Review: Cause Marketing Forum Conference 2010

I had a great time at this year's Cause Marketing Forum Conference. Did you? Here's what I liked about this year's event. A few things I didn't. And some suggestions for next year. Then it will be your turn.

Hospital Corporate Development Summit. Now, I'm bias here, because I taught the session with two outstanding colleagues, Maureen Carlson and Phil McCarty, but I believe the program really has some great potential. Corporate development is big area of opportunity for hospitals, especially with cause marketing. We had over 30 hospitals participate in the summit this year. I hope David keeps the summit going.

Opening Reception. Boy, was it great to see everyone again. And a highlight of the reception was seeing my friend Michael Hoffman speak and show his favorite cause videos....until the dreaded moment that he showed the Pink Glove Dance (thankfully, Michael forewarned me). I threatened to pelt him with every roll from the bread basket on my table, but I somehow found restraint.

Halo Awards. There were two rounds of these on the full-day of the conference. I'm not sure how I feel about the Halo Awards. I definitely think we should be celebrating the top campaigns within our field, like those from Macy's & Feeding America, but it seems like there are too many and it dilutes the impact of the award. Instead of profiling every winner, just profile the gold winner and acknowledge the rest.

Cause Marketing Meets Social Media. There was way too much talking by the presenters in this session. What was suppose to be a panel discussion devolved instead into long-winded speeches that left moderator Chris Noble with no time to pose questions from the audience.

This brings me to my main point on conference presentations: let's follow TED's lead and limit preso's to 18 minutes or less. Just as 140 character on Twitter forces you to be clear, brief and to write actively, limiting presentations to 18 minutes would force people to get to their FRICKEN POINT. It would also allow for more presentations, questions and conversations. And that's what conferences should be all about!!

I really like Chris Anderson's perspective on The Art of the TED Talk.

Where's the Nonprofit? I only saw the end of this session and Komen's lame defense of their cause marketing pact with KFC. You already know how I feel about KFC/Komen. To hear how other attendees viewed it, check out these posts by Estrella Rosenberg and Megan Strand.

Cause Marketing Legal Issues. A great example of an outstanding talk at CMF10 was Ed Chansky's talk on legal issues. People were eager to hear about this topic (kudos to David for fulfilling the needs of his audience) and Ed delivered. He had a speech and PowerPoint prepared but didn't get through much of it. He focused on telling people what they absolutely needed to know and answering as many questions as possible. He gave me a great packet of info afterwards clearly explaining everything he had talked about, and pledged to electronically send it to everyone who gave him their business card. While Ed's whole presentation was nearly an hour, it certainly didn't feel like it. That's a great presentation.

Cause Marketing's Dirty Little Secret: Transparency. This was another great presentation that dovetailed nicely with Ed's talk. Mike Lawrence from Cone showed that even if you got away with bending the law, a poorly executed cause marketing program would break your reputation.

Mike talked about transparency in his 3BL interview at the conference. Skip ahead to the 4:40 mark.

Overall, I thought the conference was great. I also think the experienced team of people David brought with him deserve a rounding applause for their work. These are the unsung champions of the event who were always friendly and helpful.

Now it's your turn. What did you think?

Did you attend one of the other pre-conference seminars, Cause Marketing for Nonprofits or Cause Marketing for Businesses? What did you think? If you were a participant in the Hospital Corporate Development Summit, did you enjoy it as much as I did?

What did you think of CMF's new Powerful Discussions Groups? There were a ton of different groups to choose from. I wish I had time to go to more. Which ones did you go to? Did you like them?

Finally, I want to thank David Hessekiel for founding Cause Marketing Forum and for putting on the conference for all these years. I imagine it's rarely ever easy. Nothing worth doing ever is. But David brings a passion and fortitude to the conference that has made it a pleasure to attend every year I've gone. I'm glad he was rewarded with a capacity crowd at this year's event!

It's nice to see that sometimes people do get what they deserve.