Launching a major good event announcement on a Friday evening, one week before Christmas, is one of the worst times and I would never recommend it. That’s normally when you announce bad news.
However, when an executive committee says do it, there is no choice. The proposed event keynote speaker just said yes. It was a major “Get” and the committee didn’t want to wait.
What to do?
The press was barely at work. The public was occupied with other things – office parties, family gatherings, holiday shopping and preparations.
There was no point in sending out a news release. Email was useless. Who was going to read their email on that Friday night or over the weekend before a holiday week?
The only choice was our website and social media. So that’s what I did. Did it work?
Read on to find out how success happened, and who I had the pleasure of announcing.
Let’s take a short step back. Your website and social media won’t work without being prepared beforehand for success. Your traffic level on your site must be high to begin with. You must have a lot of the right followers on social networks BEFORE expecting a positive response to anything you will announce.
Both are required. Without it, you could announce the most important event on earth and nobody would hear about your important news.
To build website traffic and your social network, it takes a fair amount of humility, understanding your potential audience, and passion.
Humility, because at first you won’t have any traffic, friends, or followers. Time to get to work.
Understanding, because if you don’t know who your audience is, you won’t be able to attract them. Go find them where they hang out on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, or wherever their Internet homes happen to be, and start humbly interacting with them thinking of ways to help. Remember add value to them, not you. Your goal should be to help them. Followers, friends, and email addresses will start to build.
And finally passion: you have to add value to your audience – a lot of it. That means thoughtful content development. That work is not free. It takes time [I assume your time is not free of charge], resources, and talented partners. Without passion for the subject matter and helping others, you will never be successful, because you won’t make the decision to spend the time developing the content and relationships you need to make great media.
Now back to the announcement. In our situation, all three have been fulfilled. It took over two years because this audience is hidden behind a wall of assistants, gatekeepers, and technophobic users whose average age is in their 70’s.
Impossible? So are most of your marketing situations in this economy. Find a strategy that will work for yours using the three principles I’ve outlined.
When Monday rolled around, the analytics report showed we had pretty decent traffic on our website and in social media channels considering the circumstances. I decided to go ahead and send the announcement out to our email list, rather than wait until after New Years.
The marketing mix was primed with social media and our website. It was time to see who was listening during a holiday. I announced our event speaker, Tom Brokaw, using our strong email list to residents, influencers, and gatekeepers in the Town of Palm Beach. This exclusive list took over two years to build.
The results: By end-of-day Tuesday - 4 days after the initial web posting and social media launch - we had over $48,000 in ticket sales and commitments.
I continued to work social networks about the event, especially Twitter and Facebook. Our “This Week in Palm Beach” e-news aggregation followed up the announcement to add more value to followers on our list. The news announcement on our website has had more viewers than any other news item – ever.
Within a week the momentum continued with increasing traffic and sales. I still had not sent out a news release and a major local magazine saw our announcement and asked to do a feature story about Mr. Brokaw a month before our event, promising to mention the event. You can’t have better earned media.
The answer to the question, “Does Email and Social Media Marketing Work?” is yes. The situation could only have been worse if a major news story had taken over everyone’s attention. But, baring that, with the proper preparation for success this announcement has convinced me that on it’s own, email and social networks can work. But consider your timing for even MORE success!
The next steps in the marketing mix are direct mail, news releases and pitches to the media, and much more. In the current economic environment, I would NEVER rely solely on email and social media marketing; but, as an initial effort, it works!