One of the things that impressed me at SXSW was how some companies, such as Dell, were finding ways to participate in the event, rather than simply sponsoring events and slapping banners up everywhere. I was happy to say that I saw several instances of this type of 'Marketing Without Fingerprints' at Blogger Social as well. Here's a few of the ways I noticed companies and individuals doing some smart marketing not by promoting, but rather by participating:
1 - Ann Handley was at Blogger Social representing Marketing Profs on Friday night. Now MP did give away a ton of swag to everyone, probably over $6,000 worth total. But the majority of that came in the form of free premium memberships to everyone that attended the Sat night dance, which Ann did NOT attend. Ann wasn't there to promote Marketing Profs, she was there to form deeper relationships with everyone in attendance. She was the 'face' of Marketing Profs. MP didn't sponsor the event, they just donated memberships, and gave away I believe six of the super-duper $250 memberships. As well as tee-shirts!
But Ann and Marketing Profs were smart enough to know that they could best benefit by looking at this event as a way to meet online friends, and make new ones. The marketing was completely hands-off, and that's why it worked so well. Everyone that attended the Friday night event was no doubt impressed with meeting Ann, and that reflects well on Marketing Profs. The free shirts and memberships were great, but the connections that were formed and deepened was the real prize.
2 - Several members of Ogilvy's 360 team were in attendance at Blogger Social, including Virginia Miracle, Kaitlyn Wilkins, Rohit Bhargava, and John Bell. I unfortunately didn't get to spend much time with Rohit and John, but did get the chance to meet and talk with both Virginia and Kaitlyn. All of them seemed to be great people, and as a result that made my opinion of Ogilvy go up. In fact when Kaitlyn mentioned that Ogilvy was hiring, I didn't hesitate in suggesting that a friend contact them, since I made such a good connection with each of them at Blogger Social.
I saw a lot of this at SXSW too when I noticed how incredibly popular Lionel Menchaca and Mario Sundar were with everyone. Simply being at events like SXSW and Blogger Social and meeting these people and forming the relationships is extremely beneficial to these companies. The feelings I have for these people are naturally going to translate into positive attitudes toward their employers.
3 - And speaking of Rohit, he of course has a new book out called Personality Not Included. He saw attending Blogger Social as a great way to drum up excitement for his book. So first, he gave everyone that attended a signed copy. Perfect. Already he's put the book in the hands of many of the most influential business and marketing bloggers on the planet.
Then he did something else that I thought was brilliant. The framework of the events for Blogger Social were organized so that attendees had plenty of free time inbetween to create their OWN meetups. Rohit took advantage of this to host a breakfast/book launch for Personality Not Included. As an extra bonus, he was offering a prize of $200 and 25 free copies of PNI to the person that could come up with the best idea for promoting the book if they had a budget of $200 and 25 copies.
So Rohit, for the cost of the breakfast and $200 and 25 copies of PNI, got to pick the brains of some of the smartest business bloggers on the internet about ways he can market his book. The attendees got free food, prizes, and another chance to get social. A win-win for everyone.
And remember that these are examples of good marketing coming from an event that was designed around the idea that it was NOT a conference, it was a SOCIAL. But Marketing Profs, Ogilvy and Rohit all found a way to do some killer marketing by involving people and participating in ways that resonated with the community of attendees.
UPDATE: Rohit posts the winning idea for his book launch at the book's blog.
Pic via Flickr user Shashibellamkonda
Tags:The Viral Garden, Marketing