Tag Archives: convention sales

A Logo Is Not a Brand

Casper, Wyoming, has “released a new brand” OilCityWyo.com announced last week. It would have been okay if it was just poor wording that a business or destination could release a new brand. But it was aided by the destination marketing professional when he stated, “This community has never had a brand and you get one shot.” Sorry, Aaron McCreight, but Casper has had a brand since the city was founded after the Fort closed. It may not have had a logo to communicate the brand, but it’s had and has a brand.

This isn’t intended to pick on Casper and Aaron. They are merely the spark to share a piece I dusted off recently: A Logo Is Not a Brand

Lots of organizations come to our company, Advertising for Humanity, asking for “a new brand.” They typically mean a new name, or icon, or a new look and feel for their existing name. Lots of people think that brand begins and ends there – that once we shine up the name they can stick it below their email signature, pop it on their website, and, voila, they have a new brand. Much of our work consists of disabusing people of this notion.

Brand is much more than a name or a logo. Brand is everything, and everything is brand.

Brand is your strategy. If you’re a consumer brand, brand is your products and the story that those products tell together. Ikea’s kitchen chairs’ tendency to fall apart after two years is part of the company’s brand. If you’re a humanitarian organization, brand is your aspirations and the progress you are making toward them. Share Our Strength’s audacious goal to end child hunger in America in five years is its brand. The work the organization is doing to get governor after governor on board is its brand. Its seriousness is its brand. Back in 1969 NASA didn’t have the best logo. But man did it have a brand. It has a nicer logo now – but the brand no longer stands for anything. If you don’t know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there, that’s your brand no matter what fancy new name you come up with.

Brand is your calls to action. If Martin Luther King had offered people free toasters if they marched on Washington, that would have been his brand. Are your calls to action brave and inspiring or tacky? Are the consistent with some strategy that makes sense? Getting more Facebook “likes” isn’t a strategy, in and of itself. If you’re a humanitarian organization, the things you ask your constituents to do are your brand.

Brand is your customer service. If donors call your organization all excited and get caught up in a voicemail tree, can’t figure out who they should talk to, and leave a message for someone unsure if it’s the right person, that’s your brand. It say you don’t really care all that much about your donors. If they come to your annual dinner and can’t hear the speaker because of a lousy sound system, that’s your brand. It says that you don’t think it’s really important whether they hear what you have to say or not. If the clerk at your checkout counter is admiring her nails and talking on her cell phone, she’s your brand, whether she’s wearing one of the nice new logo caps you bought or not.

Brand is the way you speak. If you build a new website and fill it with outdated copy, you don’t have a new brand. If the copy is impenetrable – a disease of epidemic proportion in the humanitarian sector – that’s your brand. If you let social service jargon, acronyms, and convoluted abstractions contaminate everything you say, that’s your brand. If your annual report puts people to sleep, that’s your brand. If it’s trying to be all things to all people, that’s your brand.

Message is the central part of your brand, but message alone cannot make a great brand. How many times have you encountered a product or service that didn’t live up to what the copy writers told you about it? That disconnect is your brand.

Brand is the whole array of your communication tools. Brand is the quality of te sign on the door that says, “Back in 10 minutes.” It’s whether you use a generic voicemail system with canned muzak-on-hold, or whether you create your own custom program. The former says you are just like everyone else and you’re fine with that, the latter says you are original. You might have a pretty sale banner that adheres to all the right visual standards, but if it’s sagging and hung up with duct tape, that’s your brand. It says you don’t pay attention to the details. Can you imagine seeing a crooked banner with duct tape in an Apple store? Never. And that’s their brand. It says that the motherboard in the Mac isn’t hanging by a thread either.

In the digital age, user interface is your brand. If your website’s functionality frustrates people, it says that you don’t care about them. Brand extends even to your office forms, the contracts you send out, your HR manuals. Do you rethink traditional business tools or default to convention? The choice you make says a lot about how innovative your brand is.

Brand is your people. Brand is your people and the way they represent you. Having a good team starts with good hiring and continues with strong and consistent training and development. No matter how well your employees adhere to your new brand style guide, if they couldn’t care less about the job they’re doing, that’s your brand.

Brand is your facilities. Are the lights on, or is your team working in darkness? Is the place clean and uncluttered? Does it have signage that’s consistent with your visual standards? Does it look and feel alive? You home is your brand.

Brand is your logo and visuals, too. A great brand deserves a great logo and great graphic design and visuals. It can make the difference when the consumer is choosing between two great brands. But these alone cannot make your brand great.

Ultimately, brand is about caring about your business at every level and in every detail, from the big things like mission and vision, to your people, your customers, and every interaction anyone is ever going to have with you, no matter how small.

Whether you know it or not, whether you have a swanky logo or not, you do have a brand. The question is whether or not it’s the brand you really want.

Copyright 2011 Harvard Business School Publishing. All rights reserved. From http://www.hbr.org. By Dan Pallotta.

Trending Now… Trends

It’s the most wonderful time of year… for #trends. You know, the speculations and forecasts of initiatives one must undertake next year to keep up with the Joneses. There are marketing trends and social media trends; e-mail marketing trends, content marketing trends, website trends and even customer service trends.

We were recently reminded that perhaps we need to not worry about the “next big thing” and get back to the basics. These 32 Marketing Tips are great, but what if we got back to the very basics of business, people relations, and simple kindness? Customers might find us and our businesses more pleasing. We might have lower stress, and 2015 might be the best year ever.

New Year 2015 Loading Background,happy New Year Template

Smile. We’re stressed. We’re busy. We have a dozen things on our mind when we greet that customer. They don’t care. They want to be treated like they are the only agenda item that day; the only thing on your mind. Heck, maybe they’ll smile back and make your smile genuine!

Be Positive. Whether you are positive or negative, the situation doesn’t change. So we might as well be positive. Our cultural conditioning teaches us to find flaws and problems at all times. Shift from fault-finding to appreciation-finding.

Compliment Someone. Give genuine, personal compliments. You are so kind with co-workers. You listen so well before assisting the visitor. “I like how you remember everyone’s birthday.” You compliment every co-worker each week, it’s gonna be a very positive work environment!

Write A Note. Don’t type it. Write it. Do you remember pens, paper, envelopes, stamps…? Hand write a thank you note, or a compliment. It’s far more personal than an email or text. And the positive impression is far greater!

Let Someone Merge. Hold a Door Open. You remember common acts of chivalry for us guys, kindness for the ladies. Be a Scout and “Do A Good Turn Daily”!

Pick Up A Piece of Trash. You’ll make your city look better. You’ll make the front of your business look more inviting. Disney managers carry trash tongs. They recognize it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep things tidy. You can’t rely on the ‘wind sweeping down the plains’ to sweep the sidewalk or parking lot.

Be On Time. It’s respectful and courteous to with whom you are meeting. It’s less stressful on you.

Pray For Your Customers and Business Partners. It’s said “As long as there are tests in the classroom, there will be prayer in school.” Well, as long as there is stress in operating a business, there will be prayer. We are instructed to pray – “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Of course we’re thankful for customers and business partners! Why would we not want to petition for blessings upon them?

They’re simple. They’re easily forgotten in today’s hustle and bustle. Put on that smile again. Be kind. Write a compliment. Keep things tidy. Staff morale will improve. Your business team will be strengthened. Customers will want to come back. And your business will stay healthy.

Something to add? Leave your comments below. Thanks for reading.

12 Tips to Grow Your Email List and Grow Your Business

When it comes to email marketing, you know how valuable your email list can be. But coming up with new ways to get people to sign up for your emails isn’t always easy. That’s why I have put together a collection of list growth ideas! Here’s a dozen ideas to grow your list and take your email marketing to the next level!

Whatever methods you use, be sure to start with a reason “why” someone should join your email list. What’s in it for them? This will make it more likely that people will say yes. Now to the list:

Email Marketing Image

1. Use a paper sign-up sheet. Set at the counter a legal pad with First Name, Last Name and Email Address across the top.
2. Ask face-to-face. Train yourself and your employees to always be asking prospective contacts to sign up.
3. Look at your database. Don’t overlook the obvious. You probably already have a database of contact who would love to join your list. As them to sign up.
4. As your family and friends. Look to your personal network to kick start your list growth.
5. Put a fish bowl on your counter. Maybe customers won’t write an email address on the legal pad, so give them an incentive to drop in a business card to join your list.
6. Over the phone. When you are speaking to a client, ask them to sign up.
7. Sandwich Boards. Using a sidewalk sign or sandwich board to bring in foot traffic? Tell passersby about all the great info, discounts, and news they’ll find by signing up for your emails.
8. Add a sign up link to your email signature. Get more exposure for your email list by including a link in your regular emails.
9. Use a brochure. Giving out flyers, flyers, or pamphlets at the store or the office? Let people know your emails are the best source for up-to-date information.
10. Run an ad in the paper. Get the most out of your print advertising investment. Tell people to visit your website and join your list!
11. Run an in-store raffle. Raffle off a prize your customers will love and collect email addresses in the process.
12. Offer a coupon. They go to your site to print the coupon. Before they are able, they provide a name and email address.

Those are a lot of measurable benefits of email marketing. Of course, I recommend that email marketing be an important part of your marketing mix – not the only ingredient in it. However, if you’re not incorporating email into your marketing plan, then you’re missing out on a number of benefits that can improve your overall sales and user engagement for a very low overhead cost and, in many cases, a very limited amount of time and effort. If you’re not continuously adding contacts to your database, you’re missing out on a way to grow your business.

Five Things You Should Be Doing on Social Media But Aren’t

Social media… the marketing world never paid attention to it in the late 90s when GeoCities and SixDegrees were starting.  We didn’t engage with MySpace in the early 2000s.  But then Facebook happened.  It hit 200 million users.  Then 400 million.  (Now 900 million.)  YouTube became the second largest search engine.  Twitter reports 1 billion tweets.  Okay, you’ve got marketer’s attention!

Conferences began offering breakout sessions on social media.  Then keynote speakers.  Now full conferences.  (How Dave Serino’s SoMeT didn’t make the list I’ll never know.)  Books, consultants, reporting standards, even it’s own awards.

Marketing departments and DMOs are hiring New Media Managers.  We’re cutting out print ’cause we can post and tweet for free.  Some are doing it well, some are, well, doing it.  While I don’t profess to have the silver bullet to conquering social media, might I suggest Five Things You Should Be Doing on Social Media… But Aren’t:

1. Using LinkedIn… while LinkedIn’s 225 million users pales in comparison to Facebook’s 900 million, LinkedIn is still nothing to push aside.  Most conference sessions tend to discuss Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for attracting the leisure visitor but LinkedIn can be valuable at attracting conferences and meetings.  I have more than 850 LinkedIn connections compared to nearly 500 Facebook “friends”.  Professionals on LinkedIn tend to connect quicker than those on Facebook so you’re able to grow your network quicker.

How do you use it?  Post.  Your office probably has a company LinkedIn page but do you ever post?  If a DMO, post new features or the TripAdvisor rankings of your convention center or a new hotel.  Sales person has a new certification?  An attractions’ new exhibits.  (Off site functions remember?)

Engage… comment on posts so meeting planners keep seeing Joe Gesortenflort, VisitAnywhereville.  Join groups and again, comment on posts.  When you finally call that meeting professional, they’ll be familiar having seen your name numerous times.

If you have significant news, personal message your connections.  We’re focusing on Facebook and not using LinkedIn.  Try it.

2. Monitoring… what are meeting planners and visitors saying about your destination?  Here’s an idea – create a dummy account on Facebook.  Like the association pages.  Then monitor the dialogue.  “Oh crap!  We’re going back to Anywhereville!?  The 2010 conference sucked!”  Engage your PR department and manage a poor perception.  See what the meeting planners are posting about working with caterers, convention centers, or, gasp – your staff!  Social media allows us the opportunity to hear the chatter!

3. Prospecting… Just went on Twitter.  Typed in “Oklahoma Conference” and before the song on the radio ended, I identified 15 conferences that someone could target.  “Association”, “Convention”, “Summit”, “Conclave”, prospect other states business… search LinkedIn too.

4. Engaging… Social media is not a ‘to-do’ each day.  “Posted on Facebook.  Next task.”  Never to look at Facebook again until the next day when you post again.  (Or worse, you use Hootsuite and schedule all of your posts for the week and never look at Facebook.)  If your posts are truly engaging, people are commenting and asking questions.  They’re posting on your wall and sending personal messages.  All which needs to be responded to in a timely manner.

5. Monitoring (2)… especially on weekends.  An office posted about a parade one Saturday morning.  A prospective attendee inquired about the time.  The account wasn’t being monitored and thus, wasn’t seen until Monday morning.

In an experiment, I picked on the Des Moines and Wisconsin Dells CVBs and the Wisconsin state tourism office this July while on vacation.  While driving through Des Moines my tweet inquired about lunch options.  Albeit it was a short time frame, but I didn’t get a response until after lunch (and we had found some awesome BBQ.)  I tweeted over and over about the water slides, cheese and week in Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin Dells CVB and state tourism office only responded once.  “Looks like you had a good week.”  No alternative suggestions, no engagement, no customer service.

Social media isn’t easy.  But it isn’t overbearing either.  These are but five things you should be doing on social media but aren’t.  Is there a sixth or seventh?  What successes are you having?  Comment below and let me know.

Thanks for reading!

DMAI Convention Summary

If you weren’t able to attend the annual gathering of destination marketing professionals at DMAI’s international convention, that’s okay. I have a summary for you. It seemed like last year’s DMAI convention had a recurring theme or two strung between all sessions – mobile and video. Perhaps it was the diversity in sessions I attended this year but there wasn’t a recurring theme it seemed. Instead five or six good takeaways that I’m sharing with you this month:

1. Motivation… DMAI started the convention with this video…

Very motivating as a destination marketing professional. Throughout (and before in the CDME course) there were a few great motivating quotes:

Destination marketing organizations make people’s lives better! We give visitors experiences and memories. We help people learn about other cultures and how to become tolerant. And of course we make the industry and the community money! Gary Sherwin, Visit New Port Beach

Be courageous. Don’t be timid. Do what you need to do to grow the community. Be thoughtful and politically mindful but lead! Gary Sherwin, Visit New Port Beach

There is nothing about economic development that doesn’t begin with a visit. Chris Thompson, BrandUSA

Create demand for the destination. No one else does that holistically like we do. That’s our core purpose – to tell the destination story. Gary Sherwin, Visit New Port Beach

(Of course we needed the inspiration since this was posted days before the convention: Why the DMO model is broke)

2. Social Media… of course there were sessions on Social Media. The biggest takeaway came from the ROI on a Budget session. In it Charlottesville VA CVB’s John Freeman presented their Facebook approach: Beautiful pictures every time 3 times a day – 820a, 250p and 750p. Don’t have pictures? Ask to repost pictures from Flickr, Instagram, etc. The CVB has never had a no. Force the interaction: Can you caption this? Like if you agree that… Share if you think… Hit like if… Results? 44m impressions in 3 months.

Another session speaker said: We need to be human in our real-time communications. Time to loosen up and have fun.

And an attendee tweeted 5 levels of social media sophistication

3. Data Analytics…Think you have the whole reporting thing figured out? Know what to look for in Google Analytics? Don’t get comfortable. Last year’s data analytics methods are likely out of date this year. Wes Nichols, Marketshare.  His session wound up being an infomercial for a program DMAI will probably roll out soon but I really liked this quote. Tends to remind us that we can’t always be making decisions about the future based on the past – at least today’s quickly changing technological days.

4. Group Sales… Didn’t catch who said this or which destination but one attendee in the shirtsleeves shared: We give a bonus to our sales staff AND award the hotels that send the DMO leads. If the hotel can’t book it, keep it in the destination. Brilliant! Although the award probably needs to be more than a free nights stay at a hotel huh!?

5. Crisis Management… Patrick Tuttle shared wonderful insights from their tragedy in May, 2011 when a tornado ripped through Joplin, MO. His best quote: Be proactive. Don’t wait for the media to call you. They may find another source and you may not agree with the choice. Brilliant!

6. Travel Trends… The greatest increases in how travelers get information? Gave you a hint in the opening paragraph – traveler review sites on their mobile device. Couldn’t go through this summary without mentioning mobile could I? We have four months until more people on the planet own a mobile device than a toothbrush. Today, most people keep their mobile device no further than three feet from themselves-they’re that attached to them. And back to the first nugget – more and more travelers are getting their information from travel review sites on their mobile device. That’s why we need to be thinking Web Presence not just website!

And there you go… a few takeaways, aha’s or nuggets from this year’s DMAI convention.  Need more?  I’ve seen this one.  Thanks for reading!

Town and Gown Relationships for Destination Marketing

In completing my Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) through Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) I had the opportunity to draft a paper on Town and Gown Relationships for Destination Marketing. What follows is the executive summary and excerpt of the conclusion. A link to the full paper follows. I hope by my sharing you are able to glean one nugget that will help in your destination marketing efforts.

As with any partners, town and gown relationships can be either cooperative or adversarial working relationships. City governments and neighborhoods either choose to stay at odds with local universities or colleges or, alternatively, develop programs to communicate and develop amicable partnerships. Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO) in “college towns” are no different. Communication with nearly thirty colleagues revealed that some DMOs are just now establishing relationships with university departments and representatives while others have long established relationships. This paper will reveal five ways how DMOs have collaborated with their local universities to drive visitation to both the campus and community.

DMOs are collaborating with universities to drive travel, tourism and economic development to their communities. This paper has outlined a number of action items for such collaboration. As with most business ventures, they start with relationships – the most critical of which are:

– President’s office. Discuss your interests and goals. How could he/she “open doors for you”? Be mindful that the President could have another goal in mind, however, if you work on his/her goal first, he/she may have more willingness to promote and assist with the DMO’s project(s).

– Recruitment office. Can the community’s information provided by the DMO be included in the recruitment packages? As students begin their schooling and parents are introduced to the school, how can the DMO be a part of the orientation process?

– Athletics department. Can the DMO recruit events that could utilize the university fields and/or facilities? Can the DMO assist in recruiting regional or national championships or simply help service championships that are already coming to the community? You can also discuss clustering community events with athletic events on campus.

– Deans and Department Heads. Would they be open to communications to university staff soliciting meetings and conventions? Being experts in their fields Deans, department heads, and professors are probably speaking at conferences that could be attracted to the community.

The full paper is here: CDME Final Paper Edit. Please note that the paper is an edited version. (CDME only allows for so long of papers.) A longer, supplement with much more content and information from those 30 colleagues will be posted soon.

Thanks for reading!

The Marketing Voices in Your Head

What’s the motivating slogan that runs through your head pushing you up the hill at the end of your run, ten more minutes on the elliptical, or three more reps of lifting weights? Right now I’m using Saucony’s “Find Your Strong” as I recover from a bum hammy and try to get back into shape.

In the business world we might have

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world. “ Mahatma Gandhi

“The only limits are, as always, those of vision.” James Broughton

or “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.” Babe Ruth

If you’re a Christian, you might recite Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

As we head into this year of marketing our destinations (and perhaps planning and budgeting for next year,) what are the motivating slogans that might be running through our heads?

What will be your web presence? This was a headline on a blog over a year ago but because the blogger hasn’t blogged since then, it remains on My Yahoo in my RSS feeds. I don’t delete it ’cause I love the constant reminder that it’s not just about our website, it’s about what all the other websites are saying about our destination.

As the post states, your “strategy should include goals, objectives, target markets, key messages, key words, content management, resources required to add and build your web presence.”

Another way of saying it?  “Online is no longer an individual strategy. Online should be a part of every strategy.”

Sales is always both/and, not either/or. Pulled from 10 Realities That Can Rescue Your Community From Group Sales Obsession, Reyn Bowman reminds us that “marketing includes sales and sales requires marketing. Sales is just one of several important marketing activities and overall marketing is a blend of activities, including but unrestricted by, direct sales. Overall marketing includes diagnostics/measurements (aka research), branding (aka image), earned media (aka public relations), paid media (aka advertising), and post-arrival circulation (aka point-of-sale sales).”

YouTube is the number two search engine… still ringing in my ears from DMAI’s Convention this past summer motivating me to develop content for YouTube! Again, it doesn’t have to be Steven Spielberg HD.  I heard a few times “content over quality”. And keep ’em short! 30 seconds.  No one is going to watch your 8 minute mini movie about your destination.

Email marketing is the new mobile marketing. I highlighted this a few months back.  A study revealed strong increases in the interaction of mobile devices with email marketing.  In the first six months of 2012, 36 percent of emails sent were opened on a mobile device – a 32 percent increase over the last half of 2011, when 27 percent of sent emails were opened via a mobile device.  What is it now!? Dare think it’s 50%

Think email is dead?  Not as mobile grows.  And speaking of mobile…

“We used to say ‘it’s not too late to be early to mobile’. I’m here to tell you you can no longer be early to mobile.”  Again, another from DMAI’s Convention.  The facts shared: -smart phones out number desk top computers; – in 2014, mobile search will pass desk top search. If you do not have a mobile version of your website, stop reading now and call your webmaster.  Seriously!  Stop reading and call.  Mobile is here!

Or should I say “Just Do It!”?

Thanks for reading!