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A Peek Into the Future of Marketing With Technology

A recent interview with Ray Kurzeil*, a renowned futurist and inventor, by Jodi Harris of iMedia Connection provided some interesting insights into future uses of technology for Marketing.  Some highlights of the article include:

  • Targeted advertising will someday be based on a deeper understanding of the specific personality, desires, and needs of each consumer
  • We will ultimately be spending most of our time in a blend of virtual and real reality
  • The technologies that succeed in the marketplace are the ones that meet our basic human needs to communicate and socialize

As the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison” according to Inc. magazine, Mr. Kurzeil has a strong history of inventing technology that results in significant change in the way business is done.  Read the complete article, ‘An Inventor’s Shocking Forecasts for Marketing Technology’  to learn the role the virtual environments, wireless access, and other cutting edge technology will play in the way your company does business in the not so distant future.


*Ray Kurzweil has been described as “the restless genius” by the Wall Street Journal, and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes. Inc. magazine ranked him number eight among entrepreneurs in the U.S., calling him the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison,” and PBS included Kurzweil as one of 16 “revolutionaries who made America,” along with other inventors of the past two centuries.

As one of the leading inventors of our time, Kurzweil was the principal developer of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.

Kurzweil’s website Kurzweil AI.net has over one million readers. Among Kurzweil’s many honors, he is the recipient of the $500,000 MIT-Lemelson Prize, the world’s largest for innovation. In 1999, he received the National Medal of Technology, the nation’s highest honor in technology, from president Clinton in a White House ceremony. And in 2002, he was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame, established by the U.S. Patent Office. He has received nineteen honorary Doctorates and honors from three U.S. presidents. Kurzweil has written six books, four of which have been national best sellers. “The Age of Spiritual Machines” has been translated into nine languages and was the number one best-selling book on Amazon in science. Kurzweil’s latest book, “The Singularity is Near,” was a New York Times best seller, and has been the number one book on Amazon in both science and philosophy.

Virtual Event Case Study: 2009 Cisco GSX Event

Video case study – Watch the video about Cisco’s Global Sales Experience (GSX) by clicking the Case Study link below. George P. Johnson/jUXT Interactive managed the strategy while InXpo powered the event.

Cisco GSX 2009 Case Study from Juxt Interactive on Vimeo.

This is just one example of how a single company is putting virtual events to work for them; please note their cost savings over previous events, and their carbon dioxide offsets in keeping with ‘green’ technology goals.

If you would like to find out how virtual events can increase productivity, reduce costs, and help achieve ‘green’ technology goals for your firm, please comment on this post, email us at linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com or Paul.Segreto@FMDpro.com, or inquire via our website at www.VirtualFranchiseEvents.com.

An Introduction to Virtual Franchise Events

With travel budgets being slashed daily across corporate America, franchise companies are seeking new ways to complete business objectives previously handled by getting on a plane. Whether attending an industry trade show, a training workshop, a prospective franchisee seminar, or a company franchisee conference – the first step to participation used to be getting on a plane to fly somewhere in the world to be part of that gathering. Now, however, the latest developments in technology provide a more than viable alternative, or a complement to those in-person events. To help franchises learn how they can still hold their events, but improve their bottom line, we recently held a series of seminars entitled, An Introduction to Virtual Franchise Events.

Virtual franchise events refers both to the services being introduced to the franchise community, and the company providing the webinar and services. Virtual Franchise Events, Inc. (VFE)™ is a joint venture between franchisEssentials™, a Houston-based franchise industry consulting firm, and Strategic Growth Concepts™, a Detroit-based small business consulting firm, and is a continuation of their franchise industry-focused strategic alliance previously announced in April, 2009.  VFE™ is a key component of the concept known as, ‘Integrated Franchise Marketing’™ promoted by franchisEssentials™ as an element of that alliance.  To assist the franchise industry, VFE™ has already formed alliances with industry leaders in virtual and associated technologies to develop a schedule of events for the franchise industry that will include:

•   Franchisor/Franchisee Motivation Programs

•   Training Programs (1 hour and/or half-day events)

•   Entrepreneurial Programs

•   Business Expansion Strategy Programs

•   Franchise Industry-specific Events from the Professional Services Community

•   High-Profile Speaker Programs

•   Franchise industry Trade Shows

•   Franchise Fairs

•   Virtual ‘Tweet-ups” for the Franchise Industry (in conjunction with certain events above)

•   Franchise-branded Events (as contracted)

Virtual events combine various configurations of the latest technologies in webcasting, online chats, video streaming, webinars, social media and avatar graphics to provide elements such as speeches, Q&A, seminars, distribution of literature, interactive social ‘gatherings’ and exhibitor booths – all without ever leaving your desk or home to participate. Advantages of virtual events include:

•   The ability of franchisors to reach target groups worldwide, enabling franchise organizations to attract an international audience, and offering information to those who would be unable to attend an in-person event due to time or budget restrictions

•   Makes supporting franchise networks more cost-effective

•   Decreases the cost of lead generation

•   Allows franchise organizations to supplement their in-person events, thereby reaching their audience of consumers, franchise candidates, vendors or existing franchisees where they are now congregating – on the Internet

•   The ‘live’ event is typically archived for 30 days to 1 year to allow those unable to participate in the ‘live’ event to ‘attend’ the event at later date/time more accommodating to their schedule.

With the franchising industry overall providing more than 11 million jobs and $880 billion in goods and services production annually according to the International Franchise Association, and seeing increased levels of interest due to economic conditions, it’s no wonder that franchise organizations are constantly seeking ways to increase communication with franchisees, vendors, consumers, and prospective franchisees.  According to IFA spokeswoman Alisa Harrison, “The franchise sector fares well during downturns in the economy, and we expect that to continue.” Virtual Franchise Events, Inc.™  intends to provide the means of fueling that expansion.

If you would like to learn how virtual events can provide value to your firm, please contact Paul Segreto at PaulSegreto@FMDpro.com or Linda Daichendt at Linda@StrategicGrowthConcepts.com .  You can also see our website at www.VirtualFranchiseEvents.com .
Virtual Franchise Events, Inc. (VFE)™ is a joint venture between franchisEssentials™, a Houston-based franchise industry consulting firm, and Strategic Growth Concepts™, a Detroit-based small business consulting firm, and is a continuation of their franchise industry-focused strategic alliance previously announced in April, 2009.  VFE™ is a key component of the concept known as, ‘Integrated Franchise Marketing’™ promoted by franchisEssentials™ as an element of that alliance.

Virtual Conference and Trade Show Market Forecast 2010-2015

Market Research Media, February 7, 2010

Companies participate in trade shows to generate new sales leads. People attend conferences for content and networking. Attendance of traditional conferences and trade shows have long been a recession-prone, pandemic-flu-prone and terror-attack prone. Physical trade show is a hassle for a large corporation and a major logistics nightmare for small and medium players. At a physical convention hundreds of vendors and thousands of visitors meet in a cramped noisy space. An average visitor is bombarded with competing and conflicting marketing messages. In physical events success is always on the side of the big battalions – larger corporations with big war chests get premium advertising space, premium booth space and keynote presentation time.

Here comes emerging virtual conference & trade show market on the wave of game changing and leveraging technology.


The virtual conference and trade show market has more than doubled in a year from 2008 to 2009 and we expect a compound annual growth rate of 56% through 2015. Virtual conference technology is in its infancy today, with a few proprietary software platforms mostly targeting corporate event market.

What’s going to happen in the virtual conference & trade show market in the next years?

We’ll see explosive growth in all market segments:

  • Virtual Conference & Trade Show Software New License Revenue,
  • Virtual Conference & Trade Show Organizers Revenue (Registration Fee, Sponsorship, Virtual Space Renting, Advertising),
  • Media Preparation Services,
  • Personnel Training.

The traditional conference and trade show market will slow move the way of virtual events, and will continue to adopt virtual technology to either replace physical events where attendance is lagging or complement physical events. It is just a matter of time before the virtual events world and the trade show world merge to create the next generation of events – a hybrid of the old and the new.

This new report Virtual Conference & Trade Show Market Forecast 2010-2015 integrates the most up-to-date findings into a comprehensive picture and focuses on the following questions:

  • Why pay any attention at all to virtual event market?
  • Will the virtual event market affect traditional conference and trade show markets? Will virtual event model compete or rather complement with traditional model?
  • What are the key trends in software development for virtual events?
  • What are the geographic impacts of new technology?
  • What are market drivers and inhibitors of the virtual conference & trade show market?
  • What are the market opportunities?

The report provides worldwide virtual conference & trade show market forecast for the period 2010-2015 by market segments and geographic regions.

Virtual Events are Generating Demand with Significant ROI

By Brent Arlsaner, VP of Marketing, Unisfair

Virtual event technology replicates all aspects of a physical event, such as presentations (keynotes, panel sessions, product demonstrations, etc.) that can include live Q&A, exhibition booths staffed live with booth reps and collateral, and networking opportunities.

Virtual events also greatly extend the reach of the marketing efforts. It is much easier to get thousands to log on to a computer for a couple of interesting conference sessions than it is to get a few hundred people to show up in Philadelphia in early August for a physical event.

But what really gets marketing people excited about virtual events is the marketing data. In the physical world, you are lucky if you grab a business card and scribble some notes on it or use a badge scanner to capture the name, title and company of a booth visitor.

Virtual events offer true marketing intelligence, as there is web-based reporting that tells you everything an attendee did. You know which conference sessions they attended, how long they attended and questions they asked. You know what booths they visited, the collateral they downloaded and demos or other assets they viewed. You even have transcripts of conversations the attendee had with your reps. It is incredibly rich marketing data.

Unlike other marketing vehicles where you might just capture registration information, virtual events deliver actionable intelligence that can fill the pipeline quickly. All of this data can be automatically ranked based on criteria you set, so you know who your hottest leads are and can assign them to your sales reps immediately.

For example an attendee that watched two presentations and downloaded three pieces of collateral on a certain product could rise to the top of your lead qualification ranking and be contacted by a sales rep immediately.

Take our client Quest Software’s first virtual event, which generated leads at a $23-per-head count. Marketers know that $23 per lead is a pretty impressive return on investment. And while generating demand was an objective for Quest Software, they had two other goals that marketers try to achieve. They are: establishing thought leadership in their field and building awareness.

Quest Software has hosted two more virtual events since its first event in spring of 2007 and plans to add even more in the next year.

Quantifying thought leadership and awareness is more difficult than determining the cost per lead. In these efforts, Quest Software feels the virtual event venue has helped them immensely. With attendance counted in the thousands, rather than the hundreds that other marketing vehicles generate, the company is able to deliver its message more efficiently. But most important was the positive feedback it received from prospects, customers and partners about the virtual event as a way to share knowledge.

Dealing with business professionals, often C-level people, the virtual event platform needed to be scalable (accommodate thousands) accessible (some virtual event technology take can take up to a half hour to enter the environment correctly). Along with the web-based reporting these are important attributes to consider when selecting a virtual event platform. Virtual events are used to generate demand, as opposed to virtual “worlds” where people have time to go live a second life.

While some companies have eliminated physical events, to reduce costs and carbon footprint, the end of all physical events is not near. And while virtual events can replace, but more often augment physical events it isn’t the comparison to physical events that you as a marketer need to consider. It is the twenty-something per dollar lead figure that this particular marketing tool delivers.

The Next Marketing Frontier: Virtual Events and Environments

by Joerg Rathenberg

In light of the current economic landscape, it’s now more critical than ever for marketers to attract the right prospects and help reduce the time it takes to close deals. One major effect of an economic lull is that buying decisions are delayed. As a result, marketing executives are faced with dwindling pipelines that actually need to be even bigger than in good times.

With a limited ability to allocate money to lead generation, the emphasis is now on marketing tactics that can deliver high-quality leads cost-effectively. Savvy marketers understand that lead generation is not limited to the initial creation of interest. Rather, it refers to the full slate of nurturing activities necessary to grow a “suspect” into a prospect.

But in order for marketers to efficiently track and drive leads through the customer lifecycle, they must leverage the right tools. Virtual events and environments are rapidly becoming more mainstream thanks to their ability to help marketers arm their sales counterparts with better-qualified and intrinsically higher-value “sales-ready” leads.

One major advantage of a virtual environment, compared to traditional physical events (e.g. trade shows), is that every interaction of each attendee can be recorded and evaluated. For example, demographic information combined with detailed insight into an attendee’s virtual booth visits, chats with booth staff, collateral downloaded and presentations viewed, provide a level of lead qualification that is far superior to most other marketing initiatives.

The best virtual environments allow marketers to measure the engagement level of their participants and rank all of their leads, so that immediate attention will be given to “hot” leads. Companies can evaluate their prospects and customers on three dimensions: demographics, activities and interest. A simple point system helps organizers to customize the lead scoring mechanism for their needs. By defining lead ranking criteria upfront, they don’t waste time trying to make sense of their leads after the event is over.

For example, a company’s marketing team could target CFOs from New England who attended a specific product session, downloaded a white paperand stated in a poll that they plan to make a purchasing decision in the next 90 days. It is also possible to compare engagement levels across events — whether they are awareness activities, or customer retention events — enabling marketers to make better decisions about how to optimize their marketing efforts.

In addition to the ability to “track everything,” following are a few other things to consider when integrating a virtual environment into your marketing mix.

1. Focus on the big picture. Leverage a virtual environment during every stage of the customer lifecycle — from awareness to retention. This gives the customer an opportunity to not only learn more about your offerings, but also to discuss their experiences with each other and build a community, which in turn fosters customer loyalty.

2. Engage with attendees in a creative way. Hold surveys, polls, group chats and networking sessions to allow the exchange of ideas among attendees. This provides the ability to better assess their interest level in specific products, ideas or themes. Some organizers will send their attendees kits with t-shirts, coffee mugs and other trade show giveaways to recreate the feeling of a physical event, or even offer on-site catered lunches.

3. Follow up. The beauty of a good virtual event is that your registrants can visit it any time they like. Still, a number of registrants will forget that fact and may never log on to see the on-demand version. Use email and social networking tools to follow up with non-attendees, share some of the excitement and encourage them to join the on-demand environment.

4. Measure success. There are many different ways to measure the success of your event, which is ultimately determined by your goals. In July 2008, Brian Haven at Forrester Research established a framework of four metrics that include: involvement, interaction, intimacy and influence to measure the level of customer engagement.

Be sure that you chose a virtual platform that allows you to report on customer engagement and other key metrics. Doing so can serve as a highly effective lead ranking mechanism for prospecting events and allows your sales team to directly assess the level of interest of its prospects.

In short, virtual events and environments are a new and cost effective way to market, and generate sales-ready leads. It’s no wonder more and more marketers are beginning to embrace this technology and are happily reaping the many measurable benefits.

Franchises Can Use Latest Technology to Increase System Growth & Decrease Costs with Virtual Events

Virtual events combine various configurations of the latest technologies in webcasting, online chats, video streaming, webinars, social media and avatar graphics to provide elements such as speeches, Q&A, seminars, distribution of literature, interactive social ‘gatherings’ and/or exhibitor booths – all without ever leaving your desk or home to participate in an event that could be worldwide in scope.

This technology is now being made available to the franchise industry via a FREE webinar entitled, An Introduction to Virtual Franchise Events, scheduled to take place on Thursday, January 28th at 2:00 p.m. EST, where the franchise community will have an opportunity to learn the many ways that virtual franchise events can aid their bottom line. Click HERE to learn more about this webinar and virtual events, and HERE to register for the webinar.  This event is a production of Virtual Franchise Events, Inc., a joint venture of franchisEssentials and Strategic Growth Concepts.