the invite, but I only registered to get your inside sales rep to stop bothering me. Since there’s no cost to attend, there’s no risk in my registering for the event. And if I want to turn up on the day of your event, you’ll see me. If I don’t, I won’t, and you can expect any one of a number of absentee excuses which will you never have the ability to verify: unexpected meeting, last minute travel, etc. All are handy and at my disposal for excusing my absence. The risk is all yours. By the way, keep an eye out for a junior member of my staff at your event!

4. I’m Clueless About Your Food, Beverage, and Material Counts

Yes, I know I said my team would attend your last evening reception. And I also know that I said we’d be there for your dinner presentation. But something suddenly came up. It’s unfortunate that you had to tell your hotel catering manager to plan for us,
and it’s mildly concerning that you shipped meeting materials to have on-hand for my team. The fact is that I don’t even think about those things. They’re your problems, not mine.

5. Will Your Exhibitors Take Your Event Seriously?

The last industry event I attended showcased exhibitor tables lined up around a ballroom. The first exhibitor had a wrinkled table drape with a coffee stain above their logo and some brochures scattered on top. Nobody was home. The next exhibitor brought the works and had a credible presence with friendly and knowledgeable staff members. At the same time, I saw a man sitting alone at the third exhibit table wearing headphones and talking on his phone while working on his laptop. Since he was unapproachable, I wondered why he was there, why his company sponsored the event, and if anybody knew that the investment was going to waste.

6. Stop Jammin’ Me

Your event agenda looks good on paper. On paper. But locking me in a meeting room for nine hours a day, on top of networking breakfasts, buffet lunches, refreshment breaks, and group dinners is exhausting. Instead of leaving energized by my event experience, I end up mentally and physically drained. I understand giving attendees their money’s worth, but too many presentations and activities will result in an overloaded event. In the end, it’ll all bleed together.

7. Panel Discussions are for the Birds

Since when has it become compelling to watch four people on stage sit in director’s chairs or padded living room furniture and chit chat for an hour? When I see “Panel Discussion” on an agenda, it usually means that the panelists are going to wing it for an hour or so answering questions. A few of these discussions may include short, five minute slide presentations from the panelists, but those really don’t do anything for me. And it’s no secret that too many panel discussions are moderated by, or filled with, event sponsors. Please eliminate panel discussions, and put some real effort into meaningful presentations.

8. I Won’t Actually Pay Attention

Yes, I’ll be sitting in your sessions: third row, aisle seat. But while your speakers are speaking, I’ll be working on my laptop. And I’ll have my phone by my side on the table. My headphones will be on, and I’ll be listening to voice mail and conference calls while checking email, surfing the web, and typing. Your presenters don’t give me any real reason to pay attention, I can read their slides later, and I couldn’t care less if any of what I do is distracting to other attendees or your presenters. In fact, I’m oblivious.

9. You Won’t See Much of Me on Getaway Day

Though I’d really, really like to attend the last day of your conference, the hotel checkout time is Noon, and my flight is at 4:00 pm. That means I may pop in for a quick breakfast, catch a session or two, and return to my room to pack. And though the thought of your box lunch and can of soda is tempting, I absolutely, positively, must allow several hours to get to the airport. (Even though the airport is only 30 minutes away.) I might take you up on that free box lunch to-go, but I’ll need to hit the road by 1:00.

10. Your Conference Material Still Ends Up in the Garbage

You give me yet another bag of sponsored stuff when I check in upon my arrival, and it’s overwhelmingly useless. I rarely read what’s in it, and it all ends up on the table in my hotel room until I check out. I don’t want to take your collateral with me. What fits in my luggage weighs me down, so most of it ends up in the little oval trashcan in my room. I’m certain none of it is recycled. Please make an attempt to try use electronic forms of communication, and stop giving me sponsored junk that’s bound for landfills.

11. Travel Sucks. Your Event Better Not.

I have a life. I have family, friends, and things that I’d rather being doing than standing in long security lines at the airport. Driving or train travel is no bargain, either.
My company tries to save every penny on travel, so I don’t always get the perks of frequent flyer benefits on my favorite airline. I’m very fluent in the process and procedures of business travel, but I also ask that you realize that any travel is an investment of my time and money. Your event had better be worth that investment.

12. I’m Not Going for Thinly-Veiled Sales Pitches

A certain amount of these comes with the territory. I know what to expect when I sit in on a demo or booth presentation. But when it comes to educational sessions such as case studies that are supposed to be vendor/client co-presentations, please ease off of the sales pitch. I want to hear from the end-user, not the VP of Business Development for North America from HighTech Incorporated. If I want to watch sales presentations, most vendors and service providers will come to my office, and I won’t have to pay for it.

13. I’ve Already Seen Your Show

Your keynote’s terrific, but he’s on the speaking circuit and I saw his presentation earlier this year. The analyst kicking off your second day is also very good, but she just gave a webinar last month on the exact same topic. I’ve already read about your featured customer case study, and your sales team has filled me in on your upcoming software releases, product roadmap, and partner activities. Moreover, I attended your event last year. Ask me again in another 12 months.

14. I’ll Attend, But Don’t Get Too Excited

I’m a Vice President for a very large big shot global company, and I know it’s awesome to have my name, job title, and company on the registered list of attendees. But the dirty little secret is that I’m looking for a new job and will be using your event to network. On second thought, I may be looking to leave my current job to do some free-lance consulting work. Either way, don’t expect to get any more business out of me in my current situation. And though my days are numbered, I’m still going to make the most of my current job title.

15. If You Claim Innovation, You Should Reflect It

I crave exciting business event experiences. I also value continual, year-round interactions with industry-leading companies, as opposed to aging and commonplace once-a-year gatherings. I’ll be happy to travel to and participate in groundbreaking, innovative events that further advanced professional solutions which meet the challenges of executive strategy, organizational teamwork, technological support, customer interactions, and employee communities. I simply won’t get that sitting in Ballroom C in another business hotel or cavernous convention center.

Nevertheless, thanks again for your invitation. I’ll think about attending your event. In the meantime, I have to run. We’ve got user group conversations now underway on Periscope, Meerkat, and Blab, and must customize tomorrow’s sales and marketing campaigns with the feedback we’ll be receiving in a matter of minutes.

Best of luck with your event…

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B2B’s New and Ridiculously Obvious Social Media Revenue Stream

Tony Compton, Managing Director

Today’s good news? A new revenue stream is staring you in the face.

Today’s even better news? Anecdotally, I’ve seen no company tap into this new source of revenue. Yet.

Today’s best news? Many executives won’t go after this new source of revenue. They’ll either be out of their comfort zone, claim it’s not a core competency, or want to invest in outdated sales and marketing programs. A number of execs simply won’t know what to do, or how to do it. Social video technology is throwing them off of their traditional game.

All of the above equals tremendous room for opportunity for those who can connect the revenue dots which I will lay out for you.

The Outdated Model of Hosted, In-Person Customer Conferences

I’ve produced numerous business conferences and company events, and I’ll challenge anybody on identifying the most important aspect of an event. My contention is that attendees want to hear about, and learn from, industry peers who have faced similar business and technological challenges. That’s it. That’s what drives attendance. That’s what drives value. Everything else pales in comparison. The CEO keynote, the analyst sessions, the thinly-veiled vendor demos are fine, but they’re not what drives the most interest. Nor do 6:00 am yoga classes, open bar happy hours, private concerts, fun runs on the beach, weekend golf outings, or your chance to win yet another iPad from your favorite exhibitor.

Moreover, customers don’t really need to see you. Not in-person anyway. You may have great products and fantastic services, but few need to see you in-person at a customer event, especially when travel is involved. Sales and account executives must be on client sites, and meaningful personal and professional relationships are developed over time, but they’re no reason to support an outdated model of customer event production.

Whether you’re hosting your own customer event, or participating in another company’s get-together, you know that they can be fun, and yield some return.
On the flip side, they’re exhausting, time consuming, expensive one-off events.

Imagine continuous customer roundtables and industry interactions throughout the year, and not waiting until your once a year event to bring everybody together.

The New Social Media Revenue Stream

It’s easy to understand how using the Periscope or Meerkat live video streaming apps can create a very healthy and steady new revenue stream. It’s a three-step process:

  1. Sunset outdated methods for producing, or participating in, outdated customer events.
  2. Develop video content and regular programming on Periscope and/or Meerkat to attract industry-specific audiences.
  3. Market and sell access to that audience to partner companies which would normally sponsor your customer events, and anybody else interested in accessing that audience.

From 3-Day Events to Year Round Participation

Now the pushback on this idea begins. I’m an advocate of taking the five-, six- and seven-figures (or more) invested in every exhausting customer boondoggle conference, and placing it in creating dynamic, interactive, continuous, and reliable Periscope or Meerkat video content.

(Disclosure: I’m not advocating any one video app. In fact a third app, Blab has also been making its way onto the scene, and is worthy of further investigation.)

Place yourself in the boardroom while examining sales and marketing proposals for the 2016. Either you can have one, three-day customer conference at the end of September at a heavy cost, or you can develop programming and live streaming video content throughout the year at a similar or lower cost. And once you develop your social video audience, you can turn and sell access to it to the same sponsors which would normally participate in your once-a-year event. Only now there will be a growing and timely audience to sell throughout the year.

If you develop your streaming media audience properly, all those with an interest in promoting their products and services into your space will have an interest in sponsoring your video content. But instead of going through the mechanics of attending another customer conference, you’re providing a process which is far less taxing and potentially much more rewarding when compared to a hit-or-miss customer event.


Not only will this idea encounter resistance, some will become very territorial and overly protective of the traditional methods of producing customer events. They’ll hang onto their outdated customer conferences as if it’s their only lifeline. Understandable, but times are changing and social media is pushing the boundaries.

On the 1990s side of the executive table, some will be vocal about the need for hosting traditional customer events, and how they bring everybody together. Part of the talking points list is that sales brings prospects to the event, relationships are strengthened with partner companies, product people sit with clients, the company gives its roadmap, etc. If pushed, the 1990s side of the table will want to compromise and include live video streaming as part of a traditional event. Some will claim they already do this. Be careful. In this case, interactive video is not meant to complement outdated customer events, but to replace them with more meaningful social media experiences.

On the 2016 side of the same executive table, visionaries will describe how ongoing, interactive social media channels of video communication will cultivate specific target audiences throughout the year, and into the next. Real-time feedback is gained, case studies are creatively shared, and demand is more than generated. The audience is actually much stronger than the one that made it to last year’s in-person event, and holds outstanding value to an impressive lineup of sponsors. The value embedded in all aspects of pioneering live streaming media content greatly outweighs the taxing,
all-in approach to the once a year event endeavor.

What You’ll Quickly Need to Learn

Have you ever seen the movie Quiz Show? Do you recall how television commercials were presented in the 1950s, live, by a host? If you or members of your team find it difficult to stand in front of a camera to deliver interesting content, learn. And do so quickly. Because one way of generating revenue in this new age of B2B Social Media Marketing is to sell commercials to your company’s exclusive audience. Commercials and sponsored content which will have to be delivered by your on-camera talent, live, to your audience.

The new Apple TV material I saw yesterday states that apps are the future of the way we watch television. Periscope is among those apps featured by Apple.

Ready or not, all of us are now in the television business.

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