This year Hammock once again hit the events trail for our client, the Marine Corps League, making 2010 a record year in event-related advertising and expo sales.
The old saying “you can’t tell the players without a program” holds for trade shows where strapped-for-time attendees want to know what’s on display and where.
Since 2006, in addition to relaunching its member magazine, Semper Fi, Hammock has produced directories for each of the three annual Marine Military Expos sponsored by our client, The Marine Corps League. In that time, both Semper Fi and the Expo directories have experienced significant growth in advertising sales and print quantity.
Managed by Nielsen Expositions, a part of the Nielsen Company, these shows bring defense industry suppliers together with the Marines for frank discussions and critiques of the products and services.
The Expos are held at the Marine Corps bases at Camp Pendleton, CA, Camp Lejeune, NC, and Quantico, VA, outside Washington, DC. The latter is by far the biggest, drawing as many as 450 vendors and thousands of attendees.
In 2006, the guide for the Quantico event was 24 pages long, contained only two paid ads and was printed as part of the magazine. Since then it has doubled in size to 48 pages this year, with more than 19 pages of paid advertising that generated significant revenue for our client. The other two guides have seen similar growth.
Robust ad sales efforts and opportunities for vendor listings to be highlighted have helped fuel this growth, but advertisers say a redesign of both magazine and guides in 2006 plus a strong—and very Marine—content strategy make them increasingly desirable media buys.

Leaders in custom media and content marketing from across the county have been in Nashville this week for the Custom Content Council’s (formerly the Custom Publishing Council) annual conference. When not exploring local sights like the Country Music Hall of Fame or the honky tonks of Lower Broadway, attendees have been learning from their colleagues and debating the latest trends in custom content.
This morning Rex, one of the founders of CPC (oops, make that, CCC), moderated a panel of custom media CEOs and industry veterans. Chris McMurry, CEO of McMurry, Diana Pohly, President/CEO of The Pohly Company, Valerie P. Valente, SVP/Publishing Director of Rodale Custom Publishing and Cameron Brown, President of King Fish Media shared strategies for evolving their content services to better meet the needs of their clients. The panelists acknowledged that 20 years ago their businesses were focused on magazines and newsletters while today those offerings have expanded to video, social media, event media and more.
Even though platform choices and vehicles have expanded, their focus remains the same: Meeting their clients’ goals with custom content.

Rex is live-tweeting the Custom Content Conference, happening this week in Nashville. The theme of this year’s conference is “Content: Use It Or Lose It: Taking Advantage of Content in a Custom Media Age.” Follow Rex’s observations and pithy quotes from the speakers here:
There is no one who thinks about content and how to make it work for your business more than Rex. Don’t miss his Content That Works series for a distillation of his approach to and analysis of content marketing.

You’d be hard-pressed to find an outfit more devoted to tradition than the United States Marine Corps, but on the other hand, they didn’t get through almost 235 years of existence by failing to innovate.
In that spirit, the 87-year-old Marine Corps League, the nation’s only federally chartered Marine Corps-related veterans organization, came to Hammock Inc. four years ago seeking to reinvigorate their member magazine as part of a campaign to increase recruitment and retention.
As we reported a couple years ago, Semper Fi, the magazine of the Marine Corps League™, has been an essential tool for that campaign. It’s also proved to be a versatile tool for Marine Corps League programs, and a casebook example of objective-based content. Here is how we’ve done it:

The word content today means many things: Writing, photography, video, illustrations, design, interactive games, apps and data. Content can refer to a wide variety of media, also, from beautiful coffee-table magazines to how-to videos appearing on the web.
Because marketers are discovering that the difference between success and failure is often the quality, strategy and measurement of an organization’s content, we’ve decided to more clearly define our services by using the term “content marketing” to stress the solutions and support we can provide our clients.

Still relying on old forms of media to get the word out about your business? If so, your content marketing strategy needs an update.
The mindset of prospective customers and buyers is evolving, says content marketing blogger Bernie Borges. An integrated approach of old and new is needed to get this audience to fully connect with your brand.
So, what exactly would such an approach look like? It could mean forging ahead with a brick-and-mortar trade show, while using blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube to engage an audience before, during and after the event. (Hammock managed a similar old/new media blending with Association Media & Publishing last year.)
For more practical ways to take these old media formats–phone, print ad, tradeshows and direct mail–and convert them to new media marketing, read more of Borges’ article here.

Several members of the Hammock crew spent June 3-4 in Washington, D.C., for the Association Media & Publishing Conference, an annual meeting for association publishing professionals hosted and organized by SNAP. Hammock Inc. served as social media sponsor for the event, and part of our responsibility in that role was creating and maintaining the “real-time” event website We believe it’s a great example of how to pull together some of the streams of the “live” web (Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, SlideShare, blogging) to capture the activities of an event. It also allowed a increased level of participation for those who attended by including their tweets and photos.

“The launch of a conference live site enabled SNAP to convey content in real-time to both to attendees and those who couldn’t make it,” said Amy Lestition, CAE, SNAP executive director.

In addition to developing and updating the live site, Hammock also developed and helped the folks at SNAP host a six-week pre-conference community at that helped to start the conversation leading up to the conference. While good content and networking are the keys to a great meeting, it’s interesting to note in this environment of magazine-oriented conferences being canceled and having their attendance fall dramatically, this conference hit its attendance goals and sold out its exhibitor space.

“The online component increased the interaction between the attendees and created a valuable, worthwhile experience,” Amy said. “For SNAP, the live site enabled the association to foster connections not only in person, but virtually as well.”

We’re not suggesting that making social media a central part of the conference promotion is the only reason this conference attendance has held up; however, we do believe it displayed how a focus on online “community” reinforces the intuitive understanding people have of the value of investing time and money in making the effort to spend time offline connecting with people with whom they share a professional passion.

Hammock created and hosts
this pre-conference community for the
Society of National Association Publications.

For most associations, events are an integral part of their annual calendar. Despite the effect of the current economic situation on many events, the good news is that events provide associations a perfect opportunity to leverage the power and excitement of social media. There are so many ways an association can engage its members before, during and after an event with social media tools. Providing this type of new and exciting value to attendees is a smart way to provide additional member benefit and reverse shrinking attendee numbers for future events.
Here are five tips for associations looking to engage their members before an event through a social networking community site:

Hammock Inc. Case Study
The challenges:

  • Make an event come
    alive for members
    who can’t attend
  • Market the event back
    to all members to
    increase future attendance

The solution:
Hammock’s custom-designed,
social-media based
event coverage

Hammock has enjoyed working with the National Federation of Independent Business since the early 1990s. NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C, and all 50 state capitals. We work with them to create MyBusiness, their member magazine, and manage, their website.
Every two years, NFIB hosts a National Small Business Summit, a biannual event to explore important policy, business and economic issues facing small business. In the past, we worked with NFIB to create an event website for the Summit, which included news stories from the event. Good, but we wanted to do something more dynamic in 2008.

This year Hammock worked with NFIB to develop a site where small business owners who couldn’t come to Washington, D.C., for the Summit could still participate in the action online. We built and managed a social media site for the Summit with video posting and photo sharing, blogging and knowledge sharing from sessions. We continued the effort post-Summit by developing a digital magazine that is focused on building attendance for the next Summit.
While tools like Flickr, YouTube and Twitter each serve a unique purpose, we’ve found that pulling them together into one interface can often serve your audience best, particularly when you’re sharing information about a single event. While each individual feed is still available, if someone only wants to see the photo updates, for instance, but the event-focused website shows a complete picture of the event — photos, video and all. For many associations, online marketing is still website and email focused. Hammock’s approach is different. We take unique advantage of social media but still provide a central home for all event-related content. If you can’t attend, it’s the next best thing to being there.

This is one of those times every couple of years that some of us just live for. It’s no secret that our office is chock-full of political junkies and small-business fans ム and what better place to celebrate either persuasion than at the NFIB National Small-Business Summit? The biennial gathering of small-business owner/activists from around the country always attracts heavy-hitters from the political and business-speaker circuit; this year the agenda is strong.
Hammock’s MyBusiness and staff were in force at the Summit, working with our client, the National Federation of Independent Business. It’s a great showcase of their power and strength on Capitol Hill, and we’re glad to be a part of the event. Below are the Hammoratians there: (L-R) Rex, Barbara, Emily, Lena, Summer and Jamie.