Monday, May 19, 2008

Using Google Maps to Build a Vendor Village

"Where the heck is John Mack?" you may be asking. "It's been days since he's updated Pharma Marketing Blog with his insights on pharmaceutical marketing."

Yes, lately I've been AWOL from the Pharma BlogosphereTM busy organizing the 4th Annual Pharma Networking Dinner Reception.

This event helps me fulfill my promise of maintaining a "community" of pharmaceutical marketing experts.

A side benefit is that I get to learn new things -- especially about how to integrate Web 2.0/social media tools with a real-world get together to improve the ability of attendees to network before, during, and after the event.

One example of what I am talking about is the use of "user-generated" interactive Google Maps such as the one shown here that I created for the event. This Attendee Location Map contains markers showing the locations of registered attendees to date for the Networking Dinner Reception. The markers are color-coded and can be logos like the one I use to mark the location of the event in Princeton, NJ.

When you click on a marker, an information balloon opens showing information about each attendee, including the attendee's name, job title, interests, and more. If the attendee has a public LinkedIn profile and photo, I include a link to them. I also send the attendee a request to join my network of colleagues on LinkedIn! This is a great way for attendees to get to know one another BEFORE the June 4 meeting.

What's "Web 2.0" about this map is the ability to invite attendees to collaborate on constructing the map and up-dating their information boxes, which I hope they will do.

Since the map is available to anyone visiting Pharma Marketing Network (here), it also helps attendees get noticed on the Internet. I am told it may also help in Google searches, but I think there's more work attendees need to do to optimize the map for that. But I leave that up to them!

Here's another idea:
After the meeting, I will invite all attendees to embed in the map their Vendor Elevator Pitch Videos created at the dinner!

If user-generated maps work out for attendees of this meeting, I plan to create other Google Maps to promote businesses through Pharma Marketing Network.

So far, feedback from attendees has been very good. Bill Kush, Managing Partner at Medipix Solutions, for example, had to say:

"You're doing a fantastic job on everything and are a real boon to vendors and pharma. Thanks and keep up a great service."

Find Bill on the map and use the Google's Distance Measurement Tool to find the distance in miles -- as the crow flies -- between his location and the networking dinner site. Email me -- john -- the answer by Midnight, May 23 and get a $15 discount off the regular registration fee! See CONTEST details here (the same rules apply to locating Bill as apply to locating the attendee farthest from the event site).

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