PCMA day 3: Creating a WOW experience

That's WOW as in "what others want," as well as the usual sense of the word. Lunch ran a little long, so presenters Max Suzenaar and Amanda Marijanovic of Minding Your Business, Inc., had to truncate their session a bit, which was a shame because it was really, really interesting. This is another one I want to talk about in more detail when I have more time (have to run in a few to go to the closing reception), but they showed us how to create a detailed audience profile that includes demographics, psychographics, relationships to industry and organization, and influences and experiences. You can use this profile when defining goals and objectives to make sure what you want to accomplish meshes with your audience's needs and wants.

Max talked a bit about learning = message plus impressions. We tend to focus on the content (message), but tend to short-change the emotional connection to the material that also has to happen for real learning to occur. You need to bring all this together to get that WOW.

They did a really quick skip through an event marketing timeline and developing an event marketing plan, but suffice to say that it's vital to match each tactic you use to a specific objective. Like, say, using save-the-date/calls for papers if your objective at that point in your marketing plan to raise awareness of event dates and to generate excitement. They also talked about how important that first impression is, so take care to make your first communications with potential attendees remarkable.

Another key point was to keep your theme consistent throughout all your marketing materials, and to set goals and track your progress through visual records.

About themes: Make sure they're not just clever catch phrases or things you can hang decor on, but something that really ties back into your goals and objectives.

One thing I loved about this session was that, even though they had to cut a third of their presentation out due to time constraints, they kept in the audience participation part. The best was at the end, where each table had an envelope with the type of attendees you had and the theme of the conference. We had to make up what we'd do to market and then carry the theme through in the conference itself for our attendees and theme. We were kind of doomed, being a three-person table with barnyard animals as attendees and the theme of "partnering for tomorrow" (we decided to do something with greener pastures and bags of oats, but never got to flesh it out).

The winning table, which got $500 donated in their names to the PCMA Foundation (how cool is it that the presenters did that??) had little kids as their attendees. I can't remember what their theme was, but they did invitations that were interactive video games where kids could register from home on the invitations themselves through handhelds, and an awards banquet with a Mario theme where Mario would bump into the blocks and release the names of the winners instead of mushrooms or whatever.

Figures that this winning table was made up of students, doesn't it? They were awesome.

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