It’s Friday.. a long week.. and I have to rant so thanks for indulging me.
Call me insane, call me a lunatic but something about our industry is really bothering me and, thanks to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), it’s now time to make a really important point. Sorry DMA, God bless ya.. I love ya and think you do great things overall but the decision to charge people to walk the exhibit floor at the DMA Integrated Marketing Conference in San Diego is an example of just how out of touch the industry is with what really needs to be going on.
The economy is tough, I don’t have to tell ya that. I don’t know one company, including the hundreds of businesses in our space, that aren’t laying off staff.. lots of staff.. as much as 50% cuts! Why is that? Naturally, because there’s a hard time finding customers.
So what do internet marketing companies need right now? Business. Real Business! Not the kind you get meeting other industry professionals at a respected industry giants’ trade show or expo. Our companies need real dollars – not spending our dwindling cash reserves going out of town on expensive jaunts only to meet other companies feeling the same pinch. It’s no time for hob-nobbing with your old drinking buddies at conventions.. it’s time to get personal man! I mean really personal and with paying customers!
The DMA’s decision to charge people up to $ 250 to just come and walk the exhibit hall floor is a pure example of just how out of touch the leading trade organization is with the reality of its constituents plight. Clearly, they’ve defined your audience for you. By charging a high fee to enter their walled garden, they’re telling you (as paying exhibitors) that they only want other, well vetted, professionals in the industry to come.
But we don’t need that right now. WE NEED CUSTOMERS! We don’t need to spend more money right now learning what our competitors are doing. Heck, we know what they’re doing.. the same thing we are.. looking for customers and trying to save the remaining staff they have.
I’ve spoken to countless companies in our space who all express mixed feelings about attending this and other events like it. I get: “Yes, we pretty much have to go in order to maintain our position in the industry…” but what I hear more is the fear in their voices as they express concern over their economic woes. What it boils down to is an industry that will start to cherry pick the best events (and not in all the host cities for that event), the ones closest to home and ultimately, the demise of those smaller events that, right now, have the best chance to re-focus their events on what we really need. More customers.
How would I do it? Yes, I would continue to offer conferences focused on industry professionals but I would re-format the expo to draw in the local businesses during certain parts. I would open up the exhibit hall doors to local businesses to come in and meet the companies who can help them succeed in the hectic online marketing world.
Sure, make your money on the education sessions geared towards industry professionals but I would also create low cost educational programs tailored to today’s business owner and have the industry professionals teach them. Heck, they’ll pay you to do it! Just like the folks over at Online Media Today’s online marketing workshops for Today’s Business Owners or real estate professional Michael Starks online marketing seminars for real estate agents (just to name a few), these workshops are reaching out to the local business community in the right way – giving them what they really need. And we know for a fact that internet marketing agencies are paying these workshop hosts to sponsor and speak. Why? Because these events get them that much closer to a paying customer! And, as a result, these same folks are quickly gaining recognition as the go to resource for today’s business owner.
As an industry, the time is now to band together and insist that the DMA’s of the world begin to recognize our issues. We need expos and conferences, for sure. We also need to keep educating ourselves with best practices and the latest techniques. I place a high value on this and hope to continue my involvement as long as they’re around (or rather, as long as we are around!) But we also need our conferences and expos to be tailored to those outside our industry. Just like the DMA is doing with their paid educational workshops on the days leading up to the conference, we need to continue this practice.
But it’s time to open our doors and invite the folks who need our services into our space and begin to develop the relationships that help us all grow our business – and we need this now! Other than via a “Title Tag” and a “Snippet”, today’s business owners don’t even know who we really are… much less just how much they need us to help them. We need to open the envelope and develop relationships with those who really need us now. It’s time for us to put a face on our business by reaching out to the local business community. And by doing this, we help ourselves to bring back the income streams that allow each of us to get back to growing.
I’d like to say I feel better now but until something changes, Friday’s will always remind me of the situation we’re in.
It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.
Related Event Marketing Articles
21 visitors online now
18 guests, 3 members
Powered by Visitor Maps