In the last post, we wrote about the concepts of mindfulness in your marketing. This time, I’d like to delve a little deeper regarding another session I recently attended on Diversity & Inclusion. The conversation was extremely engaging and taught many about what it means to walk in someone else’s shoes.
Here again the focus is on the word empathy.
There is a focus in all of our communities to become more diverse, but what does that really mean?
For us in the arts and events space, we welcome all individuals regardless of background, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we are making decisions or providing the inclusion necessary for true equity.
Art, in all of it facets, is representative of individual artists and by giving exposure and a voice to those artists in your community, you can elevate the different cultures and begin to make connections that really matter. Embracing different genres alone allow you to engage a diverse population of artists and arts organization and from there, the relationships and conversations can grow organically for the benefit of all involved.
We are all engaged in some form of audience development. By celebrating different cultures and different backgrounds we weave a tapestry that invites more people to participate and feel a sense of true inclusion. Important to all of this are the methods by which you reach these potential audience members. The tools they use to communicate are as diverse as their race, gender and heritage. Be sure that you are also aware to those different channels so that everyone can participate equally in your programming.
With all of that said, diversity, equity and inclusion really begins at the top level of your organization.
Look at your board of directors and leadership. How diverse are the points of view you are listening to? How representative is your organization to the community you serve? Is the representation equitable and fair?
Too many boards are stuck in the old ways of doing business and are lacking from the ability to listen to their changing communities to best reflect the residents and guests that take part in your events. Worse yet are those few organizations that try to “check the boxes” when it comes to diversity and inclusion and wind up with token representatives from different racial, ethnic or gender backgrounds but without a real voice in the decisions being made.
These are very tough conversations to have, but the success of our organizations, events and of our society hinge on the ability for us to all join together and celebrate our communities and reflect our neighborhoods and cities.
Many organizations already have diversity policies that should be celebrated and used as models for the future. There are many of our fellow event promoters affiliated with municipal or state governments where diversity continues to be addressed on a daily basis. They know the importance of listening to those from different backgrounds and different cultures wind up creating better and more impactful events for their audiences.
Mindfulness, diversity, equity and inclusion are some pretty deep topics for a column usually focused on marketing, but there are times when we all need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Marketing is a sum of all of the parts of our organizations and events. From the individual tactics we use on a daily basis to the brand traits, our success is dependent on our ability to showcase the communities in which we operate. Embrace the diversity of your neighborhoods and use it as a launch point for more successful events and the amazing community building opportunities they present.
At a recent conference, I had the opportunity to experience a session entitled Messaging for a New Era hosted by Jennifer Edwards, a self-styled dancer-storyteller-strategist-facilitator. I encourage you to check out her work at: www.jened.com.
The concept behind the session was that macro changes are facing us all, so we need to rethink the way we make connections and communicate. The trends that will affect marketers in the arts and events world are varied, starting with the fact the tax deductibility of charitable donations will no longer resonate with anyone except the highest donors on our lists (a trend we’ve already seen at many shops).
More importantly to us in the event business is the trend towards the gig economy for those workers in high paying tech, design and creative jobs. These highly desirable individuals will make decision-making on behalf of our organizations more unpredictable than ever before as the 40-hour per week 9-5 office hours we have dealt with for so long, will no longer be the same. Decisions will be made at the last minute and audiences showing up at unexpected times. Are you ready for these changes coming your way?
We should all prepare for the evolution.
However, the most enlightening part of the conversation was an exercise I encourage you to try on your own. (Note: I’m not usually one for enjoying this type of engagement session, but this was one of the best I’ve experienced).
We started by answering all three basic questions:
What makes you feel safe?
What makes you feel heard?
What makes you feel valued?
We continued on by answering the following questions:
How does your organization invite others in to help tell your story?
How can you improve that invitation?
How can you invite those individuals to help share your story?
Furthermore we were challenged to think:
Who can you tap to service the biases you have to certain projects?
We’ve heard so much over time about story telling, but I am a firm believer that you need to be listening to others and amplifying their voice in telling your story. Some of the most successful and satisfying work I’ve been doing recently is because we have engaged the audience and others in their feedback.
Being curious about all of the elements on how to create opportunities is step one and learning from others outside of your normal sphere of influence allows your work and it’s results to blossom.
Empathy and truly listening to those whose voice you haven’t been hearing is a dynamic combination to help you be more mindful in building the bridge to meaningful engagement. This type of engagement is at the core of successful marketing and communications.
I’m not normally one to get caught up in the prepackaged hype affiliated with the large-scale undertakings that consume our newsfeeds and cable news.
But in the first full week of February 2018 – I can attest to being moved by two images this week that speak as much of visceral passion as the authentic joy each represented.
Being a resident of the northern suburbs of Philly, one might think I’m an Eagles fan. Not quite. However, the sense of unbridled joy and excitement surrounding the Super Bowl victory this past week was well deserved… which brings me to my first favorite image of the week.
Eagles lineman (and baritone sax player) Jason Kelse took to the Championship parade route in an authentic Mummer costume from the Avalon string band. While the sight of this burly, 300 pound offensive lineman may have caught the majority of the US and world off-guard (What in the hell was he wearing?); for those in the Philly region, they understood exactly the origins of the costume was and what it meant. It was Philly, through and through.
We read a lot about authenticity and being generic. How many people jump on the bandwagon, only to be ridiculed or questioned “why?” or “what were they thinking?” For one brief moment in time, this World Champion ‘Thunderdog’ nailed it. The sight is spectacular and means a great deal to everyone reveling in the success of their team, their Eagles.
Fan or not, the saluting of the Philly region by wearing a costume so traditional that it meant something to everyone who mattered, but was completely lost on the rest of America is an effort well done.
(By the way, his speech from the steps of the Art Museum is a keeper as well!)
Now on to the second image of the week…
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know my fascination with the Space-X program and their first joyous celebration of the return of the rockets to terra firma after a brief flight a few years ago.
Earlier this week Space-X took to the heavens again, this time in a test of the largest rocket in the fleet. Tucked away in the payload bay was a Tesla convertible complete with Spaceman, a mannequin dressed in space suit, destined to spend the rest of eternity in space. Pretty dull week, huh?
Whether it was intentional or not, the statement made by the image of seeing this car in space is one that touches all of us in a meaningful way.
Sure, this same image could’ve been Photoshopped, but the sheer knowledge that it is real and is fun and joyous, allows us to feel a connectedness and spirit of humanity that is difficult to put your hands around. Yes, it was a publicity stunt, but I for one am smiling at the ability for one to imagine and successfully execute upon one’s dreams.
Salud, Mr. Musk, we can’t wait to see your next accomplishment.
Then, as if the Tesla in space wasn’t enough, two rockets came back to Cape Canaveral as planned on the landing pads in Florida. I believe it was Steven Colbert who said in a recent interview, “Those rockets returning and landing side-by-side… that is the future we were promised.”
I could not agree more.
As many of you know from posts over the years, I love Super Bowl Sunday more for what it tells us about American culture, marketing and advertising than the actual game of football.
This year is no different, although I am writing about the astonishingly great marketing that has surrounded the game, but again not because of the football – but rather the host committee of Super Bowl LII.
I first saw ‘Bold North’ on a pair of mittens worn by a volunteer spokesperson on a news clip earlier in the week. However, as the coverage continued to grow over the week, I began seeing more and more how the tag was being embraced and leveraged at every turn. I loved it more and more each time I encountered it.
I speak and present a great deal on the topic of brand and branding. “Bold North” is precisely what all marketers look for: succinct, memorable and effective.
In a recent quote in a TwinCities.com article it was shared, “A brand works when it’s a promise you can keep,” said Maureen Bausch, a longtime marketing executive and CEO of the Host Committee, a group of civic leaders that has helped coordinate Super Bowl events, from the original bid to host the big game to this week’s activities. “This is an honest definition of who we are: leaders and innovative risk takers. And yes, it’s cold here. It’s a promise you can keep.”
Read this brief article on the origins of the “North” concept and how it was married to “Bold” to create what some hope becomes the official tagline of the state of Minnesota.
Advertising on the other hand usually is.
Just a few musings on current state of advertising in my humble opinion.
I find myself asking this question a lot – where has all of the creativity gone? Usually I wait until the “Super Bowl of Advertising” – which is the actual Super Bowl – to weigh in on my thoughts. The past several years have been less than inspirational.
With so much beauty and creativity and passion in this world – how can we be stuck with such tepid advertising to motivate us to buy things we don’t really need?
Could it possibly be the penchant for everyone to be blinded by data, artificial intelligence, bots and machine learning that whatever creativity was left after the Great Recession has been killed off?
Real life is still about real people, right? Shouldn’t advertising allow us to celebrate the best in us?
- It’s been two years since I first wrote on the Starwarsification of the planet. And here we go again. I guess when you put the most popular movie franchise of all time within the Disney Company, I guess we can expect this. Nissan has bought into the fun — another step towards the importance of experiential marketing to differentiate companies. But the incessant drumbeat of the movie through a variety of products including even Cheerios (light sabre spoons, really?) have me questioning how different this all can be any longer?
- GM and Chevy has brought back the “Employee Discount” promotion which at its time saved the America auto industry the first time in the early 00’s before the Obama administration revived the automotive companies from life support the early days of the Great Recession.
- Snow globes. Is it just me or does every year two competitors wind up with the same theme? This year it is snow globes. Two auto manufacturers have wound up with young children dreaming of snowy fun for the holidays from their sunny, warm homes. It’s probably random, but I’m sure there are some agency folks feeling a little awkward.
Which brings me to us to the inspiration for the title of this post… the fabulous sixty seconds of Apple’s 2017 commercial. Every year, I actually stop whatever I am doing to enjoy this company’s short-form movie making.
Am I an Apple user? Yes.
Does this make me want to buy another product? Not necessarily.
Does it reinforce while I’m in the Apple tribe? Absolutely.
The back story to the spot will take your breath away Apple 2018 -Sway Commercial
I’ll keep sharing thoughts as long as you keep reading them!
Salutations! It’s been quite a while since my last post. My apologies.
It’s been quite the past several months of activity – from sponsorships to arts marketing bootcamps to mentorships and a new project on arts-led economic development – the past six months has been quite the ride.
That being said – I’m back – and have a good amount to share with readers. I’ll be posting a few published articles and a few more thoughts over the coming weeks.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before… “Millennials are an important segment for marketers to reach. They are the key to our long-term sustainability and existence.”
Hopefully this is doesn’t come as a surprise to you – but we’ve heard this all before with the dawning of the Baby Boomers several decades ago. For over half a century, we’ve been hearing about the “Boomers” and now as they age into their golden years, a ripe, new, even larger generation stands ready to pick up the mantle and move forward.
While the cultural explosion of the Boomer generation was tied with the invention of the television, the Millennials will forever bridge the divide between digital natives and immigrants and the advent of the internet.
After attending a recent youth marketing conference to understand where the next generation will take us, it is easily understood that while the technology may change, the roots of consumerism from packaged goods to events remains the same, yet there’s still something missing between all of the bite, bytes and selfies.
This most critical link is the personal connection between individuals and the products or services of marketers in your community and around the world.
What we offer in the event, festival and arts space is the generation of the social capital necessary to build brands and engage communities. Social capital is the glue that holds us all together and in these days of increasing communication via social media, we rarely are in the same place at the same time with our neighbors, friends, peers or colleagues.
The connections and the sense of belonging felt by being together in person enjoying a concert or engaging in a work of art or participating in a community event is precisely the type of experience that all of the Instagram posts in the world can not provide.
The magic happens when you combine a fabulous in-person experience with individuals who want to communicate and share that in-person experience. These influencers work on their own to build the desire to attend or participate amongst their friends and peers. Those types of remarkable events are what many of us offer, yet few of us leverage to its fullest extent.
A current article published by Digiday “Why the New York Times and other publishers are adding experiential marketing services” says that experiential marketing is just at the beginning of a trend that will only grow over the coming years.
Gone are the days of digital web banners on media sites. Replacing them are experiential opportunities that pair the media and the experience to drive awareness and build business for their clients. We as event promoters are first in line to be able to provide those unique opportunities to brands, but also to the media who are looking to revamp their models to make them more relevant.
Brand marketing agency Freeman, quoted in the Digiday article reported that experiential marketing will soak up at least one-fifth of marketing budgets in three to five years. Experiential being defined as “events, trade shows, sponsorships, exhibits, permanent installations, virtual of augmented realit experiences and/or pop-ups.”
According to another survey by the Event Marketing Institute, 90% of Chief Marketing Officers would increase the amount of money allocated to events and experiences in the coming year, rising by 11% from 2016 to 2017.
When you personally think of experiential marketing, what comes to mind? Perhaps augmented or virtual reality displays are the first examples you can think of when experiential is in the activation plan. However, these integrated technologies come at a hefty price along with set-up and a touring team to help manage and troubleshoot.
For sophisticated marketers, these displays are part of a traveling road show that may be booked months in advance. But clearly from the demand for these activations, they are popular and successful platforms for you not only to provide a high profile opportunity for your partner, but also assists to build your own brand to have people buzzing about your event.
Creativity is the name of the game when packaging experiential opportunities for your partners. Sometimes those ideas are tied in very closely with the product or service of your partner. Other times it is more about building the brand and there isn’t a direct business case for the onsite experience.
Either way, it takes time to roll up your sleeves and find out the outcomes your partner needs to see to justify the return on investment. It is always best to head into these planning meetings with a blank sheet of paper and an open mind to investigate what all of the possibilities can be.
Sure, sometimes you can be challenged by budget and at other times it is logistics, but either way showing your partner you are open to new solutions for marketing and branding challenges will go a long way in building your relationship.
As pressure continues to grow to maximize every dollar in the marketing budget, it is encouraging that experiential activation, even with some of its “squishy” characteristics such as quality of life and community engagement are finally being held up against the antiseptic, bland “data-driven” world which now envelops us.
The definition of success is not only the experiential engagements that provide a remarkable story to share, but also activations that have measurable outcomes that define the resulting impact for our partners. It may be the elusive, Holy Grail for marketers and event promoters alike, but finding the right balance of data outcomes and experiential satisfaction is a goal worth for us all to pursue.
Be creative. Be remarkable. Be effective. If you’re able to achieve all three of these goals, your partners will not only look to invest in your event, they will be looking for new ways to expand and further develop the relationship for years to come.
In closing, I’m always the eternal optimist. Despite the current discourse to the contrary, I am bullish that there is a great deal of opportunity for all of us in the events and arts space to leverage our unique assets to help build genuine, authentic experiences for Millennials, families, retirees, teens, Boomers… our neighbors. After all, we have to remember the oldest Millennials are now parents and the cycle will start once again.
There’s probably no more topical topic right now in the world of social media and marketing than influencers.
Typically the bastion of the major brands, influencers are starting to filter their way down to the local, community level where the tried and true techniques of major brands have cleared the way for the rest of us in the arts and events space can benefit from the experiments executed by the Fortune 500 brands to figure out the pathway forward.
A Definition of Influencers
By means of a definition, an influencer is a person who has the power to influence many people through social or traditional media. Brands and organizations pay social influencers to recommend products/services/events to people who trust and follow their advice.
There have always been influencers, those with style or brand that others follow. In school, they were the cool kids. A generation ago the term “early adopter” was in vogue. Spokespeople have been around as long as there have been products to be sold and individuals to be emulated. With the movies, television, popular music and sports, celebrity endorsers became the name of the game.
Now, with the advent of social media a whole new echelon of social media stars have come from the blogging, podcasting and YouTube worlds to be the trend setters along side their superstar companions.
As of 2016 the top six celebrity influencers were Selena Gomez, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Kendall and Kylie Jenner. Each typically earn millions on their endorsements on Twitter or Instagram, sometimes collecting $500,000 or more for simple post. (Google “Coke and Selena Gomez” for the most popular and lucrative post of all time).
But add to this list those who have tremendous followings on YouTube in the world of fashion, beauty, food and home design and there are entire segments of the influencer market devoted to them.
Needless to say for the typical event, influencers of this magnitude are beyond our normal scope of budget and reach. But it does get us to thinking about who are the Selena’s, Rihanna’s, Taylor’s and Jenner’s of our community?
The answer is micro-influencers.
Micro-influencers are where it’s at for the event organizers, planners and arts organizations.
What is so ironic is that the major brands who have invested in influencer marketing with these top line stars have come to realize that for some targeting and creation of real grass roots energy, it is sometimes best to focus on micro-influencers to deliver their message.
Yes, there’s nothing like the pull and reach of the superstars of our culture, but the impact of those who are closest to us in our community generally have better rates of engagement and provide us with an unmatched level of authenticity.
By definition, regular influencers have 10,000-100,000 followers and command several thousand dollars per post while micro-influencers by definition are those who have under 10,000 followers and sometimes post for a few hundred dollars or in exchange for exclusive access or rights to an organization and event.
As the industry continues to define itself and mature, more emphasis is being put on the micro-influencers because of the amount of engagement their posts garner. Sure, they might not get the raw numbers of a uber-tweet, but it is more meaningful when coming from a neighbor or friend or someone you trust.
How is success measured?
Measurement of success from your influencer choices comes from not the number of followers, but the level of engagement. This may seem a little counter-intuitive after what so many of us crave is the big numbers of reach, but as we’re learning every day a little more, is that engagement is really what we need.
According to a Markerly survey of two million Instagram influencers, those with fewer than 1,000 followers had a much higher engagement rate of 8% than the influencers with counts of 1,000-10,000 that only measured 4%.
So how do we calculate the rate of engagement? The easiest way is to add the number of likes and number of comments and divide by the number of followers.
Takeaway: Just because an individual has a large number of followers, doesn’t mean they will be successful for you. Focus on engagement first.
Where do you find your micro-influencers?
Finding micro-influencers is not an easy task. It takes a bit of commitment to research and track who might be a perfect candidate for your event’s partner.
On a large scale it might be easier when you can use influencer platforms such as Upfluence, Blogfoster, Buzzsumo, Traackr. However, the most effective way to begin locally is to start searching through your organization’s social media followers to determine who already has an interest in what programming you bring to your community.
As with any deep dive on the web, you’ll find yourself going down a few pathways that lead to a dead-end or two, but you will want to keep your eyes and ears open not only to the social media impact of these individuals but also the bloggers who spend a good deal of time curating and creating content for their audience.
Look at those individuals who are driving conversations that are relevant to you and your event. Those are the types of conversations you want to be part of and may be able to provide insight, context or information that would be welcomed.
Three Quick Tips
Here are three quick tips on how to find the micro-influencers near you.
Tip #1 Post a few campaigns on your website or social media pages and filter responses by location, age and category. If you see the same folks coming up again and again, this might be an indication of an interested party you never knew of who might be able to help you to grow.
Tip #2 Determine the platforms your target personas frequent and monitor them for activity and engagement. If you see the same individuals engaging, reposting, retweeting multiple times take a look into their profile, follow them back or otherwise use the tools on that platform to see whether there is a match.
Tip #3 Search for keywords and hashtags relevant to you and your events to see who are the most engaged individuals. After following for a short time, narrow a list of the top 20 or so that seem to resonate most with your organization and schedule a time to chat.
In summary, it is important to recognize that the business and the activity of these influencers is in your best interest. As practitioners of social media, they are constantly looking for win-win partnerships that allow them to build their following by providing exciting, thought-provoking and exclusive content to their audience. By building relationships with these individuals, they will connect their loyal following to you in exchange for more, better and different content making them more valuable to their followers and provides a point of differentiation.
The marketing world has become a vastly different place over the past few years and social media continues to evolve and change sometimes on a minute-by-minute basis. As event marketers that have to keep up with the pace of change, it is important that we look towards micro-influencers as an opportunity within our grasp of engaging and leveraging for the consistent growth of our audience base. At the outset, it may appear to be a daunting task, but the payoff in the long run will provide you with more followers and a more substantial engagement with your audience thanks to the work you put into developing relationships with this vibrant new medium, the micro-influencers in your community.