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Is Your Inbound Marketing Mindset Dooming You to Fail?

There's no denying the shift the meetings industry has experienced in the last few years about the way meeting planners want to hear from, and interact with, suppliers.  Like me, you've probably seen and even participated in debate over whether "cold calling" is dead.

While the days of "dialing for dollars" are long gone, I respectfully submit that anyone who thinks the phone is an archaic means of communication is sadly mistaken.  Very rare are those for whom ONLY blogging and posting on social media will bring all the business that they need.

A successful inbound marketing strategy with some elements of outbound activity will even out the ups and downs of the sales cycle.  And yes, this may mean using the telephone.  

Except that now, using the phone looks like this:

  • With abundant information available online, you can build a list of prospects and approach them intelligently -- not "cold calling" but "warm calling";
  • With a regular lead nurturing program, where you have your prospects' permission to maintain contact via email, you can place smart follow-up calls whenever a prospect clicks on a link to download or access an educational resource you have produced;
  • Calling someone to reconfirm they will be attending your event or meeting you at an industry tradeshow (something that mitigates no-shows!).

Smart outbound activities may also sending them the odd mailing or handwritten note. If you think I'm kidding on the snail mail bit, check out this blog from my friend and meeting planner extraordinaire, Sandy Biback.

Inbound marketing without outbound activity is like expecting to meet Mr. Right with online dating, without going out on any dates!  It's possible, but likely a recipe for failure.  But your odds will be better if you are willing to maintain the relationship proactively too!  

Taking Pause - Wise Words for Busy Meetings Industry Professionals

This article was written by Betty Healey of, a firm specializing in Conscious Communication and creating healthy, human work environments.  Betty and her partner Jim have worked with our team here at Greenfield Services for nearly 10 years, helping us have a more engaged and engaging  workplace.  We bring you this article because with the Canadian and US long weekends coming up, we believe we ALL could use a little pause in this meetings industry of ours. Enjoy...
We had been on I-81 for less than 30 minutes when I saw the SIGN -

I had the following reaction: Really! 

Sure enough, 5 miles later another SIGN: TEXT/REST STOP.

This is what it takes apparently to encourage drivers not to text and drive at the same time. As I assimilated this information, I looked to my left and sure enough there was a driver passing us and YES, he was texting. I was aghast as I find paying attention to the road and the other drivers enough of a challenge. 

At our first rest stop, I found myself sitting on the toilet listening in on the women on the toilet next to me having a conversation on her cell phone. Honestly, it felt like an invasion of privacy.

As I settled back in the car I remembered the vacations I took, pre 1995, when there was no internet, no cell phones, no access to the world other than what was right in front of you. I also remembered how these vacations rejuvenated me, how I would arrive home to see everything with fresh eyes and a new perspective, and I realized that today's escapes do not offer this same opportunity.

We arrived at our condo to discover that there was no WiFi - OMG. Near panic. No internet and we had chosen not to purchase an international plan for our cell phones. Of course you see the humour and the irony in this. I have attracted what I was wishing for. That said, there is a Starbucks, with WiFi, within walking distance. Whew!

BUT: When did life become so urgent, so immediate, so NOW?

Taking Pause
Vacation is of course simply a reflection of the life you have created, one dependent on being 'linked-in' to your devices, to e-mail,  Face book and Twitter or whatever social media you use. It has become part of a growing addiction, one to which I am not immune. I like my daily dose of connection through Facebook surfing. I have become reliant on it in many ways. AND I also resent the intrusion, the texting while driving, the cell phones everywhere, the need to be attached. I have forgotten how to unwind completely, disconnect, BE quiet, to take pause. I doubt that I am alone.

All of this has left me thinking, not only about vacation, but also how I build in the important 'take pause' time in my life, what I refer to as ME FIRST time.  I am left asking these questions, "Am I so addicted to doing, to being connected, that I have forgotten how to BE? When the NOW pre-occupies me, am I fully present to me?" 

Back to Basics
While I will not be texting while driving, I am not immune to the demands and expectations of today's reality. I am also aware that you and I can make choices to establish boundaries for ourselves and the degree to which we stay connected. A few suggestions:

1.   The 1% Rule
In ME FIRST, we recommend dedicating 1% of your day to YOU. Mathematically this represents 14.4 minutes, 15 minutes to make it easy. 
It is amazing to me the number of people who find this a challenge. Fifteen minutes just for me - what will I do? And therein lies the challenge as this is designed to be "BEING" time, not to be filled with reading, shopping, knitting or any hobby. It is a time designed for reflection, for taking pause. It is a time to simply check in with yourself, to breathe, to meditate, to daydream, to become clear regarding your intentions, to be grateful for your life. It is a time for you to be fully present to YOU.

2.    Big Rocks
This conversation has come up so many times recently, one that begins with, "there is never enough time", or "I am dancing as fast as I can and I still don't get everything done".
Here's the thing, you are not meant to get everything done. You are meant to get the important things done, what I refer to as the big rocks. The rest is filler, stuff that may not even belong to you or stuff that you are simply addicted to doing but when examined has little importance in the greater scheme of things. Use the 1% rule first thing in the morning and become clear on what is important for your day, name your big rocks, and plan your days accordingly.

3.    Time Expands
One thing I know for sure, is that my work, my busyness will expand to fill the time I give it. How many times do I look up to see that the hands of the clock on my desk are reading 6 p.m. and I am still in the middle of whatever. I have also reached the point of ineffectiveness as fatigue influences the quality of my work.
I also know that when I put time limits on projects, I achieve them. Lesson: be clear on your time boundaries and know that you can achieve what you need to within the time you assign the project.

4.    Know what is yours to Own
Be very clear on your YESes, what you agree to take on for others. This has been a fatal flaw for so many of us - we agree to take on issues or projects that do not belong to us. Somehow we believe we can do more efficiently or better. Yes and, they do not belong to us.
Remember, your taking on responsibilities that do not belong to you has results: you become overburdened while the other person does not have to own their responsibilities. It is a disservice to everyone. Not only that, our apparent goodwill holds others back - when they don't learn responsibility you also cheat them of growing confidence and self-esteem.

5.    Understand your Addiction
I am very clear that my 'doing addiction' is highly connected to my sense of self-worth. I suspect I am not alone with this. It may be time for you to understand your addiction as well, whether this is doing, being connected, being responsible, and so on. The unfortunate truth is, none of these doings, which are external to you, will give you the gift of self-esteem or self-worth. Their effect is temporary.

The only person who can give this to YOU is YOU - you are the voice in your head and your heart, self-esteem comes from within. Staying busy is driven by your ego and your fear of simply stopping and listening. It is when you take pause that you have the opportunity to see the greatness of who you are and to begin acknowledging the difference you make to the world around you. It is in the quiet that the truth appears.

Final Word
At the Awakening Festival in April I spoke about 'Cultivating Your Diamond'. The busyness that we have come to expect of ourselves allows no time for this. I encourage you to take pause, to identify time in your life for you and step away from the many distractions that so easily take up your time. You are worth the investment!

And by the way, when you are on vacation, make sure to disconnect! 

What the Meetings Industry Needs to Know about Canada's Anti-Spam Law

This article does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making decisions based on this material alone. Please consult a legal professional for more information pertaining to YOUR situation.

In exactly two months, on July 1, 2014, Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) will take effect.  This law was actually passed by Parliament in December 2010, and took over 3 1/2 years of industry consultation to bring it to fruition.

It's been so long that very little so far has appeared in the news about it. Thankfully for our industry, CSAE has done a solid job of informing association executives.  But the private sector appears to be completely in the dark about the CASL – meetings industry suppliers especially!

So here is a quick primer:

The CASL applies to any commercial electronic message (CEM, aka email, text, direct messages on social networking accounts) that promotes your organization, facility or service. Examples include soliciting a prospect to book your hotel or inviting recipients to sponsor, attend or exhibit at a conference or event.

Note that the "commercial" aspect applies regardless whether there is an expectation of financial reward.  A DMO or site selection company promoting its free service to source appropriate venues still would subject to this law, even though no money is exchanged.

The cornerstone of the law says that in order to send a CEM, the sender must have consent from the recipient.  

There are two types of consent:

Express consent is the communication agreement you have with an individual client, member, or exhibitor. These contacts have explicitly agreed to receive electronic communication from you. Express consent means they have completed a form, in hard copy or online, or told you verbally, “yes, I want to receive more information from you.” 

Verbal consent only applies if you can prove the conversation took place, with the date and time, supported with information that was shared for the specific purpose of validating the exchange, such as "what is the first letter of your city of birth?" 

With express consent you can continue communicating until you are told to stop.

Implied consent on the other hand is a tentative agreement between you and a prospective client, member or other stakeholder. This would include an online inquiry, an exchange of cards at an industry function, or an individual dropping their business card at a trade show. Such a person could be interested in becoming a client of your organization, but you are not sure. Since he/she has not specifically said “yes, communicate with me”, consent is only implied, and CASL says you can only communicate with them only for six months following their inquiry. 

Implied consent would also apply to anyone you have done business in the last two years, but where the recipient has not filled out a form or given you express verbal consent. 
Implied consent resets every time a new business transaction or inquiry is made.

There are a few "exceptions" where you can communicate electronically, without prior consent.  These are treated as implied-consent records and therefore should be OK to communicate with for a period of up to 6 months:  
  • When someone has published their email on a website or printed directory and not specifically said "I do not wish to receive unsolicited email":  These are considered "fair game".  But be careful to send only communication that could be seen as relevant to the recipient (e.g. if they are a trade show manager, it would be OK to send information about trade show displays, but highly questionable to email them about laser eye surgery, for instance).  
  • If you are referred by someone from within the targeted organization: if you contact an association where the planner has moved on, and you ask for their replacement's contact information, you have legitimate grounds to contact the new planner.  Make sure you mention the referring contact ("further to my conversation with your receptionist...");
  • If two companies have a relationship: An example could be a "master agreement" for special rates between a hotel company and a corporate account.  If you are the hotel sales manager you could send an email to their corporate meeting planner, pointing out the relationship, and asking about potential groups or meetings. 
The "must-have" elements of your message:

All email messages from your organization must contain the name of the sender and their contact information, including physical address and phone number, along with either an email address or website.  If your communication goes through a third party, such as a marketing agency, the sender must also identify who they are sending the message for.

Subject lines must be representative of the content of the email. Resist high-handed subject lines such as “Important News about your membership” or “Important News about the Upcoming Meeting” just for the sake of promoting open rates. Sensational or misleading subject lines are unacceptable.

All email messages must contain an easy, one-click unsubscribe option, which automatically ensures that the recipient no longer receives communication from you.

Other considerations:
  • Process all unsubscribes as quickly as possible. Immediately is best. Organizations that still send emails 10 days after consent has been revoked are more likely to be at risk with both the recipient and the law.
  • It is highly recommended that your email software be connected to your CRM. You may need to have an alternative way to send membership renewal notices, or upcoming meeting details, and other information as required.
  • In the event of a complaint, you will be required to prove that consent was obtained. This includes knowing the method or source of consent (as an example, if they filled out their preferences online), the date it was received, and what permission statement they consented to.
What it could cost you:

Penalties for non-compliance include $200 for each message (one unsolicited communication can count as a violation), and can reach up to $1,000,000 per day for individuals and $10,000,000 for businesses. This will be enforced by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). As of July 1, 2017 consumers and businesses will have the right to take civil action against any violator.

For more information on CASL, contact me at 613-288-4512 (yes, I prefer a call... and if I'm not available my voice mail will give you my email address!).  Also consult