Sunday, November 07, 2010

Marketing to women – it’s not about free stuff

If you build it they will come may apply in baseball but not when marketing to women as confirmed by my recent experience attending two conferences* aimed at influential women online, primarily mommy bloggers.**

She’sConnected Conference built a foundation supported by the strength of relationships with brands and an online community platform. It promised to “connect top brands with Canada’s most influential and powerful digital women” for a one-day conference and yes, there’d be swag, lots of swag because that’s what these women want – free stuff. Really?

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  1. Thank you for your honesty: its a great post. I attended both events and expressed many of the same sentiments afterwards.

  2. Great post - and it was great to meet you at both conferences! :)

    Free stuff can be nice, I'm perfectly willing to admit it, but it's not why I go to events. My biggest disappointment with She's Connected (btw, WHY don't they have an apostrophe in their logo?!) was that there wasn't an opportunity to network with anyone - the other attendees or the brands. The focus on what was important seemed off to me and I'm still waiting for them to ask for my feedback (maybe I'm deluding myself to think they'll ask).

    Blissdom on the other hand had lots of time for networking, chatting, and interacting - just what we social media people types like to do ;)

  3. Love this post! It seems that companies and bloggers are still trying to figure out what it takes to make a relationship work...and clearly one-way communication is not the key to success. Comparing these two conferences was a great way to illustrate this point.

  4. Sara, thanks for your comment. I thought I was in the minority with regards to my thoughts about She’SConnected until we reconnected and recapped at BlissDom.

    Lara, thanks for your comment. Networking is key. The more we can do to break down the barriers between people who represent brands and individual online influencers the greater understanding people will have of each others' points of view. Ultimately, they'll improve how they work together which will translate to a winning situation for all.

    Elissa, Thanks for your comment. Relationships are complex, unique and take time to mature. Props to everyone on both sides of the equation who attended She'sConnected – obviously there's a desire to learn more from on another.

  5. Great post, Eden. When I was doing the branding talk, i was thinking about Blissdom and how the conference sold out before an agenda or speakers list. That shows trust in a brand! I felt that ShesConnected didn't really let me connect. Whenever I was at the back chatting with people, we would get shushed. Then we became free focus groups. An opportunity was missed. Excellent post!

  6. You and I had a chance to speak about my thoughts regarding both conferences, and I whole-heartedly agree with you. I was disappointed that She's Connected didn't allow for true networking and connecting.

    BlissDomCanada on the otherhand, had such a warm, inclusive and sharing atmosphere. It truly was a great event. Like summer camp, I'm still looking back on it fondly and trying to keep in touch with the great people and brands I connected with there.

  7. Bang on, Eden. I, too, was at the back at She's (I have to put an apostrophe, too) Connected getting stink eye.

    I loved She's Connected because I did get to meet some great women and see some I've met before, but yes, the "connecting" part was sorely lacking.

    Blissdom was absolutely perfect. I went to Blissdom for the same reason I went to She's Connected - connecting with awesomeness. And Blissdom allowed much more of that.

    I also love PodCamp and can't wait until the next one. :)

  8. Very well said. I traveled from out of town for both events. When I came home from Shes Connected I looked at my fiance and said "They advertised it wrong". There was no connecting with brands as we were told there would be. I liked the morning panels but the rest seemed liked giant commercials. I have a PVR for a reason. Those were my exact words to him.

    Blissdom Canada on the other hand was amazing. A wonderful experience and opportunistic to connect with everyone including the sponsors and PR reps who were in attendance.

    If I could go to Blissdom in Nashville I would in a heart beat. I will be first in line to attend Blissdom Canada next year.

    I ended up not blogging about Shes Connected. It seemed to me like I was a minority with all the rave posts I saw on it. I am so glad to read your post and know that I am not alone on both conferences.

  9. Great observations. I had an invite to Shes Connected and coming from across the country, felt a little isolated -- I would have loved the opportunity to connect with more folks (yes, I too was in the back getting the stink-eye) before, during and after the conference. Especially being from out of town, and knowing no-one there IRL, I had been looking forward to meeting folks face to face!
    I have to say that while free swag is nice, I was a little disappointed by how much emphasis a subset of the participants were placing on the "stuff" as opposed to the opportunity to connect. I've taken much of my swag and distributed it around to ladies in my community who a) are interested and b) can do a great job giving it a proper run for its money.

  10. Julie, thanks for your comment and your candidness. I heard about the shushing when I returned after lunch. There were lots of missed opportunities for She'sConnected attendees to get to know each other was unfortunately. Lesson learned for next time.

    It's also critical for brands to research and understand a community - it's nuances, it's influeners, etc. – before they can reach out and develop connections with members. They also need to realize that everyone is a unique individual with different perspectives and motivations. We don't all blog and tweet because "that's what we do" or because we're told to do so in exchange for free stuff. I'm surprised quite frankly that there wasn't discussion about the importance of a blogger's reputation and integrity at She'sConnected. Without that, she has little influence or connections of any value.

    I think the success in BlissDom Canada was about the trust by and for the community. In other words, having people like you who are respected by other members involved in helping to shape the conference.

    Nathalie, thanks for your comment and letting my hijack your roundtable at BlissDom. ;-) The community atmosphere was definitely something attendees will remember for a long time.

  11. Major applause over here, lady. You said everything I wanted to say about She's Connected. I was vwry disappointed. And I traveled from Otrawa the night before. I missed my boys! However, I loved every second of BlissDom and I'm definitely going again next year!

  12. Great post Eden. I couldn't make either conference due to work commitments. I also work for a marketing/ ad agency. She's Connected sounds like it was one big focus group. I'm sure the brands had to pay big bucks to participate and get those valuable insights from all the women that attended. Sounds like it was one sided.

  13. Very good post. I thought She's Connected was worth the day just to hear Dr. Sidney Eve Matrix. As for connecting with brands, I think some more work needs to be done. This new for brands and they seem to be treading carefully. You can really see a marriage in the making but some more dating is needed.

    Blissdom I would have to say was more like a religious experience. Blissdon left me feeling good. Such an amazing bunch of women with honest heartfelt passions. My hat goes off to the organizers and i will be the first to get my ticket next year.

  14. Awesome post Eden, You hit the nail on the head! I was at both events yet came back with totally different feelings; at Shes Connected I learned in the morning but felt being "connected at" with brands; at Blissdom Canada I learned through out the conference and I was exhausted yet elated, knowing I walked away with fuller knowledge not swag bag.

  15. Thanks for such a thoughtful post Eden. I didn't go to ShesConnected (full disclosure: I didn't apply), but I did watch the hashtags and even stopped by the library around lunchtime hoping to say hi to some folks (I work five minutes away). (I didn't realize the lunch would be catered and that folks would stay there during that time.)

    It's too bad that there wasn't any/enough networking time and that so many people were being shushed. Then to be used as unpaid focus groups for these brands and to be "connected at" by the brands (great term Sara!) just makes it sound like a lot of these people don't get it yet. I realize many of the brands are new to the social media world, but it's not like we've all been doing it that much longer. We're *all* learning and it sounds like some great learning and yes, connecting opportunities were lost.

    I did go to Blissdom and had a great time. There was lots of room for meeting and interacting, whether it was with your tablemates, or the sponsors who set up at the event. There was a lot more "talking with" than "talking at" there and I think we're all better off for it.

  16. Great post Eden. I already knew Blissdom had a feverish following in the States and to tell you the truth I didn't think it would translate well here.

    I was surprised it did. It only goes to show the Blissdom organizers really start from the point of understanding what women bloggers/online business owners want. Ensuring they had savvy Canadian partners involved in the planning process was a good idea.

  17. What a great post! I;ve never been to these conferences before but always wondered about them. I was lind of disappointed after reading your experience at ShesConnected. It was like you bursted the bubble I envisioned in my head haha! But then you described BlissDom, which is pretty much what I thought the atmosphere should be like. I'm glad you enjoyed it. And thanks for sharing your experience with us here. Knowledge is power :)

  18. Totally. TOTALLY. You know that we completely see eye to eye on this. As a marketer and social media participant I think at the core of it is understanding your audience, treating them with respect, and building a relationship where both sides bring something to the table.

    I was turned off of the positioning of She's Connected so we didn't bother. Loved Blissdom Canada.

  19. LOVED reading this. As someone who would have liked to have been at both, but was at neither, I'm loving reading your views and the comments!

  20. Great post Eden. There were parts of She's Connected that were informative and interesting but I have to agree that I was let down by the brand/blogger exchange. Blissdom was fantastic but I saw it as a "bloggers helping bloggers" conference with only a few brands on the sidelines. I think we still need a conference setting that gets the brand/writer dynamic right with both parties in the room.

  21. You know from our conversations that this reflects my experience - and I'm so glad that you were able to do the analysis from your perspective.

    I think She's Connected had some potential - which is why many of us were interested in it. I just don't feel that potential was realized. Like Heather, I think that kind of forum could be successful - perhaps if both approaches could be married?

    Other things that concern me about that day at She's Connected (PLEASE GOD USE AN APOSTROPHE): how our email addresses have been passed on to the brands present (about to unsubscribe from one sponsor's mailing list that I never opted in to); how part of the blogger perspective was provided by the panel presentations but overshadowed by everything else; how any critical questions felt awkward (like, we weren't supposed to question anything).

    Oh and probably a million other things but I haven't had the chance to sit down and process it. Glad you did.


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