Carlson Marketing Unveils Virtual Engagement Suite

MINNEAPOLIS | September 28, 2009

Carlson Marketing, an early adopter of the "engagement" concept, is combining a variety of new technologies, relationship-building techniques and its strong background in motivation to create a Virtual Engagement Suite. Through a Web-based platform, Carlson Marketing - the country's largest independent marketing organization - now offers Fortune 1000 companies a virtual way to engage customers, employees and channel partners in e-learning, meetings, events, trade shows and conferences.

Core to the Virtual Engagement Suite is a partnership with Unisfair, the leading provider of virtual events and business environments, which will deliver the platform to host these event experiences online.

"There are several companies that present a virtual meeting capability," said Fay Beauchine, president, Engagement & Events, Carlson Marketing, "but few offer the strategy, scalability, engagement expertise and full scope of services available through our Virtual Engagement Suite."

The suite of services is based on existing and new Web technologies including webinars, video broadcasting, presentation and media sharing, virtual microworlds and a variety of mobile and social media practices.

"What we've done is applied our engagement capabilities in an online setting," said Beauchine. "New technology allows us to extend our expertise into new arenas, cutting across time and space, helping our clients expand the impact of their critical event strategy. Virtual will never replace face-to-face interaction for building stronger relationships and changing behavior, but can be very valuable in extending and supplementing experiences."

Carlson Marketing's engagement capabilities applied to the Virtual Engagement Suite include strategic planning, content development, creative, audience acquisition and communications, sponsorship acquisition and management, end-to-end project management and production, and measurement strategies:

Carlson Marketing with its experts in traditional and new media has corralled the best resources and applied them to client issues of engaging employees, channel partners and customers.

According to Beauchine, the tools are plentiful. However, using technology for the sake of technology is a sure-fire path to failure. The key is developing a strategy that applies the right technology with the right audience, leveraging to right strategy and content, and being able to measure the results.

"The tools available to us now are just amazing. We now can interact with people through multiple - often self-selected - channels. Some virtual tools have been around a long time," said Beauchine. "Webinars, live chats, e-learning; we've been doing those for years, although it's always interesting to couple them with new technology and new approaches. The newest virtual, social media and mobile engagement tools get participants engaged sooner and longer. And our latest venture, virtual meetings and events, allow participants go to 'rooms' online and interact with other 'people.' We're excited about the unique concepts we're developing by leveraging virtual tools to extend the life of our live events."

In the Virtual Engagement Suite, attendees "visit" rooms, watch presentations, participate in Q&A sessions, collect collateral materials, interact with sales reps in booths, network with peers; almost the real experience except that you can't share a sandwich or cold beverage and your feet don't get tired.

"The statistics for virtual world trends are amazing," said Tina Gaccetta, vice president, Client Services, Carlson Marketing. "Gartner predicts that by 2017 a billion people will be part of virtual worlds. Attendees at virtual meetings stay engaged almost four times longer than in a Webcast.

"We've known for a dozen years that technology can be a strong relationship builder if it's leveraged correctly. Clients are looking for virtual events to help them reach more targets efficiently and on-brand, keep them engaged longer, and measure impact. That's where we add value, and why we've partnered with Unisfair. They offer the technology; we create, integrate and track the engagement," concluded Gaccetta.

So which engagement tools will enhance engagement and make you successful Gaccetta recommends a five-point checklist:

  1. Are you connecting with the right people
  2. Does the tool provide a positive impression of the brand
  3. Does it prolong or enhance the engagement with the brand
  4. Is it simple to use
  5. Does it provide a "WOW" factor.

"Our Virtual Engagement Suite allows smart marketers to employ all the technology that's important for their event," concluded Beauchine. "Technology on its own cannot build the perfect relationship. But it can drive deeper interaction - which is a big step - and can extend the impact of your events."

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About Carlson Marketing Worldwide

Carlson Marketing helps global Fortune 1000 clients increase their ROI by designing and delivering sales and marketing programs that drive measurable results. Carlson provides its clients with cool new marketing concepts, coupled with rock solid delivery across its two global service offerings - Brand Loyalty and Engagement & Events - supported by six core capabilities: Strategy & Planning; Creative, Interactive & Media; Incentive & Event Management; Award Services; Technology Services; and Decision Sciences.

Carlson Marketing employs 2,500 marketing professionals in 44 cities across 15 countries.

About Unisfair

Unisfair provides the leading virtual platform for engaging customers and prospects on the web, in a cost-effective and measurable way. Unisfair has delivered virtual events and environments for leading Fortune 1000 enterprises to connect with their prospects and customers. These leaders are executing on a new vision: to use a virtual strategy across their marketing lifecycle to deliver superior ROI.

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