What marketers can learn from the State of the Union address

January 21st, 2015

Did you watch President Obama’s State of the Union address last night? I did, but I’m not going to get into what he said. Rather, this post was prompted by a story I read yesterday on Yahoo: “Why Obama’s State of the Union still matters in the Twitter era.”

The story makes the point that dropping television viewership has forced the White House to seek new ways to get more value out of the speech.  So I’m going to piggyback on four key takeaways from the Yahoo story and draw parallels on how we, as marketers, can extract more value from our big events.

  1. Look behind the base metrics.
    Last year’s SOTU (that’s D.C.-speak for State of the Union) address drew the lowest viewership in 14 years—only a third of the Super Bowl’s ratings. But that’s not the key measure of its importance. “We will talk directly to more people than probably every politician of note in America will do in all their speeches combined this year,” said senior Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer. Plus, the speech will get sliced, diced, and critiqued by pundits for days, and then will live on in the history books.Marketers often use meeting attendance as the primary metric—and that’s getting us into trouble in the C-suite. We need to demonstrate real value of marketing events in terms of their outcomes. What’s the revenue potential from leads coming out of the event? How many of those leads convert, over time into sales? That’s what the CEO and the CFO want to know.
  2. Look for new ways to engage with the audience.
    The White House recognized that TV viewers are just one of the potential audiences for the SOTU speech. For those who watch the speech on their laptops using the White House live-stream, the Administration can accentuate the President’s points with supporting data.Marketers, too, can exploit many opportunities to use technology at their events to engage with attendees—and potentially accelerate their journey through the buying cycle. Here are some ideas from a prior post about RFID technology.
  3. Monitor engagement and sentiment.
    White House aides will monitor Twitter feeds of influential media people. That’s a game marketers can play, too: You can encourage social media participation at events, use social media and RFID to monitor attendees engagement and sentiment, and capture data for analytical purposes, such as lead scoring.
  4. Give the event a longer life.
    Many will not watch or read about the event, so the White House plans to target them through social media. They will also create short, issue-oriented videos or graphics that can be shared or embedded on websites of key news outlets or advocacy groups.Marketers, too, should always be on the lookout for ways to extend the life of events. Think of every face-to-face event as a huge opportunity to mine content in multiple forms for distribution long after the event ends. For example, here’s a post I wrote last year on how mobile apps can start conversations before the event and keep conversations going afterwards.

Casey Cote

Casey Cote

Casey Cote is the Chief Executive Officer for Omnience. Joining the company in 1995, Casey established its strategic direction as the industry leader in marketing event management and a technology innovator. He launched initiatives that made the company a pioneer in applying technology to the challenges of managing a large portfolio of events. Casey is also actively involved in managing customer relationships, seeking out partners and acquisitions, and directing the company’s expansion into new markets. Previously, Casey managed forecasting and budgets at Sprint.

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