Blog watchdog May 2008 is on the street. You can get this column and others from McKinley Marketing's expert consultants by subscribing to their monthly newsletter. As always, the full disclosure: I'm a paid freelance writer for McKinley Marketing.
With energy costs on the rise and the resulting increases in travel expense, conference organizers and marketers are expected to offer more bang for the buck. At your next conference, dispense with speakers who take their turn at the podium reading from a script. According to Seth Godin, conferences must provide attendees with the levers and widgets that give attendees the opportunities to engage with the content and one another. If not, expect to see some variation of "I came all the way here for this?" all over your next conference evaluation.
So what kinds of levers and widgets will do that? Andy Sernovitz cites a trade association that's using a blog to foster new kinds of interactions between the association and its members as well as among the members themselves. How about press passes for bloggers and inviting a word of mouth "celebrity" to your convention? Sernovitz cites two lessons learned that are perfect for associations:
1) Just do it. Word of mouth is easy and you don't need a big budget or an expensive agency.
2) Try lots of little things. You never know which will work and go big-time viral.
Is your association's blog or website accessible to those who are visually impaired? Is your site's content available to iPod-toting joggers, commuters and stranded airport refugees? It can be if you use any of a large number of free text-to-speech conversion tools on the web. The Wild Apricot blog shows you how to use one, and even demonstrates it in this recent post.
As always, if you have feedback or a tip, e-mail me at bkmcae at gmail.