Professional Development Groups: a Thing of the Past?

I was recently part of a team tasked with marketing a huge professional development / networking event. The event wasn’t attended well and was probably our worst rated event, based on survey responses.

We (thought) we did everything right. Great speakers. A great venue. We tied in a networking session followed by the actual presentation. We had to charge a moderate fee ($50, association members received a discount) – well below what other competing groups charge for similar events. We had all the pieces but it didn’t work.

I then started to think about professionals, generation concerns, and organizations as a whole.

What do people want to hear about when it comes to marketing, public relations, design or corporate communication?

I’ve always gotten a lot out of my professional development groups, simply because they help me network, provide resources and better my craft. Yet, it makes me wonder if I’m unique.

In this age of instant gratification and instant Internet, have professional development organizations outlived their usefulness? And, do people feel they bring value?

I’m considering a twitter discussion on the topic. I’ll keep you posted. Feel free to leave comments as well!


Social Media Part 3 – Boosting Positive Brand Image

Today summer officially ends.

I’m sad since the northern half of the U.S. didn’t see much summer at all.  We had some amazing days, to be sure, but the whole “hot” part of summer never came ’round.  I can count on one hand the number of days I actually got to swim, attend barbecues or even sweat and the lack of heat makes me wonder if we’re in for a long, frozen winter.  Ugh…I’m hurting already.

But as for the meaty part…

In my last social media post, I talked about leadership and where people obtained useful information.  This time I’d like to discuss how small businesses have the ability to enhance their brand image, drawing more customers to their site and ultimately generating business.  Like many leading marketers, I feel strongly that traditional one-way marketing strategies are fading, depending on your business needs.  It makes sense for companies like Coca-Cola and Budweiser to invest in traditional media, since they have broad coverage and a targeted market sector.  They’re competing with their major competitors on a broad landscape.

But what type of engagement (or ROI) can businesses, say a hospital, get from a television or print ad?  When people go searching for millions of items every day, they use their computer.  They Google “hospitals” or search WebMD.  How many people do you know that went searching for a doctor in a newspaper or the Yellow Pages?  Once traditional media, such as print or tv, is read or seen, it’s shelf life is expired.  People don’t re-visit traditional media.

For a large amount of smaller companies, social media is a small budget way to engage customers on the web.  It creates inter-connectivity and engagement.  It gives people a reason to visit your site over and over again.  Some organizations also use social media as a low-cost advertising mechanism, placing a human element into the campaign and getting a huge bang for their buck.  Take this example from Ragan Communications’ Rob Reinalda, regarding the Mayo Clinic’s utilization of the web.  The health care system uses the website to tell heart-felt success stories to the masses.  In doing so, they provide a sense of hope to potential patients, tell successes of their facility, and potentially generate new business.

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Video posts are definitely on the rise.  I’m actually experimenting with some now, talking about my adventures as a transplant job seeker in a major metro area.  Stay tuned!

Are we that stupid? Perhaps…

Here’s an interesting story I wanted to share, from marketing guru Seth Godin.  The timing is perfect, with us in the midst of a horrible presidential campaign season.  (Since when did it become Obama v. Palin?  Why don’t people ignore the truth?)

This post hit hard because I can’t stand uneducated ignorance.  If you speak your mind, and you’re truly educated on the topic, then feel free to rant and rave all you want.  Be ready to back up your claims.  It hurts me to the core of my being when people talk about things they don’t understand – simply because they haven’t taken the time to learn about it.   For some, ignorance is bliss.  Perhaps human nature.

If you don’t know who Seth Godin is, and have any interest in marketing and/or new media, I would urge you to read up on him – quickly.  With a new book launching next month, he has already written the best-selling “Meatball Sundae” and “Small is the New Big.”