Sunny California was host to IAEE’s Expo! Expo! last month and, as expected, the event was full of innovation and bright ideas for event marketers. The “show for shows” sparked provocative conversations, facilitated new connections, and presented industry professionals with inspiration for 2017. mdg‘s employees, clients and friends have shared a few of their favorite takeaways…
My biggest takeaway from Expo! Expo! was from Denzil Rankine regarding how to structure event organizations for the future. The idea is that we must shift from sales-based organizations to marketing-based organizations. The importance of data to drive attendance and build engagement and retention of current attendees was a common theme throughout the sessions and the show floor, but it really hit home in Denzil’s session.
VP of Meetings & Tradeshows
National Restaurant Association
My Expo! Expo! takeaway was about leveraging content from an event to “keep the conversation going” during the show cycle. One speaker recommended identifying market influencers and interviewing them onsite, on camera. Ask them about a hot industry topic versus the typical, “why do you attend?” This showcases them as part of your event and offers prospects various perspectives. Also, entertaining “man on the street” videos can be a fun way to get your attendees and exhibitors involved. Segments of these videos can be utilized during the year to keep your attendees engaged and feel the event is ALL about them… because ultimately, it is.
One of my favorite takeaways from Expo! Expo! this year came from Allen Gannett, Founder and CEO of TrackMaven, who challenged event marketers to “mature their personalization.” This means thinking beyond “Dear ” and creating truly meaningful programs based on segments of an event audience. It made me think about StitchFix, Amazon and Netflix, and how these brands have come to “know” me—what I like to wear, read, watch, etc.—and how we as event marketers should use the data at our fingertips to truly get to know our customers. For instance, are we recommending sessions based on what they attended in the past, what publications the prospect reads, job titles? Why not? And if we don’t have the data at our fingertips, can we add some questions to our reg form that would help us collect it? And why not think outside the box, asking attendees what their favorite candy is and then including it in their welcome bag? If we as marketers don’t get smarter with the collection and application of data, we’re missing a huge opportunity to connect with our prospects and attendees on a personal level.
Expo! Expo! was action-packed and my favorite educational session featured three speakers with disparate backgrounds. Economist Marci Rossell gave her perspective on the changing global narrative, informing us that this is the year when millennials will overtake baby boomers as a percentage of the population. She encouraged us to think about how economics, politics and culture will begin shifting as a result of this change and how we need to be ready for it. Allen Gannett of TrackMaven reminded us that 90 percent of young people are on social media and, therefore, trade show organizers need to ensure they are creating content that can live across platforms beyond their events and utilize tangible metrics in evaluating marketing efficiency. Ryerson University Director of Athletics Ivan Joseph closed with a presentation on the art of being unmistakable, reminding us to ask ourselves how we can create events that connect people, tell stories and provide value in such a way that makes competition irrelevant.
Ryan Strowger, CEM
Senior VP of Conferences and Sales
I was inspired by the keynote speaker, Srinivas Rao. As founder of the “unmistakable” movement, Rao challenged events to become so unique that a brand name isn’t required to identify them. That means doing things not only outside of the box, but beyond expectation. Gone are the days of buzzword marketing—meaning, “Drive innovation and creativity at XYZ show” will no longer work as a tagline when nothing creative or innovative is offered. If those are your buzzwords, Rao called on event professionals to put their money where their messaging is, planning unmistakable events by creating atmospheres conducive to creativity and innovation. The catch? Being unmistakable means there is no roadmap. Planning avant-garde event experiences may mean that you fail—but it may also mean that you render your competition irrelevant. As a digital marketer, this insight inspires me to abandon best practice (wherever possible!) and blaze a trail of intuition-driven, attendee-based online marketing tactics that will delight, not persuade, prospects to convert to registration.
Director of Social + Digital
One of the fundamental wins for me during Expo! Expo! was the chance to “turn it off” and experience a show from the perspective of an attendee. From the registration process, to wayfinding, to room amenities, to education schedules—every single minute of every day provided a chance for first-hand insights into the customer experience. And, oh what a sweet luxury to be at a show where I didn’t have to be in the staff office by 6 a.m.!
Senior Director Marketing and Communications