May 13, 2008
Specialty Coffee Association Conference - Coming Around to the Benefits of Social Networking
Some new posts are forthcoming...
I was at the SCAA convention in Minneapolis last week as both a technical judge for the barista competition and a trade show attendee. But as good as attending both events were, the thing that blew me away most about being there was sitting in the lobby during the barista competitions.
The reason was that there was live video blogging of the competitions. With a real-time chat screen. This was the first time either was attempted at this event (last year's even had some time delayed video, but no interaction). The live video/chat enabled family, friends, colleagues, fellow baristas and coffee growers whose beans were being represented from around the globe as well as curious folks like me to witness the competition with close up camera work while engaging in ongoing conversation as it was happening.
In many ways watching the competition remotely was preferable to taking a seat in the bleachers and watching in person (very little talking inside (kinda rude to do so), poor sight lines, hard to see the details that mattered for scoring).
There was also a conference blog that included video interviews from the show floor, some session reviews and even some light entertainment.
I'm going to post a few things about this event as more information is made available on specifics of how it was done and what the Association hopes to acheive with ongoing social networking initiatives. The dynamics are pretty interesting as several members of the production team themselves are coffee industry bloggers who put their own content aside temporarily to write and produce for the benefit of the Association and its members and prospective members.
All in all quite interesting to see what a mainstream event (non-tech) can do vis a vis live real-time production. And that the Association in question did not have a prior reputation for innovation. Now it does. The feedback from those in the barista community has been overwhelmingly positive. The question is, how to measure the value of what was just achieved and how to interpret those results going forward.
October 04, 2007
Facebook Apps: Event Connector
I'm doing this one for a new acquaintance who messaged me over on Facebook this morning.
Pete Warden has a Facebook app he's put together called "Event Connector". It's basically a widget that announces to the world that you're going to some event and will compile a list of friends and friends of friends on Facebook who have also stated their intent to attend the same event. You can also place the widget on TypePad and Blogger blogs.
I don't yet see a payoff in mainstream conferences (although certainly niche tech and social network events should be all over it). But it would be a boon for local and regional events near universities or those that target students or recent grads most likely to be Facebook users.
And yes, that would include consumer shows.
July 09, 2007
The Marketing Conference I'd Like to Attend Even If I Don't Sell to this Audience
Do you ever run across conferences that have little or nothing to do with you, your hobbies, your current business or your golf game - yet you want to go anyway just to attend and sit and listen?
This is my choice for 2007: Mashup, run by the folks who produce YPulse, the media site for marketing to teens (those of you I met in Milwaukee at NACS - this was the "youth marketing company" I referred to during our session).
The Mashup agenda is extremely compelling. It's a race for me as to whether I'll need to be marketing to these kids in 10 years or whether I'll be semi-retired by then. Regardless, I think understanding how this age group perceives media and marketing is already extremely important to anyone in B2C. That there are teens on the panels is interesting and I expect, fascinating.
Unfortunately I won't be making it out to SF for Mashup. Other more important priorities and commitments with the coffeehouse. And I've only got a couple of toes in show biz. You've got both feet. I'd suggest checking it out.
Here's the punchline: organizers told Guy Kawasaki he couldn't speak at the conference because he was too old. One can imagine they think Tom Peters is already dead.
Besides, if you didn't attend, how else would anyone over 30 year old learn about something like this?
May 09, 2007
It's Hard to Evangelize Crap
Really, you can watch the whole 15 minutes of video for the details and character development, but the line above is the plotline and the keeper quote.
And it's not just blogs. It's difficult to evangelize anything that's crap, really.
One might go so far to suggest that if people don't want to take the time to blog or podcast your event out of their personal love for the content, then your event might be, well... crap.
If that's really the case, can't help you. But I don't think we're quite at that point yet (and I'll explain a case study situation near and dear in a forthcoming post).
Still, we might be at that point by 2010 or 2012 when most Americans are getting news from blogs and/or podcasts (maybe without knowing so) (or not). In other words, it really is time to start thinking about podcasts and live blogging. 2010 is only three years away. For some of you, that might be your next event.
So what is it about your event that's worth blogging or podcasting? And why aren't you encouraging the broadcast of that content already?
If your concern is money or time or resources, you really don't need any of those - they'll find you. You don't necessarily even have to maintain a blog full time. For revenue, if you have worthy content on site that merits broadcasting, savvy advertisers will fall all over themselves to give you money.
Likely there's more than enough potential revenue out there in your industry to pay for hobbyist freelancers or industry pros to create your coverage for you and have some $$$ left over. So you don't really need your own people. It's self-amortizing, or at least it should be.
Link originally found on Converstations (still one of the most useful small biz marketing blogs, even if Mike does ramble on about Iowa).
November 01, 2006
Who's Checking Your Referrers?
We may... I repeat may... restart this TSMR thang again. One difference - it will be more tactical and more focused on creative, specifically copywriting/offers/merging traditional direct mail with electronic direct response methods, as they relate to events. I used to be pretty good at that before I got caught up in the show management merry-go-round. It's still somewhat a passion.
But, this post has nothing to do with that. I had an experience yesterday that merits your attention, because something similar could be happening to you right now and unless you're turning over every stone, you might not be aware.
A site called ProfitableHospitality.com had our coffeehouse blog on a list they called "Running Out of Steam - blogs that haven't updated recently". We learned this through clicking on a referrer from that page.
There were a half dozen blogs on that list. Some hadn't been updated since summer, some not since beginning October, some look like they've departed the blogosphere.
Unlike TSMR, Aldo Coffee has been up to date since day one. The longest recent stretch our blog has gone without an update was three days in August. 72 hours. And the longest period of no updates in our entire existence - six days.
That's hardly "not updating". But to read ProfitableHospitality.com, you might well think we gave up the ghost - possibly because of hard times or whatever dire conculsions one draws from this type of information.
But we're entirely healthy. And still blogging regularly.
So when we undelicately brought this erroneous information to Mr. Ken Burgin's attention - he runs that blog - Mr. Burgin wrote us back a cryptic note saying "nice and friendly!"
As if we were supposed to be understanding of this site's incompetence and lack of fact checking. They BROADCAST incorrect information that we weren't keeping our blog up to date. They didn't come to us and ask what was up before doing so. They apparently didn't even think to look up the dates of the individual posts. They just published something that, assuming they have critical mass of readership, would be harmful to us.
If you're going to cite yourself as an expert on a subject and your site as an authoritative source of information on that subject, does it not behoove you to show responsibility to your market? Like simple fact-checking?
Pisses me off. If it were you, it would piss you off too. It's for these reasons many people mistakenly write off blogs as garbage and bloggers and incompetent yahoos.
But here's the thing. Without me checking that referrer link, or in absence of the referrer, performing constant Aldo Coffee ego-searching on Technorati, search engines, RSS, etc., we'd never know that error was being published.
In the larger scheme of things, it's not that big a deal. Ken took us off the list (and off his site altogether it seems) so there won't be further damage. (And Ken, if you're reading this, congratulations - that's progress!).
What if he said something much worse. What if somebody said something absolutely vile and horrible about your event that had no basis in fact (or perhaps did have some basis, but was completely exaggerated).
Like they say, "If it's on the internet, it must be true." And a scarily surprising number of people actually do appear to believe that.
How would you know if someone was doing a hack job on your event or site? Who's job is it to monitor what's being said online about your events and your company? Who's following all the referrers to see the context of all those link sources?
If the answer is "nobody", I suggest you get someone on it. Quickly.
July 17, 2006
Here's the Problem, Seth... Too Many Designers Aren't Great
Seth Godin put up a post today titled, "How to live happily with a great designer," that by now is probably on the desktop of every graphic designer with internet access.
Problem is, Seth's post only applies to a small percentage of them - the ones who are actually GREAT designers.
This attitude of, "we know better than you," that permeates far too many not-great ad agencies and not-great designers is problematic. If you want my respect, then be the business partner I'm paying you to be. Listen when I give you the strategy and not come back to me with some leftover idea that Client 1058 didn't sign off on.
Trust me, I can smell it in your smugness.
My employers and clients have won awards on projects where I've done client-side creative direction. But it's doubtful those projects would've received notice had I let the agency have its way.
Btw, those awards are in a drawer. It wasn't the awards that mattered. Never is. It was that the campaigns worked.
So if you're talking to me, I don't give a damn about awards. Yes, many clients say that. I mean it. Show me the designs and campaigns that made millions in profits or launched an unassailable brand.
And tell me why what you did worked when someone else could've done a faster and cheaper campaign with supporting facts. If you're honest, I might believe. And hire you.
Missing the Target?
Glad the week of guest blogging at Mimegasite is over with. That was a lot more work than I'd planned. There are probably more words in that one week of posts than in a garden-variety Seth Godin e-book. (Which only means that Seth is a much better editor than I).
While Kevin Holland noted the "meatiness" of the posts, there's still much more to say.
But truthfully, I'm quite ambivalent about saying more.
If you don't sub to Mimegasite, here are the links:
Monday: You First
Tuesday: Who's the Attendee? Who's the Exhibitor? Who's Creating the Content?
Wednesday: Easiest Path to Attendance? Events People Want
Thursday: The American Idolization of Events
Friday: Aligning Your Marketing with Your Markets, The Final Episode
Happy reading. It might take awhile. So why not curl up with a nice cup of press pot Brazil Santa Ines...
June 14, 2006
At ECEF Wed & Thurs
Mike Hough was nice enough to invite me down to ECEF in DC this year for some blog coverage, and we're happy to oblige.
Look for more here next couple of days, including photos of this evening's reception and session coverage on Thursday - hotel and convention center wireless willing.
June 12, 2006
Just for this week let's pretend I never left.
Some time ago, back when there daily (or more) posts over here, I mused how I didn't want TSMR to become another of those tiresome blogs about blogging. The result was that once I stopped talking about blogging I realized most of what was left to talk about was M&A activity and industry gossip. Not much to discuss on the marketing front.
I think one of the reasons to not become one of those despised blogs about blogging was that there were so many at the time that were basically an echo chamber. The same thoughts by the same people discussed, digested and dissected with often unoriginal thought. Each day felt sort of like cable news covering another highway chase.
That's changed recently. The better business blogs have matured - as expected, quality rose to the top. And one doesn't need to be an A lister to be successful - one only needs to get to the right people.
I haven't yet met Mike Sansone. One day that will happen. But since I'm no longer on any conference commitees with any of our trade associations, I would strongly suggest that y'all consider Mike if you're looking for a speaker on blogging.
Mike's latest blog, Converstations, is a marvel to read. If you don't know squat from blogging, you could choose worse places to start. His posts rarely laud entire blogs for their worthiness. Rather, Mike notes specific posts on marketing and blogging that any reader can make sense of and copy. Newbie bloggers can follow Mike's blog and learn in a very short amount of time, the type of content that works for one's market, how to write posts, how to market one's blog, how to use the blog as part of an integrated marketing campaign.
But you needn't be a newbie to enjoy Coverstations. If, like me, you've been blogging for a long time, but aren't a tech, Mike's blog tells you what's working for RSS readers and analytics packages, and provides updates on other useful tools. Not to mention he introduces several new blogs each week that we as marketers may wish to follow.
It's worth the daily read. I suggest you add Mike's feed to your aggregator.
Btw, Mike first came to our attention because he follows our coffeehouse blog and has used us as a case study in his own seminars. So we know he's got good taste in the blogs he chooses to discuss.
June 03, 2006
I Got Yer Long Tail Right Here
I have posted all of 13 times to this blog so far in 2006. That's about once every two weeks.
Still, we get an average of 500 visitors daily. That's about half of what we were getting at our peak when we posted 12+ times weekly.
Since almost all the posts here are "old" in blog terms, there are no "new" posts responsible for driving traffic. Thus, those coming to the website are primarily finding us via Google searches. The 500 daily visitors are looking for 500 different things.
That's your long tail.
We're doing next to nothing, but we're getting half the benefits we got when we were doing much more.
Sadly we'll have to go back to work with ECEF coming. We'll be blogging that event from DC. Thankfully there are no sessions on blogging. Matter of fact, I think most in the show industry decided to pass on blogging for good.
As well they should. It's rare you'll find anyone in this industry willing - or even capable - of putting forth a blog with passion of the subject, authenticity of the author and transparency of the process. All three are necessary elements. Without all three you shouldn't even bother.
But if you are interested, give a holler.