Technical marketing: events are experiences.
“An experience is not an amorphous construct; it is as real an offering as any service, good, or commodity. In today’s service economy, many companies simply wrap experiences around their traditional offerings to sell them better. To realize the full benefit of staging experiences, however, businesses must deliberately design engaging experiences.” – “Welcome to the Experience Economy” by by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore. Harvard Business Review.
“Special events have become increasingly important as competition forces organizations to look for new ways to get their messages across. Companies recognize that only so much work can be conducted via phone and online. Along with increased demand for special events, and perhaps because of it, the industry has become much more sophisticated.” – “The Event Planning Industry.” Entrepreneur.
A couple of weeks ago I shared my take on a social media paradox where the more we communicate over online platforms the faster the growth of business events where we end up gathering in person.
Today’s reality is looking fairly different from that mostly reclusive world, which some envisioned when looking into the advent of digital communications early on.
I am researching and working on my talk for an incoming IEEE conference while putting together the plan for a corporate event taking place in a couple of months here in Chicago. So, as the day progresses I’m finding myself going back and forth between what I need to get done on either side of an event experience.
In parallel, I am also reviewing notes on behavioral economics and neuroscience making compelling points about the role of emotions and information theory, which I am adapting to what this means to “content delivery and consumption.”
As Alan Alda of Stony Brook University’s Center for Communicating Science would put it, there is a need to “think about the person listening to what [we] are saying; this is not a question about what I know and how do I say it, it is about what’s happening in the receiver’s mind and how they are getting it” – PBS interview. Impactful presentations go beyond what’s just intellectually appealing, merely logical and “on message” to excite and create lasting experiences.
My talk’s storyboard for the IEEE conference includes what I think are memorable references (some anecdotal) that most in the audience will be either able to personally relate to or sympathize with. These are selected glimpses of real life dilemmas faced when innovating and launching emerging technologies. Basically, crisp stories around hot topics, which I portray as emphatic first person experiences in a conversational style.
I am also designing a backdrop of arresting infographic style charts and photographs, which I take pride in crafting. I will immerse the audience in a dynamic demonstration experience designed with a wow factor, stopping short of going overboard. Last but not least, there is the question on how to best engage in meaningful and mutually rewarding conversations before, during and after the event, as well as sharing content.
Switching back to the corporate event, an opportunity presents itself for a company meeting in Chicago. Given cloud technologies’ inroads and the pervasive impact across product lines, it makes sense to scale this to an event hosted at our Naperville Conference Center, which will double as a live webcast followed by any Alcatel-Lucent employee worldwide.
As a result, the agenda now features customers and partners speaking about their journeys in a changing telecommunications industry as well as how we can all best work together to move forward. We are also leveraging the company’s social media and online collaboration platforms to foster conversations (before, during and after the event). This is seeking a Town Hall meeting experience that embraces participation and transcends the event’s time and location constrains.
Our team is also looking into a set of assets generated by and around this event (e.g. blogs, photographs and videos to begin with) as well as new ones building upon them thereafter.
Some years ago I came across “vivific” a Latin word, which I think that can be translated into either “vivacity” or “vividness.” In any case, these are words that convey a feel for engaging and lasting experiences and a metric to go by.
The result should be messages that outlive the location and duration of the event, and meaningful conversations that carry and grow equity. In this context, marketing wise, equity can be measured in terms of confidence levels (credibility and reputation), captured mindshare (relevance) and perceived leadership position (recognition).
As usual, I will welcome any comments, emails, calls and opportunities to meet to further discuss.