BlogHer - An Open Letter to Brands
For 20 years I've been attending various conferences and I must say that my favorite is blogging conferences. It doesn't matter how weird or quirky you are - you'll be welcome with open arms. You're guaranteed to laugh AND cry, you'll be inspired, and somehow there always seems to be alcohol floating around.
Speaking of alcohol - It's always interesting to observe the 30-50 crowd. There's the 'I haven't been out of the house in six months and dammit I'm having my fun' bunch; you'll find these women dancing with wild abandon and dressed like they were sixteen again.
There's the 'I don't drink but ooohhhhhh what the heck hand one over!' ladies. They tend to be lightweights and they get darn funny if they make it to the 2nd drink.
I tend to fall in between these two groups - sometimes heading more in one direction or another. 19 crimes launched their wine at BlissDom Canada last year and we could take mug shots. Mine was awesome, if I do say so myself.
But wait, there's more! (in a cheesy 'as seen on TV' commercial)
The brands. Need I say more? Most conferences have title sponsors, but tickets to blogging conferences are highly subsidized by the brands who sponsor the event.
I think its fantastic that we have this opportunity to discover new products, meet with brand representatives, and make connections that could possibly turn your career around. It's the same reason I love going to trade shows like the National Women's Show.
Are we all just a bunch of entitled brats disguised as grown-ass women? There's a lot of talk about SWAG. How much of it, how good it is, how its not as good as it used to be. I've seen a lot of bitching on the interwebs and I agree, things have changed. What no one is doing though is offering a solution other than 'give me more swag'.
I think the real problem is not the swag (or lack thereof), but the experience.
Why do you sponsor in the first place?
You - the Brand - want people to experience your brand, fall in love with your brand, and praise hallelujahs about your brand on social media. It's a great theory, but the fact is you won't achieve that simply by having a table and a PR rep handing out coupons.
So what gives?
It's all about the experience. People forget coupons, but they remember experience. Let's go over some companies that have done it right, some that haven't, and look at how the latter could be improved. This applies to both brand events and expo hall booths.
Disney Junior held a breakfast at BlogHer '12 in NYC. OMG.
Coming up the hallway you could hear the Mickey Mouse theme song and Mickey balloons were all over the door. The room was decked out in Mickey Mouse colours, Jake (of the neverland pirates) and Minnie Mouse made guest appearances, and the food was awesome. Sure, we heard a seasoned executive talk to us about where they were, where they were heading, but we also got a preview of a new show to come and some inside info on the 'making of'.
It was fun! There was great discussion about diversity and kids' programming. There was swag, but it wasn't about the swag. We each received a bag with (1) Minnie OR Mickey plush, a Doc McStuffins notebook, a Mickey shaped rice krispie treat, a branded iPad cover and a pen. My daughters love those stuffies, the notebook was well loved, and we are now devout fans of Sophia The 1st - the show we previewed.
So what did they do right?
For 90 minutes I was immersed in the world of Disney Junior and I felt like a kid again. *I* was excited to introduce my girls to Sophia - so much so that we planned a movie and popcorn date for the series premiere - and overall I got to EXPERIENCE Disney Junior for all it's glory.
Again in NYC Poise had a booth in the expo hall and held a private event. The booth was fun and funny. They gave out samples and you could record your own embarrassing LBC stories.
The event had us sipping wine and enjoying a comedy show about the issues we face as we age and / or keep popping out more babies. I was about 20 months pregnant at the time (or so it felt) and I had hot flashes worse than my mom. I also couldn't sneeze, laugh or cough without peeing myself - never mind the constant puking. It was so bad that some days I had to choose which mess I'd rather pick up as I would pee uncontrollably while I violently puked the 3 sips of water I'd managed to hold down.