So you think you own me?

The previous post You’ve got to deliver what the audience really  wants has provoked discussion in a number of forums and the responses have made for interesting reading, not least because of the seeming inability to move on from old arguments.

So let’s look at the topic from a different angle, by considering two industries closely related to producing live events; so closely related in fact that you would consider them siblings; i.e. publishing and broadcasting.

In both of these industries, the key players are referred to as Media Owners. Because they own the medium through which the content is broadcast. And for years this is exactly what they have done; decided when, where and what information and entertainment their audiences or readerships were going to consume.  They have made and broken many a star, politician or company profit, simply through the editorial decisions they have taken which have influenced the masses.

Conference and exhibition organisers, be they commercial operations, industry bodies or associations, continue to believe that they must operate in a similar way.  Developing programmes of content that they perceive the audience wants, choosing speakers and selecting participating exhibitors (via an economic filter it is true) and presenting a finished product to the visitors at a time, date and venue over which the latter has no control.

Then along came the Internet and social media and the shift in power from owner to audience was seismic.

Because the concept of expertise ownership by a few large corporations doesn’t fit any more.  You can’t tell me what I should be watching, what information I need, or who I should be networking with.  You can’t stop me finding organisations who can’t afford to exhibit at your event or who haven’t got a charismatic speaker, because if their Search and SM strategies are good I can do this on my own.  And, you can’t stop me telling people, a lot of people, about the experience your organisation offers me, within minutes if I so choose.

So let’s bin the argument about virtual not replacing face-to-face; because we all know it won’t.  Let’s stop finding fault with virtual technologies, because frankly some of them are pretty amazing.  And let’s stop pretending that we still own audiences and industries because of the events we produce because we don’t. Let’s embrace the new to enhance the old rather than dismissing it as a fad that has nothing to do with us.

What we need to be doing, with or without the help of virtual technologies, is to work out how we build and maintain relationships with our communities; how we facilitate communication and collaboration between individuals both through a single live day and an online presence; and how we use the unfettered enthusiasm of our audiences to create a profitable business model for the future.

hellen @missioncontrol

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Sense of location will no longer be important in business

It’s a concept that is of no surprise to consumers.  Buying goods from eBAY or Amazon is commonplace and unless the purchase is bulky enough to be collection only then the location of the seller is of no concern.

In business, there are some forerunners who eulogise on the benefits of teleworking and have a network of customer service representatives using leading edge technology to answer queries; and in the respond and repair sector every customer-facing representative is, quite literally, out on their own.

The quote in the title comes from a paper written by O’Brien et al in 1992 and shows that nearly 20 years ago, someone writing an academic paper had already recognised that where you conducted your business was going to be the least of your worries.  Not having read all of the paper, it’s difficult to know exactly what aspect of business the authors were talking about.  You would hazard a guess, given the timing, that maybe outsourcing was involved, or even the beginnings of the teleworking revolution since the Internet didn’t really start to take off until 1996/97.

But their words now look very prescient.  A business in Delhi may have the same issues as one in Dallas, a clinician in Sydney will share issues with one in Stockholm.  Until now, unless they happen to have met one another at an international conference, exhibition, training course or something similar, they would be unable to connect, compare notes and find solutions that transcend national boundaries. 

Social media networks have already shown that business people like to connect with other business people.  Why do they do it?  Because there is safety in numbers.  Just as we talked about yesterday in the post on Consensus of Subjectivity. What businesses need to do is to understand how to harness the power of this desire for connectivity and sharing, while embracing an individual’s need, or desire, to work somewhere else other than Head Office, and that by building a relationship with someone on the other side of the world may just be the answer they need to deliver impeccable results locally.

What Tribe are you?

Collective drummingMasai. Ona. Inuit. Chibcha. Iroquois. Gurage. Aborigine.  Are these the names that come to mind when you think of a tribe?

Anthropologists use the term to refer to societies organised largely on the basis of kinship and more recently commentators are using it to explain the phenomenal growth of social networking.

As human beings we are pre-programmed to belong.  We like being part of a crowd.  There is comfort in concensus.  It’s good to know that we are not alone.

What new technology has given us is the ability to ‘multi-tribe’.  To connect not only with our current work colleagues, but with ones that have moved on but retained an interest in the same area as us, and with peers who face similar challenges to us in their day-to-day working lives.  It enables us to join forces with others who share our passion for a cause, or a sports team or a particular entertainer.

What drives the tribe are the leaders and the creators, the individuals who are prepared to step out from the crowd to declare their interest and their point of view.  In business these are the people who make or spot a trend and are willing to make the first move.  If they have read the signs well they will be followed by the early adopters who will begin to create the groundswell that will altimately draw in the crowds.

The question is…  Are you a leader, someone who is driving the agenda, manoeuvring your message and your marketing strategy to attract clients and customers to your tribe?  Or are you one of the crowd?

I know which one I would rather be.

hellen @missioncontrol

Getting connected

Linked chains

con·nec·tive  (k-nktv)
adj. Serving or tending to connect.
n. One that connects.

Clever organisations are already engaging in connective marketing: joining all of their activities together into a seamless strategy that encompasses all of their internal, online, mainstream media and live communications.

It’s such a simple idea that it’s hard to understand why it is such a new concept.  Why is bringing all this activity together so difficult?

Perhaps it is because events are often seen as an adjunct to, or separate from, the main marketing activity, or that online is so sophisticated that it can only be handled by a specialist agency.

But technological advances mean that this is no longer the case.  Platforms that enable live events to be knitted into the very fabric of online activity are now available; social media can be tied into conferences and disparate workforces bought together to exchange ideas and proffer solutions.

Creating connections has never been easier.

Virtual has been reality for some time

Flight simulatorsChanging attitudes is hard.  Particularly when people believe that what you are talking about could really shake up the status quo.

When we talk about our passion for changing business practices through groundbreaking technology we get a variety of responses: 

  • Event management companies look at the virtual technologies, compare them with their live offering and are generally dismissive, despite results from our recent survey saying that 80% of event directors/managers/organisers think that virtual events represent a real opportunity for the events industry.
  • Corporates who are already using or building different forms of virtual communication technologies can’t quite believe that the technology is as advanced as it is, and are blown away by the simplicity and the capabilities of the system we use – 6Connex®.
  • Business leaders listen politely, technology isn’t their thing, then they have what we call a ‘confetti bomb’ moment, when they suddenly realise just what we can deliver.

Virtual events and connective marketing are not just concepts.  They are business changing reality and they are available right now.

People have been doing things virtually for a very long time already: from pilots trained in flight simulators to buying your train tickets online; building virtual farms on Facebook to checking out health symptoms on NHS Direct; we don’t even question the process.  Twenty years ago the insurance agent came to your house to arrange your car insurance, now you gocompare. Was that so hard?

It’s time to embrace virtual technologies to create collaborative communities that make a real difference to the way the world does business.

Leading from the front…

… or bringing up the rear?End of a race

If you don’t spot the innovation coming you can pretty much guarantee that you have missed the big growth curve.  But that might be OK for you, if you are happy just riding along on the end of the wave.  It’s not as exciting though is it?

And if you are producing the same events, magazines and marketing you were 10 years ago, clinging onto an old business model that is still delivering the goods (just) you are definitely stuck.

Stuck in the mud. Stuck in a rut. Stuck in a working pattern that is ignoring the fundamental shift in business practices that is happening all around you if you would only stop and look and listen.

And changing it is.  So fundamentally and radically that in five years time the media landscape will be unrecognisable.  LinkedIn and Facebook, and other networking sites, will be the new broadcast media pushing groups of likeminded, engaged and empowered communities to their own networks; instant online solutions will deliver knowledge sharing and collaboration across national and cultural boundaries.  It will be a very small world indeed.

So where will you be?  At the forefront of this global revolution or sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone to tell you what to do, or worse sitting there because everything your business is built on today simply vanished overnight?

Three steps? We’re working on it.

Anyone who has had to sit through one of my training sessions will know that I’m a really big fan of Seth Godin.

His insights into marketing and customer behaviour are packed with common sense and desire for top spot on the podium rather than the disconsolate walk back to the changing room.

I’ve been reading a collection of his blog posts in his book small is the new Big and came across one entitled secrets to success yesterday.  You can go to the link to see the whole thing, which I would heartily recommend, but in the meantime here is the one point that really got me thinking:

“Desire to be three steps ahead. One step is easy. One step isn’t enough. If you’re only one step ahead, you’ll get creamed before you launch. Two steps is tempting. Two steps means that everyone understands what you’re up to when you pitch them. Two steps means that you can get funded in no time. Two steps is a problem. It’s a problem because the smart guys are three steps ahead. They’re the groundbreakers and the pathfinders. They’re the ones inventing the next generation. It’s harder to sell, harder to build and harder to get your mother-in-law to understand, but that’s what’s worth building.”

From now on we’re going to be aiming for three steps, and encouraging our clients to do the same.

hellen @ missioncontrol