How do earned media and social media play into your event strategy? We have local PR and messaging expert, Kristi Piehl, founder and CEO of Media Minefield, on the the show to discuss the benefits of both! She’s also going to talk about how COVID-19 updates should be messaged from our industry’s standpoint.
This week is a real treat! Brad Lea sat down and shared with us practical things to do during this pandemic and how we can use it to grow. Listen as he shares 5 pro tips and more.
What is Lightspeed VT?
A web based interactive training system used by a lot of different companies. 20 years ago I was running a car dealership, I took a lot guy making minimum wage brought him upfront and taught him to sell. I was very good at teaching, ultimately showed him how to do it. I watched his whole life transform. I decided at that time, I want to help other people learn to make money. I quit my job and started a training company. When I went out on the road I discovered, it wasn’t as effective and I couldn’t figure out why. I was saying the same thing, doing the same thing. When I started to do the comparison I realized there is four key ingredients to train people. 92% of companies are unaware of this, it’s been my mission to get the knowledge to the people who need it. Light speed is a platform, technology that allows me to create interactive content, deliver, track and measure it online 24/7.
1. Good Content
When I was on the road I was giving the good content but I wasn’t there long enough to give the repetition. I went in and said what I normally say, problem is I didn’t do the other three: Repetition, Practice, and accountability. I realized there had to be another way to do this where I wasn’t traveling living out of a suitcase. People were paying me $10,000 to teach their sales team, once I realized it wouldn’t work I invented light speed. A web based interactive training platform. Ultimately I can emulate what I would have done in real life.
I believe people fail because they don’t have the right information. The reason people go out of business is because they don’t have the right information. My whole mission in life, because I have the tool to do so, is to get the knowledge from the people who have it to the people who need it.
Are your attendees able to pause and ask questions? Or take polls?
It does a couple of things.
1. We can live stream to where people can interact like we are doing on this call.
2. You can create interactive content that is on demand. Meaning they can’t ask you a question because you may be sleeping, but there are discussion boards and chat windows.
3. It allows leaderboard gamification.
If you created an interactive course, it’s meant to be on demand, it’s learning, being tested, role playing and practicing the information. Of course the system is tracking that. The only way to ask a question is in the discussion board.
As a sales person, what can I be doing now (Amid COVID-19) to get a head start?
Ultimately, my recommendation to anybody in the world today, is to pivot or make adjustments. If you sell events and there are not any, you’re not going to sell any. You need to switch or provide a solution. In the sales world, train, practice your skills, get really good while your quarantined, and just skill up. But adjust. Online is where it’s at. Take some of the money you have and ear mark it, don’t call it spend, call it invest. Invest in something currently so you can make money online. That’s what we do. Maybe you have to lower your price. During a rough time like this, if you have knowledge, if you were to bottle that, put it into a training system and give people access it, you could have people paying for that.
Yeah I keep seeing ads for E-learning. What a great time to be offering E-learning.
A lot of times, I talked to someone who had a system but didn’t have content yet. Now his office is closed and he says he can’t do anything. I said open a zoom, hit record, say what you do, hit stop. That is a chapter. Now download that. Boom do it again. Literally with a zoom subscription you can make content. It’s not going to be pretty but now people are not concerned with pretty.
You have 2 years of podcasts and each contain information. Ultimately what I did was hire someone to go back through and take bullet point notes out of, I call it the nuggets. There is a lot of information and next thing you know I built a syllabus and curriculum. Even if I sell to you or not, we’re going to build a relationship. If you literally have confidence, and you understand what you are doing and your product, you’re not going to have a problem, you’re just going to work remote. If you’re selling something that’s not selling. Don’t fret, just shift, adapt.
People are using this to chill and others using it to make it their time to get ahead. Aside from the self betterment, what are things we can be doing to come out the other side in a position to be more successful?
I’d work on mindset. With the right attitude the whole world gets better.
1. One of the things I teach my people is gratitude. A lot of people are panicking, complaining. At the end of the day, I wake up every morning, I open my eyes and think how grateful I am to get another day. I’m 51 now, that’s getting more true everyday.
If I just pretend this wasn’t going on. If I gave you both 5 million each, would anything for the next couple of days or weeks bother you much? No the petty things would go away. If I said I’ll give you the 5 million but you can’t wake up tomorrow, neither of you would want the 5 million. What you realized, is the day you opened your eyes is better than getting 5 million dollars. If you believe that, when you open your eyes in the morning you should be that excited. You just got something more valuable than 5 million dollars.
2. Confidence. People don’t realize subconsciously they don’t like themselves. They have an ego and walk around like they’re cool and love themselves, they don’t. They hate themselves and deep down they don’t understand it. They don’t understand why every decision they make is steering them to nowhere. Overtime our subconscious says this person doesn’t deserve to win and it affects your decisions. This is how you correct it.
1. Forgive and apologize to yourself.
2. Commit to do what you say you’re going to do. If you don’t do this it could have the opposite affect. You are the one’s controlling yourselves.
3. Get up and set 10 small goals. You’re trying to win. Your mind doesn’t know the difference between winning big or winning small. Set 10 small baby goals and hit them. It starts to replace the information in your subconscious. You can’t erase you replace.
4. Block out negative people
5. Continuously improve everyday.
How do we care less about what people think?
Repair your confidence. The reason I don’t care what you have to say is because your opinion is none of my business. I am not worried about what you think of me. I want you to like me but if you don’t that’s ok. If got online everyday and talked trash about meeting planners, all the meeting planners are not going to like me. Do I want them to like me if I don’t like them? No. They would all stop watching me, stop talking to me. That’s what you want. I’m using that to make a point. Most people are afraid the hate they can’t see the love. Just be authentic.
What kind of hope can you give the audience?
This too shall pass. Humans’ first instinct is to survive. You’re going to survive. Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable to grow.
In the morning the Million dollar morning
1. Wake up grateful
2. Focus 15 minutes on your health
3. 15 Minutes on your money
4. Read a book 15 minutes
Twitter: The Meeting Minds
The event industry is a passion industry! How do we move people in the midst of a pandemic? Nick Borelli, an event strategist, sits down and shares how we can make the pivot!
Tell us how COVID-19 hit you?
I have been asking this question a lot to my friends too. Many of them are dealing with this in immediate ways, and others are being cautiously optimistic. Personally I work for organizations that represent a lot of events. The ones most affected by this and the least likely to bounce back quickly. Everyone on our team self-quarantined. It’s been a moment of reflection before we start working on solutions in the strategy world for our clients who are hurting pretty badly. When it comes to content there is a lot of work to be done now.
There is pain right? There’s very obvious to find pain. It’s just determining where you have authority, what your lane is, and addressing the pain of the people who are most important to you, in order for you to use your skillsets to improve and help. That is where I am coming from and the work I am doing now. How can we prepare people for massive disruptions so they have systems in place to make better decision making based around design thinking.
How do you strategize when you don’t know if something like this is going to happen?
I will address that we are in uncharted waters for the most part. I am not going to say there is this case study to follow. The best case studies are from 1918, not exactly a lot of road maps for success in the midst of a pandemic in the live events industry.
We can rely on frameworks for thinking. Sit reps, something the military uses on what you know, what you don’t know, what to communicate. There is things like what should you be putting out to the world. It’s not about the products you have but you should be talking about your mission and how you can in the midst of this contribute through your mission.
Create benchmarks, tipping points. If this happens then we know it’s too late for this. Lots of listening. This is an unparalleled time, especially in marketing. The best sales and marketing people know it, and the rest of the world is weak on it. You need a chief listening officer right now. You need someone who has their thumb on the pulse of your community and the world.
Most of us are cheerleaders and believe in live events into our soul. We could make more money doing other things but it’s a passion industry. We’re thinking always with our passion in regards to this stuff. Often times our clients are not. They are not as passionate about what they see as one stream. You need to divorce yourself from that and see it is their perspective. We’re a bunch of believers, you should post-pone, I believe that too, we will get through this people will gather again; the problem is, will that message resonate right now? Is that the message we need to hear internally, yes! Is that the message that resonates externally, I don’t know. I think they are thinking, how can I be made whole? We can become partners and use our skills in different ways and address bigger problems. It may be outside of live experiences. Facilitating the goals of our clients should be something we start thinking a little more flexibly about.
How do you do that?
Look at the client’s mission, and really understand it and understand what they are put on this earth to do. And how can you be a facilitator with one less specialty (events)? If your mission is to connect the world, or service this community, how can I use the skills I have in order to facilitate that? I know how to help people achieve goals through design. I do that with architecture and with props, and with things that engage senses. Whatever your contribution is to live experience is, consider how that can be applied in a useful way in this economy and create new lines of revenue in the short term. That’s one option.
The other option is collaboration. There are lots of people hurting. How can you put together a bunch of different skills and create a new product in the interim.
The last thing I want to see is a bunch of people lowering their prices. It’s a race to the bottom. It’s harder to come back from that. Better to create new things that didn’t exist before and those could dissolve after word.
What is the purpose of strategy and how does it work?
Events have phases. There’s an entrance, engagement, and more. Above the phases there are three umbrellas.
For the longest time were were executors, in the late 90’s we got into true sophisticated planning. There’s planning planning planning and it evolved into a conversion of experiential.
What advice do you have for newbies?
Outside of this atmosphere, get out is something people have said. The first people I want to address is the people who have been in the industry for a while and cut that out. Your problems were of time, and building their problems are intellect and we can’t scare away talent. They are going to stand on your shoulders but don’t have your initial thing be “this is a tough industry”.
No matter your contribution, not everyone gets to create the strategy, but everyone should think strategically.
Figure out what you’re good at besides the thing you do. What are you good at the way you think?
Give us a little hope.
I am a generally pretty optimistic person. I do believe a little bit in business darwinism. As much as a recession is a terrible thing to waste. Everyone on the other side of this is going to be smarter and more educated. We might be able to evolve faster than we could. There’s an ability to overcome things that makes you resilient. This is the time to stretch.
Twitter: The Meeting Minds
Tell us how you got to where you are.
I am one of 9 children. The middle child, born and raised on Cape Cod. We were the ultimate party family most of the time. My mother loved to entertain. I learned how to cook with either my mom or my grandmother from age 12 on. I catered my first wedding when I was 15 years old. My grandmother took me in her Cadillac, we loaded the front, back, trunk, and loaded my mother’s station wagon. It was a wedding for 125 people, a little more casual but still I got my start at 15 years old catering weddings. I catered parties through summers and I dove into the world of cooking. I wrote my first cookbook in 1994 and published it in New York City. I went down to the city and never left since 94. I started early and it’s in my blood, it’s something I love. Have been through tough times and boom times. I was a big event planner for Wall Street. It was the world of waste. Then ironically I was a participant in the big climate march. You’ve never seen so many plastic water bottles left on the ground. That was my turning point, when I started inward point. A zero waste event business.
We basically developed an analytics and metrics to measure the carbon footprints of every event. How do you create a zero waste event?
How much extra work is it to do zero waste?
There is a fair amount of extra work. At the end of the day lets do something right and change the world in a positive way! Why get out of bed everyday if you can’t make a positive change. SO yes we are adding an extra layer. It’s not that difficult to call your rental companies and talk about social and environmental impact. Get them thinking. Climate change is real and we can be a part of saving the planet.
Let’s say someone is new, what is one thing they could do that is impactful?
Here’s the irony, of course I am the king now of sustainable events. But I am most famous for freeing up 200,000 plastic water bottles. I was not responsible for that. I’d eliminate plastic from events. That’s not hard, one baby step.
Listen to podcast to hear the FYRE FESTIVAL STORY.
Event Pet Peeves: Poor Service: The customer is always right.
Superpower: Willingness to do anything.
We need to think about what are our own superpowers. What can we do to change this event industry to engage this time right now of quarantine and social distancing? Your going to see a lot of cool stuff come out.
Advice to newbies.
Fail take the risks. Be humble. Get in there get your hands dirty, was them a lot too 😉 but be willing to do whatever it takes. That is going to be the secret ingredient.
Twitter: The Meeting Minds
How do you create more engagement? How do you sell out a conference? More importantly, how do you get 100% satisfaction ratings? Sheena and Matt from the Institute of Internal Auditors have figured out the formula that works for them and their audience! Listen to this if you’d like to be challenged on how you approach planning your next event!
You have to tell us how did you get started?
Sheena: I’ve been doing this since 1989. I was meeting with my college recruiter. I said I like people, I like to travel I want to apply my business skills and I want to make a lot of money so doesn’t everyone. She sent me on some journeys to interview and she sent me to this association and I just fell in love. At that point it was in their regulatory affairs department and I was responsible for scheduling the congressional visits and managing that whole process. The rest is history. I’ve been in the association environment ever since.
Matt: I started in the hospitality side. I worked for several resorts and all different facets from operations, front office, sales and that’s where I got exposure to working with associations and corporate groups and really loved the events side of the business. I finished my MBA and an opportunity came up with the medical association in Florida with the endocrinologist. I led their readings and events staff for a couple of years. Went to a couple other associations. Then was led back to Orlando with the IIA. So I lead our conferences, events, and sales teams here.
When I tease at the beginning of an episode, how are you going to get higher satisfaction ratings? Everyone’s ears perk up! What do you guys do?
Matt: Coming from MPI, very different environment with meeting planners, hospitality, resorts, suppliers. Our members are really focused around risk management and adding value to organizations and corporations. It’s very different from what one may think of when they think about auditors. So our members span globally, we’ve got over 200,000 around the world. So major footprints. That’s really one of the big things that drew me to come to the organization. This organization has a stellar lineup of conferences. We’ve five large events, a major international conference, and over the last year we sold out three of those major conferences, it’s pretty unheard of.
Sheena: It’s historical for the organization, so that’s exciting. It is kind of a misnomer that when you come here you think, “I’m getting ready to go and deal with a bunch of accountants, so it’s going to be a boring situation.” It really is not that. So internal auditors, to Matt’s point, they are risk management professionals, responsible for assessing the entire risk universe of an organization. Very diverse set of skills are required, which is exciting. So that gives us a bit of a playground when it comes to developing content. We have the opportunity to bring some exciting information, looking at business trends, looking at business environment, and really being in tune and in touch with your audience. I think that’s one of the main things, you really have to understand what is the pain point of the audience that you’re serving? How are you going to bring value to them as a professional, so that when they leave this event, they’re gonna leave feeling fulfilled, inspired, and empowered to go back into their settings and apply those learnings and make the difference in a positive way. When that’s your baseline, then you’re able to build from there.
What are some of those things that you’ve tweaked, because I’m guessing you haven’t always had 100% and you’ve kind of come up to that and you know, what are those things you’ve changed?
Matt: We’ve put a lot more focus now on event technology and what we’re doing to engage attendees, our learning environments, really looking at all of those elements to make it a more interactive and engaging experience for our attendees. So much so that we’ve dedicated a role to event technology and the attendee engagement at a director level. It’s been really great for us. Sheena can talk about a lot more of the initiatives that we’ve enhanced.
Sheena: Looking at the technology component, and how we have been able to apply some of those elements to enhance the experience, by raising the level of production that we engage in our conference programs. So it’s not just the standard audio visual set up. We really try to include some enhancements as some element that’s going to bring some excitement to the program. We have incorporated things like polling and our social Q and a. That has really elevated and increased the level of interactivity. I would say we’re all adult learners, right? As adult learners, when you go to a program, you sit in that room and you know what is your pain point when you’re sitting in that room. You’re sitting in that room and you have a speaker at a podium reading off slides for 60 minutes, that’s a pain point. I don’t know any adult learners who will say, I paid attention all 60 minutes and I got every single thing that I needed to get from that because that’s just not how adults learn. We were very skill based. We were very diverse in our learning. We know that those come with different formats, different learning modalities that you have to include. We put ourselves in the mind of our conference goer, and what their needs are and how we can create an experience that’s going to be much different than just them sitting behind the computer. Because in this age of technology, you can get content any way anyhow in any time. When you attend, it’s about the overall experience.
How do you walk that line between polling and getting it out of the audience without annoying the crap out of them?
Matt: You just have to give them that. If they want to engage that let them, but you don’t make it an annoyance. You don’t overburden them. It’s another channel for people who want to do that. So it’s just all about understanding all the different needs from all your different segments of your audience and being able to make it available if that’s the way they want to engage versus saying everybody, use this to ask questions. I don’t think that’s the right way to approach it.
Sheena: I think you’re absolutely correct, Matt. It’s a delicate balance. Our audiences are known to be introverts. We take that into consideration when we are incorporating all of these engagement activities, understanding that everybody is not going to want to default to that one thing. So you have to create multiple opportunities for that engagement and make sure that people are comfortable with attaching to whichever element or component that you provide.
How do you sell out an event?
Sheena: It’s the experience. You’re going to hear us say that so much because what we have learned is it’s so very important and the experience is everything combined. So it is not just the content, it is the combination of how was registration, what are the social events? Think through each day, what is this person going to experience today from start to finish that going to create something for them that is almost magical that they leave saying, I can’t wait to come back. Peer to peer engagement is going to be important and valuable. What things are you incorporating in your conference that fosters peer to peer engagement. How are you prepping your speakers so that they are more dynamic? How are you incorporating those different elements so that it’s not, when you come to the conference, you don’t feel like it’s robotic.
Matt: I would add from a marketing perspective, it’s definitely that FOMO effect. You need to take your event beyond just the three days or however long it is and carry all of the traction that you’ve got all the way through.
Matt Pet Peeve: When you’re at an event and there’s not a lot of branding, a lot of good signage on where to go. It starts off the whole thing on a bad foot.
Sheena Pet Peeve: Not starting on time. There’s like this domino effect. It just impacts everything else in the course of that day.
Matt Super Power: Staying calm and cool under pressure.
Sheena Super Power: My superpower is my smile. I think that it calms me down and then ultimately it translates out to I’m able to calm you down.
Matt Advice: You’ve gotta be patient with your career growth. I was very ambitious when I started out, wanting to grow very quickly in the industry and you just have to understand that you need to learn as much as you can about all the different facets about the industry. Find a mentor who can guide you to where you want to go with your career.
Sheena: This is a very stressful industry. So you really have to find that balance for yourself in how you are able to manage that stress because it can console you if you don’t find that.
Twitter: The Meeting Minds