We’ve developed a knack for filling up our cozy little venue La Bistrote. Last month, our 19th event and first panel was no different. We are torn on whether to consider another venue to share the love with attendees who’ve found themselves on the flip side of a waiting list, but for the time being the plan is stay with the status quo and instead ensure we have great and talented minds/ideas to present as opposed to worrying about a bit more elbow room.
And don’t worry, if we do change or try something different you will be the first to know. It’s hard to imagine going anywhere else since when we started the #SMBMTL 5 years ago only one other event and the Holiday Cocktail’s have been held elsewhere..
Back to the panel! We were really fortunate to have 4 amazing Montreal-based business people and entrepreneurs. In no particular order there was Alexandra Tanner from L’Oreal, Fabrice Calando from TIMC, Jeff Scott from CN, and Warren Wilansky from Plank Design.
We thought by limiting the conversation topics to 3 that each would get addressed somewhat equally, but the clear winner on the day was Content (Careers and Community being the 2 others).
It was neat to get an inside look on the different approaches each of the panelists explained they were privy to as ambassadors of their brand. Warren and Fabrice had a pretty simplistic (different than simple..nothing is simple) approach in terms of how they reached out to their communities and the content they generated for them. Because of the nature and size of their companies a much more direct line is used to engage existing and potential clients with instances where they’ve gone so far to hand craft messages client-by-client (current ongoing projects notwithstanding). Their “tribes” if you will are much smaller than a CN or a L’Oreal, therefore much of the talk surrounding monitoring and monitoring tools in terms of mentions and/or how successful one piece of content was versus another wasn’t as pertinent to them.
Conversely, Jeff and Alex are overseeing a much wider base of self-proclaimed rail and beauty afficionados. This would include anything going out in terms of content, as well as anything ‘happening’ out there in real time that they’d either nip in the bud or promote to try and achieve viral status and gained brand awareness.
There are truly some amazing nuggets taken from the conversation that were shared live during the event (Feb.19th, 2014) on Twitter. I can’t and won’t go through them all but here’s a taste of what some the attendees were taking away and sharing. You can search using #SMBMTL to pick up the rest of them as they do a far better job of summing up the important parts than I can.
Fortunately I came ready with some questions of my own as the room was unusually silent throughout most of the event and saw the panelists carrying a lot of the conversation, which I guess is the idea of a panel..
One particular question I won’t forget however had to do with the stories and circumstances of the companies whom the panel represented did not reflect the current states of a lot of people in the room. And, that a lot of the advice and conversation couldn’t be applied well to what it is they were trying to do.
I couldn’t disagree more because a) we’ve been fortunate enough to host attendees from companies throughout Montreal that are large in numbers and in scope. Companies who likely benefited a great deal from the perspective offered by the panelists and their varying backgrounds. And b) because with a little imagination just about anything happening digitally can be applied to one entrepreneur’s or one small companies digital aspirations.
Monitoring – not only can this unearth the negative, but it can keep you abreast of competitors, of companies in your space first you can track and emulate and/or see you trying to zig when they zag (credit to Unbounce’ Rick Perreault and this blog post which I’d read in a break from typing this up).
Newsletters/Email – it’s apparent that this tried and true tactic is among the most effective. Major takeaway – if you haven’t already, start building a list. If that list merits a Newsletter then so be it – but remember, you are pushing info on these peeps – make it engaging and useful. And, if that list is so small you’re able to send personal emails to prospects/clients as a way of catching up, informing them of a new opportunity, then do it.
Pick up the phone/Network/Say Bonjour/Hi – Warren said it best “No matter what, a phone call to the client (as opposed to email primarily) will 100% serve to improve that relationship”. I’ve taken to calling clients with “bad news” (delayed project, bounced cheque..lol) as opposed to emailing. There’s a certain trust and respect that is forged when you have the chutzpah to point blank admit you’re wrong, or that you’ve made a mistake. Although no physical mass can be attributed to it, I’m inclined to use the old cliche; that’s worth it’s weight in gold.
A big super thank you once again to the panelists for your time. We really appreciate it. And a special shout out and good luck to Alex as she takes on a new role for her company in the Big Apple!
Great event coming up on April 16th with Chuck Lapointe from our very own MTLBlog.com!! Don’t miss it.