4 Quick Tips to Boost Virtual Engagement

4 Quick Tips to Boost Virtual Engagement

Woman having conference call

We can’t manage other people’s internet connections or background distractions, but as we gain more experience and gather knowledge from the teams that have already been doing this for years, we can boost engagement and find the technology and formats that work best. Bouvier Kelly has been exploring these issues – even before COVID – and we wanted to share a few tips and ideas that have worked for us.

 

A Virtual Event Doesn’t Have to Be Digital Only

Though many conferences are seeing record registration numbers, many registrants aren’t showing up or sticking around. One idea to boost engagement and attendance is to generate pre-event connections and excitement.

  • Go old school and send out a pre-conference goodie bag/prep kit. Try including helpful tools like a headset or webcam.
  • Add some of the fun factor back in with prize cards with QR codes or selfie accessories for your networking chats. What you include should be aimed at your attendees, what they like and most importantly why they like coming to your event.

 

Improve Virtual Presentations

For formal presentations or webinars, to help boost your confidence and not lose your audience as you work to communicate your subject matter, the number one tip is the same as it was in “real” life: practice!

  • Ask your team to do some run throughs so you can get familiar with the technology and feel more comfortable talking into the camera.
  • Your test audience can also make sure your microphone and connection work well and that your visuals support your ideas.
  • For sessions and presentations at virtual events, we recommend pre-recording. That way editing can take care of any blips or interruptions, and you can add in some interest by cutting between the slides and speaker. By adding a live Q&A session, you can get the best of both worlds.

 

Get Comfortable with Video Calls

Video calls aren’t going away any time soon, whether we like it or not, so let’s figure out how to improve them. Remember the human connection and relationship building that we lose by going virtual can be built back through the use of a camera and use that as motivation to power through the awkwardness and keep getting better.

  • Similar to presentations, do test calls with your internal team and make sure you understand the software and have the right equipment.
  • If you can’t move your workspace to one with a less cluttered background or better lighting, consider purchasing equipment like a backdrop or some lights.
  • Interruptions are going to happen, so try to be patient with whoever you’re talking to as well as yourself. The more you focus on it, the more it affects the rest of the meeting.

 

Build a Digital Tool Kit

Brochures or one-sheets that are perfect in person and in print don’t always translate well to a screenshare.

  • Consider at least resizing for a screen and going landscape mode.
  • Going a step further, we recommend an engaging web page with all the information your sales team needs available at one click (or many clicks that have anchor links to the appropriate sections). You already have the content in your tool kit, you just need to convert it to a digital kit that’s designed for the job. And if you do it right, you’ll have a tool your customers or distributors can even navigate on their own.

 

The most important thing to realize is that virtual and digital aren’t going away soon. They were here before, and they’re here to stay. The best way forward is to embrace the change. If we cling to the way business has always been done and try to wait it out, we’ll be left behind. Adapt for the future while learning from the past.

Check out more tips on virtual presentations here.

Marketing Insider: Pete Parsells

Marketing Insider: Pete Parsells

Marketing Insider Title

Last week our team had the pleasure of kicking off our new series of Insider Interviews with Pete Parsells, our President and CEO. Through these interviews, we will cover issues surrounding the marketing world right now and how businesses can tackle them. Pete offered insights on finding your audience, supporting a cause as a business and evolving marketing tactics. 

 

 

Bouvier Kelly: The coronavirus pandemic has placed a dent in the wallet of many business owners and corporations. To combat this financial turmoil, some businesses have decided to cut back on marketing activities to save money. Why do you believe that marketing is still worth the investment during these challenging times? 

Pete: Because you can’t leave your audience behind. While now might not be the time to push products or services, depending on your industry, now is the time to get out the message that you are still the right company. Get the word out that you are helping your community during the pandemic or show how you support your audience, but you cannot just stop all marketing, because your company may be forgotten, and it’s hard to come back from that. 

BKI: How do you think that consumer behaviors have changed during these times, and how does that impact marketing? 

Pete: Consumer behaviors have changed. More people care about social issues than ever before. Consumers want to see how businesses are supporting various causes and, once again, what they are doing to help the community. Saying you support a cause, then not proving how you support it can hurt business because consumers are doing their research. 

BKI: Very true. Many people have more time on their hands. Whether it be that they are working from home or facing unemployment, they now have more time to fact-check and do research. How do you think businesses should go about marketing moving forward? What strategies do you think they should implement now, and how should they keep it going? 

Pete: It all depends on your business and your markets. What you do and say all depends on your audience, and even in good times marketing must be continuously evolving. You cannot always go out with the same message. 

BKI: I agree. For example, I think everyone is getting tired of the same “unprecedented times” lecture that’s in every ad. 

Pete: Exactly, and it doesn’t show your audience that you care. You have to say what you are doing for the cause. 

BKI: Why do you think some companies don’t back up their claims of support for a cause? 

Pete: Bluntly, some companies don’t really care. They just want to seem politically correct. Other companies are just trying to please everybody, but any position taken could offend someone. It all comes back to “who is your target audience?”. 

BKI: What do you say to businesses that are feeling the pressure to address social issues? 

Pete: I’d advise them to build a program first, then let their consumers know what they are working on. As long as they have started some kind of involvement, they can say they care and are involved. 

BKI: So, it sounds like you think businesses should stand for something and be involved in their communities to some degree. 

Pete: Yes, to some degree. Maybe not so much for business to business relations, but especially for business to consumer relations. Modern day consumers want to be associated with brands that matter and make a difference.  

BKI: People have an increased interest in ethical consumption. 

Pete: They do. Back in the day consumers were only concerned with getting the product they wanted or service they needed for the best price. That was my generation, but things change with every generation and that’s why marketing must continuously evolve. We have to stay on top of changes. 

BKI: How do you suggest companies stay on top of change? 

Pete: Several ways, but a big one for me is reading. 

BKI: Reading what? 

Pete: Everything. Newsletters, research, social media, even books although they are often outdated. It goes past just a 9-5 job. You’ve got to do some homework. 

 

Infographic: Build Your B2B Advertising Strategy

Infographic: Build Your B2B Advertising Strategy

We wish we could share our Media Department’s planning spreadsheets—they really are a thing of beauty. By meticulously laying out every piece of a campaign’s puzzle, our team is able to visualize both the granular and top-level details. They put this level of detail in every campaign beacuse they know how important it is to leave no stone unturned, all while keeping the campaign’s goals, message, budget and audience front-and-center.

We walked through this process in a recent blog post, but we felt it would also make sense to illustrate these ideas visually. You can check out these main ideas below and use the button at the bottom of the post to download a hi-res PDF. 

What is Native Advertising?

What is Native Advertising?

In today’s digital advertising world, there are a lot of ways to share a message or generate clicks across the web. If you’ve dabbled in any digital advertising efforts in the last few years, you may have heard the term “native advertising” thrown around. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that it’s where over 60% of US digital display ad dollars are being spent. We wanted to take a moment to look at what’s meant by native advertising, what’s involved and what our perspective is on its place in a marketing plan. 

Native ads are essentially an ad placement formatted to fit the format of a publisher in a way that doesn’t scream, “I’m an ad!” A publisher can be any website, really, whether it’s The New York Times or your favorite fashion blog.

The ad’s distinction as paid content is more or less subtle depending on the placement and publisher’s preference. Generally speaking, a small text header saying “Sponsored Content” or “Recommended Content” is how you can tell.

“Hmm,” you might be thinking, “that sounds like a lot of the clickbait ads I see.”

And you’d be right! But not all native ads are clickbait and not all clickbait ads are in “native” ad positions. Any advertisement is an opportunity to trick or scam your audience—it’s up to you to avoid chasing those empty clicks through smart, tactical messaging and creative.

Native advertising opportunities can take many forms. Some can be like advertorials, or paid placement meant to look like editorial content, where you control the message at the cost of that extra credibility you get from the media outlet.

For example, we place native ads on behalf of one client within an industry magazine that begin as a link in their monthly digest e-Newsletter to subscribers. The links look like any other link to an article they’re featuring. When they click the link, though, they land on a page with an article featuring industry expertise written by our client. On the page itself, display ads are featured with only their brand, and a CTA at the bottom directs readers to visit their website or contact them for more info.

Native ad example, courtesy of our partners at StackAdapt.

The primary example of native advertising you’re likely to see could also be referred to as “in-read” advertising. When you’re scrolling through an article, an ad may appear—static, video or somewhere in-between—that feels like part of the website you’re visiting.

Native advertising isn’t about tricking anyone—it’s about tailoring the ad experience to make it less intrusive, more appealing and more targeted.

Sometimes advertisers get a little aggressive, sidestepping that native experience with automatic ad takeover, sound or other intrusive programming features. To keep it truly “native” and get the full benefit of this type of placement, we recommend you trust your targeting and keep your creative relevant. Don’t fall into the trap of digital ads that scream, “I’m an ad, please click me!” You may not get as many clicks, but the ones you do get will be more qualified and targeted. Also, your overall brand image will remain more positive if you don’t frustrate your potential audience. That way, they’ll be more likely to look you up later or be more receptive to the next ad of yours that they see.

If you take one thing away from this post it should be this: Native advertising isn’t about tricking anyone. It’s about tailoring the ad experience to make it less intrusive, more appealing and more targeted.

If you’d like to learn more, give our native ad above a click. 

Brand Study: How Less is More at The Masters

Brand Study: How Less is More at The Masters

As marketers, we constantly hear about the importance of adaptation. How it’s “crucial to keep up with the times” or, “if your brand isn’t evolving to meet the needs of your consumer, they’ll find one that is.

With this constant focus on growth and enhancement, we have to ask: are the good old days of simply relying on brand recognition truly gone? Or is it still possible to achieve marketing success without conforming to the latest trends?

We didn’t have to look further than Augusta, GA, to find our answer.  

A self-proclaimed “tradition unlike any other,” The Masters is considered the best and most prestigious golf tournament in the world. For marketers, it is admired as one of the world’s greatest brands. Since 1934, this annual event has continued to gain popularity and prestige, all while changing very little about its marketing and branding strategies. Even amidst all these lessons on evolution, the brand has found marketing success in staying true to its roots and the idea that “less is more.”

The 2019 Masters had only six sponsors, many of which have been associated with the tournament for several years. Each pay an estimated $6 million annually for their title. But even then, sponsor brands have a very minimal presence: no signage on the course or in the concessions area, a shared four minutes of ads per broadcast hour and other strict rules about how their association with this tournament can be promoted.

It may not sound glamorous, but pure association and less competition can certainly pay off. In 2018, Nielsen estimated a total of $128 million in media value for tournament sponsors. Considering these brands don’t get so much as a logo on a caddie bib, their return is pretty impressive.

Several other original aspects of the tournament make sure this experience is not just one-of-a-kind, but also traditional — and yes, extremely exclusive. Official Masters gear can only be purchased at Augusta National’s gift shop. Tickets are either inherited from a family member or won via a lottery. Caddies wear the classic uniform of a white jumpsuit and a green hat.

These are some of the most recognizable elements of the tournament, and without these seemingly small details, the experience at the heart of the brand would be lost.

Unlike other popular sporting events, The Masters isn’t making millions of dollars in revenue through multiple sponsorships or by licensing merchandise outside of the club’s gift shop. It doesn’t sell TV rights to the highest bidder or price :30 commercial spots at upwards of $5 million. Heck, they don’t even charge more than a few dollars for a beer.

The purity of The Master’s identity is one of its most attractive features. It isn’t bogged down by “noise” surrounding the event; the focus is solely on the game, the players and the experience of Augusta National.

Marketing trends will come and go and there will always be a new method, measurement or message to test. But at the end of the day, our true priority as marketers should be staying true to our brand and our goals — even if that means less is more.

How to Maximize Your Trade Show Appearance

How to Maximize Your Trade Show Appearance

So your team has decided that a particular trade show or conference is right for you. But now you have to decide if you want to be more than an attendee or exhibitor. Should you take advantage of any sponsorship opportunities? And if you do, how can you best leverage those available to you? Let’s explore two key ways to maximize your trade show appearance.

1) Choosing the Right Sponsorships

As we always say, start with your goals. What are you trying to gain from this event? Your primary goal is likely lead generation, though awareness or specific product testing and launching are also popular reasons to exhibit at an event.

Whatever the case, go back to the event information and analyze who’s attending and who’s exhibiting. If a large percentage are decision-makers in your target audience, additional exposure may be a good idea. And if some of your top competitors are showing, this may be your chance to get ahead with exclusive sponsorships.

There are likely to be a few opportunities that specifically yield lead information as well as many more that promise prominent logo display. It’s tempting to go for the logo options as a) they tend to be cheaper and b) they seem to promise the most exposure.

But before signing the contract, ask yourself if the quality of that exposure will ladder up to your goals. How familiar is this audience with your logo? Do you have an option to add additional messaging?

If you’re just aiming to be more prominent than your competitor or show you support the association, it can be worthwhile to select several of these broader awareness opportunities.

However, logo prominence doesn’t necessarily guarantee booth traffic. Many attendees go to conferences already knowing exactly who they’re going to visit. Pre-conference sponsorships or advertising opportunities are often the best way to catch these pre-planners.

2) Maximizing Your Event Sponsorship

Once you’ve decided to sponsor, make sure you get all you can out of it. Update your digital marketing content calendar to include event promotion. Post on social with the conference’s hashtag and @ mention their accounts. More often than not, the show team will then share your post to their audience of attendees.

Emails to your database can include a note mentioning your booth number and subtly promote your sponsorships, depending on what they are.

You can also send an email specifically inviting any attendees to meet while they’re at the show. This could be personal emails from the sales team or a well-crafted email to your database (preferably the segment that is most likely to attend — maybe your leads from last year 😉).

If you’re demoing or launching a product at the show, consider inviting customers or potential customers to an exclusive focus group or launch event. A good public relations team can likely help you make this kind of event happen.

For event success in general, it’s also important to carefully consider if you’re sending the best team members to reach your goals. You may have someone who knows the product inside and out, but do they enjoy talking to people? Will they pursue conversation and networking opportunities? If not, consider training a more extroverted team member who you know will get you the most leads for your money.

Sponsorships can greatly help boost your presence at a trade show or conference when done right. Always look for opportunities that get you in front of potential leads, but only if you have the team capacity to really make it work.

TL;DR

  • List your goals and make sure the tactics you choose ladder up to those specific aims
  • Logo prominence doesn’t always equate to booth foot traffic
  • Promote the hell out of your appearance if you go: social media, email, PR
  • Create unique in-booth events for potential customers to attend
  • Make sure your attending team members enjoy networking and interacting with people

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