Audience Acquisition

IBIE’s Recipe for Success

by Kate Ammerman &
Jacquelyn Wells

In an era of carb-less diets and constant consolidation, you might wonder how events that serve the grain-based food industry are doing. If the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) is any indication, organizers in this space are still putting bread on the table. With a strategic, aggressive, multi-channel campaign, IBIE went from a show in decline to one that has been breaking records—nearly doubling attendance in the last decade.

How does IBIE keep from getting stale? With these (not so) secret ingredients…

Breaking Bread Internationally
While international acquisition has been an integral part of the growth strategy for the past decade, uncertainty around the Department of Commerce’s International Buyer Program forced the development of a contingency plan—dubbed the International Delegation Program (IDP). Developed and led by mdg’s international specialist, Anjia Nicolaidis, and supported by a committee of volunteers who regularly do business internationally, the plan packaged benefits and incentives for large buying groups. Nicolaidis personally reached out to international associations, events and publications to develop partnerships and promote the IDP among key influencers in top markets. IBIE’s strategy also included exhibiting at five international baking industry trade events in Germany, Japan, Mexico, Brazil and Singapore. As a result of the program, IBIE 2019 attracted 23 delegations compared to 13 in 2016; as well as a 62 percent increase in delegation registrations and a 5 percent increase in international participation overall. And the cherry on top? A strategic partnership with iba, the largest baking industry event in the world, developed through these deeper conversations. This newly penned partnership was announced at the IBIE opening ceremony with the aim of sharing resources to increase brand awareness and enhance market penetration across emerging markets and educational experiences at both events.

Keeping an Eye on Our Bread and Butter
One of IBIE’s growth strategies has been to co-locate or partner with events attracting ancillary markets, and as a result, IBIE has greatly reduced its domestic competition. So, when news emerged of a new event geared towards one of its growing audience segments, IBIE knew it had to act quickly. IBIE immediately developed a strategy to mitigate the competitive threat, developing a highly-targeted, omni-channel campaign and worked with a planning committee to add more content and a targeted campaign to appeal to the “at risk” audience. The campaign launched ahead of the typical campaign cycle, capturing the first-mover advantage and ran during the competitor’s key promotional period to ensure IBIE was the first choice for prospects. Despite the increased competition, mdg was able to grow baker attendance by nearly 10 percent at IBIE 2019.

Sweetened Experience
IBIE expanded its show floor activations and 2019 was arguably the most impressive experience to-date. Working closely with Freeman, IBIE ensured that the brand was infused throughout the convention center—from the multi-media arch above the entrance halls, to the signage and social media activation points, to the education area and show features. The result was a brand-forward, consistent experience. In addition to the elevated ambiance, one of IBIE’s goals was to add multiple activations on the show floor to add value to the attendee experience. The education program had more than 100 sessions and exceeded revenue goals by more than 221 percent. IBIE also revamped its demonstration pavilion, where it hosted a cake decorating competition and demos from celebrity bakers such as Buddy Valastro. Also new this year were Virtual Bakery Tours. Each show cycle, IBIE fields numerous requests for bakery tours around Las Vegas, a nearly impossible feat with an event of this size. The Virtual Bakery Tours provided attendees with a behind-the-scenes experience at retail and wholesale bakeries from around the globe.

Like bread itself, IBIE is an event that nourishes the industry and brings people together. Backed by an organization and partners that strive to constantly innovate and raise the bar, we predict IBIE will continue on its roll for years to come.

*A version of this content originally appeared in PCMA Convene.