See Through Your Customer’s Eyes

iStock_000018165253XSmallWith digital, social and mobile changing customer expectations and marketing – don’t forget to walk through your marketing campaign or experience with the fresh eyes of a new user. Sometimes, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details of a project and it’s a relief to hit the launch button and get it out the door. But before you do that, make sure you step back and walk through the experience from the beginning as if you were seeing this for the first time. I experienced a number of digital campaigns over the past few months that included steps which didn’t work at all or were confusing.

One of my favorite reminders is – “I am not my customer.” I can’t assume that my audience thinks the same way that I do or have the same expectations. Look through their eyes and run through the program. Better yet, get someone who is your audience test it for you before you launch.

Some things to consider:

  • Walk through the user experience – make sure that each of the details of the customer journey are working properly. Do the components of the website and campaign work properly?
  • Does the experience resonate with your brand objectives? Does it portray the right message you want to the customer? I frequently see campaigns or videos that are trying to get their content to go viral through social channels but in the process of pushing the edge, make sure it fits the image you want to portray to your audience.
  • As our customers become more empowered and connected does your campaign fit their changing expectations?
  • Are there ways to simplify the user experience? Can you reduce the number of steps the customer needs to take as they walk through your site? I’ve seen campaign owners fall in love with their grand experience and not realize that simplifying the process for the user would be better.

Make sure your vendor or agency tests everything and it’s working as expected. Then double check and go through it yourself – maybe a few times. Do you have any best practices for seeing through your customer’s eyes?

Posted in Customer Centricity, Digital Marketing, Empowered Customer | 1 Comment

Using Microsoft Kinect to Engage Trade Show Attendees

One of my favorite events for Microsoft employees is the company’s internal technology fair called TechFest. We get to see some of the coolest technologies that the researchers have been working on. As an event marketer, the technology that I see which has the greatest potential for trade show exhibitors is the Microsoft Kinect sensor. The Xbox Kinect is one of the fastest selling game devices which uses  motion, facial and voice recognition to create the game interaction. Last month , the company released the Kinect for Windows SDK which allows the Kinect sensor to work with PCs.

One of the coolest TechFest demos I’ve seen is outlined in this video from Microsoft Research called the Holoflector. It uses the Kinect sensor, augmented reality, a mirror and an LCD monitor to create incredible digital effects.

At trade shows, exhibitors look for ways to attract attention, engage attendees and create dynamic branded experiences. Using the Kinect sensor in creative ways has the potential to create Wow experiences on the exhibit floor. Some ideas:

  • Develop digital experiences which allow attendees to interact with your brand in unique ways that they could not do in reality.
  • What could you do with multi-user experiences and gamification on the exhibit floor?
  • How can you make these experiences larger than life?
  • Search for Kinect videos on the web to get ideas on some of the incredible applications developers have created with Kinect and connect the dots to fit the trade show environment.
  • Integrate several different types of media – don’t think of it as just a 2-D TV experience.

I’m excited for the potential that the Kinect camera can bring to the trade show experience. We’re only limited by our imagination. Have you created or seen an exciting  application using the Kinect for Windows at an event? Let me know in the comments.

[Scott Lum is an employee for Microsoft. The ideas are my own and not necessarily endorsed by my company]

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Integrated Marketing Through Virtual Events

Last year I wrote a blog on Bringing Virtual Events into the Mainstream. I’d like to add one more component: the value of virtual events lies in the ability to engage customers in rich ways while integrating social, mobile, digital and traditional marketing efforts. Instead of looking at each channel as a silo, how can we use in-person and digital events as an integration point for these efforts?

Marketing integration through the filter of F2F and Digital Events:

  • F2F & Digital Events as a marketing hub: One of the things I like most about in-person and digital events is that they bring a variety of marketing channels together in one place, at one time. Event marketers can integrate social, digital, localization and traditional marketing efforts. This gives us a great opportunity to get the various channels working together in synergy. It’s also important to tie those channels with larger corporate efforts and not limit them to the event itself.
  • F2F & Digital Events as a component of a year-round Content Management strategy –Use a regular cadence of rich interactive content to build customer trust and thought leadership. Create a spectrum of low cost to high quality digital and f2f events to engage, entertain and educate your audience. Intertwine these events with your other content distribution channels.
  • F2F & Digital Events as part of a community & relationship building effort. For a community manager content is still king. Having fresh content and engaging with your audience face to face and through social channels during an event can be valuable. Look for ways to amplify the voice of your community through content curation or have them participate authentically through your events. Look at ways to stream low cost webcasts to your community web site or integrate live streaming into your Facebook or YouTube channel.

By integrating various components of in-person and digital events with your other digital, social, mobile and traditional marketing you can create a nearly unlimited combination of ways to engage your audience throughout the customer journey. As we find ways to bring the costs down and simplify the process, digital events will be an invaluable component to the marketers toolkit.

What do you think it will take to bring virtual events into the mainstream?

Posted in Event Marketing, Social Marketing, Social Media, Virtual Events | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Interactive LCD is Big at Events

I had an opportunity to visit Oracle OpenWorld (compliments of Oracle and CEMA). As I walked around the partner pavilions I noticed one of the hottest technologies for exhibitors was the interactive touchscreen LCD panel. The interactive LCD panels ran a wide variety of sizes from 3-ft. tall to a 8’x15′ wall.

Interactive touchscreens give marketers another way to engage with their audiences and attract attention at their booth. Here are some highlights and lowlights on how some of the companies used their touchscreen monitors.

  1. Connected Marketing – Some of the better touchscreen experiences integrated their other marketing efforts from the show. Intel handed out some cards with different messages on it and you placed the cards on a scanner which allowed you to interact with the LCD display. Emerson created a large interactive LCD which mirrored an experience on their iPad app.
  2. Lead Generation – Make it easy for attendees to profile themselves by scanning attendee badges or using a card scanner.
  3. Tell a story – Some of the displays told an interactive story. The story branched out depending on the user’s interest. The graphics were dynamic and simple to keep the attendees attention.
  4. Have fun – Many of the better interactive displays were fun to use. One booth used it as a slot machine but you don’t need a touch-enabled LCD for that. Intel had a game which involved understanding their solutions – you got to learn something and have fun at the same time.

There were a few examples where I didn’t think the touchscreens were put to the best use:

  1. Electronic Brochures – One company scanned in their brochures and posted it on their interactive display. Seriously? Do you want me to read through pages of 12-point font while I stand at your booth? To their credit, there was an option for me to include my e-mail address and have the brochures e-mailed to me. But this should be an interactive experience – engage me, amuse me, educate me. I hope their website has more interactivity.


  1. Another company used the LCD touchscreens to solicit customer feedback. The problem is, these touchscreens are poor data input devices. A laptop with a keyboard is much better for entering text. Entering text into a big electronic keyboard is awkward and difficult when it’s positioned vertically. The attendee’s comment as I took this photo, “Oh, I hate typing like this.” If you want feedback – why not add a webcam and let them record their feedback more naturally? I had a feeling the team was looking for something cool to do with their new technology but didn’t consider if the old school alternatives would be better for engaging their audience.


As an event marketer, I’m very excited about what interactive touchscreen LCDs can bring to the booth. But we have to think through our objectives for using the technology and make sure it enhances the attendee experience. Few considerations:

  1. Does the new technology enhance the attendee experience over your other event options? Does it do a better job of attracting attention, communicating your message, entertaining the attendee, etc.?
  2. Can you use it to connect with your other marketing efforts at the show? Is there a way to connect the touchscreen environment with your web experiences, mobile or tablet apps so that users have a connected experience?
  3. Make it seamless to capture leads – many touchscreen environments required users to manually enter their e-mail using the electronic keyboard. A better option was to have a booth attendee scan the attendee’s card with their wand but the best option is to have a card reader so the attendees can do it themselves without having an employee hover over them while they explore.

Up next, I’ll look at some of my favorite uses of interactive touchscreen LCDs at OpenWorld. Have you seen other great examples of interactive LCD screens at events? What worked and didn’t work for you?

 

Note: Scott Lum is an employee of Microsoft Corp. The views expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer.

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The Worst Survey Question Ever

I was watching a keynote from a digital event and during the presentation this survey pops up. There were 3 or 4 questions all with the same options. What’s wrong with this picture?

Worst Survey Question Cropped

  1. There’s 5 ways to say Good and 1 way to say Bad – how does that help you?
  2. If I have no comment – I have to select Bad.

Seriously?

If you want honest feedback from your event attendees spend a little time architecting your survey questions so that they yield the results you’re looking for.

Here are some tips:

  1. Pick a handful of questions that you most want to get feedback on. Wordsmith the content so that it’s clear to the respondent.
  2. Make sure you answers match your question. In this example, “Excellent” and “Very Good” are not answers to the question. I would have used “Agree”/”Disagree.”
  3. Select a spectrum of options give you the proper feedback you want (I didn’t realize that “Fair” was incrementally better than “OK”).
  4. Have a few people review and try out the survey. Those extra eyes would have caught that “Bad” and “No Comment” are not the same thing.
  5. If you’re running the survey online, try it out a few times before it goes live. Make sure the flow of the survey works well and the data is flowing properly. It may also help catch formats that look good on paper but are cumbersome online.
  6. During this live streamed event, the survey popped while the speaker was still talking. You want the survey to pop up as close to the end of the session as possible to increase the number of people taking the survey but don’t overlay it while the person is still talking. It’s rude and I want to listen to the speaker.

Surveys are an important part of getting feedback from your digital event attendees. Spend some time to create a survey that will be valuable to you. Do you have any other best practices for survey creation?

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Integrating Video Streaming & Social Media During a Crisis

Oracle pulled Marc Benioff’s keynote from their OpenWorld schedule this morning: WSJ and NYT. He pulled off a master stroke of gorilla digital and social media efforts to drive attention to their message. Less than 24-hours before he was scheduled to appear in front of the OpenWorld crowd Benioff got a notice that he would be rescheduled to a less than desirable time frame and accuses Larry Ellison for pulling his keynote after Benioff had been critical of Oracle at their major conference.

What was amazing was his team turned around and live streamed his keynote to their Facebook site and the salesforce home page at his scheduled time from a venue across the street 19-hours after getting pulled. Most of the attendees to the live stream heard about it through social media channels. In his keynote, he talks about the social & mobile revolution that allowed his team to turn on a dime and pull off this event. The word of mouth attention they’re getting from this is much better than if he were allowed to do the keynote as planned.

With social media and mobile devices transforming politics in many countries across the globe, this event shows how corporations can use these channels to communicate with their audiences and influence their brand. It’s opportunity that we have as marketers, community managers and PR professionals to leverage social, digital and mobile in an agile way if we’re prepared for it.

Here are just a few ideas how you can use technology like this to engage your audiences:

1. Crisis management – Leverage video streaming and social media in concert to get ahead of the news cycle and engage your customers and the press. In traditional PR we might issue a press release. In Web 2.0 we would make announcements through social channels and drive a dialog with them. But by integrating streaming video you can engage your audiences and respond directly to their concerns real time. It can be more difficult to pull off than traditional methods but provides an opportunity for greater transparency.

2. Breaking news – Provide a channel for communicating all of the news coming out of your company. Instead of just posting press releases to your news site, turn it into a digital channel with regular live video content. Engage your influencers and advocates by allowing them help you break your news.

3. Executive Visibility – Provide a channel for your executives to talk about various issues and showcase your thought leadership. Don’t just talk about your products and services but provide a channel for you to talk about customer pains and industry trends. Provide opportunities for your audiences to engage with your executives and provide a human face to your company. Take the positive and negative feedback to drive innovation for your company.

4. Provide a cadence of rich content – Instead of providing an ad hoc communication schedule you could use these digital and social channels to provide a regular cadence of content to provide a dialog with your audiences.

5. Develop a community – as you develop communities – content is still king. You can use these digital and social channels to provide rich content and bring life to your community sites and build robust, dynamic communities.

What would it take to leverage these new social, digital and mobile channels to get closer to your customers?

Note: Scott Lum an employee of Microsoft. Views expressed are my own and does not reflect the view of my employer.

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Road to Microsoft WPC–Become a Disruptive Thinker

If you’re a Microsoft partner, the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference will be the place to be next week. There’s usually big announcements, big speakers (Sir Richard Branson), great technology showcases, tons of informative breakout sessions and loads of passionate technorati.

When I attend a conference like this I challenge myself to come up with at least one big disruptive idea. Not just a good idea (I can have lots of these), a disruptive one. Something that will challenge and rattle the beliefs of myself, my team, my company or my industry to the core. An idea that’s so far outside the box that box no longer exists.

What the heck am I talking about? Think about your industry, the products and services you provide, the team that you’re on and the job that you do. What if you came up with an idea that would revolutionize everything you did? While at the conference listen for ideas, watch what others are doing (or not doing), pay attention to trends, look for opportunities. A good idea will change things, a disruptive one will transform it.

Here are just a few ways to think disruptively:

  1. Connect unrelated ideas. Creativity is not necessarily coming up with something out of the blue but frequently connecting two or more unrelated ideas in a way that you hadn’t done before. Maybe you see a cool app for a phone and then think of ways your company can transform your distribution channel using mobile devices.
  2. Extending the thought. If a speaker were laying out a roadmap of ideas what would happen if you were to go beyond what they presented? How can you make it your own for your company?
  3. Flipping an idea. I like brainstorm scenarios I’m trying to brainstorm for that are so terrible that it allows me to get to the core of the issue and then flip it. If a presenter was talking about an awful case study and warning people what not to do – I’d push the scenario to the extreme badness to find out why it mattered and then flip it and brainstorm positive solutions.

While attending a WPC you’ll have lots of opportunity to play with new ideas. As technology advances there will be opportunities for new products and services and distribution to support it. Find those opportunities and when you do push them to their extreme so that your good ideas become transformative ones.

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