Elizabeth, today’s guest blogger, is probably better to known to you as Busy Mom. She has been writing about her life and family at the Busy Mom Blog since 2003. Her full-time job in healthcare also makes an occasional appearance on her blog. She likes to engage with brands that have something relevant to her life and interesting for her readers, and reviews products on Busy Mom Reviews. However, she hates bad pitches, as regular readers of Marketing Roadmaps may already know from her comments on my bad pitch posts. She lives in Nashville with her husband and three children.
Elizabeth responded to my call on Twitter for brand experiences at BlogHer, good and bad. Her e-mail had such good, specific advice for brands, I asked if I could run it as a guest post.
While I don’t think we’ll ever resolve when/where brands choose to have parties (I think it’s going to happen no matter what, and people need to just conduct themselves properly), I noticed a theme among the events and expo booths I visited.
This was the year of “forced engagement.”
I get it. I wouldn’t want to be in the brands’ position, with freebie grabbers and all. I think companies should get something out of our visits. I also understand my attendance was voluntary at the events and places I visited, but I just I felt like I was performing everywhere I went.
Don’t misunderstand. I have met some great people and was honored to be invited to the events I attended. They took the time to find me (for the most part) and I tried to stop by as many as I reasonably could.
The events I attended were quite lovely, but it’s as if some didn’t know if they were throwing a blogger summit, usually held over 1-2 days where I would expect to perform, or a party.
It may just be my personality, but the videos, going from station to station and the creating/making this, that and the other thing are getting a little old at something that’s supposed to be a party. What ever happened to just drinks, hors d’oeuvres, music/entertainment, conversation, a display or two and a gift bag at the end?
It’s one thing to be contracted to host or perform in some way at an event, and another to politely stop in expecting a traditional cocktail party and find yourself doing crafts and smiling for the camera at every turn.
If there’s a problem with swag-grabbers, then maybe they need to take more time with the guest list. I’m continually amazed at some of the folks I see at every event. Clearly there is little research into online reputation by some of these companies.
One party that I thought did a good job, and full disclosure, I was paid to be a host, but was NOT involved in the planning, was the Schick Intuition Kiss and Tell party. The brand was represented through the decor, there was a brief product speech and the rest was a memorable time with fabulous entertainment, an open bar and product (the razor, not the bar) samples at the end. Follow-up engagement is a contest and a coupon on Facebook.
Hallmark and the CheeseburgHer party did a good job, too. Both were good times, but there was no doubt about the sponsors. Hallmark had a pertinent holiday theme, and you knew right away what the new McDonald’s product was, but we didn’t have to perform for them.
I’m not sure what the answer is as far as engagement in the booths goes, but clearly it’s not accosting attendees at the door and coercing them into attending a show. Note: I’ve not been to other tech conferences, this may be a “thing” I’m not aware of, but it doesn’t happen at medical conferences.
And, contrary to popular stances, I don’t think swag is the problem. Getting doo-dads and such can be fun (blasphemy! I know!) and there’s nothing wrong with it.
At a booth, I am expecting to hear what’s new with the company, try the product out if it’s brief, chat with the rep, and maybe throw a card into a fishbowl for a drawing/follow-up later, and get whatever doo dad if they have it (and I’m interested.) I’m not wild about being asked to sign up for their service on the spot (but having the option is good, I suppose) or to fill out some complicated form. I’ll spin a wheel if I must, but enough with the other games. Again, maybe just my personality.
I get that both the blogger and the brand should get something out of the interaction, and I know my presence is voluntary, but I’m just weary of performing all the time. And the feeling that they want to get as much out of us as they can is getting a little creepy.
Parties should be parties. Do something memorable, have a brand presence and follow up later.
Booths should be booths, have a small something “fun” if you must, but give me the information, let me enter your drawing or whatever by giving you my card, and personally hand me the promotional material or swag stuff.
Connect with me.
In my final BlogHer Marketing Lessons post, I’ll share my thoughts about some brands that I think did get it right. It’s not an all-inclusive list — there was no way any one person could experience everything going on over those four days, so please chime in with your experiences. Try to be specific in both your criticism and your kudos. This helps my readers use your opinions to improve their marketing programs — SG