End of Net Neutrality Boon for Direct Mail

If experts are right, net neutrality's end will crimp e-marketing dramatically—and boost marketers' reliance on direct mail.

"The impact on digital marketing from the elimination of net neutrality will be profound," says Ryan Singel, a fellow at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society and an expert on net neutrality.

The elimination of net neutrality ends a level playing field in terms of web access.

That means marketers will have difficulty delivering tried-and-true promotions, including blog content, white papers, video, podcasts, ads, news releases and webinars.

It will also cripple the "freemium."

We predict direct mail will surge, as a result.

If you want to stay ahead of the curve, give us a call today.

As far as we know, the USPS is still in business.

Why You Need This 8-Point Crisis Management Checklist

Edward Segal, CAE, contributed today’s post. He helps publishers and associations generate publicity about their events and activities.

Robert Baden-Powell was the British Army officer whose work inspired the creation of the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts. He said that their famous “Be Prepared” motto means that Scouts should think through how they would respond to any accident or emergency and practice their responses. The goal of being prepared, Powell said, is to ensure that Scouts are “never taken by surprise” and can respond immediately to an unexpected situation.

The “Be Prepared” motto is also excellent advice to help your organization prevent, mitigate, and manage an emergency or disaster that could damage its image, reputation, operations or bottom line. Based on my years of experience as a CEO and crisis management consultant, I created the following basic eight-point checklist to help ensure that organizations are “never taken by surprise” and can respond immediately to a crisis, because, as we all know, a disaster can strike anyone, any time.

The checklist is organized around four familiar sayings.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

1. Identify all possible causes and scenarios for different types of emergencies and disasters. Take reasonable steps to prevent or mitigate them as much as possible.

2. What you can do now depends on the nature of the potential crisis, whether it is a finance-related problem, an HR-related issue, an accident due to negligence, a catastrophic failure, product tampering, criminal behavior, a natural disaster, etc. Check with your CPA, attorney, state and federal agencies, and other resources for recommendations on how to prepare for and recover from these and other situations.

If You Fail to Plan, Then You Are Planning to Fail

3. Prepare a basic crisis management plan that you can implement immediately. Seek input and suggestions from all parts of your organization, outside legal counsel, public relations consultants, advertising agencies, etc.

4. Create additional individual customized plans to meet different crisis scenarios such as allegations of sexual harassment, embezzlement, hostage situations, evacuations, criminal behavior by employees or corporate officers, etc.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

5. An organization that is going through a crisis needs to ensure key audiences that it is handling the situation in an effective and speedy manner. But don’t just talk about it–show and demonstrate what you are doing, how you are doing it, and your progress in managing the crisis.

6. Identify or create visuals (photo ops, pictures, charts, graphs, etc.) that show what you are doing. Draft complementary messages and talking points for the visuals that address each potential crisis scenario and your progress in managing it.

Practice Makes Perfect

7. Hold unannounced exercises to practice your organization’s response to different crisis situations.

8. Adjust your crisis management plans to reflect lessons learned from the drills.

By implementing the basic steps outlined above, you’ll also be following another familiar saying:

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Edward Segal is a crisis management and communications expert, PR consultant, spokesperson, trainer and former CEO and communications director of trade associations. Edward offers a one-day crisis management workshop he can bring to your organization. Reach him through his website at www.PublicRelations.com.

When the Culture Wars Come Home

What will you do when the culture wars land on your doorstep?

Are you ready?

Are you ready to be dragged into issues like immigration, diversity, and climate change, because customers begin criticizing you on line?

Are you ready to handle public charges of sexual harassment at your workplace?

Organizations report they find themselves spending an ever-increasing amount of time on high-level issues unrelated to their markets. That wastes a lot of expensive resources.

And the bigger challenge? Most organizations are run by straight, white men, unaccustomed to navigating a fast-changing, multicultural America. They're used to a long-gone time.

But any organization that cares about younger demographics must ask: Would I buy from a tone-deaf, clueless or vile organization?

Social media only exacerbates and accelarates the problem: it lets anyone with a cell phone sully an organization in a few hours.

Axios CEO Jim VandeHei suggests a new way to think of your situation.

"Think of your brand as a political candidate," he says.

"You need to be hyper-aware of how you're seen by your core constituencies (employees and customers) and by the broader public. Be vigilant for signs of erosion in your base; or failing to respond forcefully to negative attacks; or under-utilizing technology to connect with your people in authentic, compelling ways."

If becoming embroiled in the culture wars gives you goosebumps, give us a call.

We can suggest reasonable ways to plan.

One-Stop Blocking

Ultra-convenience is coming to all email recipients—sooner than you think, according to John Murphy, president of Reachmail. And that will mean huge headaches for marketers.

Spurred by the growth of spam, “one-click unsubscribe” is on the near horizon, Murphy says. “While better than current systems for unsubscribing, one-click unsubscribe will cause marketers immense frustration."

One-click unsubscribe will allow recipients to opt out of a list without visiting a landing page where they confirm that, indeed, they want to unsubscribe.

Why is one-click unsubscribe a headache for marketers?

The answer: antispam servers. These servers scan incoming emails for malware, hijacked links, and other hacker techniques by automatically clicking every image and link in the message before releasing it to the recipient. If an antispam server clicks a one-click unsubscribe link, it’s bye-bye prospect (or customer). And she never even knows she’s been unsubscribed!

As every marketer knows, you don’t have to be a spammer to get reported for spamming. It’s only a matter of time before a recipient or two—often by accident—triggers an abuse report. The reports typically result from an inexperienced user clicking “report as spam,” when she merely wants to opt out of an email she considers “junk.”

But, mistaken or not, a mere handful of complaints can result in your blacklisting. While professional email sending firms—by monitoring abuse reports, redistributing email delivery across different servers and IP addresses in real time, and automatically making your emails CANSPAM-compliant—keep honest marketers out of trouble, they cannot, thanks to spammers, halt the IT industry’s steady march toward one-click unsubscribe.

What Would You Do in a Crisis?

Edward Segal, CAE, contributed today’s post. He helps publishers and associations generate publicity about their events and activities.

How would you handle these scenarios?

  • Hackers have taken control of your organization’s website, posting content on the home page and stealing confidential data about customers. If you do not pay a ransom within 24-hours, they threaten to release to the public embarrassing and damaging information from the hacked computer files.

  • Several female employees allege that a member of your board of directors has sexually assaulted them. Other women had filed similar charges against the same board member over the past five years.

  • As you listen to the radio during your drive home after a long day at work, there is a news bulletin that a gunman has killed at least nine people at your trade show.

  • These and scores of other worst-case crisis scenarios can be more than hypothetical events. They can turn into real “Oh, my God!” moments that, if not properly and effectively managed, will threaten the image, reputation and brand of your organization; put your organization at legal risk; and jeopardize your bottom line.

    Here are some key questions to consider about your risk and exposure to a crisis:

    Are you in denial? The Crisis Hall of Fame is filled with those who were faced with unexpected natural disasters (the recent hurricanes in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico or the wildfires in California), human caused tragedies (the shootings in Las Vegas, Orlando, and San Bernardino); hacked customer files (Equifax, Yahoo, and Anthem health insurance), and customer-service fiascos (pick a major airline), to name just a few. Think it can’t happen to you or that you have plenty of time to prepare later? Think again.

    Are you really ready? Have you done everything possible to ensure you are prepared for when a crisis hits? The multi-billion dollar MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, had to hire an outside public relations firms to help manage the aftermath of the recent shootings there.
    If an international conglomerate needs help in a crisis, what message does that send about your own readiness?

    Do you assume too much? Don’t think that an emergency won’t happen after business hours, on the weekend or a holiday, or when you and other key players are out of town, on vacation, sick, or inaccessible.
    What others assumptions do you or your team have that would make it harder to respond to and manage an emergency?

    What can you learn from others?
    With all-too-many examples in the news to choose from, study the good, the bad, and ugly ways others have responded to and managed their crisis. It’s obviously better to learn from the mistakes of others than to make the same mistakes on your own.

    What are you waiting for? Given the obvious importance of properly preparing for a crisis that could throw your organization into turmoil or a tail spin, why wait until it’s too late?

    Edward Segal is a crisis management and communications expert, PR consultant, spokesperson, trainer and former CEO and communications director of trade associations. Edward offers a one-day crisis management workshop he can bring to your organization. Reach him through his website at www.PublicRelations.com.

    Event Marketers Missing Out, Cvent Study Shows

    Ray Schultz, writing for Mediapost, surfaced the most arresting—and actionable—findings of a new study by Cvent. His article appears below in its entirety.

    Email is the most used channel in event marketing—almost all attendees receive it before conferences. And it is important in post-event follow-up. But the targeting may suffer because of the difficulty of collecting data, judging by a study by Cvent.

    Of 406 event professionals surveyed, 75% feel they are not up to speed on integrating a wide range of data to build attendee profiles.

    That said, 81% believe that it is important to integrate data from conference attendees’ physical and digital footprints. Yet only 20% feel their organizations are extremely or very good at this.

    And only 29% think they are extremely or very effective at basic data collection, with 23% who believe they are good at using it. Finally, 38% understand what their attendees are doing onsite.

    Prior to events, “attendees mainly see email from event organizers and visit event websites prior to attending,” the study notes. Email is first on the list, with 94% receiving pre-event messages, and 77% visiting websites. Mobile apps, used by 30%, are a very distant third. A mere 15% receive SMS messages. And the event world has barely touched virtual or augmented reality.

    What information do they ask for prior to events?

    Of those polled, 88% request full contact information. In addition, 61% ask for the industry sector, 36% the product or service interest, and 35% their decision-making level.

    That’s not precisely what they get. The study found that 86% of attendees give full contact information, and 43% their product needs or wants. This is based on a separate survey of 200 event-goers. In addition, 42% supply their decision-making level. Finally, 38% reveal their session picks and 32% reveal their interest in attending other events

    On-site, 70% collect registration data and 50% gather session attendance. Plus, 46% collect session ratings and feedback, and 42% conduct surveys.

    After the event, 83% go for overall event feedback, and 51% for interest in future events. And 42% ask for product and service interest.

    How long does it take to market an event? Over half say their window is under four months.

    Email is the primary channel in the follow-up process, with 66% conducting post-event email surveys. In contrast, 38% track social media posts or engagement activity. And 37% respond to sales inquiries tied to the event

    “Email remains the preferred source of business communication,” says Brad Gillespie, vice president of enterprise marketing at Cvent.

    He adds, “For marketers, the email address is the identifier that we use to associate the contact with communications across other channels, therefore obtaining a person’s email address and maintaining the accuracy of that record is essential.”

    Gillespie continue, “For events, marketers rely on email at every stage of the event lifecycle for communication, and the biggest opportunity for event pros today is keeping the conversation going post-event. The post-event survey, usually delivered via email, is the first step in this process but there are many others. Sellers and marketers alike depend on email to reach attendees with post-event follow-up and related updates.”

    Post-event data is utilized in planning future events by 74%, and overall event measurement and ROI analysis by 64%. In addition, 62% use it when marketing future events, with the same percentage for post-event communications

    Over two-thirds of the respondents say they believe in integrating attendee data with their CRM systems, and a similar percentage scores high on integrating event data with social media.

    Running on Empty

    Most nonprofits are running on empty, according to a new survey by BDO.

    Forty percent have less than six months' reserves; thirteen percent have none.

    The financial picture's worse among small nonprofits (those with annual revenue under $25 million).

    Loss of revenue can cripple a nonprofit. That's why BDO recommends keeping liquid reserves for at least six months.

    Executive directors and board members in a bind over money have a clear choice: they can hide their heads in the sand, or take action now to bolster income and reserves.

    The economy's rolling, but the joyride can't last forever.

    Pick up the phone an call a few revenue-generation experts today.

    Associations' "New Normal" is Suddenly Clear

    You probably wonder what your association's "new normal" is.

    We have detected the answer.

  • Community is the new normal.

  • Community is your value proposition for the 21st century.

  • And your events are the gateway.

  • But most associations are marketing their events based on a 20th century model.

    It's not their fault: it's the result of marketers' and event planners' training, which is 30 years out of date.

    If you'd like to learn how to extract more non-dues revenue from your events—and make them more relevant and viable—please get in touch today.

    We have something you'll want to read, Growing Your Event: 10 Magic Bullets for 2018.

    Go here for your free copy.

    Because repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results has to stop!

    It's 2017, not 1987.

    Become a Thought Leader

    Edward Segal, CAE, contributed today’s post. He helps associations generate publicity about their events and activities.

    Becoming a thought leader can pay important dividends for you and your organization. It can help draw favorable attention to your organization and its products and services; create or reinforce your image and reputation; and help increase your bottom line.

    Here are five steps you can take to become a thought leader in your industry, profession, or in the eyes of the general public.

    Be an expert

    • Select topics or issues about which you have knowledge.

    • Have or develop a track record of writing or speaking about your topics or issues to groups and organizations in the industries or professions in which you want to be considered a thought leader.

    • Stay ahead of the curve by thinking about your field beyond today and sharing predictions or forecasts that illustrate your authority in the field.

    Be a joiner

    • Join or lead groups and organizations that are more likely to help establish your role as a thought leader.

    • Volunteer to serve on committees or task forces that can bolster your expertise and add to your credentials as an authority.

    Be visible

    • Identify, create and take advantage of appropriate opportunities for you to be seen as an expert or authority, including speeches, presentations, and media, blog, and podcast interviews.

    • Post on your website or social media platforms links to articles, interviews, speeches, etc., that you have done about your areas of specialty.

    • Practice your ability to prepare and deliver short, pithy and memorable quotes that will be used by journalists and bloggers in their stories about or interviews with you.

    Be a student

    • Keep current on the trends and developments in the areas in which you are or want to be considered an authority.

    • Study other thought leaders inside and outside your industry or profession. What can you learn from their successes that you can apply to your own efforts to become or stay a thought leader?

    Be persistent

    • Identify or create new opportunities to position yourself as an authority and expert.

    • Maintain a blog to which you post on a regular basis, and install a widget so that people can be notified about each new post.

    • Reinforce your role as a thought leader in ways that you have not done before, such as writing a book, starting a blog, becoming a public speaker, or proactively seeking media interviews and speaking opportunities.

    • Set monthly, quarterly or annual goals and milestones of important activities and accomplishments that can help you become and remain a thought leader.

    • Becoming a thought leader can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you act like you are a thought leader, the more likely it is you will become one.

    Edward Segal works with clients to help them stand out from the crowd by creating and taking advantage of PR opportunities; attracting the interest of the media; generating publicity about their activities and accomplishments; writing attention-getting op-eds and other press materials; and coaching them on how to deal with reporters, deliver successful presentations, and make memorable presentations. He is the former CEO of the Beverly Hills/Greater Los Angeles Association of REALTORS® and Communications Director and CEO of the Marin County Association of REALTORS®. He is also the author of two PR handbooks including Getting Your 15 Minutes of Fame and Profit by Publicity , and a contributing editor for Present with Power, Punch and Pizzazz. Reach Edward at edwardsegalcommunications@gmail.com.

    What Should Your Attendees Cost?

    Convene recently asked, "How much should you spend on marketing your meeting?"

    According to Dave Lutz, CMP, and managing director of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, it depends.

    "After studying 100 or so meetings’ profit-and-loss statements in great detail, I can confirm that this expense line item varies greatly," Lutz says.

    "Some organizations spend as little as 2 percent and have a very healthy conference product, while others rack up spending in the 20- to 25-percent range and are on life support."

    According to Lutz, you should:

  • Spend 6% of your total budget on marketing, if you have an expo; 12%, if you don't.

  • Spend 6%, at most, when you have loyal attendees.

  • Lutz notes that large conferences with hundreds of speakers typically spend 20-25% of their total budget on marketing.

    We have a simpler formula: regardless of your event's budget or size, or whether you have an expo, spend $100 per attendee (give or take a few bucks).

    There will be exceptions, of course; times when you must spend more (if you are starting up an event, for example; or targeting C-level attendees only); and times when you can spend less (when, for example, you're running what's essentially an expo, but calling it a conference because that sounds nice).

    How did we learn our-rule-of-thumb?

    Experience. Tons of it.

    And quite a bit of original research, too.

    CEIR reports that average attendee-acquisition costs currently range from $14 to $20 per person.


    Our own past research, done in the 2000s, showed acquisition costs then ranged from $68 to $80 per person.

    An attendee acquisition cost of $100 per person today is just about right.

    Influencers Can Boost Your Event's Attendance

    Influencers now occupy a central role in the event marketer's mix, writes Elizabeth Johnson in TSNN.

    Johnson asks three event-industry veterans to describe how influencers function to attract attendees.

    Ed Several, senior vice president, Reed Exhibitions, says influencers often function like teachers who help attendees "understand how best to participate in an event.”

    Renee Lewis, president, Infinity Management Group, says influencers function like restaurant and movie reviewers and represent "the most powerful way to convince new attendees to attend.”

    Bob James, president and chief storyteller, Bob & David James, says influencers "amplify" your marketing messages—provided you help them do so.

    Don't leave influencers to their own devices. Befriend them before your event, welcome them on site, and treat them like valued members of the trade media.

    “Be ready with soundbites, avoid jargon, and help them shape the narrative," James says.

    Read the full story here.

    New Survey: Email, Direct Mail Members' Faves

    Email is association members' favorite marketing channel, according to a new study by Edge Research.

    The firm asked over 1,000 members to rank marketing channels by preference.

    One in two (56%) chose email. The member's age is not a factor (41% of Millennials, 49% of GenXers, and 48% of Boomers chose email over other channels).

    One in three (32%) chose direct mail.

    Only one in four (26%) chose social media.

    The study also found:

  • Email also is the leading choice of "super members," "rank-and-file members, and "value seekers."

  • Millennials and GenXers want more frequent communication than Boomers.

  • "Loyal members" want detailed updates more than twice a month.

  • Two additional findings of the study should freak out any association marketer worth her salt:

  • One in two members feel absolutely no connection to their association.

  • One in two also feel that associations' content is imersonal.

  • Trade Shows: Where Good Leads Go to Die

    Event automation provider Certain asked 150 B2B marketers (all with large companies) how long they take to follow up leads after in-person events.

    The answer will shock you. Or maybe not.

    Three in four (74%) take four days or more.

    Almost none (2%) follows up the same day they capture the lead.

    Marketers don't follow up faster, because it takes them time to prepare the approach, and because they lack the tools they need to accelerate follow-up.

    Who follows up varies. Nearly half (47%) rely on marketers to follow up; 29% rely on sales reps; 22% rely on event planners.

    How they follow up also varies: 52% use email; 23%, phone; 28%, social; and 7%, direct mail.

    Exhibitors, please you can do better than that!

    Here's how.

    HAT TIP:
    Thanks to Gary Slack for bringing the research to our attention.

    “Associations are Sitting on a Mountain of Data"

    Lou Ann Sabatier, keynoter at the annual meeting of Association Media & Publishing (AM&P) told attendees in June their organizations "are sitting on a mountain of data" they can use to drive growth in membership, member engagement, and revenue.

    Not only will big data analytics help drive different facets of growth, she said, but are crucial to association publishers who want to respond intelligently to shifts in audience needs.

    “Business intelligence can make publishing professionals aware of market changes on a more timely basis," she said, "which enables associations to respond more quickly to member needs.”

    To help association publishers benchmark their activities, Sabatier's consulting firm next month will conduct AM&P's first all-industry study of association publishing in over a decade.

    Data-gathering begins September 5, when AM&P members (and qualified non-members) will get an email requesting their participation.

    The survey will close September 29.

    The information Sabatier seeks is so far-ranging and complex, several association staff members may have to participate, to complete each survey.

    All associations completing and returning the survey by the deadline will receive the study’s executive summary, raw data, and analysis in November.

    The study will later become available for purchase by non-participants.

    Currently, association publishers must base many of their business decisions on whatever they can learn by asking their own members about new trends in information needs and media preferences.

    That's fine, except for the fact that many of the "readership trends" members identify turn out to be idiosyncratic wants or momentary fads.

    Publishers lack a bigger picture.

    “The interpretation of the data will provide members with the ‘so what?’ answers that this industry needs right now," Sabatier told attendees.

    Hidden Rot: Association Email Lists Are Filled With Decay

    by Ray Schultz , Columnist

    The following first appeared in MediaPost's Email Insider

    Associations are avid emailers. But their email lists are plagued with “hidden rot,” and they don’t even know it, according to a study from Bob & David James, an association marketing agency, conducted by the Association Research Board, a related company.  

    “All e-mail lists are vulnerable to rot,” states David James, vice president of Bob & David James. “Business-to-consumer lists decay 30% a year, and business-to-business lists are even more foul — decaying 70% a year. But the survey shows many association executives don’t get that.”

    Of the 97 association marketers surveyed, only 18% said they were aware of an increase in undeliverable addresses in the last year. Another 58% said they were unaware of any decline, and 26% were unsure. 

    But this flies in the face of evidence that B2B lists are eroding overall. James cites a Return Path study showing that inbox rates fell from 87% to 85% during the same period.

    And now that they were thinking about it, 57% of the association executives estimated their decay rates ranged from 10% to 20% per year, and 37% were unsure.

    Worse, 54% had no idea whether their lists are cleaned by an outside service. A lesser number — 46% — believe their files are scrubbed at least once a year by a vendor.

    One problem may be that there is no market pressure on associations to do better. Only 5% rent their email lists to third parties, meaning that 95% never hear complaints about poor quality.

    And their own targeting isn’t very good — only 29% segment their lists only to promote their annual conference to a portion of their contacts. 

    “People have started to think that their organizations are immune to the fact you have to clean lists,” James says. “We know it in postal, but they’re ignoring it in B2B email.” 

    He adds that associations often think that "people cancel their lives and open their emails.” 

    As proof of the volatility of B2B email lists, James cites a Biznology survey on business cards. Of 1,200 respondents, 65.8% changed their title or function in the same firm, 42% altered their business address or company, 42% had a new phone number and 37.3% a new email address.

    “That’s a pretty good indicator,” James says.

    He also mentions an Oracle study showing that “the quality of data is the third greatest concern to marketers.” 
    Associations are avid mailers, however. Of those surveyed, 27% sent emails to their lists between one and five times per week. Another 28% sent emails weekly, and 25% sent them at least monthly.

    In an earlier survey this year, Bob & David James found that 62% of respondents use email compared to 27% for direct mail and 12% for telemarketing.

    And a study released this week by Edge Research and Community Brands shows that email is the channel of choice for professional association members.  

    Of 1,025 members surveyed, 56% selected email as the medium that is easiest to consume and understand.
    James wryly says that this could be because emails are easy to delete. 

    Commenting on his company’s earlier survey, James says that over-reliance on email is hurting associations.
    They are plagued by “low inbox rates, dismal email response, and over-digitalized members,” he argued in May.  
    So what can associations do to clean up their act? Regular cleanings. "It's like going to the dentist a couple of times a year," James says. 

    He argues that “routine list cleaning isn’t only a best practice, it’s a survival tactic for associations. Think about it: if you allow the hidden rot in your e-list to go untreated, the whole thing can become useless in just 18 months.”

    He adds, “Be sure you date-tag old addresses, and keep a close eye on open rates for them. Any decline in opens should tell you you’re overdue for a cleaning.”

    Of the executives polled in this Q3 2017 survey, 77% lead professional associations and 23%, trade associations.

    EG: No One over 21 Admitted

    Know the optimum length of an email Subject line?

    It's 21 or fewer characters, according to a new report from Yes Lifecycle Marketing.

    Although constituting less than 5% of all emails sent, emails with Subject lines under 21 characters generate the highest open rates, the report says.

    In fact, Subject lines under 21 characters generate a 31 percent higher-than-average open rate.

    The report, Subject Line Benchmarks: How Length and Personalization Impact Email Performance Across Message Type and Industry, bases its conclusions on an analysis of more than 7 billion emails.

    The report also says:

  • Emails with Subject lines of 10 characters or fewer generate an open rate of 26%, twice the average open rate.

  • The majority of emails (74%) have Subject lines between 21 and 60 characters; they generate a below-average open rate.

  • Over 20% of emails have Subject lines longer than 60 characters; they generate the average open rate.

  • Short Subject lines are critical in tech and retail; but not in financial services, publishing, and hospitality and travel.

  • "While shorter subject lines can sometimes stand out in the inbox, especially on mobile, length is only one of the many email components marketers should take into account when developing their campaigns," says Michael Fisher, president of Yes Lifecycle Marketing.

    "The key is still to give subscribers enough information up front."

    The full report can be found on the company's website.

    Want to remember this rule-of-thumb for Subject line-length?

    Think EG.

    Email Guidance: No one over 21 admitted.

    “There are Going to be Radical Changes:” An Interview with The Expo Group’s Ray Pekowski

    An interview with Ray Pekowski, author of Lessons of an Entrepreneur: How to Grow, Take Risks and Survive. Outskirts Press, June 2017. 113 pages. Proceeds donated to charity.

    Want to master business? Be a servant. That’s the core message of Lessons of an Entrepreneur, the new book by The Expo Group’s chairman and CEO, Ray Pekowski. Like a total eclipse, a self-help book penned by a trade-show exec is so rare it’s worth celebrating. Ray’s is full of personal stories and anecdotes, which makes it breezy and entertaining. Bob James interviewed Ray about the book.

    Bob: Employees, customers, and vendors encouraged you to write this book. Lots of CEOs are visionaries. What did you do so differently that they asked you to write a book?

    Ray: A lot of the encouragement was due to the system we first rolled out back in the late ‘80s. Streamlining all the processes for the exhibition industry was radical back then, but I had this vision the industry needed to change. It was radical if you keep in mind the time and place—1987. Technology then certainly wasn't what it is today. So that experience lies behind the book, and so do the experiences I’ve had with my first partner and with the people who have worked with me over the years, who watched my transition and went through all the difficulties with me. Over the years, people would just encourage me, “You should tell your story.” Finally. I ran into a woman, Colleen Rickenbacher, and she, quite honestly, pushed me through it. I wouldn't have done it without her.

    Bob: You describe many formative experiences. What’s one formative experience you omitted from the book?

    Ray: In my first sales job, I sold women's shoes, and the owner of the store taught me how to not lose a sale. If I couldn't close, he would tell me, don't let the person walk out the door without having another rep try to sell her a pair of shoes. He was a little guy, but very successful. That's something I took away from him: just because you don't have a relationship with a customer, another person within your company might, and that can deliver a sale.

    Bob: “Servant leadership” seems to be your favorite term. I know what that is, but what’s the opposite of servant leadership?

    Ray: You can dictate and demand things, push down on people and direct them to do what you want them to do, or you can help them and serve them. I always found that when you dictate or demand, yes, you may get immediate results; but if people are doing things because they're directed or mandated to, and don't believe in them, it's going to be a short-term win.

    Bob: How does the idea affect your customers?

    Ray: I hope my direct reports, and their direct reports, and then all the way down to the people in the field, practice servant leadership every moment. Then, everybody is helping the next person—who just might be one of our customers. Everyone needs to believe: “Let’s not worry about who's right and wrong, let's just get through problems and help the customers.” That's one of the most pleasing things of all to me. An exhibitor recently lost its freight before a show, and it wasn’t going to arrive in time. Our people got involved and got the exhibitor set up so it could do business, and didn't charge anything. You can write “be a servant” in a book or a policy manual, but people won’t feel empowered to act like that unless you do yourself.

    Bob: Every successful person gets a “big break.” What do you consider yours?

    Ray: When I first started in the industry—I was still teaching and coaching at the time—I went to work for this decorating company that put me in audiovisual sales, because they thought, since I was a teacher, I'd know how to sell audio visual. There's no correlation, trust me. I was with the company maybe three months when my boss said, “I want you to go make a sales call. We didn't get the decorating, but the customer needs audio visual. You need to go see him today.” That scared me; but the guy's my boss, and that's what he told me to do. So, I went over to the Hilton Hotel, and picked up the lobby phone and asked for Joe O'Donnell. The switchboard puts me through to Joe's room. He picks up the phone. I say, “Hello Mr. O'Donnell, I'm Ray Pekowski. I understand you're in town for a training show.” He says,  “I don’t know what you’re talking about” and hangs up. I thought maybe this was a hazing moment for the rookie, but don’t see anyone standing in the hotel lobby laughing. So, I call again. The phone rings. He picks it up. I say, “Hello, Joe, this is Ray Pekowski. I want to see you.” He says, “I don't know who you are and I'm getting very annoyed at you for calling my room. If you keep calling me, I'm going to come downstairs and we're going to have it out.” And he hangs up. I say to myself, “Gosh, I’m going to be fired from my job because I can't even get the guy to talk to me.” I call again, but this time I say to the switchboard, “Give me Mr. O'Donnell's room, please—the other Mr. O’Donnell.” I introduce myself to the man who answers, and he says, “Great! I've been expecting your call.” There were two Joe Diamonds in the hotel that day. Long story short, I sold that customer, at which point the boss said, “We're moving you out of the audiovisual division to the trade show division.” That was the start of my career.

    Bob: You write in the book, “Business is about finding a niche that provides something that either is not being done or can be done better. We had the better.” What’s the enemy of better?

    Ray: Complacency. If you have a fine-running machine and you're making money, you’re reluctant to change. But even though I’m at the tail-end of my career, I am constantly looking around for new ways to fill needs in our industry. People know I'm amenable to listening to new ideas, too, so they bring them to me. Yes, we’re getting larger, but the entrepreneurial spirit still lives in our company. I'll share a story. Five years ago, the industry was asking, “How do engage attendees through social media?” Dana Freker Doody, our VP of communications, came into my office and said, “Hey, I've got an idea that could be a solution.” When she told me the idea, I said, “I like it.” When she told me how much it would cost, I fell off my chair, but said, “Let's go for it!” That’s just how we do things—the servant leadership model allows for that. Right now, I’m going through this whole experience of working with a book publisher, and it’s showing me, “Hey, there's some things they're doing that could be applicable to our company.” That’s the beginning of the thought process. We don't run with every new idea, because we don't have the finances to do so, but we encourage our people to present every new idea.

    Bob: You survived a crisis that started in 2009. But you had a contingency plan that got you through. Why don’t all executives have plans like these? 

    Ray: I watched Clint Murchison, the owner of the first company I worked for, lose 240 companies—fast. I learned from that experience you must have a plan in place for any contingency, and I put that in practice. We update our contingency plans when we do our budgets every year. It can help you survive. I always remind our guys, “Things are going well right now, but they won’t always go so well.”

    Bob: Lots has changed in the event industry since you joined it. What is the one change you would like to see take place in the industry during the five years?

    Ray: What I'm most excited about is the position we're taking as a company to help people perform at a higher level. Right now, a lot of executive directors in the association world are paralyzed: they see their shows declining, but won't take risks. We’re ready to help them. The drayage model, for example, isn’t a law—or, if it is, it’s an archaic one that I’d like to see changed. The Europeans, who don’t charge for drayage, did some due diligence on the end-costs of shows back in the ‘90s. Pulling the numbers into the US model, the bottom line comes out the same. In other words, it’s just a difference in where the dollars are being spent—there are different ways of billing the same money. We’ve just introduced a pay-for-performance model. We're saying. “We believe in you, and you believe in us. So, let's partner. And if we don't perform, you don't pay us.” It's not for every show in every sector, but we believe the idea can help lots of associations, and goes back to our mission of helping people. However, those customers need to trust us. There are going to be radical changes, and they’re going to have to give a little; so, they have to believe in us. I always say, there's two major components in any relationship: trust that there’ll be mistakes, and trust you’re going to fix them.

    Bob: What would you be doing, if you weren’t helping to run The Expo Group?

    Ray: I'd be coaching in the NFL. That’s what I really wanted to do. I just love coaching and football. After I graduated, I coached in three different schools. But it's a tough industry—it certainly didn't pay then what it pays today. I had an opportunity to work for the Chicago Fire—a one-season team in the World Football League—but the job paid less money than I was getting paid as a teacher, and I had two children at the time.

    POSTSCRIPT: To learn more about Lessons of an Enreprenuersee Bob's review.

    “Just be Willing to Believe:” An Interview with Digitell’s Jim Parker

    Procast, a "webinar on steroids," lets associations and business media companies monetize convention and conference content—without an upfront investment.

    Available to associations and media companies through our agency, Procast is the brainchild of the Digitell’s CEO, Jim Parker, a pioneer in learning management systems and event livestreaming.

    Recently, Bob James interviewed Jim about the new product.

    BOB JAMES: Why Procast—and why now?

    JIM PARKER: Eighty percent of our clients who livestream content are enjoying success, but the barriers for many prospects are lack of resources, lack of a dedicated budget, and fear of the unknown—which is ironic because, in reality, most of those organizations have been doing webinars for years, and Procast is nothing more than a webinar on steroids. When I started Digitell in 1985, I approached associations and publishers with the concept, “Let me audio-record your educational sessions, duplicate the recordings, and sell them; and I’ll pay you a royalty.” The organizations had a better than 80 percent chance of driving more revenue to its bottom line as a result. I see a similar opportunity today to help organizations enter the online event space by giving them a no-risk option. In five years’ time, a revenue-sharing option like this may go away, because associations and niche publishers will be confident in their ability to do this on their own.

    BOB: So, Procast is a limited-time-only opportunity?

    JIM: It could be. Savvy organizations with too few resources in place to execute online events know it makes no sense to try to run them on their own. Niche organizations with niche content have communities of people across the world, and for those types of organizations, Procast makes perfect sense. We can engage every human being who has access to the Internet and may want to consume the content. That's an incredible market! It blows me away when I see comments like, “I'm in a tiny village in New Zealand, I don't even have cell reception and here I'm watching a livestream from Washington, DC.” Pretty exciting.

    BOB: What’s the revenue opportunity for an association or niche publisher?

    JIM: I think the revenue opportunity is as big as the organization's creativity in leveraging itself across new communities. With online events, it is looking across the entire world, and the organization has a new value proposition for industry partners, members, non-members, subscribers, students, and affiliated organizations. All those audiences could drive new revenue—five to ten times more than the narrow opportunity realized when you engage only your members or subscribers. The opportunity’s even greater when you look at how we can help an industry partner leverage an online event to engage their communities of customers.

    BOB: And you’re not limited to English-speaking audiences, either, correct?

    JIM: Not at all. Think about it: if we convert a course into Spanish, we can drive another significant segment of revenue by delivering it to the South American community. I think we're in the infancy stages of understanding the value of convention and conference content in engaging niche communities. If you're not sure that how that works, look at history—at how magazines, newspapers and TV found business models based on the delivery of content. The only barriers are creativity and a willingness to explore.

    BOB: And, as far as overseas markets go, the 900-pound gorilla is China, correct?

    JIM: Truthfully, it’s probably both China and Brazil. Of course, there’s money in to be made in China, as there is in our own country. But people often overlook Brazil.

    BOB: You mentioned a five X return on investment. But with Procast there’s no investment necessary, right?

    JIM: Just the videotaping. The reason there's so much opportunity is that the investment has gone down to the point where you can ask, “How can I not do this?” Let’s say you videotape eight lectures at your live event, and that costs you $8,000. If you sell registrations for the online version at $300 each, you only need 30 people to sign up to better than break even.

    BOB: What kind of advice do you give people about video production values?

    JIM: Everything you’re doing online around the video—the MC’ing, housekeeping, speaker introductions and so forth—is as important as the actual video itself. You also want your video to convey as much emotion as possible—emotion’s even more important than the content. So, whether you have a live moderator, and then the speakers come on live in between or after their sessions, you must create emotion, and emotion is conveyed through facial expressions. That's crucial. You also want someone from your organization involved in the online event in some capacity, to relate the organization’s commitment to the viewers, who are using their own precious time to join you on line. Now, that person doesn't have to be a rocket scientist. But it needs to be somebody who’s able to convey they care about the viewers who just gave them $300 each and who are spending a day, or two days, on line with them.

    BOB: Could that be done with a proxy; in other words, paid talent?

    JIM: Absolutely. It could be practically anyone. I would say if you think of any TV talk show today, the talent can almost be as exciting and engaging as the guests, if they're intelligent.

    BOB: What about the recorded speakers? What's minimally acceptable production quality?

    JIM: Good quality audio, and an awareness on the speaker’s part that he or she is talking to people on line. A fairly clear HD webcam representation is good enough.

    BOB: What commitment does the association or publisher have, other than turning over the video over to us? What else do they have to be willing to do?

    JIM: Just be willing to believe. They need to believe that content delivered on line is an asset of tremendous value to audiences. Every single client who's told us up front, “This is something we need to do to provide our audiences options,” has been successful.

    Want to learn more? Go here.

    Nine Keys to PR Success

    Edward Segal, CAE, contributed today's post. He helps associations generate publicity about their events and activities. Learn more about Edward here.

    An important part of any effort to generate publicity about your association is understanding and knowing how to get along with reporters.

    I’ve created a list of nine essential pieces of advice about the media you can use to help you achieve your organization’s PR goals. The advice is based on my experience as the CEO of an association; a director of communications for an association; a PR consultant to several associations; and a practicing journalist.

    Do Your Homework. The easiest way to find out what stories reporters are most interested in covering is to ask them, and study the stories they’ve already done. To ensure a reporter will use your press release, write it as though it’s a newspaper story, and include the 5 Ws and the H of your announcement: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.

    Be Newsworthy. Have something newsworthy to announce or talk about. Study different news organizations (print, online, broadcast, etc.) to find out what kind of stories they are covering, and what they consider to be news.

    Remember the Reporters’ Role. Reporters want to satisfy their own needs, not yours. They wear the shoes of the readers, viewers or listeners. While you may have a burning desire to tell journalists about your association, their task is to gather as much information as possible and produce a story that will hold an audience’s attention. Reporters are neither your friends nor your enemies. They are professionals trying to do the best job they can.

    Limit Your Points. Prioritize the three most important things you would like to see in the story about your association, then keep your copy and comments focused on those points.

    Be Brief. The average sound bite is about seven seconds long (and shrinking). If you cannot answer a reporter’s question in the time it takes to read this paragraph aloud, it is unlikely that you response will be used by television or radio reporters.

    Prepare for Questions. Before talking with reporters about your announcement, make a list of every possible question they might ask about it, and prepare a brief and appropriate answer for each question. Don’t try to wing it. If you don’t know the answer to a reporter’s question, say so. Then tell him or her that you will find out the answer and get back to them as soon as possible.

    Know When to Call. Most reporters do not like it when you call them to find out if they received the news release, e-mail, or text you sent them. But most of them will appreciate it if you let them know ahead of time that you are sending them a story that you think they will be interested in covering.

    Be Careful. Assume the microphone is always on when doing media interviews and that every word you utter may be recorded, broadcast or posted online. Weigh everything that you say very carefully, because there is no way to call anything back anything you say.

    Learn from Yourself and Others. After each interaction with the media, think about what worked, what didn’t, and what you will do differently or better the next time. Study the successes and mistakes of others in the public spotlight to help improve the effectiveness of your association’s public relations activities.

    Want PR for your event? Through an exclusive arrangement with Bob & David James, Edward Segal can promote your next conference or convention. Our PR packages range from Silver and Gold to Platinum; and include news releases, backgrounders, white papers, videos, expert interviews and more. Call 202.810.9568 to learn more.

    New Survey Shows Exhibitors Believe Pre-Show Marketing to Grow in Importance

    EXHIBITOR Magazine recently asked over 100 corporate exhibit managers whether they think pre-show marketing will grow or decline in importance.

    63% of exhibit managers said pre-show marketing's importance will grow in importance; and nearly one in five said it will "grow significantly."

    The reason? Exhibiting budgets are under the microscope, as the many advantages of proprietary events continue to outstrip those of traditional tradeshows..

    The other key findings of the magazine's survey reveal:

    85% of exhibiting companies do at least some form of pre-show marketing. The campaigns include many channels: web ads, print ads, postcards, emails, microsites, outbound phone calls, and social media posts; some companies use novel tactics such as "lumpy mailings," as well.

    Of the companies that do preshow marketing, 89% spend up to 10% of their exhibiting budget on the effort. In addition, 71% are spending more than they did three years ago; and 91% expect to spend as much or more on pre-show marketing next year. Currently, one in 10 exhibiting companies invests over 10% of its exhibiting budget on pre-show marketing.

    32% of companies set measurable goals for pre-show marketing and 82% say they have increased booth traffic as a result of their efforts. Other pre-show marketing goals that exhibiting companies set include: increased awareness, increased leads, increased sales, increased ROI, improved in-booth engagement, improved customer relationships, and increased media coverage. And when setting goals, 49% of companies target specific audience segments.

    "Every exhibitor knows that the battle for attendees' attention begins long before the show floor opens," EXHIBITOR says.

    So why doesn't every exhibitor promote itself in advance of the show? We believe there are two reasons: lack of time and corporate "silos."

    Corporate exhibit managers often have their "hair on fire." Who, frankly, has enough time to plan and execute a time-sensitive, multichannel marketing campaign, on top of everything else that needs doing?

    Corporate exhibitors are often marginalized. Due to lack of frequent contact with sales managers, exhibit managers aren't often sure what's the right message to send prospects and customers weeks before a show.

    For today's under-the-microscope exhibit manager, we think PLAYBOOK is the answer.

    PLAYBOOK is a six-part, lead-gen system that takes the uncertainty out of exhibiting, by assuring you a critical mass of ready-to-buy leads.

    It’s designed to drive highly-qualified traffic; engage prospects through gamification; identify ready-to-buy leads; and provide valuable, actionable business intelligence.

    Call 202 810.9568 to learn more.

    8 Ways an Association Event Organizer Can Serve an Industry in Decline

    Michael Hart contributed today's post. Michael is an accomplished consultant and business writer who focuses on the events industry. He also emcees conferences and conventions. His experience as a reporter makes him the ideal facilitator, moderator, and host for B2B events. Call us at 202.810.9568 to learn more.

    Not every association event organizer gets to run CES for the consumer technology industry.
    Some of us – and you know who you are – manage events for trade associations whose industries have seen better days, industries that have hit an economic rough patch.

    Budgets for association member companies are tight, sponsors ignore your voice mails, event attendance drops off and everybody you talk to is grouchy. What’s more, traditionally the annual convention and trade show has been the association’s cash cow and suddenly your president and board are looking to you to do even more to cover the deficit created by declining membership and dues revenue.

    And your association has bylaws that say there will be an event every year – no matter what. What’s a flailing association event organizer to do?

    1. Knock off the self-pity. This isn’t about you, it’s about your association and its industry. There may never be a time when your association’s members need a quality event more. Turn your meetings into clearinghouses where attendees can get the information they need to improve their businesses and provide them a venue to interact with each other.

    2. Make your association leaders understand. This is a new paradigm for them too. Association presidents and boards can easily turn a crisis into an opportunity to tell members that “everything will be all right,” when it’s just not true. You must make them understand that this is the time to redouble your efforts to help your membership.

    3. Abandon the annual meeting. Diversification and shifting consumer trends are hitting many industry associations. Maybe a series of smaller events that cater to unique interests will better serve your industry than a one-size-fits-all annual blow-out.

    4. Give your members research they can use. Commission a high-profile industry research company to compile a report on where the industry is headed and what they can do to get there in one piece. Then make the presentation of that report the highlight of your event.

    5. Let people talk to each other. One of the worst parts of an industry downtrend is the feeling that you’re going it alone. Your attendees need those networking events and roundtable discussions now more than ever.

    6. Ditch the motivational keynote speaker. Especially if they’re a hired gun who knows nothing about your business. Instead, recruit one of your highest-profile industry leaders, the CEO of one of your top companies, to talk honestly about the situation and provide some perspective.

    7. Don’t be afraid to cut expenses. Now is not the time for a golf tournament at a PGA course in Arizona or Florida. Even if your attendees can get their bosses to sign off on the expense, it won’t look good to their shareholders. Stick to the low-cost meeting alternatives and give your members the steepest registration discounts you realistically can.

    8. Turn the crisis into a positive. Your industry will survive, in one form or the other, and, if it perceives that you stuck with it through thick and thin, you’ll have their loyalty for life.

    Associations: We're Sending Too Much Email

    Digital marketing firm informz has released its 2017 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report.

    Association marketers would do well to consider the key findings:

  • Email volume is rising fast, up 12% in 12 months. Nearly 90% of associations worry they're sending too many mass emails.

  • Most subscribers (86%) get 10 or fewer emails a month. (NOTE: The report fails to clarify whether the majority of mass emails are being sent to subscriber lists or prospect lists.)

  • Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays see the highest email volume, accounting for 64% of emails sent.

  • Emails sent in the late afternoon have the highest open rate. Emails sent midday have the highest click-though rate. Emails sent Friday have both the highest open and the highest click-through rates.

  • Mobile is the dominant email client type. Desktop email client usage is dropping rapidly. The good news here: over 67% of mobile readers spend longer than 10 seconds reading emails, compared to 60% of desktop readers.

  • The report also included benchmarks for delivery rates, open rates, and click-through rates.

    Compare informz's findings to those of our own recent survey.

    We found that 62% of associations rely on email to market products and services, while only 27% use direct mail; and only 12%, telemarketing.

    Association marketers indeed are too reliant on one channel!

    "Leading Attendees to Buy:" An Interview with Core-Apps' Jay Tokosch

    iPad-based, Showcase XD lets exhibitors add an interactive digital display to their booths and provide prospects the information they need to make smart buying decisions.

    Available to exhibitors and tradeshow organizers through our agency, Showcase XD is the brainchild of Core-Apps, the leading provider of mobile apps for tradeshows.

    Recently, Bob James interviewed Jay Tokosch, CEO, about the new product.

    BOB JAMES: Why did you develop Showcase XD?

    JAY TOKOSCH: We were attending Summer NAMM and saw an exhibitor using iPads on stands in front of their products. Each iPad was directed to the exhibitor's Website and people could interact with the site, a rather raw way of providing people with product specs. I watched what was going on and said to myself, "What a great idea!" Except there was a problem: people would use the iPad for checking email and surfing websites, so the exhibitor had to have a dedicated staff member in its booth whose only job was to redirect each iPad after it was used back to the company's website. So we set out to take the idea and run with it, while correcting the deficiency.

    BOB: But why yet another digital tool? Don't exhibitors already use lead retrieval devices?

    JAY: Tradeshow organizers tell us their exhibitors constantly clamor for more leads, even though they often collect more than they'd need to at any given event. Exhibitors will scan badges all day, hoping for new leads, but then never, ever follow up. For their part, exhibitors tell us that's absolutely true: they will return home with a big pool of leads, but since they can't recall what products any of the people were interested in, they don't follow up, because it's unproductive. Simply put, exhibitors are exhibiting their wares, but aren't leading attendees to buy.

    BOB: So how does the product help?

    JAY: Showcase XD addresses that core issue. It engages people who visit the booth, while giving exhibitors a "digital trace" of their product interests, so they can follow up productively. It also controls where people navigate, so when a visitor leaves, the iPad is still directed to the right web address. In a nutshell, I would say that Showcase XD is designed to be an attendee engagement tool that does the follow-up for the exhibitor automatically. It also helps attendees to further their decision to buy, and provides information on the back end to the exhibitor that allows it to personalize its follow-up after the show, at whatever pace it wants.

    BOB: And it lets exhibitors save money on shipping?

    JAY: Correct. Exhibitors will now save a ton of money, because they no longer have to ship brochures to shows. What a waste! We all know those brochures never make it back to the office anyway. They get thrown in the trash.

    BOB: Who's the ideal user?

    JAY: It will not only fit the large exhibitor, who needs a sizable ROI in a show, but even the exhibitor in the 10' by 10' booth. Everyone can afford it.

    BOB: How should an exhibitor use the product?

    JAY: An exhibitor can use it as a handheld or on a stand. It's based on preference: there's no particular advantage either way. Using stands in a large booth makes sense, but I can also envision the exhibitor in the 10' x 10' simply standing there with the iPad in hand and presenting the entire array of the company's products on that single device. Right now, that's how most exhibitors are using the product.

    BOB: What's the attendee's user experience like?

    JAY: Attendees get to find out the specs on the product: descriptions, pictures, videos, demos. They get all of that directly while in the booth. Then, when they return home from the show, there's an email awaiting them that summarizes everything they experienced in the booth. It prompts the visitor to recall everything he or she experienced and offers links additional resources. Most importantly, the exhibitor can tell the visitor how to buy the product, something that's rarely, if ever, discussed in the booth, and is vitally important to closing deals.

    BOB: Will that really lead to more deals?

    JAY: It definitely does. The email can be fully branded and delivered automatically, and can say, "Here's all the products you looked at in our booth, here are demonstration videos, and here's the most convenient way to purchase our products." That form of strong follow-up will definitely increase your sales.

    BOB: Are there limitations an exhibitor should worry about?

    JAY: There are no limitations on what an exhibitor can upload to the portal, but the standard product currently allows you to display no more than 10 products or digital assets at any one time on a single iPad. That is strictly by design: it's a matter of iPad aesthetics.

    BOB: Where's all the data about the attendee experience stored?

    JAY: All data collected is stored in the exhibitor's portal in real time, so the exhibitor has direct access to it and can move the data into its CRM at any time. There are also analytics available that show attendees' product-interest levels, by day and by product, and the volume of downloads of digital assets in the aggregate.

    BOB: Is use of the product restricted to tradeshows?

    JAY: Absolutely not! SHOWCASE XD can be used everywhere you meet customers: trade shows, conferences, airports, airplanes, taxis, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, golf courses, offices, on the street, and more. It lets exhibiting companies engage prospects and accelerate sales "anytime, anywhere."

    WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SHOWCASE XD? Call us at 202.641.5131.

    You Wouldn't Waste Food. Why Waste Content?

    You wouldn't throw away leftover food after your association's convention, when there are hungry mouths to feed.

    Why are you throwing away your content?

    Most associations take year-long pains to program great content at their meetings, and capture it on video.

    But, once the meeting ends, most of that video never sees the light of day.

    What a waste! There are hungry minds to feed.

    And a golden opportunity to monetize your leftover convention content while you satisfy those appetites.

    Provided you've captured the content on video (your keynotes, plenaries, breakouts and workshops, in whole or in part), you can deliver that education "live" to a vast global audience―without investing a penny.

    Bob and David James, under an exclusive arrangement with Digitell, can help you capitalize―tomorrow―on yesterday's convention content with Procast.

    Procast lets associations monetize convention content—without an upfront investment.

    Using the video footage you provide, we will produce and host a vibrant, world-class, fully branded online convention―one that sponsors and attendees are willing to pay good money for. How do we know? Experience generating revenue for hundreds of associations like yours.

    You'll be amazed at the additional non-dues revenue―and brand equity―you can generate with Procast, without demands on your staff or your treasury.

    Call us today, to learn how: 202.641.5131.

    Want to learn more? Go here.

    How to Time Your E-mail Blasts

    The secret's out.

    There is none.

    The best time to blast depends on several factors, and differs for different marketers.

    Propeller's Emily Bauer spells it all out in this remarkable infographic, which we're pleased to repost.

    2017 Email Marketing Field Guide from Propeller

    Reposted with the author's permission.

    The D Word

    Q. What's the fastest way to stampede a herd of exhibitors?

    A. Use the "D word."


    Its mere mention thrusts otherwise serene folks into fits of apoplexy, turning lambs into lions and Jekylls into Hydes.

    "Arbitrary and greedy," they gasp. "A complete scam."

    Drayage is the price a tradeshow decorator charges exhibitors to move materials from the convention center's loading dock to the exhibit space on the show floor. Charged by the "hundred weight," it increases as the weight of an exhibit does.

    Exhibitors loathe the pricing scheme, wondering where it originated and why it's perpetuated.

    You can blame J.W. Midgley.

    Midgely was a railroad engineer in the 19th century. He's the man who instituted the "hundred weight."

    The word "drayage" comes from the maritime industry, and denotes the transport of goods over a short distance, often as part of a long-distance move (for example, a pickup of goods by truck from a seaport and their delivery to an inland warehouse).

    The word's also used to denote the price of the transportation.

    Drayage originally meant "to transport by a sideless cart", or dray. These carts, pulled by dray horses, were used to move goods short distances (short because of the physical limitations of the dray horse). Over time, the dray horse was replaced by the delivery truck.

    Pricing the service by hundred weight is a scheme that allowed operators of the various modes of transport (ships, trains, carts, etc.) to charge uniformly and treat all users fairly (farmers, for example, paid no more than ranchers, miners, or loggers to have their goods hauled). It also allowed for easy verification of the charges.

    J. W. Midgley, although disavowing that he originated the practice, took credit for making the hundred weight a national standard for charging for freight hauling.

    Midgley wanted to help harmonize hauling. And that's a good thing, because harmony breeds efficiency.
    Runaway drayage has certainly altered the tradeshow industry, causing, most notably, exhibitors' flight to fabric. (I remember a time when US tradeshows were chock full of hardwall).

    The industry players point fingers whenever runaway drayage gets mentioned. Exhibitors scapegoat decorators. Decorators scapegoat organizers. Organizers scapegoat convention centers. Everybody scapegoats labor.
    But nobody scapegoats J.W. Midgley.

    It's high time they did.

    It's also time to put drayage into context:

  • A woman once asked Picasso to sketch her on a piece of paper. The artist complied, and handed her the sketch. “That will cost you $10,000.” The woman was astounded. “Isn't $10,000 a lot for only five minutes work?" Picasso replied, “The sketch may have taken five minutes, but the learning took 30 years."

  • Hospitals typically charge you $20 for an aspirin. That's because they "cost shift" constantly. They couldn't function if they didn't charge insured patients $20 for an aspirin, because their beds are filled by poor, uninsured patients, as well.

  • Starbucks charges $3 for a small latte, but a whole pound of Arabica coffee beans costs only $1.50. When you buy a latte, you're also paying for labor, store rent, furniture, and college tuition for 4,000 employees. The beans comprise only 20% of the price.

    Exhibitors, sure, you may want to squeeze runaway drayage.

    But remember: when you clamp down on one side of a balloon, the other side just gets bigger.
  • Retargeting: The Best Thing to Happen to Events Since the Postage Stamp

    When it comes to attendance acquisition, direct mail remains the world heavyweight champ, because response rates exceed every other attendance marketing channel by a long shot.

    But there's a new contender on the scene: retargeting.

    With response (click-through) rates reaching as high as 24%, according to Brandon Williams, Senior Product Specialist at Feathr, retargeting is fast emerging as the event promoter's best new friend.

    What is retargeting, anyway?

    Well, it's a web thing. And even if you've never heard the word before, you've seen retargeting at work.

    Think about shopping on line for shoes.

    You check out your favorite website and find the perfect pair of shoes for the summer.

    But you think about your credit card balance and put off buying the shoes until your next paycheck comes in.

    You exit the website, shoeless (for a week, anyway).

    Then, for a day or so, wherever you go on the web, an ad for that same pair of shoes seems to pop up.

    You feel like that new pair of shoes is stalking you.

    That's retargeting in in action!

    The tactic (also called "remarketing") has been shown to lift response rates for B2C marketers by as much as 700%, and conversion rates by as much as 70%, according to Wishpond.

    B2B marketers (including event promoters) can, and do, see the same results.

    “People who are trying to grow their events should use every tool at their disposable," Aidan Augustin, Feathr's president and cofounder recently told BizBash.

    That would include retargeting. Think of it as a series of smart and inexpensive follow-up ads that chase after interested buyers, and you have the basic picture.

    "Usually people don’t end up on an event website by accident," Aidan said. "They were probably led there by a search, or they were led there by a social post, or they typed it in directly. So if people are visiting an event website, they are signaling interest. Retargeting is just a way of converting those people who already expressed interest into registering.”

    If you'd like to learn more, call us at 202 810.9568.

    We promise not to stalk you.

    The Threat to Association Shows

    Association-owned trade shows are under threat, Bob James says on EVENT, the blog of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research.

    Proprietary shows—events hosted by corporations for their customers, prospects, partners and the media—are steadily luring exhibitors from association shows.

    The roaring success of proprietary shows like Adobe MAX, Cisco Live, Dell EMC World, and Dreamforce prove they work—and may represent the next wave of "must-attend" events.

    Other event industry-watchers, like AGS Expo Services’ Evan Garvey, agree.

    You can read Bob's entire post here.

    How Can Associations Catch Up?

    According to David James, "multichannel marketing is eluding associations."

    A new survey by the Association Research Board reveals that associations favor email over other marketing channels, including direct mail, telemarketing, and social media.

    The survey found that 62% of associations rely on email to market products and services. Only 27% use direct mail; and only 12% use telemarketing.

    The survey also found that only 18% of associations use some additional channels to market products and services, including social media and face-to-face.

    “Associations are oblivious to the massive shift in members' buying habits that's underway," David says.

    "They're failing to use the many channels members use, and to understand how members move from one channel to another."

    By favoring email over other marketing channels, David says, "Associations are plagued by low inbox rates, dismal email response, and over-digitalized members."

    How can associations catch up?

    Associations need to go all-in on multichannel to catch up with changes in members' buying habits, David says.

    First, they need to recognize that the audiences for their goods and services have expanded. Businesses have become more collaborative in the past decade. Hierarchical structures and decision-making have given way to "flat" organizations that resemble networks. Multi-member buying teams, comprising a diversity of job functions and seniority levels, now make all the buying decisions. Often these teams are temporary. So, there's no longer a single point of contact, or a single demographic, you can target. The contacts are many, diverse, and temporary.

    With an increase in decision-makers comes longer purchase cycles, greater scrutiny, and higher expectations. Your messages have to survive months for your offering to be considered.

    Meanwhile the start-up sector is exploding, bringing another new mindset to B2B buying. Decisions are personal and decision-makers consider how purchases reflect on their brand and values.

    And decision-makers are no longer largely Boomers. They aren't even Gen Xers. Your buyers are Millennials.

    Next, associations have to learn how to speak to larger, more diverse audiences.

    You need, among other things, to personalize messages for specific people in specific environments. You also need to reach them across multiple devices and channels. And, while B2B audiences seem to be "always on," there are in fact certain days, times and places where you can engage them more reliably. Pinning these down is important. You'll often find audiences checking the daily news on their phones first thing mornings; viewing personal and lifestyle content on a desktop over their lunch breaks; and eyeballing social media accounts on a tablet or laptop during he evenings.

    Lastly, associations have to discover content marketing.

    More precisely, they have to learn what content works, and what content doesn't.

    Traditional association marketing content is long, dry, and product-focused. But because decision-making has expanded and audiences grown more diverse, traditional content could well be backfiring.

    A mix of non-traditional content makes better sense. Blog posts, articles, podcasts, videos, webinars and short-form content (such as direct mail and social media postcards) can be much more engaging and accessible, especially at the early stages of the buying cycle. You can use these formats to provide insights and trends instead of nitty-gritty details; and do so in a more digestible, friendly, and entertaining way. By being a little less talkative, serious, and self-absorbed, and a little more humane, you can cut through the clutter of sales messages that are engulfing today's super-busy buyers.

    5 Signs You Need to Change Marketing Tactics

  • Sponsors and advertisers never return your calls, even by mistake

  • Pocket Fisherman® may be the largest exhibitor at your next show

  • Your alpha audience gets smaller by the hour

  • Your inbox rates are thinning faster than your hair

  • Every chance he gets, your nephew tells you to invest your entire marketing budget in Facebook—and you're starting to believe him

  • It's time to change.

    Bob and David James specialize in helping niche publishers, event producers and associations reach and engage their customers:

  • Sell more—and bigger—advertising bundles

  • Attract new, deep-pocket advertisers, sponsors and exhibitors

  • Capture Millennials' attention and lure new niche audiences

  • Break through the noise and boost response rates

  • Get a better ROI from marketing.

    We've seen your situation from every side... association, publisher, organizer, agency, advertiser, sponsor, exhibitor, and supplier.

    With experience like that, we can help you to pinpoint issues, apply solutions, and get the results you want to achieve.

    What are you waiting for? Call us at 202 810.9568.

    Nonprofit E-Mail Marketers: Are You Partying or Panicking?

    You should do a bit of both. According to M+R's Benchmarks 2017 :

  • Total online giving grew by 14% since 2015, with email generating 26 cents of every dollar.

  • Email lists grew by 10%; email volume, by 10% as well. The average subscriber received 69 email messages in 2016.

  • Email metrics flagged, however. Open rates dropped by 7%, to just under 15%.

  • Response rates dropped by 8%, to just .05%. A nonprofit had to land 2,000 fundraising emails in inboxes in order to generate a single donation.

  • "The truth is that technology, tastes, and audiences change, and change is not uniform," the report concludes.

    "For many nonprofits, online programs are relatively mature. They’re essential, and still growing, but perhaps aren’t seeing the dramatic advances they once did. These nonprofits might increasingly turn to new platforms and nuanced strategies—like digital advertising and website optimization—to make the most of their online programs.

    “You can’t keep playing the same old tunes if you want to stay at the top of the charts."

    Survey: E-Mail Associations’ Preferred Marketing Channel

    A new survey by the Association Research Board reveals associations favor email over other marketing channels, including direct mail, telemarketing, and social media.

    In addition to a reluctance to capitalize on other channels, the survey shows associations have a fondness for “DIY” marketing.

    The findings are based on Quarter 1 2017 poll completed by 100 association executives.

    The survey found that 62% of associations rely on email to market products and services. Only 27% use direct mail; and only 12% use telemarketing.

    The survey also found that 18% of associations use some additional channels to market products and services, including social media and face-to-face.

    In addition, the survey revealed that associations are over-reliant on their “house lists.” Only 25% ever rent or buy outside lists; 75% never do.

    Associations, in addition, essentially practice “DIY marketing.”

    The survey found that 47% of associations do not outsource any marketing services. Fewer than 10% outsource marketing research, marketing strategy, list management, email marketing, telemarketing, digital advertising, or social media. Only 38% outsource creative services and graphic design; and 16% outsource direct mail.

    Associations are missing out, big league.

    Low inbox rates, dismal email response, and over-digitalized members are only half the problem associations face. The other half is "list fatigue."

    If you’re not constantly augmenting your list with fresh names, you’re not going to grow. And if you’re not growing, you’re probably shrinking.

    Associations’ problems are compounded by a dependence on staff for marketing.

    Staff may understand members’ needs and preferences, but they’re apt to be close-minded toward marketing channels they haven’t tried—despite the declining performance of email.

    We live in different times.

    Maybe it’s time to try something different.

    Introducing PLAYBOOK

    Exhibitors spend vast sums on trade shows, often for little return.

    Now that's ancient history.

    Our proprietary trade show lead-gen system, PLAYBOOK, can help deliver real ROI against exhibitors' expenses.

    PLAYBOOK is a six-part, lead-gen system that takes the uncertainty out of exhibiting, by assuring exhibitors ready-to-buy leads.

    It’s designed to drive highly-qualified traffic; engage prospects through gamification; identify ready-to-buy leads; and provide valuable, actionable business intelligence.

    Best of all, PLAYBOOK provides trade show organizers additional revenue.

    Here's how it works:


    We clean and standardize show management’s attendee registration list, appending business intelligence to every record (data like company size, credit score, technology spend, SIC, etc.).


    We send a customized, jumbo, pre-show postcard to all prospects selected by the exhibitor. The postcard drives traffic to the exhibitor's booth by offering attendees the chance to play a cool trivia game and win prizes.


    We send three, customized, pre-show emails to every prospect. Each seeks to drive appointments and traffic to the booth.


    We complete outbound, pre-show in-person telephone calls with every prospect. The calls are used to collect additional business intelligence, pre-qualify visitors and set in-booth appointments, if desired. We also provide weekly progress reports, so the exhibitor can predict the campaign's likely outcome and plan for booth staffing.


    Attendees download our trivia game app to play and win. All trivia questions reinforce the exhibitor's brand or product message. Booth staff act as game hosts, driving face-to-face interaction with all attendees, and game scores are displayed on a real-time leaderboard in the booth. The trivia game app integrates with your show app, and with all lead retrieval systems.


    Within five days, we make post-show telephone calls to all leads captured during the show. We capture additional business intelligence, including product interest, purchase intent, purchase authority, purchase committee members’ names and titles, budget, timeframe, marketing content needs and preferences for follow-up. Leads are divided into three sets, based on lead-time to purchase and further divided into three categories, Hot, Warm and Cold. Leads are streamed to the exhibitor weekly for analysis, assignment and follow-up. All data can be easily uploaded into a CRM.

    Call 202 641.5131 to learn more about PLAYBOOK or to request a brochure. Learn how your can produce better return for your exhibitors, and put extra money in your coffers.

    PS: For more thoughts on gamification, go here.

    Got the Non-Dues Revenue Blues?

    Association Research Board's Q4 2016 Survey shows only one in four association executives describes her revenue-generating activities as “highly successful.”

    With membership and dues revenue dwindling by the day, why do most association executives accept lackluster results from non-dues revenue-generation programs?

    Writing for Associations Now, Katie Bascuas says it's in large part because association execs worry about loss of non-profit status. They worry that straying afield of the association's mission might bring down the wrath of the IRS.

    But that worry's misplaced, as case studies prove. It hasn't deterred:

    AARP, which hawks health, life and auto insurance plans, and now runs a full-service marketing agency, Influent50.

    American Nurses Association, which runs a lucrative medical publishing operation.

    PMMI, which recently purchased a trade publishing house and now produces magazines and journals for the packaging industry.

    Career centers and licensing programs are some of the other non-dues-generation activities associations are embracing, Bascuas says.

    But the challenge association execs face is "convincing staff and leadership to try a new approach."

    Association execs do themselves no favor when they neglect to discuss non-dues revenue with their boards.

    As the Association Research Board's survey shows, one in four executives never discusses non-dues revenue-generation with her board.

    Do Your Emails Scream "Unsubscribe?"

    Are you begging prospects to unsubscribe?

    Maybe you're guilty of one or more of these seven wrongs (nobody's perfect, after all). Any one will cause prospects to unsubscribe:

    Wrong writer

    Does your email read like spam? Your cliché-loving, click-baiting copywriter is the culprit. Replace her with a practiced B2B direct marketer.

    Wrong design

    Half of B2B emails are opened on the run. Do yours look funky on phones? Do you design emails as if prospects will open them on their desktops and laptops? Don't.

    Wrong graphic

    Poster-like emails are the pits. Prospects can't read them (even with "allow images" turned on) and phones choke when downloading them. Avoid posterish images; ugly, outdated ones, too.

    Wrong message

    Are you peddling all the time? Try educating and entertaining more often. Like 80% of the time.

    Wrong product

    Are you romancing someone who's just not that into you (or who once was, but is no longer)? Try personalizing your messages (not just inserting "Dear Andy," but pairing prospect with product).

    Wrong cadence

    Are you sending too many emails? Overkill is Reason Number 2 prospects unsubscribe, says CIO Magazine. You can double your leads by sending no more often than once every two weeks.

    Wrong prospect

    Reason Number 1 prospects unsubscribe? They never subscribed in the first place (or forget they did). Communicate your opt-in and name-use policies clearly. And shun "web scrapers" offering rented names. We can help with that. Contact us at info.me@bobanddavidjames.com.