Central Florida’s Largest PLAY-Date

An Integrated Marketing Communications Recommendation and Overview prepared for the Florida Kids and Family Expo-a labor of love from the folks that brought you My Central  Florida family. This blog is for educational purposes only as the final project for MMC5006 Introduction to Multimedia Communications.

COMPANY ANALYSIS – My Central Florida Family

All successful businesses begin by identifying a need and filling that void. My Central Florida Family  #MyCFF sprung from this philosophy. Three entrepreneurial women with personal experience seeking-and often missing out on-exciting experiences to share with their children leveraged their quest to benefit their community. Together they created an online resource for parents, guardians, and others in Central Florida seeking opportunities to entertain, educate, and enrich the children in their lives.

Big JPEGMy Central Florida Family delivers a tremendous variety of opportunities for all income levels and ages, via their website MyCentralFloridaFamily.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, an opt-in Newsletter (with Weekly and Daily Platforms), and a blog. The target audience is broad – people with kids in the Central Florida area interested in “services and products that will enrich (her) children’s lives and make her family experiences more fun and exciting”. Current demographics are families with children ages infant to 12+, split equally between women and men, with 33.5% in the age range of 25-34, and 15% over 55, with the rest between 35-54 years of age.

A second line of business is the Florida Kids and Family Expo #FKFE2015. fkfeThis inaugural event will be held August 29th-30th 2015 at the Orange County Convention Center, providing Central Florida families an “opportunity to come face to face to meet companies that provide services and products for families in the communities in which we live” proclaiming the event to be “…the best gift you can give yourself and your kids!”. Through this platform My Central Florida Family will combine their years of event planning business experience with their passion for family fun to deliver a unique platform bringing business and families together. For this event they hope to have over 150 exhibitors and 15,000 attendees. My presentation will be a proposal for the Florida Kids & Family Expo including:

  • Review of current Integrated Marketing Communication Initiatives
  • Recommendations for additional opportunities to grow the event
  • Sample Marketing Themes and Creative for Facebook, Twitter, Blog, and SEO
  • Event Marketing Activities Before, During, and After the Expo

IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION: DUAL FOCUS

This business really has two customers they must serve well to realize success. Businesses and Families must both be considered in all branding, marketing, and event planning.  The Florida Kids and Family Expo must attract the target 15,000 relevant attendees in order to meet the expectations of the sponsors and exhibitors, AND both parts of the business need great exhibitors and sponsors to fund and perpetuate both the Expo and the My Central Florida Family site.  For this presentation I will focus on generating attendees to this year’s expo, which can later be leveraged to add exhibitors, etc. for next year.

eventmktgOnce this Expo is over, I would recommend a concentration on quantifying both the Expo attendees and any growth in the base of “members” at My Central Florida Family post event. This analysis will be critical in determining direction for next year’s Expo, particularly regarding target sponsors, key exhibitors, best activities, etc. to maximize key learnings and increase year over year attendance and revenues.

My Central Florida Family and the correlative Florida Kids and Family Expo have three distinct areas of strength going in to their first event:

  1. Strong Leadership- The experience in Event Planning, the passion for the product and the connections they appear to have within the business community give My Central Florida Family a strong foundation for hosting a successful Florida Kids and Family Expo. The National Sponsors they have in place, as well as the list of Exhibitors is impressive and should be a good draw for their family audience.
  2. Excellent Product Fit for Target Audience – Parents feel guilty and find parenting hard. My Central Florida Family helps assuage both concerns.

According to a national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted Feb.16-March 14 among 2,020 Americans,

  • Fully 70% of the public says it is more difficult to be a mother today than it was 20 or 30 years ago, while somewhat fewer (60%) say the same about being a father.
  • There exists a widespread belief that today’s parents are not measuring up to the standard that parents set a generation ago. Mothers are seen as having the more difficult job, but they are also judged more harshly than are fathers. More than half of Americans (56%) say that mothers are doing a worse job today than mothers did 20 or 30 years ago. By comparison, somewhat fewer people (47%) say fathers are doing a worse job than fathers did 20 or 30 years ago.

Further, parents feel a struggle with work-life balance, but want to spend more time with t heir children. Activities -like the Florida Kids & Family Expo- that offer fun filled quality time PLUS some access to information and even purchasing opportunities are ideal:

The amount of time parents spend with their children continues to go up. Fathers have nearly tripled their time with children since 1965. Mothers’ time with children has also increased, and today’s mothers spend more time with their children than mothers did in the 1960s. There is still a large gender gap in time spent with children: Mothers spend about twice as much time with their children as fathers do (13.5 hours per week for mothers in 2011, compared with 7.3 hours for fathers).

Both the main business and the Expo offer amazing resources and opportunities to help parents in the Central Florida area find great opportunities for their kids, ways to maximize family time, and introductions to vendors, retailers, and service providers that could enrich the lives of their children.

3. Good Location:

There are over half a million kids in the Orlando MSA, and the highest percentage of adults are in the 25-44 age bracket. That demographic is also growing 12% each year, third strongest MSA growth in the US for  working (and parenting) age distribution according to the Orlando Economic Development Commission. orlandodemo

Armed with these advantages, My Central Florida Family need only do everything within their power to get the word out about their upcoming Florida Kids and Family Expo. And to successfully accomplish this task, they will need a strategic, cohesive, and compelling IMC plan.

Need for IMC:

The Business Dictionary defines Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) as: An approach to achieving the objectives of a marketing campaign, through a well coordinated use of different promotional methods that are intended to reinforce each other.

The Florida Family and Kids Expo is attempting to engage two very different audiences:

  • Central Florida Families
  • Central Florida, Regional, even National Businesses

This is no easy task and cannot be accomplished via a single marketing channel. The brand will need to employ “push” marketing, to introduce their brand, as well as “pull” marketing to establish engagement with both groups in order to meet their stated goals.

As defined by the American Association of Advertising Agencies, integrated marketing communications ” … recognizes the value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communication disciplines advertising, public relations, personal selling, and sales promotion and combines them to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum communication impact.”

As a small business, The Florida Kids and Family Expo will need to maximize their limited time and financial resources for maximum ROI. In 7 Ways to Create a Successful Integrated Marketing Campaign  the marketing experts polled stressed the importance of identifying your Target Audience then ask

  • “Which channels do my customers use?’
  • ‘What are the channels’ strengths and weaknesses?
  • How will they help me reach my business objectives?'”

They further advice: “Be ruthless in selecting (and rejecting channels). It’s better to concentrate on the more effective channels than trying to be everywhere all the time.”  These infographics provide some guidance as to where potential Expo attendees can be reached-Facebook and Pinterest for Moms (need a Board for Florida Kids and Family Expo #FKFE2015) and Dads are more likely to be online WITH their kids, and most have friends online so they can be great, often overlooked, parenting influencers.

digital-lives-of-american-momsproud-papas-social-media

CLOSING REMARKS:

 

As a parent who was always on the lookout for ways to spend quality time with my young kids, the My Central Florida Family web site is a wonderful invention which I wish was available in my area when I needed it. The practical time saving element combined with the Social Media sharing and planning potential makes this a very valuable tool for busy parents. The Florida Kids and Family Expo is the arm of the business that will fund the site, grow the base of engaged families, and could ultimately be leveraged for greater exposure, enhanced content, and eventplaydateual expansion. Thanks to the experience, energy, and enthusiasm the creators of these entities infuse into their business, their efforts should yield the results they expect. The website is strong; they have a good IMC mix, and have engaged an amazing array of paid advertisers, exhibitors and sponsors. With a few creative tweaks to optimize their existing marketing efforts, increase the reciprocal reach from their business partners, and collect data to inform next year’s event, I am confident this will be the first of many more Florida Family and Kids Expos-in Central Florida and beyond!

The Heat is On…

XYZ Heating and Air is a new player in a highly competitive Plumbing-Plumber-hvac-Cartoon-03

services industry. Brand differentiation is crucial to attract new business. Brand credibility is a huge factor in selecting a service professional, so becoming established as a trusted, reliable, and honest HVAC provider is absolutely essential for success.

With the Winter Massachusetts has had this year, the demand for Heating Services is unusually strong. So, the opportunity to thrive is tremendous if consumers in need can find you, and quickly identify you as reputable.

Our brand has opted to focus on Facebook, with both paid ads and organic efforts. Their current IMC mix includes a business website, a Twitter Account, a Google+ page, and a Yelp Account. They also dabble in Direct Mail, but but have no email data base. For this exercise, we are analyzing XYZ’s Facebook Stats hoping our finding can inform future marketing endeavors.
Analysis of Facebook Statistics:
The information from Facebook is to me extremely limited and in fact statistically insignificant. It does not give us any insights into other IMC elements that could affect reach and engagement, such as a direct mail piece, web search engine placement, and Yelp Reviews. Nor do we have any conversion rates from any of the posts, likes, or engagements. However, just looking at the numbers, here are four things that stand out in this vacuum of data:

carttonhvac
1. Women are becoming fans at a much higher rate than men. They represent only 26% of this brands “reach” but comprise 58% of their fans. If they continue to pay for Facebook ads, they should refine their focus to be skewed more to females in the age bracket of 25-64.
2. The “paid” facebook reach is under-performing in fan/engagement rates as compared to the organic reach. The 1.25% post click and the 2% likes, comments they garnered on 2/27 is nice off of 3,500 reaches that day-but what did it cost? On 3/15 they achieved a 2.6% post click and nearly 5% engagement with the same post. I think perhaps rather than paying to promote they should first do some fine tuning to their posts, track the organic reach, and add other IMC elements which I will discuss later. The ROI on the blanket pay posts may not be the best use of their budget at this juncture.
3. Frequency-Everything we have learned says to post well and post often. I believe they are falling short on both. The 2-4 week gaps between posts make it difficult to track their efficacy. They need to post MORE if this is going to be their main vehicle for promoting their business.

fbposts
4. They have an interesting pocket of Hispanic reach and fans. With a reach of 463 and 13 fans, that’s a 2.8% conversion, much higher than the English 149 against 6,512. If they can speak Spanish, or have an affinity for the culture, this is a demographic to explore.
5. Positives from the Stats
a. Leveraging March Madness to get views and likes
b. They seem to understand their best days to post
c. They have offered contests and special offers

That is all I gleaned from the Facebook Stats. The other data points-particularly the week over week gains-did not seem imperial enough to credit to anything on Facebook given the low numbers and their other marketing initiatives.
Facebook Recommendations:
Belle Beth Cooper from BlogBuffer shares some interesting findings from Kissmetrics in her 7 Powerful Facebook Stats you Should Know blog that could improve XYZ Heating and Air’s Facebook engagement (and ultimately the ROI). Here are a few that I would recommend:
1.  Photos induce 39% more interaction, 84% more click throughs, and 104% more comments. I could not really tell what they had as imagery but weather is always a popular image, as might be photos of the owners, photos of new products, even funny photos. Getting more attention, then having the viewers go deeper or interact, would truly help with customer engagement and ultimately build that critical trusted relaticoldonship.
2. Emoticons increase like rates 57% and raise share and comments 39%. A cute frozen face would definitely get my attention and empathy! Same benefits as photos for engagement and incremental reach.
3. Questions get more comments and engagement. While they had questions, they were not optimal. Kissmetrics says Should, Would, and Which are the best. Engaging people in Polls has also been determined to be successful in engagement. Why not do both? Try a Poll that asks about the life of a Heat System- Should you replace your Heating Unit after 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, when it breaks? Or Would you call a Heating Contractor if a) your thermostat stopped working b) your electric bill spiked c) smoke was coming out of the unit? Engagement is the goal here-and added reach.

4.  Contests and Coupons are popular, and they used WIN which is strong. There may be room for improvement here-especially to combine a contest with a poll, require email addresses to build their email data base, or do a coupon that grows in value if you refer a friend(s).

5. Content – The changes outlined above will hopefully drive consumers. Now let’s give them something once they get to XYZ so they will share and come back.  Add Links in Posts to educate and cross market:
o Sites that discuss HVAC – see Home Improvement
o Recommendations on choosing a reputable HVAC Provider
o Add a link to the brand of Products they carry and Reviews
o Link to their Website and promise value added content once there such as-
o Checklist for winterizing your heater,
o 10 ways to lower electric bills, etc.
o Video demonstrating basic maintenance
o Online appointment scheduling tool for a free analysis
o Coupon

Now lets explore other IMC elements to help grow this fledgling HVAC Brand.
IMC Additions:
Fieldservice published a blog 8 Ways to Advertise your HVAC Business and detailed the Great, the Good, and the BAD. Here is how these recommendations would benefit XYZ Heating & Air.
GREAT:
o Linked In – Add a Page here detailing Professional Qualifications and incent customers to endorse them
o Professional Networking – join a leads group, gain some complimentary professional partners like plumbers, general contractors, even landscapers to do cross referrals. No cost-high yield in this industry and generates the most valuable kind of advertising-word of mouth
GOOD:
o Website-beef it up with content recommended above, maximize Google Search placement and Yelp reviews, and be sure it is Mobile friendly.
o Email – use recommendations above to gain an email database, then maybe create a quarterly newsletter with valuable information. When the heater breaks, you need to be top of mind. Giving good advice costs little and could generate big returns.
o Referral Program – even though you are new and may not have customers who can refer friends, you know people. Be obnoxious and concoct a referral program that will give your word of mouth referrals. Even something small like a Starbucks gift card will help your friends and neighbors think of you FIRST if someone they knows needs your services. I would also try to gain endorsements with links from the manufacturer of systems they use, and the complimentary industry contacts mentioned above.

For a small start up, a “campaign” is not really the best way to grow. They need to establish themselves as credible through word of mouth, providing helpful information, and engaging their fan base to share, comment, take polls and make referrals. At this point their marketing efforts need to be very personal and extremely high touch and grass roots in nature. By adding helpful content, cross linking between their platforms and those of trusted partners, and establishing a referral program I believe XYZ Heating and Air can leverage a strong social media presence, an informative website, and a broad reaching word of mouth referral program to become credible as a service provider. Once they have a strong customer base, good YELP reviews and Google Search placement, and client testimonials they can work on a clever or catchy marketing campaign to grow their brand. Along the way they can learn from facebook Analytics and track the success of new content, contests, and questions, run website stats to measure that traffic, and track the success from each referral/partnership channel. Utilizing a tool like HootSuite that could allow them to manually enter their other activities and see how each impacts their online traffic would be a good investment of time. Knowledge is power-but right now the Facebook Analytics offer a limited look at how effective their posts are, and no cross linking to their other IMC efforts. And if all that fails-

Plumbing-Plumber-hvac-Cartoon-29

Until You Have 100% Customer Satisfaction-

hotelThis Blog is for Educational Purposes ONLY, and items contained are “Sample Post” for class purposes only.

Social Media Reviews in the Hospitality Industry. Love ’em or hate ’em, this is the new lodging reality. The statistics are quite staggering considering how recent they became mainstream:

lodgeGiven the weight these reviews have on individual selection of accommodations and the potential the social channels have for business growth, all reviews-the good, the bad, and the ugly-must be acknowledged and actioned. Let’s look at two examples of consumer reflections on Florida vacations, and how a Hotel PR Manager might respond to each:

From Fab to Drab:

Hilton-example-2015(1)Oh if only everything could stay as fresh and magical as it was ten years ago! Clearly, this Ft. Lauderals Hilton has lost some of it’s luster. Personally, if I were the PR Manager for this property, I would have a very difficult time addressing the concerns of this customer. I have  stayed at this property 3 times in the past 2 years, and my experience mirrors this disgruntled guest’s.  Looking at the website I see nothing about any renovations to the rooms (beyond “crisp white linens”) and while there are a handful of positive reviews, there are an equal number of negative ones, mostly regarding the staff and the condition of the rooms. There are no press releases regarding any positive changes in staff or recent renovations. There was some sort of scandalous  incident at the hotel reported February 18th but that is another story…However, you play the cards you are dealt so here goes:
PUBLICLY: I would address the guest personally and promptly ( within 24 hours of her post), apologize for her disappointment (using her words to empathize) and ask if I may reach out to her personally to gather more details so each issue could be properly addressed. My goal would be to demonstrate to her and everyone reading this review that we read, internalize, and respond to each and every post. I would love to say something that shows we have already made strides to correct some of her issues, but the best I could find was to quote the bolded statement regarding their staff…
Sample Reply:
Dear Luvtotravelwithhubby-

Thank you very much for your candid review. Your feedback is extremely valuable and will help us improve. Your disappointment with our property seems largely to do with the service you received. Our goal is to have the friendliest hotel staff in Fort Lauderdale (who) will ensure a relaxing, enjoyable stay. I am genuinely sorry this was not your experience with us. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you personally your concerns so that we can fully understand and address each one. I can be reached at XXX-XXX-XXXX and again thank you for giving us the opportunity to improve. Hopefully you will give us the opportunity to welcome you back and see the difference you helped create.
Sincerely,
Gracie R, Hilton Guest Relations

If the guest responds to me as requested, I would follow the guidelines set forth in How to Respond to Negative Hotel Reviews and use our time together to gain greater insights regarding product and/or service gaps. During our conversation I would again Thank the guest by name and Apologize for the guest’s poor experience. Then I would want to get more details including:

Did she report any of these problems on property?

And did anyone try to correct the issues then and there?

I would ask open ended questions and gain real insights into the scope and nature of each concern. Once we finished our deep dive into her experience, I would want to offer her some sort of tangible apology be it a night at the hotel or perhaps a Hilton Gift Card. Once we had settled the matter off line, I might post again under her review:

Hello Again Luvs-
Just a note to thank you again for your feedback and for personally sharing with me more details. As we discussed, based on your comments we have corrected each maintenance issue you shared, conducted Guest Services refresher training with our staff, and we plan to roll out room upgrades later this year. Stay tuned for that-perhaps you will come see what we’ve accomplished later this fall! In the meantime, here is our beautiful marina-side “newspaper free” pool…

Pool1Please be sure to contact me personally when you next visit. I would love to meet you and ensure you have the relaxing, enjoyable stay you deserve.
Warmly,
Gracie R, Hilton Guest Relations

If she did not respond or reach out, I would wait a week then post:
Dear Luvtotravelwithhubby-
My invitation to contact me personally to share your concerns is still open. I hope to hear from you so we can better understand your experience and improve based on your valuable feedback. In the meantime, I have shared your comments with our maintenance and housekeeping staffs, and corrective actions have been taken. We also have room renovations planned for later this year. We hope you will give us the opportunity to demonstrate to your our commitment to your guest experience. In the meantime, check out of “newspaper free” marina side swimming pool-wish you were here!
(same pool image)

The goal would be to publicly address her dissatisfaction with both an apology and concrete proof we heard her and acted upon her complaints, to not only assuage her pain but to demonstrate to potential future guests they would NOT have the same negative experience. Through a private chat where conciliatory actions were made, the guest would be encouraged to re-post a favorable follow up, further bolstering confidence for future lodgers. And of course, I would only post things that were true so the comments above were illustrative only for educational purposes and do not reflect actual upgrades at this particular property.

Business or Pleasure? I’ll have BOTH!

Our second review is a much more positive one that can hopefully attract new and returning guests:
Hyatt-example2015(1)

Just as important as responding to a negative review is leveraging the inherent value of a positive User Social Proof: Approval from current users of the product/service, such as customer testimonials, case studies, and those all-powerful reviews. The Hyatt example above offers tremendous potential to grow sales for both business and leisure travelers. I would want to thank the reviewer and reinforce the positive comments with plugs for each named venue, and take the opportunitiy to highlight another guest experience for her to enjoy next time –
Dear Travelwith3kiddos-

SO glad to hear that you and your family had a great stay with us. The greatpoollllest compliment you can give us is your repeat business, and knowing that we have been able to serve you both for business and for a family vacation makes our day! I am delighted you enjoyed our spa, pool, and both our B-Line diner (did you get dessert?) and the open kitchen and pizza experience offered at Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse’s. We hope you will join us again soon and try Urban Tide for some of Florida’s local seafood. I also want to assure you that the pool is sparkling clean and ready for your kids-we look forward to your next visit! 

Gracie H, Hyatt PR
I would follow up a few weeks later with an update regarding some of the guests other comments which suggested room for improvement:
spaDear Travelwith3kiddos-
Just want to let you know that we have added some additional kid-friendly activities at our property sure to keep your three entertained. Rooms with gaming systems are available, and we will have special Kids Camps during the summer months. Also, our Spa now features 90 minute massages-I would love to treat you to one on your next visit. Please contact me personally to arrange your next stay.

And when she did, I would offer a “thank you” to her which would publicly reward her for positive feedback. With the negative review, the compensation would remain private to avoid attracting naysayers hoping to cash in. But the value of a customer testimonial far outweighs any advertising, so a spa experience is a bargain for such a positive endorsement. And if others want to follow in her flip flops, the more the merrier!

Finally, I would leverage her review one more time with a contest. Here is the post:

Travelwith3kiddos shared what a great time her kids had splashing arpooooolound our pool and riding our slides. We want another family to enjoy these amenities this summer. Like The Hyatt Regency Orlando on Facebook, then post a picture of your kids enjoying our pool or some other pool or water park fun and you could win a weekend with us this! (terms & conditions apply, etc.)  

See you at the Pool!!!!

With the positive review, responding twice directly to the guest then once to the public leveraging the amenities praised in the review maximizes exposure without being obnoxious. The Hyatt has the chance to agree with Three Kids about the positives, suggest a few more and a repeat stay, then encourage others to have the same wonderful experience. Offering a contest generates additional excitement and sharing potential-using pictures increases visibility.

The old saying goes “No Publicity is Bad Publicity” and with Social Media Reviews, if you handle them correctly, this is true. Turning around a negative experience or reinforcing a positive one is good for business. And demonstrating a personal interest through public interaction with past guests shows a commitment to customer service which generates additional credibility.

Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Prince, Dinner like a Pauper…

*****THIS BLOG IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY***

Jaclyn Sherman Rhoads, Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida, advises

“Today’s events, whether trade shows, conferences, concerts etc. should take advantage of multimedia communication to not only support the brand but to enhance the event BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER.”

Recently Catersource, an industry based advocacy and educational entity, hosted their annual Trade Show and Conference #cses2015. Last year‘s event attracted 3,050 catering and event professional attendees, featured 156 career building activities, and boasted 117 “brand new” exhibitors. They also racked up some strong Social Media Stats-

sstats

This year’s event was tagged “solutions” and promoted as a way to help their target audience of caterers and event planners with “staying fresh and creative while reinforcing bottom-line goals and strategies”. Here’s what attendees were promised for participating in this 3 day event: “The education and experiences gained at a live Catersource event will give you creative concepts, money-saving resources and a solid business sense that will help you grow your career.”

Let’s look at how well they leverage Social Media Channels Before, During, and After the conference to support this assertion and generate participation in this show for exhibitors, sponsors, and attendees.

BEFORE:

Catersource has a strong, well branded website with consistent fresh and clear branding, lots of images, and a well organized layout. They maintain the color scheme, font style in headers, feature a robust dedicated tab for the 2015 Conference and Trade Show, and links to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram.web

Three of these channels-Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram- integrate well with the website, email newsletter, press releases, and cross marketing at other events to raise awareness, generate excitement, and provide enthusiastic and varied “reminders” of this upcoming event. Unfortunately Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube have not been updated this year, and play no role in the social promotion of this event. Per Professor Sherman again “Best channels for a trade show or convention include LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. “ LinkedIn was completely absent from their website, show materials, and barely held a place holder on the platform itself:

The organization’s LinkedIn page had 842 followers, so having no conSnipImage(9)tent, no #cses2015 info, and not even a link to their website seems like a huge missed opportunity. Not only do caterers and food service use LinkedIn, but catering is one of those “dream jobs” that many frustrated otherwise employed individuals think “someday I might want to do that…” This potential attendee might take notice of such an event via this social media site.
Another miss was leveraging their influencers to their full potential. The SPEAKERS page had no links to their websites, blogs, or businesses. This could have been a great opportunity for cross promotion, as well as a way to generate more interest and more buzz about the event.

It looks like Media could attend the show free, but again saw no evidence they courted, encouraged, or optimized media coverage before, during, or after the event.
wk10speakers
The SPONSORS and EXHIBITORS also had little to no exposure pre-show, and no cross promoting links. A few logos of sponsors and a brief mention if they were tied to a seminar or contest was about it for sponsors, and exhibitors has their name on an alphabetized laundry list rather than a mouth watering menu.

SnipImage(5)SnipImage(6)The organization’s magazine did advanced promotion of #CSES2015 in their February issue, and when I tried to view past issues, a pop up asked me to subscribe AND promote show attendance. Good leverage of available content sources and cross channel promotion opportunities within the brand.

They had a web brochure that was long and not particularly appealing but it was the first place I saw a comprehensive look at the CSES2015 Sponsors –
webbroSnipImage(8)

But unfortunately it was on the last page of this rather unfriendly web document, so not quite the red carpet treatment that makes sponsors feel the love and want to sign up again next year.
I also did not find any show specific videos other than one buried under the button to become a sponsor

From a content perspective they covered the gamut in a very organized way on their main site:
before
Promoting the venue, the speakers, the tradeshow, the educational opportunities, and the fun. Lots of pre-show contests to generate interest and enthusiasm to drive attendance.
giveawayslookback
The website, magazine, newsletters, Facebook, and Twitter all featured lots of photos, and enthusiastic entries promising an event that would be fun, exciting, and educational. All in all Catersource appears to have done well leveraging social media pre-show to
• Build attendance for current year
• Build attendance for following year if people see what they missed/are reminded of all the great stuff they saw.
• Inform about registration and important deadlines.
• Inform about schedule highlights

promotweet

They fell a bit short regarding a few BEFORE elements offered by Social Media including:
• Obtain and retain exhibitors (2014 Link did NOT mention Sponsors or exhibitors)
• Create dialogue among attendees (saw none for attendees; very limited with Guest speakers, exhibitors etc.)
The site encourages registration for both attendees and exhibitors often and loudly providing quick links for early, regular, and even last minute sign up. There were at least three one click links to registration on the page.

SnipImage(7)I was able to access the full site from my phone, but they did not seem to have a separate mobile design so it was really too tiny to read. I could link to facebook and twitter from the site and these worked well on both my phone and tablet.

All in all, a hearty Breakfast-but will it be enough to keep me revved up for the entire event?

DURING:

Catersource posted nothing “live” from the event on their website which was disappointing. It appears last year they did a daily recap which I found to be a strong element
SnipImage(10)
Live video feeds are probably too much to ask, but to achieve the goal of making people wish they were there and encourage attendance for next year these items would have been effective. Something on the web site needed to celebrate that the show was in progress and generate excitement – or even envy – in those not present. Even a banner celebrating the event and having special links to the on-site content would have helped. Instead, the sole focus seemed to be one we learned about this week:during1
“During the event, keep the excitement going”-but mainly just for those at the show. The twitter and Facebook posts were very informative for attendees, with logistical updates and reminders.

They also leveraged these platforms to promote attendance at events, and congratulate contest winners. I am sure attendees enjoyed the recognition.
fbts
Instagram was updated during the show during the show with photos and some video of the awards event.

Another positive was the dedicated CSES2015 App which allowed registered users to “browse the entire educational program, build your schedule, set reminders and take notes so you’ll have everything you need right at your fingertips. “

app
The show floor featured a Social Media Bar

instasocialbarYet a few elements were notably missing despite their recommendation by multiple social media experts including

• Provide live updates as events happen with multiple posts, interviews with speakers, or even live streaming.
• Engage with exhibitors, attendees, and media. Answer questions!
An opportunity lost to create a more meaningful experience for attendees was missed but not engaging them in the Social Media promotion during the show- “Guests have more fun when there is an opportunity to be interactive in some way,” says Emily Miller, director of special events for the nonprofit in her 5 Tips for Revamping an Annual Event “We wanted guests to be up close and personal with the participating chefs and not only can they taste the savory or sweet items, but they can learn to make them.” The interaction was there at the event, but the opportunity to share interactions was not captured.

Overall Social Media coverage DURING the show was present, but not strong. Rather than the lush luncheon buffet one would expect in Vegas, we got a white bread sandwich and some chips. Not very satisfying-but better than going hungry!

AFTER:
On March 12th, the website still had all the pre-show links working and the promotion of the event had not been replaced with anything covering the event.
wk10web
Further, if you click the REGISTER NOW button, it takes you to this link

oopps
Facebook popped up on March 12th leading with three wonderful personal endorsements – of the 2014 show…

fb2014showTwitter had broadcasted during the show but nothing since March 11th and the Twitter home promoted that the show was less than a month away-and to click here for Registration

tweetafterIn the case of #CSES2015, what happened in Vegas truly did stay in Vegas. Dinner like a pauper indeed!

Summary:
Clearly this event is very important to Catersource, and much time, energy and effort went into making this event a success. The best work was done before the show on the website and with the magazine. Strong visuals, great variety of content, and a real sense that Catersource was excited and proud to be hosting this event-and that enthusiasm was contagious. During the show they definitely out twitter first, which experts do recommend. “I think, in general, Twitter is more tied to customer service, particularly when something is unfolding at an event in real time,” says Matt Germann senior vice president and partner at Fleishman-Hillard in Bizbash article Checklist: 8 Ways to Manage Social Media During an Event “It seems to be when people have that mobile device in their hand, they take to Twitter to have that conversation.”

LinkedIn, cross promotion with speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors, and true interaction with anyone would have been great additions to the promotion and coverage of CSES2015.An opportunity lost to woo influencers as recommended by Mattews in The Ultimate Social Media Checklist For Events Promotion | WeRSM | We Are Social Media “Find the influencer for the audience you are trying to reach and try to engage them with involvement in your event,” Matthews recommends. “A celebrity with a huge following on Twitter or an entrepreneur whose LinkedIn posts are devoured by the business community can add exponentially to your event’s reach.” It seems they had some industry rock stars on the schedule, but underutilized their collective clout for promotional purposes.
I also think hashtags were not maximized. The only constant was #cses2015-no leveraging of trending tags, no tags to promote speakers or sponsors, the venue or the profession. Where was #catering #catersource #tablescapes #marcussamuelsson? I might have even done #CSES2015LIVE to designate and differentiate content streaming from the show. Engagement and responses from their Social Media efforts were pretty lackluster with only 137 visitors to Facebook, 42 likes on the post sow photos, and daily in show posts peaked at 25 likes day one, and less than 14 on subsequent updates. Catersource had 3,764 followers on Twitter and 1107 followings for possible re-tweets but I saw no evidence of any sharing or engagement.  This industry thrives on word or mouth, and attracts creative, attention appreciative personalities. Involving speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees in the live coverage and/or post game recaps could have made a significant contribution to the success of future events, and the popularity of Catersource in general.

All in all, I am leaving the event a bit hungry…

wk10men

Its kind of fun…

to the Impossible-Walt Disney

THIS IS HYPOTHETICAL AND FOR ACADEMIC PURPOSES ONLY.

And that is exactly how I viewed this assignment. Create 30 days worth of Posts and Tweets for an internationally renowned iconic theme park, based on business goals and the actual events on the calendar for the month of April.  OK-do you want world peace with that? Let’s begin-

Social Media Plan for EPCOT:
“Epcot Center celebrates human achievements and innovation born from imagination. It is a showplace dedicated to entertain we hope, with a purpose. Our goals for EPCOT Center are quite clear, we want to first entertain, then inform and inspire all who come here and above all, to instill in our guests a new sense of belief and pride in mankind’s ability to shape a world that offers real hope to people everywhere in the world.
– E. Cardon Walker

Given these lofty aspirations, a Social Media Plan for this theme park should reflect three Core Values:
1. Entertain
2. Inform and Inspire
3. Instill Hope
Of course, a more cynical view would be that Disney’s Parks are a massive, profit driven, capitalist venture who leverages its movies and merchandise to sell theme park tickets (Wonderful World of Disney as Advertisement) and entices park guests with attractions to reinforce devotion to beloved Disney Characters. (Frozen) From Why We Are Here, a History of Epcot: “Epcot’s intent was to feed into the feeling of a world’s fair. Since the 1850s fairs and expositions were used as a method of garnering support for new technology, promoting tourism and creating a public face for corporations and countries. Without taking anything away from their impact on human culture, world’s fairs were basically monumental advertisements.”
So no Social Media Campaign for this extravaganza would be complete without posts and tweets designed to
4. Promote Characters/Media
5. Sell Tickets, F&B, Merchandise, etc.

For the month of April, our goal is to promote Epcot’s Flower & Garden, Earth Day Activities, and other attractions and events throughout the park. My scheduled Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram Posts will be geared to illicit a response or reaction reflecting these goals with a secondary focus of these 5 underpinnings. Disclaimer: Timing of these posts do not reflect historic and corporate algorithms indicating best timing to engage guests so they are for illustrative purposes only. In ALL cases, each event or activity had a post, blog, tweet, or other online communication channels so my event related items serve only as reminders.
April 1

Post: Looking to play a prank on someone? Slip ’em this calendar, and they’ll be celebrating overflowing moons and Broccoli for Dessert Day before you know it! (Disney April Fools’ Trick Calendar – Disney Family–  family.disney.com/crafts/disney-april-fools-trick-calendar

april 1 fb
Tweet: “I have great faith in fool’s; self confidence my frieapril1tweetnds call it”– Edgar Allan Poe #aprilfools #chipanddale #
April 2

Post: Here’s 2 the Environment! This month 2 celebrate Earth Day we will share an innovation or attraction from Epcot designed to demonstrate how we can all make the world better. Let’s ground our discussion with The Land, and its experimental growing areas including The Tropics Greenhouse , The Aquacell, The Temperate Greenhouse, the Production Greenhouse, and the Creative House. We had one of the first true Farm to Table eating concepts – The Land’s Garden Grill, and Epcot pioneered many concepts now considered mainstream like sustainable agriculture and hydroponics.

land2
Post2april2fb: Sing along with The Orchestra this spring at our fifth Fun Fresh Weekend Rock Gardens concert April 3 – 5, https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/flower-garden-fun-fresh-weekends/
Tweet: Bring your “Evil Woman” to  Rock Garden Concert April 3-5 featuring #TheOrchestra https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/flower-garden-fun-fresh-weekends/ #EPCOT2015
April 3 april3tweet

Post: Enjoy OUR backyard this weekend-and bring your friends! Savor a taste of spring as you stroll around Epcot and treat your senses to a selection of fresh flavors, with seasonal dishes and beverages at every stop. Plus, Each outdoor kitchen also features its own miniature “grow your own” garden.… http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2014-epcot-flower-and-garden-festival-outdoor-kitchens-menus-and-food-photos/
Tweet: What’s cooking in YOUR backyard? Here’s some Epcot inspiration – join us? http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2014-epcot-flower-and-garden-festival-outdoor-kitchens-menus-and-food-photos/ #outdoorcooking #outdooekitchen

April 4
april4Post: Scare up some fun in Mike & Sulley’s Monstrous Garden, a vibrant play area on Imagination walkway created specially for the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Running through May 18th. http://wdw.disneynewsroom.uat.voceconnect.com/photos/2014/03/18/epcot-international-flower-garden-festival-mike-sulleys-monstrous-garden-2/#sthash.Fo4M0Mkn.dpuf )

Instagram: Share YOUR Mike & Sulley’s Monstrous Garden Pics –april4insta
April 5
Post: Last Day for Disney Egg-Stravaganza! Have fun eggs-ploring the parks hunting for eggs that portray Disney characters! Maps and stickers can be purchased for $4.95, plus tax, at the following parks and locations EPCOT locations: Heritage Manor Gifts (American Adventure Pavilion), Pin Central, Plaza Towers (Port of Entry) and World Traveler (International Gateway).

Tweet: Last Day to Play Epcot’s Egg-Stravaganza: Disney Character Easter Egg Hunt #epcot2015 #egghunt http://www.itsmousetime.com/…/egg-stravaganza-easter-egg-hunt-returning-ep

April 6

t2esttrackPost: Buckle up in a 6-passenger “simulation car” and put a virtual vehicle that you created to the test. Stroll into a gleaming, state-of-the-art facility and cruise past eye-opening exhibits illustrating the forward-thinking innovation and technology of Chevrolet. Steer your way inside the Chevrolet Design Center and—working at an illuminated station—design your own virtual custom concept!
Twitter: Design a virtual concept vehicle and then go for a high-octane spin at Test Track #iwannagofast https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/…/epcot/test-track/

April 7

Post: April is Lawn & Garden Month-Come see Ours! Delight in a dazzling array of over 100 topiary displays, gardens and exhibits—each featuring seasonal designs or several popular Disney characters—only at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival!howdoesyourgarden
Instagram: April Showers & Spring Flowers-see ours at Epcot-and send us YOURS! #lawn&gardenmonth #internationalflower&gardenshow

April 8

Post: Countdown to FUN! Experience authentic NASA-style training and an out-of-this-world space launch on this shuttle simulator. Mission Sspacepace 10, 9, 8, 7………
Tweet: Remember? Horizons showcased Future World themes- communication, energy, transportation, and man’s relationship with sea, land, air, & space. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvOpTFZCaig #epcothistory

april9fb
April 9

Post: It’s fun to stay at EPCOT today – with The Village People performing at our sixth Fun Fresh Weekend 10 – 12, 2015 https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/flower-garden-fun-fresh-weekends/
Tweet: You can have a Good Time, you can get a good meal, you can do whatever you feel…#thevillagepeople #epcot2015
April 10

Post:ride April is an ideal to visit Epcot-smaller crowds, shorter lines-You can ride TWICE! Which EPCOT attraction is your favorite?
Instagram: Share your favorite Epcot Attraction Pics #epcot #rideagain

April 11

Turtles don’tCrush-swimming-in-Finding-Nemo Text..but they do TALK (at EPCOT anyway!) Visit Turtle Talk with Crush and interact with this lovable tortoise from Finding Nemo…

Tweet: “Cause we were like, ‘who0ooa,’ and I was like, ‘whooooa.’ and you were like, ‘whooooaaa…’” Crush from Finding Nemo

April 12

Post: Here’s 2 the Environment! Nature Needs Our Help The Circle of Life introduces youngsters to the concept of eco kindness. Hakuna matata may be a good philosophy for everyday situations, but choosing not to worry about our planet could spell disaster! Laugh and learn as Simba teaches Timon and Pumbaa an important lesson…circle-of-life-sign-00
Tweet: Before The Circle of Life Symbiosis explored technological progress in the environment and the partnership between people and the land. sym
April 13- soarin

Post: Soarin’ lets you simulate Hang-gliding over the sights of California, including Yosemite, orange groves, and even Disneyland! This is the most popular attraction at Epcot, and our #1 pick for use of FastPass+.

Twitter: Which EPCOT ride is YOUR FastPass+ Favorite? #Epcot2015 #fastpass+

april14
April 14
Post: National Juggling Day-Juggling is a physical skill, performed by a juggler, involving the manipulation of objects for recreation, entertainment, art, or sport. You juggle your to do list every day-watch someone else for a change. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/entertainment/epcot/sergio-italian-juggler/ link & Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05jUely23UI
Instagram: What do you juggle-jobs, kids, spouse…? Show us-#sergioitalianjuggler

April 15 illum

Post: Light Up the Night: As the sun bids the day adieu, select Disney topiaries and Festival playgrounds all across Epcot will glow with light as the Flower & Garden fun continues into the night “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth”. This spectacular presentation is centered around the World Showcase Lagoon where fireworks, lasers and dancing fountains combine in a choreographed display performed to an inspirational musical score.
Tweet: Light Up the Night “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” #epcot2015

April 16

jonSpend the day at Epcot’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival then dance the night away to the romantic sound of Jon Secada April 17th-19th. Performances are at America Gardens Theatre at 5:30, 6:45 and 8:00 p.m. this Friday, Saturday and Sunday and are included with Epcot admission.
Tweet: It won’t be “Just Another Day” if you see Jon Secada LIVE at our EPCOT Rock Gardens concert this weekend..

April 17th epcotg

Post: Something Fresh Is Blooming at Epcot – In time for Lawn & Garden Month learn how to bring the Spring at Epcot home to your very own backyard . Delight in a dazzling array of over 100 topiary displays, gardens and exhibits—each featuring seasonal designs or several popular Disney characters—only at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival!
Instagram: April Showers & Spring Flowers-share ours-and send us YOURS #lawn&gardenmonth #internationalflower&gardenshow

April 18 garlic

National Garlic Day Garlic has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years, dating at least as far back as when the Giza pyramids were built. Spice Road Table. Located in World Showcase’s Morocco Pavilion –

Twitter: “Mediterranean small plates,” including Spicy Garlic Shrimp…  #garlic http://blog.wdwinfo.com/2014/01/11/spice-road-table-new-restaurant-opens-at-epcots-morocco-pavilion/#sthash.kdr30UFL.dpuf

April 19

april20 Post: Tomorrow is Patriot’s Day – a civic holiday commemorating the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775.  We celebrate our Patriots every day at https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/epcot/american-adventure/
Tweet: One if by Land, Two if by Sea-who is your favorite American Patriot? #epcotamericanadventure #patriot’sday

April 20 Post:

Here’s 2 the Environment! “Ellen’s Energy Adventure” is a look back at the prehistoric origins of today’s energy sources. FUN FACT: This ride is mostly powered by the 2 acres of solar panels that sit on the roof. The equivalent power could supply enough energy to power 15 homes! Ellen’s Energy Adventure

Tweet: Universe of Energy: “From the sea to the skies, there’s a force beyond our eyes!” #lostepcot http://www.lostepcot.com/universeofenergy.html

April 21- Post: ed

Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, with events worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network,[1] and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.
Tweet “Verged on the threshold of infinity, we see our world as it truly is: small, silent, fragile, alive, a drifting island in the midnight sky.” -Narrator, Spaceship Earth
Aprseasil 22

Post: Here’s 2 the Environment! In honor of Earth Day join us at EPCOT The Seas with Nemo & Friends, where children can find out (by trying it!) how turtle excluder devices protect sea turtles, and learn about conservation efforts to protect coral reefs, manatees, sharks and the many other amazing creatures that inhabit our oceans. #earthday
Tweet: Are you a diver who’s always wanted to jump in and join the fish at The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion? Now you can!dive
April 23 –

Here’s 2 the Environment! – VISION House® in INNOVENTIONS at Epcot® is a ground-breaking green show home exhibit presented by Green Builder® Media in collaboration with Walt Disney Imagineering. This experiential exhibit opened on Earth Day 2012 in the heart of Epcot® and highlights the very best in green residential design and sustainable living. Visitors will leave with a greater understanding of green design, technology, and products as well as a host of sustainable living ideas that they can incorporate in their lives the minute they get home from vacation.

Tweet: The Future Is Now! Discover how Walt Disney’s dream of a better tomorrow created Epcot® on this 4-hour walking tour.  https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/undiscovered-future-world/

April 24

Here’s 2 the Enviroflafreshnment!  Florida Fresh Weekend: April 24 – 26, 2015 The eighth Fun Fresh Weekend at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. From 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, head for the Festival Center and discover why Florida is one of the top agriculture producing states in the nation!
Post2: The Guess Who performing at our seventh Fun Fresh Weekend 24th – 26th, 2015 https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/flower-garden-fun-fresh-weekends/

Tweet: These Eyes wanna see the LIVE performance of The Guess Who at Epcot April 24th-26th #theguesswho

April 25th

Here’s 2 the Environment! The Butterfly Effect – Audubon Florida and the Natapril6fbional Audubon Society have partnered to present a very special exhibit at Disney’s EPCOT Center during their Flower and Garden Festival. Butterflies on the Go! Discover the story of the Monarch butterfly in Future World as its epic journey across the continent is detailed! From day till dusk, see butterflies emerge from their chrysalis… and find a few fun surprises for the entire family too. http://audubonoffloridanews.org/?p=11351#sthash.3cB7uW5q.dpuf
Twitter: The Majestic Monarch – come see their journey at Epcot’s Future World #monarch #epcot2015

April 26, 2015 Post:

mpToday is National Pretzel Day! Enjoy Mickey Pretzels with Cheese Sauce to celebrate. While you are there, Wet your whistle at Block & Hans (http://tinyurl.com/mfgp8ww) and let the “Purveyors of Fine American Ale” introduce you to some of the great American craft beers!
Tweet: Wet your whistle @ Block & Hans to celebrate National Pretzel Day http://tinyurl.com/mfgp8ww #pretzels #block&hans Mickey Pretzels with Cheese Sauce – YUM

April 27th POST:

Today is National Tell a Story Day. Who better to spin a tale than our very own Mary Poppins? Meet her today in Epcot’s United Kingdom https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/entertainment/epcot/character-meet-mary-poppins/ And click HERE to hear HER REAL story The Story of Mary Poppins | Disney Insider | Disney Video
Tweet: “Anything Can Happen if You Let It” – Mary Poppins Celebrity Spotting at Epcot- #marypoppins #epcotunitedkingdom


April 28

Post: Something Fresh Is Blooming at Epcot – In time for Lawn & Garden Month learn how to bring the Spring at Epcot home to your very own backyard- Festival Center Events include Hands-on presentations on the Greenhouse Stage: 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM and Demonstrations on the Fresh Epcot Stage: 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM
Twitter: See, Do, Learn, Grow! Interact with amazing plants, insects and fish—and even see alligators—on this fun yet educational walking tour. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/behind-the-seeds/ pic

April 28

Post:  Planning a visit to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival this spring? If so, you’re in for a treat! We’ve recently introduced several new atmosphere entertainment experiences throughout the international pavilions of World Showcase, and there’s even more on the way.italy

Tweet: Don’t have 80 days to go around the world? You can do it in 8 hours at EPCOT! #epcot2015

April 29danceshrimp

Post: National Shrimp Scampi Day What’s Leave them dance in “Finding Nemo” – Here at EPCOT enjoy them in Shrimp Scampi at the Coral Reef Restaurant-make your reservation now! http://tinyurl.com/mb2wzkd #shrimpscampi #coralreefrestauarnt #epcot
Tweet: What’s better than Dancing Shrimp? Shrimp Scampi at Epcot’s Coral Reef Restaurant-make your reservation now! http://tinyurl.com/mb2wzkd #shrimpscampi #coralreefrestauarnt #epcot

April 30 sum

What’s Better Than Riding a Roller Coaster-designing your OWN! Sum of All Thrills is unlike any other Innoventions attraction. It captures the “edutainment” goal of Epcot in that the roller coaster you design must adhere to laws of physics, and is also an exciting and fun theme park attraction.
Twrideeet: Click Click Click Click Click Click (P A U S E) AAA

AHHHHHHHHH #rollercoaster

It all started as a dream to do the impossible-create 30 Facebook and Twitter entries for Epcot. I hope after reading my blog you will concur with Epcot’s originator and say “Gracie…walt_disney_quote-427113

Constant Contact: Not Just for Email Anymore…

midterm2015
Constant Contact  defines itself as “One tool, for all your marketing” with a mission “to empower small businesses and nonprofits to grow customer relationships and succeed.   The business was founded in 1995 (formerly Roving Software) on the belief that email had the potential to become more than a personal communication vehicle allowing Meg Ryan to meet Tom Hanks (You’ve Got Mail).   Constant Contact’s vision and underlying focus was – and remains- to create “a valuable marketing tool that would help small businesses level the playing field in the battle against big business.”

This endeavor began with simple email templates and list tools, and has grown to include a comprehensive suite of products leveraging social media as well as technology for better list, event, and survey management, as well as back end analytics to measure results.

OVERVIEW:
Constant Contact is publicly held (NASDAQ: CTCT) reporting $331.7 million in net revenues for 2014.  They are the largest provider of email and related marketing services, filling a need for tools, training, and technology in the small business and non-profit marketplace with over 635,000 unique customers. index

We are revolutionizing the success formula for small businesses by developing great, easy-to-use online marketing tools and combining them with our marketing expertise, know how and coaching with a personal touch,
stated Gail Goodman | @Gail_Goodman CEO, Constant Contact  in the company’s  Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2014 Financial Results released January 29th, 2015.(Here is a link to the company’s financials since 2012.)
We will continue to leverage our strong brand and market leadership to deliver success to our customers, giving us the means to capitalize on the large and growing small business market opportunity.

 

MARKETING CHANNEL:
emailConstant Contact is classified as Online advertising, defined by BusinessDictionary.com as the Use of internet as an advertising medium where promotional messages appear on a computer screen. They can be further classified as Email Marketing, a platform able to provide a direct, targeted, line of communication for conversion to sales and reputed to deliver a 4,300% ROI.

email-marketing-princetonwebservices

Elements of Email Marketing, as outlined by Margaret Straus on WhatIs.com, include:
• Standalone Advertisements
• Targeted (often with customer segmentation and personalization)
• Text, HTML, or rich media
• Permission Based (opt-in email)
• Measurable (metrics)

Benefits of this medium include low cost, personalize content and the ability to segment recipients.  Additionally email can promote other channels with links to websites and Social Media, offer phone numbers or chat links, share event information, and include rich visuals and greater quantities of content than most other PUSH Marketing allows.  Email is most effective when combined with other elements of a brand’s complete push and pull strategic IMC plan.  Constant Contact publishes a User Guide with step by step instructions to maximize results of email campaigns through the incorporation of social media, contests, and other traditional marketing platforms.

PRODUCTS & SERVICES:

Constant Contact prides itself as being a one stop shopping for all elements of an IMC for small business and non-profits.  Most of their products are self serve, accessible via the internet (or on a mobile device with available apps). Each features straight forward, easy to understand instructions, and generally begin with a template.  For clients needing more support, Constant Contact offers three platforms for email campaigns.

  • Quick Start – Email support for list upload, template customization, and list refresh $199
  • Design & Build  – professional graphic designers create a custom template to your specifications $599
  • Create & Launch – Campaign focus support as well as template customization & list services $299

Clients desiring more hands-on engagement perhaps in their location can engage with Constant Contact Partners. These service providers are trained by the company, and offer email and website design services, lead generation, social media marketing, marketing plans, etc. For a fee they will share with small business and non-profits:

  • Expertise: when you’d like to try or get better with new tools and techniques
  • Extra hands: when you have a great idea—but no time to make it happen
  • Inspiration: the extra brainpower to help you generate your next marketing idea

To streamline creation, execution, and analysis of email and multi-platform campaigns, Constant Contact last year launched a ToolKit,  described as “an all-in-one online marketing platform that brings together the tools needed to drive repeat customers and reach new ones through a wide array of campaign types distributed via email, social, mobile, and Web channels.”

Ttoolsoolkit is designed to provide an all-in-one experience, offering access to 15 marketing campaign types, including newsletters, announcements, trackable coupons, event registration, local deals, and a brand new donation campaign, as well as a customized design template, contact management tools, and reporting.

There are three levels available on monthly subscription pricing – Basic, Essential, and Ultimate,each delivering varying degrees of support and service options.develop a list growth and segmentation strategy, choose the best campaign to run, and so much more. Products popular with end users are detailed below:

  • Image and file storage – Easily store and access the content you need for your emails right in your Constant Contact account.
  • Mobile-friendly templates – Make sure your audience can easily access your message everywhere they go, on any device.
  • Contact management – Store, organize, and maintain your email address lists and information. Segment lists so the right people get the right message.
  • List-building tools – Add email addresses to your list from your Facebook page, company website, or a text-to-join message.
  • Social media tools– Share your emails to your social media networks right from Toolkit, and make it easy for your audience to share on theirs, too.
    Survey – Online Sdesktop-surveyurvey lets you get instant feedback so you can understand what’s working, and what’s not. Use your results to improve your business and tailor your message to your audience.

Events – Easily handle all the details that go into your next fundraiser, online meeting, webinar, conference, tradeshow, or class with EventSpot.

We have utilized Constant Contact’s services for over four years. Just started using their Event promotions for registering guests in our groups. It is amazing and has saved me NUMEROUS phone calls. Last week, we had 60 people register for events – saving me 60 phone calls! When I did have a problem, I contacted customer services and was connected to someone within 5 minutes. -Jeanj, BBB 4/18/2014

  • Local Deals – SaveLocal lets you create and promote shareable local offers that look great and are free to send. It’s easy for your customers to share with friends, so you reach more new customers. Since you’re in control of all the details, you get better results—we don’t take up to 50% of your revenue like the other guys.

FEATURES & BENEFITS:

 Deliverability – The percentage of emails sent from a campaign get into the subscribers’ in-boxes.Constant Contact has the highest deliverability rates in the industry at 97%. “They use complex techniques to get emails delivered. For example, before the email is sent, these systems have tools to flag the email if it has spam triggers. Also, they both claim to be “whitelisted” by most ISPs to ensure deliverability.”

Social media integration – Ensuring that your email campaign gets attention on Facebook, Twitter, etc. When you are ready to send your email, you get the option of propagating a link to a web-based version of the email on your social media accounts. Constant Contact posts to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and will host a webpage version of your email free for 30 days.

“I love that Constant Contact has become a real all-in-one solution for modern web communication. It’s not just email anymore — through Constant Contact, you can even manage your social media, run a survey, run an event, or even create “Groupon”-like deals for your own business. Then, you can track the results of everything that you do. “Kristin H., G2 Crowd 12/13/2012

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Usability – Constant Contact is mobile-friendly with large buttons. They walk new users through the process of creating their first email campaign using prompts, help topics, useful on-screen explanations, and videos.

Lists – You can segregate email lists into groups according to their interests (for example, General Interest, Health, Exercise) for more customized content and increased personalization. Constant Contact also allows you to “tag” each email address with any number of words, so you can “narrow down” the list directly before sending, and can be useful for keeping track of sources and other details without adding too many segments.

Spam – In a Forbes Post titled Is Constant Contact The Best E-Mail Marketing Service? Gene Marks states-
But the most important feature that an e-mail service can provide is e-mail delivery. So when a service like Constant Contact grills its customers about their data collection practices they’re telling the world (and more importantly the internet service providers who have the ability to stop their messages from reaching their servers) that they will not tolerate spam.

Scope of Services – Constant Contact has more services to offer so you can’t fault them for offering more – they DO offer more. Also, when you open a new account with them, they assign an account manager to contact you and help you with everything from the day you sign up. The chart below offers a summary of the company’s benefits and areas for imprevoement – published in Constant Contact vs. iContact vs. Vertical Response Vs….

proconConstant Comment states that “All products-including the introductory Free Trial includes Free, award-winning support – Real people, ready to answer your questions. Just a phone call away.  They provide additional business insights to help their clients measure their success and improve including Average open, click-through, and bounce rates by industry.  They support their clients with a strong product offering, an Online Support including the Partner Program, Product Tutorials and Guides, and the Constant Contact Community featuring discussion groups, blogs, a newsletter, and even the ability to have others critique your campaign.  Clients are immediately assigned an Account Manager, and the “Ultimate” package that comes with a personal marketing coach. You can also attend training seminars in many markets via Local Learning, and even book a Constant Contact speaker for your next event.

IMC & MARKETING INTEGRATION:

Northwestern School of Journalism: IMC is a strategic marketing process specifically designed to ensure that all messaging and communications strategies are unified across all channels and are centered around the customer.”  Constant Contact is very strategically integrated into all Social Channels themselves, and leverages their content on each media to connect their current and future customers towards further engagement in these channels through the products and services they offer. You can see this in each of their Social Media platforms:

cctwit2They are on Twitter providing links to valuable content on subjects such as Mobile Optimization, Image Sizing, Responding to Customers on Social Media, and Generating Responsive Lists (pic cctwit2) and interacting with their customers.

ctctfbglitch
Facebook  with daily posts including motivational quotes, tips for all elements of an IMC strategy, videos, and lots of integration including this update about a customer reported glitch

YouTube features both marketing and instructional content

7ab2d5e7-2ace-4d3b-9602-dd9cf09ba34f-medium
Google+  and LinkedIn both educate and promote new products and services. One of the most collaborative uses of Social Media I found was Constant Contacts’ Pinterest site which features Tips from Successful Customers.

pint

CUSTOMERS:

The three revenue drivers for Constant Contact are all contingent upon satisfied, repeat clients who will continue to rely on the products proved by this vendor and grow spend year after year. In particular Constant Contact must show gains in the following:

  • New Customer Additions,
  • ARPU – Average Revenue per Unique Customer
  • High Customer Retention

These elements are detailed in the February 15th article Riding High On The Success Of Its Offerings, Constant Contact’s Q4 Performance Exceeds Expectations. ” With the addition of Toolkit and with SinglePlatform’s (Constant Contact’s digital listing service) continued success, Constant Contact performed well in terms of all three drivers. The company secured 55,000 gross new unique customer additions for Q4 2014, which was 5,000 more than the number attained in both Q4 2013 and Q3 2014. The customer base stood at 635,000 at the end of the fourth quarter of 2014 (~7% year-on-year growth). The ARPU for Q4 2014 increased to $46.59, displaying an 10% year-on-year growth. Customer retention stood at 97.8%. ” 

Constant Contact targets Small Businesses and Non-Profits. As of December 2014 they had 635,000 unique ones with an impressive 97.8% retention rate. They report client characteristics in their 2014 Investor Presentation as:

Image1With the high retention rate their customers are seeing results from their Constant Contact campaigns. Testimonials are available on Pinterest as detailed above, and also on their website searchable by topic, product or region.

No celebrities or big names on the list, but a nice variety of campaigns from email to event marketing, and loads of compilation of “best practices” to help potential clients generate strong results. sscc

Each year Constant Contact’s All Star Awards recognize how much they value the partnership they have with their customers honoring the Top 10% of their international customer base. The 2014 the winners announced February 17th included Brattleboro Memorial Hospital as the ALL STAR. Others recognized were Delos as the 2014 Constant Contact Solution Provider All Star, along with Nicastro, LA Social Karma, DVA Creative, and Swisher.

COMPETITION:

While the Earning Statements declare strong success, and top3Constant Contact does hold the Number One spot in their industry for sales revenues, the competitive landscape is both fierce and formidable.  There is an amazing comprehensive comparison of Email Marketers available from We Rock Your Web entitled Constant Contact vs. iContact vs. Vertical Response Vs…. They do NOT rate Constant Contact in the Top 3 for 2015. You can view the Email Marketing Services Comparison Table posted by Alex Schenker and updated November 12, 2014.

ccvmpConstant Contact has been noted as leading the pack in  several key components for brands seeking to promote their business or non profit. On October 6, 2014 Gentian, the CEO of Shiro, published MailChimp vs Constant Contact Review. Which one is better?

“Constant Contact has more services to offer so you can’t fault them for offering more – they DO offer more. Also, when you open a new account with them, they assign an account manager to contact you and help you with everything from the day you sign up.”

This advantage is demonstrated most clearly with the complete campaign creation made possible with Constant Contact’s “Essential” toolkit, allowing their clients to Send an Email, Run a Promotion, Grow Facebook Fans,Plan an Event,and Create a Survey.  They generally begin with email but offer the end user the ability to integrate all aspects of their marketing in a within the framework of a single program. This also has tremendous benefits for tracking success. Gentian explains “You get a free email marketing template called “Campaign Design” that is based on the look-and-feel of your website. It’s handy to be able to track all the email addresses related to your events, surveys and special offers in one place. Constant Contact lets you track the entire campaign from beginning to end, and you don’t have to move data from one system to another.”

SUMMARY:

Gene Marks again – “No, Constant Contact is not the best e-mail marketing service around. I’m saying this not only as a long time customer but a partner as well. It’s excellent, but there are plenty of other excellent ones available, like MailChimp, JangoMail, Infusionsoft, Campaigner, VerticalResponse and AWeber…”

Constant Contact will certainly tell you-often and loudly and in every marketing channel available – that they are the best.  Their retention rate, the results they generate for their clients, and their soaring revenues certainly indicate they are meeting a need in the marketplace,

With continued focus on the customers, innovative new products, and an IMC approach to campaigns they should maintain their leadership position with small businesses and non-profits for success in email based marketing.

Please See Prezi Below for More Details on Constant Contact 

prezi

http://prezi.com/embed/ao5yk_xnetpe/?bgcolor=ffffff&lock_to_path=0&autoplay=0&autohide_ctrls=0#

It is Better to Give than to ReTweet

wk8headerCharity

The ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” (#alsicebucketchallenge) that exploded on the internet in 2014 certainly demonstrated the power of Social Media in raising both awareness and funds for a charitable cause.

This viral event elicited an unprecedented response with more than 2.4 videos submitted over $100,000,000 in challenge related donations for  Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Rather than anomaly, this utilization of Social Media for social good is a trend. A recent survey of regular social media users revealed that 51%  become aware of new social good opportunities on social media first; and 46% said they rely on the platform most often when seeking opportunities to give or serve for a worthy cause.

More notable is how this awareness translates into giving. wk8sgs_chart_money4This same Survey Monkey Audience reported that 64% of the respondents who identified themselves as a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and/or Google+ users said they’ve donated $100 or more to charitable causes in the last year.

wk8sgs_chart_time3Beyond money, social media users are also generous with their time – 43% of those surveyed report giving more than 10 hours of time in the last 365 days.

Despite these strong numbers, some in this industry felt there needed to be a more targeted and focused platform just for non-profits.

“In 2014, hubs of information are available everywhere -– but if a person wants to get involved with service, donations or information about the world’s needs, the information they are met with is overwhelming and many times, unreliable.”

Diana Crandall, USA Today College.

Several companies have stepped in to streamline the industry, increase visibility for social causes, and provide a place the socially conscious to engage.

cause

“The Internet today has a big gap,” says Matt Mahan, chief executive of Causes. “There’s no really excellent, dedicated place for people to build a cause-related identity and publicly declare what their values are.” He further states that too often posts about social issues go unrecognized or even draw negative feedback. Thus Causes launched late 2014 a new platform designed to provide a social media platformwk8cause where people can

  • Discuss the social issues they care about
  • Connect with like-minded people and nonprofits
  • Take action by making donations, signing petitions, and raising money.

In September 14, 2015 The Philanthropy Chronicle explained that Causes is a for-profit, and will be charging companies to run campaigns promoting charitable causes on the site. Causes will use its data about member behavior to help people determine who in their networks on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are likely to share their charitable passions. People will also be able to distribute the videos, articles, and other content they post on Causes to their connections on the other sites.

They rely on other social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, for behavioral data to help users identify individuals in their personal networks who share their charitable passions. Causes.com has connected over 175 million individuals and their friends take action on behalf of their favorite nonprofits, and their nonprofit partners have raised $40 million to date through this platform.

care2

With over 20 million members, Care2.com is the largest online social network of civic minded people supporting human rights, the environment, animal welfare, and other causes. Nonprofits use Care2 to quickly pre-qualify and recruit high volumes of new members, donors, advocacy supporters and Facebook fans- on time and on budget.

changeChange.org is revolutionizing the way people create change online. An open platform with cutting edge tools, Change.org empowers anyone, anywhere to start and win campaigns and is growing by more than 2 million members a month.

Point.app is coming soon and will be an App for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry is declaring itself-

The social platform to revolutionize charity

If the average person checks their phone 110 times a day, don’t you want just 5 of those times to be for others? We do. Like ESPN is for sports, Facebook is for friends, and Instagram is for photos; so POINT will be for charity.

POINT will be a social media platform connecting you to any of your charity interests and friends who want to get involved. For the first time there will be a central place to engage with world needs, reliable nonprofits, and service opportunities through a mobile app.

A perfect segue to another growing trend in giving – proximity marketing. In the UK, a product called the Ad-pod has been successful in raising awareness and donations, allowing for static distribution (in an office or at a booth) as well as dynamic applications such as in the pocket of volunteers at a charitable event. Examples include:

  • Distributing a campaign message at a fundraising event, festival, fete or show
  • Asking for donations of clothes as people pass your charity shop
  • Promoting an appeal or ask for volunteers as people pass your charity’s office

Certainly the Red Cross could use this technology at their offices, charitable runs could leverage to reach attendees, and during employee giving campaigns organizers could use this to generate donations.

These industry specific social media platforms will maximize the strongest factor in stimulating giving. A recent Red Cross survey found that those polled indicated that a personal connection was particularly important to them when deciding to make a charitable donation. Seventy percent said they would take some kind of action if a friend posted a story on social media about giving to a charity, and 19% said they would make a donation if they saw a friend post about a recent donation.

giveThis survey shows how social networks and charitable giving are intersecting and building on one another,” Gail McGovern, the Red Cross’s president and chief executive, said in a statement. “These social philanthropists are giving online to charities and sharing the news on social networks, which then often leads to more social activity and more giving by their friends. I believe this trend will only grow in the future.”

So it appears it was not the exhilaration of pouring icy H2O on yourself that propelled the Ice Bucket challenge, but rather the appeal of friends asking their connections to give that resonated. Social Media platforms that gather together like minded individuals, expose them to charitable opportunities, and offer ways to share information with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other channels are realizing success for their non-profit partners, and should grow in popularity as these other channels become even more cluttered with advertising.