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My “7 Secrets to an Irresistible Meeting” keynote contains keynote ideas for meeting planners. The ideas stem from my award-winning book, Exploiting Chaos, applied to the wonderful world of meeting planning. The video was filmed at the 3,000 person Meetings Professional International (MPI) World Education Congress, where I had the chance to deliver the closing keynote. This was my fourth or fifth time rocking the MPI stage, so I wanted to make a keynote more focused on ideas specifically for conference professionals.
The following is a complete transcription of the video:
When we meet, we change the world! So that’s why I wanted to make a topic especially for meeting planners.
It all began in 1929. With your grandpa. When your grandpa silenced the piercing sound of his wind-up alarm clock, there’s only one thing he savored. And that was the delicious taste of post-grave nuts. Post dominated the cereal world and in fact, if we look at this ad, we can find out why.
“Men who command great enterprises first master themselves for food and drink largely defines character. Grape nuts is a master food for thinkers.”
This cereal continued to rise all the way up until 1929 until something happened. A little thing called the Great Depression.
As the managers of Post curled up in their raw high chairs, bracing for an instable economy, they cut their ads budget not realizing all along that a hungry tiger lurked amongst them. That tiger, was Tony the Tiger. Tony wasn’t born just yet but the hungry spirit was alive, in none other than Will Keefe Kellogg.
Good looking man, ladies. Also, a man who knew that change equals opportunity. Because in times of economic uncertainty—times like now—people still buy things, but what they buy changes.
They start to think about their patterns and what’s important. They try new alternatives, they try new meetings, everything.
In the Kellogg’s case, they decided to double their budget. They doubled ad spending.
And by the end of that period in the 1940s when your grandpa silenced the piercing sound of that alarm clock, he was no longer reaching for post grave nuts but instead for Kellogg’s toasted corn flakes.
Kellogg’s is but one example and there’s many companies that were actually founded in economic uncertainty: Disney, CNN, MTV, Hyatt, Burger King, Electronic Arts, Fortune, GE, HP, Apple—many of the icons we cherish were founded in times of economic downturn.
And the reason is that chaos creates opportunity. So how do you take advantage of that when people are choosing. How do you make them choose you?
Well, this brings us to our first secret.
#1 – You Only Need People to go to YOUR Meeting – Chaos Creates Opportunity
And that is that you don’t need people to go to more meetings. You just need them to go to your meeting. So let’s dive into though, if you want people to choose you, there’s actually a lot of stuff going on in the world.
The point is, there’s a lot of noise out there so how do you make your message, how do you make what you’re selling, break through all the noise?
Well, that’s where I come into play, as one slides back on me, I’m the guy that founded Trend Hunter.com, which is the world’s biggest site for trend spotting innovation.
I’ll give you a quick little background on how it works so you’ll understand when I tell you on how to become irresistible…why it’s something I study so much.
So at Trend Hunter we have 100,000 people from all around the world and when they find something cool, whether it’s pop culture, design, fashion, food, business, advertising, they post it to their portfolios.
And today we have a collection of about 150,000 micro trends and ideas. The really cool thing is that we’ve had 900 million views so far.
And each of those views allows us to see what’s important so we can look for the patterns and identify what are some of the emerging things that are really interesting of all these wonderful innovations on the edge.
That’s brought me to secret number two. Secret number two is that you need to become irresistible to a specific group of people. And I’ll show you what that means.
#2 – You Need to Be Irresistible to a Specific Group of People
How many people like vanilla ice cream? Vanilla ice cream is delicious, if we had some now we would all want it.
And if you thought about yourself as a business manager in the wonderful world of ice cream, if you thought about going after that market, you’ll realize that vanilla is the biggest market, it’s still growing, and it makes sense to go after it.
But if you get someone to buy your vanilla ice cream, if how you sell your product is like vanilla ice cream, then people will leave you as easily as they come to you.
In a time of economic uncertainty, they’ll get the cheaper vanilla ice cream.
But if you like Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, if that’s your favorite flavor, then there’s no other ice cream that matters, there’s nothing that can substitute it.
So when Ben and Jerry’s launched Cherry Garcia, in 1991, they were in the middle of a period of global economic recession. Love for Cherry Garcia caused the company to quadruple in a downturn. And the reason is that they found a way to be irresistible to a specific group of people. Apply that to your world in times of down turn or upturn and they’ll still be deciding to choose you.
In the worlds of Jerry Garcia, “You do not merely want to be the best of the best…you want to be considered one of the only people who does what you do.”
So specifically, what is it then that you do. If someone asks about your organization, its mission, its purpose, what is your answer?
And no doubt you have an answer now but as we go through the lessons today and we get towards the end, I want you to be thinking how to concisely articulate that. So when people are choosing you or trying to understand you, they know why it’s so important to pick your meeting.
#3 – Obsess About Creating a Cultural Connection
And that brings me to this lovely slide. Ah, yesterday I was filling in for another keynote who couldn’t make it so I did show this slide to that group. So we’re going to try this again. So what’s more important? Culture or strategy? Err that giant Pac-Man always spoils it. Well you’re right, it turns out that culture eats strategy for breakfast.
And that sign actually comes from Ford’s strategy war room. And Ford might not be your beacon of a cool company but the reality is they’ve found a way to survive and the takeaway is, it doesn’t matter how good your strategy is or your PowerPoint slides, what really will take you the extra mile is the culture you create at your events.
You have to connect to your customers. The culture on your team to make these big ideas happen. So secret number three is to obsess about creating a cultural connection.
And when I say that, some of you are probably wondering, “what is a cultural connection?”
Well, a cultural connection is the reason why people tattoo Harley Davidson to their heads even though it’s a corporate logo. It’s the reason why people paint their houses with a LV pattern. It’s the reason ING customers will blog that they love ING and actually put stickers about ING stickers on their car..even though ING is a bank.
And the reason why is that when you make a cultural connection with your customers or in your case your attendees, they see who’s a part of their team.
And that means when you talk or communicate to them, you’re speaking with them. And that’s empowering.
Now I’ll show you how Harley Davidson thinks about something like that. Somebody asked a Harley exec what is it that you sell and this is his answer:
“What we sell is the ability for a 43-year-old accountant to ride through small towns and have people be afraid of him…”
But it is this idea that Harley Davidson would most argue is not even technologically superior but it’s everything else that makes it irresistible that makes people, as we just saw, tattoo Harley on their heads.
#4 - It’s Not The Attainment of the Summit, It’s the Style of The Climb
Put in a different way to rephrase this for our secret. The secret is that it’s not the attainment of the summit, it’s the style of the climb.
Now this quote comes from Yves Chouinard who’s the founder of Patagonia, which is a cult brand in the outdoor industry. And the interesting way that this quote was interpreted was that in its early days, he had to make a decision, they had a lot of orders but he wanted to focus on the experience, the quality, the product.
So they turned away orders and they stunted their growth for years until they could ensure everyone had that perfect experience. And a note to shareholders was simply this: “it’s not the attainment of the summit, it is the style of the climb.” Pretty cool.
#5 – Don’t Book Boringly Brilliant People
So I’m going to show that same sort of concept but in a different way. I’m going to show you the same content delivered two different ways so here’s our first video.
Two messages delivered the same way. How I’m going to put this for you, is presentation style is important. So when you think of the keynote speakers that you’re booking, I’ve seen a lot of keynote speakers and here’s how I would sum everything up.
There’s a lot of bestselling authors and there’s a lot of brilliant professors. Unfortunately be careful—watch the videos because there are a lot of presenters that kind of lack enthusiasm. And sometimes those things overlap and then you get one of these. I’ve been to that meeting.
So secret number five is simply don’t book boringly brilliant people, book keynotes that engage. And you can find that out by watching videos, listening to reviews or attending other events.
On that note, I have this guy, and now we’re going to go through two points that are from Cancun, because most of you weren’t there…so ahh…Does anybody know this guy? Josh Bell is his name.
Josh bell plays a 3.5 million dollar Stradivarius Violin. He’s quite simply the best in the world and he plays the background to Red Violin and on stage he makes 1,000 dollars a minute. So we think of him as the best in the world and you could see why we’d want a concert with him, so the Washington post did just that.
You’re a meeting planner and let’s say you have this concert as your planning responsibility. But they didn’t want to announce it they wanted it to be a surprise in the busiest metro hall they could find. They found a place to put their free concert where 1,000 people go by every hour.
So your quiz question and this is for those who weren’t in Cancun, is how many people would want to listen. Here’s what happened….
(A video is played during which nobody stops to watch Josh Bell)
Josh Bell is the best in the world. When he’s on stage he makes 1,000 dollars a minute. But when he’s not packaged like he’s the best in the world, just 7 people stopped and he makes a total of 35 dollars. Most of which came from one woman who said, “Hey will you be back here again next week?”
#6 – Portray Your Product as Average and That is All it Will Ever be!
Portray your product as average, your event as average, and that’s all it will ever be. …..ask yourself how to portray your event as it is, the best in the world, to a specific group of people.
So specifically what is it that you’re trying to do? The same question that we asked in the very beginning. And as you think about how to market your idea, I want to tell you about Trend Hunter’s number-one rule.
At Trend Hunter our rule number one with our titles, with everything we do is to relentlessly obsess about your story. Now at Trend Hunter we publish every day about 100 articles or so. Most of them get about 1,000 to 2,000 views but the best ones each day might get 50,000 views.
And we learned that word choices is critically important so we study it every single day. And the way word choices matter online is the same for word of mouth. Because you’re trying to get people to click on your stuff, to share it on Twitter and all that wonderful viral action.
And to give you an example, when a politician that came about, I don’t know if you know heard of her name but her name was Sarah Palin.
When Sarah Palin was announced as a candidate, someone wrote an article and it was titled female vice presidents. And we published it and it was getting some traffic but I thought that’s not why people are searching for her.
So as a test, as we often do, I made another article but I titled mine, HOT vice presidents. Just one word different, right. The first one got 30,000 views and the second one got 1.1 million views and was sourced by CNN, Fox and the AP.
When you pick the right word choice you make it easy for other people to share your information. When you give them your seven words or less or your 140 characters, when you articulate it, you empower word of mouth.
So I’m going to show you the framework we use at Trend Hunter and we apply all of our titles to this framework. We say that stories need to be simple because simple messages supercharge word of mouth.
You need to be direct when you describe your event don’t be descriptive, descriptive is telling people what it’s about, direct is you tell them why they should choose you.
And finally you want to be supercharged, when you’re supercharged you pass the “I-have-to-tell-someone” test. Now to give you a little example to show you what exactly what this means.
So here’s a little burger that comes from our good friend in the front row, the mm_____ in a Las Vegas, this burger is called the fleur burger and it’s from the Fleur de Lyse restaurant. And if you used traditional marketing that’s a perfect title because fleur burger conveys French cuisine, luxury and it’s a play on the title of the restaurant.
But how many people here want to talk about the fleur burger and tell their friends? Not too many yet.
If we put this in our framework though we might come up with this, the world’s most expensive hamburger. The advertising team wouldn’t like it but it is simple and it is direct. It also has you a little more interesting in it. But what if we called this, what it is. It’s a $5000 dollar hamburger!
When you finish this you should get a certificate that says I had a $5000 hamburger. And next time people ask you or complain about an expensive entrée, you’re going to remember how much was this burger? That message just stuck.
#7 – Relentlessly Obsess About Your Story
Relentlessly obsess about your story. That brings me to the end of the lesson although I still have a video for you.
If you’re looking for more ideas, my book Exploiting Chaos has 150 different ways to spark innovation during times of change. It just won the Axiom book award, but like I said the real traction is that it’s half pictures so you know, you know it’s good!
And if you’re looking for more of me, you can book a keynote or workshop with me, usually I’m working in the wonderful world of innovation.
I’m Jeremy Gutsche and I’m very thrilled you invited me to the super bowl meeting so thank you very much!