Your attitude can define you. Your attitude can be the deciding factor in whether a friend goes out of their way to say hello to you, or whether a customer chooses to spend their money with you. Continue reading
I was recently reading an article questioning if conferences were still effective. It went into great detail about the cost of hosting and attending, man hours, conversion rates.. all very important figures to consider in business, but the one factor it didn’t consider was an organization’s willingness to accept change or embrace new ideas.
Some time ago while working for a different company, I attended a conference on Social Media. Prior to the conference, the boss of this company had seemed very excited about it and my desire to attend. His children were on Facebook, he explained, and he knew it was a Big Thing. He reviewed my itinerary a few dozen times prior to the conference, gave me a list of industry people also attending that I must meet, and reminded me to write summary reports of my every action.
I attended the conference, its various workshops and speaking engagements, learned a lot, taught a bit, made many great connections (both during business hours and after), and returned with an energy that was busting at the seams to implement what I’d experienced. I wrote multiple reports on the various social media platforms, success stories, business opportunities, and a suggested action plan.
I made sure that my report was on the boss’s desk bright and early upon my return. I was pumped. Beyond ready to really kick things into gear. A few coworkers asked how the conference went, and I was more than happy to speak about what had happened and my ideas going forward. They too, began getting excited and seeing the opportunities.
A week passed. The boss had not found the time to go over my report, and had only a few minutes to speak about it when I tracked him down to talk. Yes, it was all very exciting and it was great that I’d arranged possible business partnership opportunities with some of those people he had suggested I meet.. but he would need to take some time to read it all when he had a minute. Very busy. Very, very busy. Busy time of year. Everyone needed him. Couldn’t take time away from others to discuss this “internet thing”.
Do you see where this is going? Stop reading ahead.
Another week or so passed. My enthusiasm for implementing the ideas with the company I was with began to wane. I stopped bringing it up whenever I would see the boss, knowing it wasn’t going anywhere. Finally, late one afternoon, he had time to speak with me about it. It was all very interesting, he said, all very new and exciting.. but maybe not for us right now. We could perhaps do a few bare bones things, but our, and specifically my energies would be better spent on other things.
I was gutted. Frustrated. What had been the point of attending this conference in the first place if we weren’t doing anything about it? It took me a while to realize, but it had been about keeping up appearances. If our competition was going to be there, so should we. We weren’t apparently doing anything about it – but people knew we were in the conversation.
This is only one specific example – and maybe it’s not so much about conferences, as it is about businesses themselves. For a conference to be successful to a company attending, the ideas learned from this experience must be embraced throughout the organization. Change, no matter where it comes from or why, must be embraced on every level – and welcomed, if it’s realized to be for the greater good.
Anyone who’s been in business will have stories of company retreats or shareholder meetings where Great Things were discussed and Things Were Going To Change Right Away, only to have it be business as usual come Monday morning. Whether it be a lack of communication or a fear of the unknown, things don’t always move forward. In my example above, the boss of the company had not felt ready to make the changes, while his competition went ahead with the ideas learned from that conference to do some really wonderful things.
Let’s go back to the original question: Are conferences still effective? The answer applies to this question and everything else in life: You get from them what you’re willing to put into them.
Founder, Ambition Branding Inc.
While at a trade show recently, I walked into a booth and the sales rep immediately started a conversation with me. He seemed friendly, open, and very knowledgable about his product. We chatted for a few minutes and when I asked for more information, he directed me to a sign on the wall – a QR code.
The disconnect was immediate. We’d gone from a warm, personable chat to a stark black and white square directing me into the technological abyss. Did that QR code lead me to his company website, or to his daughter’s girl guide page selling me cookies (which, admittedly, may not be a bad thing) – or something far more sinister? Reaching out for a second chance, I asked for his card. He passed it to me, and to my dismay, it had his company logo, his name – and another QR code. Not even a phone number. I smiled, thanked him for his time and made my way to the next vendor, who was more than willing to provide their website and phone number to me without my asking.
Of course, you’re asking what my issue is with QR codes – and my answer is, I have none, when they’re used properly. In this instance, however, the technology was being forced upon me with no alternative. This is only one bad example of utilizing these codes: They’ve been placed on billboards beside busy freeways (who is going to scan a code while doing 100km/hr?), in subways with no cell coverage, or on bus and vehicle graphics. QR codes, when first introduced to the general public, were supposed to usher in the next generation of connectivity. Scan this simple square and be whisked away to a world of wonder! – but more often than not, to the company’s website, or in the case of the less imaginative, a digital copy of the ad you’d just scanned the code from.
Truthfully, if an ad or product doesn’t have me intrigued enough to remember their url or something google-worthy, I probably won’t take the time to scan their code anyway. In the time it would take to open the specific app and scan the code, I could have punched in their domain name and already hit their site. The disconnect with QR codes continues with a simple glance – they’re ugly. Initially they were created as a means of identifying car engines by Toyota (it’s true – look it up!) – not to tell you a story and connect with you emotionally. Sure, there have been several creative means of dressing them up, including colouring them and going outside the generic square, but there’s no masking what they really are.
The QR code hasn’t made the expected impact upon the connected world that many thought it would. A recent study by comScore.com found that only 6.2% of mobile phone users in America were using QR codes. Other studies are predicting QR code use will rise to 8% this year, but drop shortly thereafter as other, more user-friendly technologies take its place.
A well-placed and thought out QR code can still have a meaningful contribution to your marketing campaign; but don’t rely too heavily on it. Support it with the traditional methods of contact, and never forget that a firm handshake and a welcoming smile will tell your audience a million times more than a black and white square ever can.