Take a look around the meetings and convention industry, and you’ll find an addiction to standard promotional campaign methods. Emails with “Here’s your discount registration code” subject lines, “Why Attend” website pages that highlight the number of expert speakers and social media posts touting the number of potential education credits an attendee can earn — traditional meeting marketing does a good job of aiming to answer the “what’s in it for me?” question. There’s just one problem: that answer alone isn’t going to be the difference-maker in the decision to attend.
While offering discounts and listing tangible benefits are important tools in communicating the value of registration, science says that this approach to marketing isn’t going to establish meaningful connections with prospective attendees. Psychology Today reports that “fMRI euro-imagery shows that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts.)”
“Marketing is about more than simply reaching your audience,” Mary Reynolds Kane, Vice President, Marketing, PCMA, says. “It’s about striking a real nerve with a story that makes them laugh, smile or cry. It’s about creating a strategy that makes your brand, your product or your meeting feel human.”
Take A Cue From Consumer Campaigns
Consider how some of the most memorable campaigns in recent years have managed to carve out identities that feel less like a brand pitching a product or service and more like a best friend. Old Spice’s “Smell Like A Man, Man” turned something that every guy needs into a hilarious and unconventional character-driven conversation. Dos Equis’ “The Most Interesting Man in the World” transformed drinking a fairly normal beer into the definition of cool. Dove’s Real Beauty parted ways with the photoshopped, unrealistic approach to modeling to create an inspirational message about natural appearance.
Wait, some meeting professionals might say, how can a three-day professional conference operate on the same level as massive consumer brands? While the vast majority of meetings may be targeting a niche audience, the takeaways are still the same. Be authentic, and be brave enough to create a meeting marketing plan that just might make some prospective attendees do a double take.
A prime example of a new-school approach to meeting marketing is Tourism Vancouver’s recent “PCMA Convening Leaders 2016: Kids Site Inspection” video. Rather than a highlight reel set to stock music or a talking head welcome message, the video is a much-needed break from the formal quality of most B2B marketing. Children handle the roles of leaders from Tourism Vancouver, the Vancouver Convention Centre and PCMA, and the video manages to communicate some of the key messages about Vancouver and the meeting while doing something very important: having fun.
“We checked out Vancouver’s hotels,” a kid’s voiceover says as the group jumps on the bed. “That’s a big number.”
From playing with chopsticks to riding tricycles around the famous Stanley Park to questioning whether they’ll find goats on the convention centre’s acclaimed green roof, the video uses a refreshing approach to destination marketing. All that fun is fueling success, too. With nearly 3,000 views on YouTube, the video has already managed to become the organization’s third-most popular video in just one month.
“Vancouver is a truly beautiful city and we have no shortage of stunning b-roll to show it off, but we knew this wasn't what the focus of the video should be,” Nicole Havers, Marketing Specialist, Meetings and Conventions, Tourism Vancouver, says. “We knew we wanted to do something that was completely different and unexpected. It also needed to tie into the conference theme of ‘cultivating creative moments.’ We think what we came up with does exactly that, while being meaningful to the audience.”
“The Vancouver Convention Centre and the city have been recognized with a wide range of awards and accolades,” Kim Grecia, Marketing Manager, Vancouver Convention Centre, adds. “While we are proud of that distinguished recognition in the industry, we also want to make sure that everyone sees that the convention centre and the downtown area are only part of what makes Vancouver magical. We have a passionate and synergistic hospitality community here in Vancouver that truly makes meetings in Vancouver so special.”
Haven’t seen Tourism Vancouver’s great Kids Site Inspection video yet? Check it out below:
Then, go here for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the making of the video. This educational article was brought to you by Tourism Vancouver and the Vancouver Convention Centre, which offers 500,000 square feet of flexible space and an ideal downtown location.
In January 2016, the brightest minds in meetings will come together in Vancouver for Convening Leaders. If you would like to discover more about what makes this city an ideal place for your attendees, click here to get in touch with the Vancouver team.
Haven’t registered for Convening Leaders yet? To get a real sense of the magic of Vancouver, you have to see it in person. Click here to join your colleagues for four unforgettable days in the Pacific Northwest — and be sure to take advantage of these incredible opportunities during your trip.