You may remember that greattool called Pick Two, consisting of three simple words written on a sheet of paper: Fast, Cheap, and Good. When a marketing team member approached you with a project, you could pull out your handy Pick Two paper and explain that only two of the characteristics were possible: “I can do this project fast and cheap, but it will not be good, or I can do this cheap and good, but it won't be fast, or I can do this fast and good, but not for cheap.”
Unfortunately for those of us who loved this cute little tool, Pick Two doesn't work any more. Technology has created a high-speed environment in which all three things are expected to happen at once. On top of that, the limping economy means that cheap, fast, and good have to be accomplished with fewer staff. What are we going to do?
It is time to turn to technology, the thing that got us into this mess.
First, lay out your event marketing plan as you always have, and then shake it up like an Etch A Sketch, erasing the old ways of doing things. Even if you are using some high-tech solutions, it does not hurt to place them aside and take a fresh look. Technology has made you a pioneer in e-marketing.
Look at the speed of the Internet and what that means to your traditional marketing toolkit. Everything from press releases to conference invitations can be taken to the next level with the Internet. Your corporate Web site is a living marketing machine — update it frequently and quickly as soon as you have new material.
One thing that can slow you down is the process of posting information on your Web site or sending information via e-mail. Set up a marketing game plan with your internal or outsourced Web master for a posting process that works for both of you. Keeping things clean and simple applies to technology marketing as much as it does in the traditional print process. The Internet has also speeded up the market research process. Quick (and cheap) surveys can be accomplished.
Once your corporate Internet infrastructure is set up, exploit the technology to its fullest. Instead of mailing out materials, use approved e-mail lists to send out the message. Sell advertising space or links to your sponsors. Use online registration and housing tools instead of time-consuming paper-based systems. Data that attendees enter themselves is far more accurate than what you get from a pool of temporary staff re-entering handwritten registrations. Also, if you set up online financial transactions, that means money in your account rather than “the check is in the mail.”
Find the perfect meeting location via online site selection services. You not only can have a network of companies beating down your IP address to help, but you can also have professionals with years of experience helping you to make decisions. A staff to handle everything from event housing to airline ticketing can be managed electronically.
Some of this online stuff is good — really good. Close your eyes and bring the third dimension into all pieces of your plan. Everything from animated invitations to downloadable event agendas for PDAs to online conference session selection can be done quickly, inexpensively, and well. Technology has proven that size does not matter; it is all in how you harness the tools to create winning programs. So when a team member approaches you with a project, pull out your list of technology resources to help you stay in the game.
Mark Fisher is business development manager with Concepts Worldwide, San Diego. You can reach him at (858) 535-0050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.