Rebecca Lieb of ClickZ penned an interesting article titled “Marketers as Publishers”. Rebecca discusses the trend of marketers as full-blown content creators, especially in this age of digital media. Examples cited by Rebecca include:
- Low cost video content creation and distribution (e.g. with a digital video camera to record and YouTube for distribution)
- Big brands creating original content (e.g. Bud.tv, along with Johnson and Johnson’s Baby.com)
- Creation and propagation of consumer generated media
I agree with Rebecca – spending the past few years in tech media, I’ve watched the transition of technology vendors into prodigious publishers, with their mix of White Papers, Webinars, Podcasts, Case Studies, Videocasts and Product Collateral. Some technology vendors are producing hundreds or thousands of pieces of content a year, giving their technology media partners a run for their money (on volume).
Adding to Rebecca’s list, I think we’ll see an increasing number of marketers turn to virtual events – whereby marketers can easily morph into event organizers (in addition to publishers). Perhaps you’re an up and coming vendor in an IT market – you see the benefits of doing a customer conference, but the business case isn’t quite there yet.
With costs for virtual events coming down, you now have the opportunity to launch that customer event in 2009. You do it online, making it efficient and convenient – and bringing its availability to a global audience of customers and prospects. Take Quest Software as an example. This maker of products and services for Enterprise IT has run virtual conferences the past two years. Last year’s event was titled Quest Connect 2008 and included presentations (webcasts) on just about every technology produced by Quest.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Quest produce the same event (or events) in 2009 – so as you can see, they’re morphing into an event producer and event organizer (where the ongoing events occur online).
With regard to consumer generated media (CGM), I’ve found that virtual events are a natural venue for fostering CGM. Engaged attendees who participate in your event are not shy about expressing their thoughts and opinions. You’re bound to see a lot of CGM around your products and services – and I’d argue that good or bad, the discussion and interaction is valuable to your company. In some cases, I’ve seen questions posed by attendees that are directly answered by other attendees. How efficient! Customer support (and prospect management) via CGM.
So publishers (I mean, marketers), as you plan your activities for 2009, consider the virtual customer conference. And, consider extending your (physical) customer conference into the virtual world.