Tag Archives: planning

Can You Handle the Truth about Event Marketing and Engagement?


Straight up, here’s the truth – using events as part of your marketing activity is the real engagement that people need and want.

In this post, after initially discussing event marketing, we are going to look at ways to evaluate third party event sponsorship. Thereafter we will provide our usual section on marketing tips and timesavers. This time, the tips are focused on event planners.

We totally subscribe to the fact that we have all become more connected than ever and that the volume of communication has risen.  We would also agree that, to most smartphone owners, connecting online has become as normal as talking to a neighbour across the fence.

What we’d like to suggest, however, is that the value of that communication has decreased. This is mainly because brands appear to be focussing on the channels / tools more than the audience. And anyway, in reality, an online relationship isn’t always reciprocal.

If you look at it from a business point of view – we have staff working in digital marketing, we have community managers, content marketing, online publications and many more methods of communicating with prospects. The trouble is, as we see it, brands are in danger of losing sight of what they are trying to do – which is to make a person feel important.

After all, it is these people that are the lifeblood of our businesses. With our constant analysis, projections, ROI and margins sometimes the human touch gets lost in it all.

Get back to the future by using event marketing to talk to people

Look at this another way – how do we engage with our friends? Well, I for one prefer to talk to them face-to-face. We usually enjoy similar interests but still appreciate each other, if not. Basically, we have trust and we help each other out.

Now we know that a brand is not going to have such a close relationship. Surely, though, it should, at least, try to create an authentic and relevant interaction about whatever it is the customer is using / buying. An excellent place for such interaction is at an event. What people don’t want is for irrelevant brands to interrupt or waste their valuable time.

Since the dawn of time, marketers have known that it is emotions that drive action so I guess we need to go back to the future here. Being real and talking to people through event marketing allow brands to have a better chance of moving people from being watchers and listeners to doers.

At an event, people get to meet the real you, your people and the brand’s personality. We don’t believe that relationships can be based on online impressions, likes, click-thru’s and web traffic. True relationships are action based and as such are about reciprocal bonding – just like in the old days of the local shopkeeper.
Even our friends at www.twitter.com have realised this by recently removing their ‘share counters’ and changing the favourite button to a heart button.

We would argue that the driver of engagement is not online activity but real-life experience. Certainly engaging in relevant conversations online can help nurture relationships. However, by facilitating participation, that allows people to come into real contact with your brand, is how you ensure people will remember you / your business.

Just observe the attendees of any sports event, theatre production etc. what do you see? Emotion – that’s what. It is only by sharing these emotional experiences with them will you truly engage with people and manifest your brand in the real world.

Evaluating 3rd party event sponsorships

In a previous life as Head of Sponsorship in AIB Bank, my constant battle was with our finance people about sponsoring unplanned for, third party events (i.e. not your own hospitality). These would have been outside of my initial budget. They could have ranged from exhibitions at trade shows to large sports activities and small student events.

The most important part of my arsenal was the research element undertaken before I approached them.

Of course, there can be many reasons why a business might sponsor a specific third party event and there are too many to cover here. Suffice to say, though, whatever the reason a business gets involved in an event it must always be based on advancing an overall business objective – in a measurable way.

From a sponsors point of view, here are some items to address in your proposal to the CFO (or to ask yourself, if a business owner).

  • Stick to the details – does the timing and location ‘fit’ with your other marketing activity? How large an audience will there be and does the activity and theme ‘fit’ with your brand message? Don’t engage in deficit funding i.e. absorb the risk from the event owner. Are there other sponsors (are they complementary) and is there a hierarchy (gold/ silver etc.)?
  • Look at the people involved – are the event owners ready and able for a professional sponsorship? Can they deliver on their promises and your objectives? Is the promised audience actually going to turn up? Look at audience demographics from previous events, what level of leads might they be, (executive vs manager)? Can the event add value for your internal audience in any way?
  • Determine what value you will get – Speaking or customer engagement opportunities, lead generation, branding basics, outside-the-box promotional opportunities, digital visibility opportunities, content creation or savings from an advertising budget. How will the audience / customer benefit from your sponsorship involvement? Make sure you include a figure for activation – depending on the type of event start-off with a €1:€1buget.
  • Measurement – measure by cost per 1,000 attendees not media value, how many new customers / leads? include digital analytics if available and summarise with the overall impact the sponsorship should have on business growth.

Here is a very good article based on recent research, from marketingprofs.com, which proves that businesses are using events to reach customers. For example, “nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents say events are one of the better sales and marketing approaches that a firm can employ to engage customers.”

Tips and Timesavers

Whether working with businesses or event owners, a constant obstacle that we come across is the expectation that each party has of each other. This obstacle usually relates to money i.e. who is paying who to do what. That is, the event planner is relying on sponsorship funds to make the event bigger and better – the sponsoring business wants a top return on its investment. Obviously, a clear agreement, backed up by an activation plan, is paramount at the start of the relationship.

We have covered sponsorship from a sponsors’ point-of-view previously, (e.g. here), so here are six tips for the event owner / planner:

  1. Planning and logistics are very important but a waste of time if there is no audience. Make sure you outline a realistic marketing budget and then allow the potential sponsor to augment it
  2. Don’t presume a sponsor will undertake the marketing for the event. Brainstorm to develop some creative marketing ideas – think about digital opportunities the sponsor might want
  3. Don’t be a one-man show. Use a community of designers, social media influencers, techies and PR people. Many start-up businesses might be glad to be involved for awareness and networking reasons
  4. The event really must have its own website. If you don’t have the expertise there are many free templates etc. out there (e.g. www.wordpress.com ). Attach google analytics so you can show results to your sponsor and you can undertake simple SEO yourself
  5. Do we even need to mention that social media should play a large part in the marketing of an event? How about inviting a well-known speaker / performer that you are connected to online? They might even guest write for you or offer a promotion on their own media sites.
  6. Will the event be interesting to any specific media? Don’t just circulate a press release, think about who would want to cover the event story in a specific way e.g. sports vs lifestyle. Link your database to an email marketing system such as mailchimp.com. You will need to send a group promotion piece, so depending on the number, it might be worth upgrading to a system that can handle your requirements.

One caveat to the above tips is that the event you are planning must be relevant to someone, preferably a specific audience and that it would be affordable for that audience to attend.


At the end of the day, an event should be a win: win: win for all parties involved. The owner / planner wants to host a successful event, the audience want to have a wonderful experience and the sponsor / business wants to achieve a business objective. So really, it’s a combination of how the success of the event is measured by all parties, that leads to a better understanding of its value, in the long run.

Here are three other ways to think about an event – i) did it grow (year-on-year)? ii) do the activation insights show an increased appreciation in general? and iii) one for the financial guys – how was the cost per attendee? – total promotional spend / no. of actual attendees = cost per attendee.

As we’re prone to saying here in Ireland – ‘is there any better way to engage with people than to throw a bit of a party’.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K

What Is It About Content Marketing That Makes It So Effective For Building Influence?

building influence

Building influence in your industry sector amplifies your marketing efforts. Having influence can impact the attitude of people to your brand and potentially change their purchasing behaviour.

One of the most effective ways of building influence is through the use of content marketing. We believe that it is one of the most powerful tools that any business should have in their arsenal.

It can achieve many things if done right. It can position your business as an industry leader and provide sales leads, but interestingly it can also be used for building influence.

In the current ever-changing and connected marketplace, providing useful content that makes your business a go-to resource is an effective way of providing a positive customer engagement.

Providing value is the way for building influence.

Through positive engagement, businesses can build relationships and subsequent influence.  At a practical level, having influence will help a) people to buy into the brand, b) to differentiate themselves from competitors and c) to get the team to buy into a founders vision. How do you build this influence? – by providing people with some type of benefit. The recipients have to appreciate the benefit / value provided or they won’t be influenced.

Think about the people who have influenced you in the past. It may have been your parents, a teacher, a sports coach, a work colleague or even a friend. Whoever it was – you probably valued them greatly. Doing so makes them an influence in your life.

Therefore, our point is that content marketing can be a powerful tool to help build influence by providing benefits to your target market. If you can solve a problem or just answer a question, without asking for anything in return, they are more likely to favour you if deciding to purchase a service you supply.

Let’s face it – people are really only interested in what your business can do for them. So they will be interested in your brand if it engages them by making their life easier somehow. It’s not about you – it’s about them.

People are hungry for relevant and reliable information.

Admittedly, nobody is going to put up their hand and say “influence me” but they do want the availability of good information so that they can make quick decisions. This can be for personal or business reasons.

The problem is that there is a tsunami of information being made available online and offline every day. As a result, it is becoming extremely hard for many people to sort the relevant and reliable information from the time wasters. Good content marketing can help them with this dilemma.

We will look at content marketing in a little more detail. Customers want information to help them take the ‘next step’ in a decision process and businesses want it to help build their customer base. Let us say you have decided to assist both parties by providing information. Before you start doing so we would recommend you have a look at our four general principals which you need to commit to:

  • Decide to use content marketing as a strategy (see below)
  • Consider how you will develop content that will be relevant to your audience
  • Agree on a consistent style and delivery schedule
  • How will you facilitate your team in providing good, quick and real content

We have found that if you create content based on your own experience, recipients can empathise more and will view it as being more valuable to them. For instance, the driver of the content of this post arose from a client meeting from last week.

They have decided to pay more attention to their online presence and to commence building thought leadership in their industry. Accordingly, we have embarked on a plan of activity to achieve that objective. In doing so, we thought we might share our thought process with you.

Effective content marketers build a plan of activity.

I guess the hardest part of starting off is putting together a content marketing plan. Here are 7 elements we recommend that you consider:

  • Curate a list of your current content – website, blogs, social media, brochures, newsletters.
  • Determine where your target audience is – what are they listening to / talking about (e.g. google analytics).
  • Align your communication for consistency – tone, keywords, interest, educational, engaging, of value.
  • Choose appropriate channels and tools – social media, video, audio, images, presentations, software (e.g. Hootsuite to help with time management).
  • Plan around specific events – industry events, public events, seasonality, PR/advertising  campaigns etc.
  • Place your plan in an actual calendar – one, three, six or twelve months, whatever suits.
  • If you don’t have the time, get help* – you will be planning, creating, editing, curating, distributing, measuring etc.

* If you do decide to get external help, look for evidence of, i) previous work samples, ii) who influences them, iii) SEO / SEM knowledge and iv) how much they expect to be paid.

Tips and Timesavers.

I think we can agree that no matter how fantastic your product or service is – if nobody knows about them, your business will not survive. Marketing is an essential part of business growth and using a content strategy is a relatively cheap way of gaining a foothold in your chosen market. Quite often these markets are dominated by large companies so not having to compete on budget, levels the playing field somewhat.

There are many ways of over complicating content marketing, but the concept is relatively straight forward.

Create and curate good and reliable content, promote it in the right places and thereby offer value to your audience.

As alluded to above, undertaking a content marketing strategy has to be a conscious decision by you / your management team. Let’s look at five steps you might take to build your strategy into one that will get you noticed:

  • Firstly, ask yourself why do it in the first place? Consider your overall goal – is it to provide a specific solution to customers, to reinforce a brand positioning, to generate sales leads, activate a sponsorship etc.
  • Secondly, determine (with your colleagues / external survey) what type of content your audience wants to receive – how to videos, tips via a blog, infographics, ebooks etc.
  • The third step is to decide where the content will feature i.e. paid, owned or earned media. Your allocated budget will determine to which extent these channels are used for distribution. Either way there should be a mix of these elements.
  • The penultimate step is to decide who will run your content marketing efforts. As mentioned above, if you don’t have the resources (i.e. a dedicated person / team) get help. Agreeing responsibilities, up-front, will help determine your capacity to create and distribute your content.
  • The final step is to consider how you will measure success. There are many tracking tools out there that can provide you with mountains of data. Choose the one that provides real insights into how you’re doing and how you can improve.


So why are more businesses making content marketing an integral part of their marketing strategy? We touched on it earlier in this post. We believe that it is because if you want to build influence with your audience, you need to be providing as much value as possible.

This is why content that offers a distinct benefit that makes your customer’s life easier, will earn you the right to influence them. However, your content must be relevant if it is to provide value. How can it do that?

It should answer a question that is being asked by your audience. At least it should be content that tells the reader how to solve a problem. Perhaps you could give your audience information that may be hard to get elsewhere. Or alternatively, you might provide content that makes your audience think about a topic differently.

Whatever style you decide upon, if you want to persuade someone to take a particular action, you must find a way to benefit them. If you provide relevant value, you will grow your influence.

There is one final question that is on most content providers minds when the publish – Does Google Penalise Duplicate Content? Here is a very good read on duplicate content by Connex Digital Marketing

 Content marketing is a way of making your brand useful to an end-user beyond what your product or service offers. ….O’C&K

“We hope you have enjoyed our marketing tips and timesavers blog” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

At the Christmas Party, dancing is allowed but not encouraged.

Christmas Party Dancing

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

‘Tis the Season to be jolly, but be careful out there.

Yep, it’s that time of the year again. That time, when a lot of companies seem to spend their time panicking over their end-of-year goals, the Christmas party and reviewing the efforts of the ending year. The trouble is though, that when doing so, a company can take their eye off marketing communications, both internally and externally. We will look at some do’s and don’ts for the Christmas Party and then we’ll see what we need to keep in mind when looking ahead to 2015.

Let’s face it, Christmas is not the time to start being somebody you’re not. Just because ‘tis the Season to be jolly’, it shouldn’t mean that you try to be somebody else. For instance, you might have a glass of wine with a customer at lunch, and on your return to the office, decide to be more ‘open’ and tell somebody what you really think of them – this can cause total chaos in the ranks. In similar circumstances, one might feel a little safer to say things online that appear funny to you, but this also might backfire.

The ultimate place to be careful, of course, is at the (in)famous Christmas Party, where people ‘let their hair down’, this is a minefield and it can all end in tears. Not a good start to a new year. Such a gathering is not an opportunity for the boss to wind down or for you to tell her what you really think. You might have spent a long time earning people’s respect – don’t blow it all over a bottle of wine. The goal is to enhance your good reputation while at the same time having fun in a way that doesn’t get whispered about the following week.

Here are some do’s and don’ts in relation to the Christmas Party:

  • DO – thank the boss early in the evening; DON’T – treat the free bar like a buffet
  • DO – eat early; DON’T – talk about work colleagues (or customers) at the party
  • DO – wear party hats or antlers; DON’T – carry around mistletoe
  • DO – cancel any meetings for the next morning; DON’T – discuss work issues
  • DO – dance if you are asked; DON’T – try to repeat the moves from Saturday Night Fever

Without trying to be a killjoy, I believe that you should situate your mood somewhere between merry and jolly and a couple notches short of being full of festive cheer. By all means enjoy yourself but just remember to be careful out there. You have been building your personal brand throughout the year – use the party to enhance it – not ruin it.

Looking ahead to 2015.

Having survived the Christmas Party, what will the New Year have in store for us?  Well, one thing we do know is that customers will be looking for a personal experience with a brand, rather than being sold to. To do this, companies will have to integrate their marketing activities so that the customer experience is seamless, at whatever buying stage they are at. Also, the use of analysis, on which to base their marketing activity, should be more prevalent, so as to obtain a more effective return on their marketing efforts. 2015 will be about being smarter with your marketing communication.

As customer’s expectations (and choices) are rising rapidly due to modern day ‘connectivity’, so too are their expectations that businesses will understand them and satisfy their needs. In this regard, internal marketing will be as important as external marketing. Employees, as brand advocates will be an important element in customer engagement and indeed, retention.

Two elements in every company’s modus operandi will be even more critical next year as more and more people ‘go online’. 1) Local SEO, as opposed to nationwide SEO, will become more lucrative and 2) personal content marketing will be done through storytelling. In general, the online marketing experience will become an increasingly important tool of differentiation.

Tips and Timesavers.

Now is the time to agree your marketing activity for 2015. The very first thing to review is your message. Your message should be an honest reflection of your offering and one that is easy to promote and remember. Here are 5 tips to consider as you plan your 2015 activity.

  1. Revisit your marketing plan (what is your USP?)
  2. Does your marketing  talk directly to the buyer (is your message easy to understand?)
  3. Do you know your marketplace (what is your service’s / product’s appeal?)
  4. Have you a solid marketing image (have you a strong, clear public image, at all touch points?)
  5. How will you make your customer feel appreciated and important (consistent, excellent service?)

So to finish off before we go to our O’C&K Christmas night out this evening, here are some ideas on how to use social media as a layer rather than a channel during the Festive Season. Decorate your social media sites with Christmas decorations just like you would in your office e.g. your Facebook cover. Why not add some visual ‘spice’ to your photos, use Pinterest to help with shopping dilemmas, run contests online for prizes. I presume you have sent a personal holiday email to your customers already or why not create a Vine or Instagram video to wish them Season’s Greetings.

Our final thought is to encourage businesses to support worthy causes. Every business should have some form of CSR activity going on but especially around this time of year, as people’s minds turn to giving. Not only is it achieving social good, but it is also a good way to build goodwill for your brand also. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

We Supported Nurture this Christmas 

  If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course, if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K