'Participation Marketing' Ensures Engagement in Events

Minneapolis, MN | September 23, 2008

So you're conducting a big event and you want to make sure you fully engage the participants. What do you do The experts at Carlson Marketing advise you to treat them like customers and market to them using the latest technology to involve them before the event, during the event and after the event.

Chris Carpenter, senior interactive strategist at Carlson Marketing, says that people are naturally interacting on their own at a big meeting or event, so "let's embrace it and encourage an organized dialog using the technology people have gotten so familiar with in other aspects of their lives." Dubbed "participation marketing," it's a way to engage people and get them excited about what too often can be a hum drum experience.

Carpenter points to three technology areas that are ripe for use in the meetings and events arena. First, extend the use of the computer. Take advantage of what the Internet provides in the form of email, websites, social networks, blogs and WiFi hotspots. The computer makes it easy to interact with your participants regularly.

Second, explore the capabilities of smart phones. Mobile web access and texting should be at the top of every strategic meeting planner's idea list for communicating with participants. And third, incorporate the capabilities of RFID (radio frequency identification) technology to track participant interests and enable networking.

"Imagine being able to know what people are thinking in real time," suggests Carpenter. "With that knowledge, you can really tailor the meeting or event to meet the participants' expectations and further your own meeting objectives."

This takes form before the event by communicating in interesting ways on a website or text messaging. Participants can tell you what break-out sessions they like and how you can make them better. You can enable networking before the event even starts.

During the event, technology opens up new ways of sharing information and connecting. RFID data can be used to set up special meeting for those interested in a certain topic. Maybe it's an ad hoc session in the lounge for those who share a passion for ... (pick a topic). Or imagine during the keynote if the audience could text questions to the speaker to be incorporated into the speech or as part of the Q&A at the end. The participation can be a powerful engagement experience that strengthens the impact of the whole event.

And, of course, technology plays a big role after the event to measure the value of the effort; not just "did you like it," but sophisticated questions tied to the science of measuring against specific engagement objectives. Participants and share insights and continue relationships fostered at the event via blogs and message boards.

"This is an exciting time to be involved with developing loyalty to a company or a brand," said Carpenter. "It seems like every day brings new applications or new technology to help engage people and build strong relationships."

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About Carlson Marketing Worldwide
Carlson Marketing helps global Fortune 1000 clients increase their ROI by designing and delivering sales and marketing programs that drive measurable results. Carlson provides its clients with cool new marketing concepts, coupled with rock solid delivery across its two global service offerings - Brand Loyalty and Engagement & Events - supported by six core capabilities: Strategy & Planning; Creative, Interactive & Media; Incentive & Event Management; Award Services; Technology Services; and Decision Sciences.

Carlson Marketing employs 3,000 marketing professionals across 15 countries. www.carlsonmarketing.com

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