Archive for February, 2009

Business Events Summit

February 28th, 2009 No comments

I spent yesterday at American Business Media’s Events Summit at the Digital Sandbox in New York. The event was completely composed of presentations by event management professionals, and offered good insight on how companies are responding to the current environment. Greg Topalian, SVP, Reed Exhibitions said that VIP programs are critical to their current strategy, and he’s noted that regional events now have an advantage over national events. They’re also emphasizing turnkey programs for exhibitors.

In terms of promotion, Heather Cox, VP, PR, Events and Product Development, FierceMarkets, spoke about integrating content with event promotion on their web sites, and efforts to produce personalized emails. She also emphasized the ongoing importance of split testing their promo, and showed the basic layout for their email promotion, which is the result of much split testing. It’s good to hear that a company is taking split testing seriously in an electronic context. Fiercemarket’s email template would be a good starting point for anyone producing Read more…

Integration with Legs

February 18th, 2009 No comments

Business media works best when it integrates itself into the client’s supply chain. Media companies tend to go to extremes in their approach to integration, either recycling tired “in-the-box” approaches, or latching on to the latest Internet meme. I’ve seen some examples of media integration that would get a big yawn at a strategy meeting, but have shown fantastic results.

Long ago (in the 90’s) Pulp & Paper magazine under the direction of John Pearson, developed a large business around pricing reports. They found that pretty much any information about industry pricing was like candy to their subscribers. From this base, the developed a successful executive conference portfolio. Ironically, at their conferences, they would have to have lawyers present to make sure that no pricing info was included in conference presentations, in order to satisfy anti-trust regulations.

More recently, I’ve spoken to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, who have built a strong portfolio off of what was initially an effort to develop standards for Read more…

Social Network/Mobile Convergence

February 13th, 2009 No comments

I use LinkedIn and Facebook a lot, and frequently find myself thinking “this is almost useful.” The main problem I have with the networking sites in the signal-to-noise ratio, especially on Facebook, where a long-forgotten high school friend can “send you a teddy bear” in an effort to reach out of the distant past and waste your time. I establish LinkedIn groups for every event that I market, like this group on for the Smart Cards in Government conference. This group is still far from a self-sustaining density (which I estimate to be 2000-3000 names) so in the meantime, I try to goose interest by posting news items and discussion topics. This article on some undefined deal between Nokia and Facebook reminds me that the utility of social networks and wireless devices are destined to merge and catalyze in a way that could be game-changer for event producers. Event producers should think about this in terms of integration: How can you facilitate a network function that is integral to the supply chain? This is something that’s worth thinking about in the shower.

Recent Economic Word of Mouth

February 10th, 2009 No comments

Some recent discussions: I spoke with a director at a major conference producer. They’ve been down 30-40% across the board, but government meetings, especially military events, only about 10%. Companies are waiting until 3-4 weeks prior to events before committing. Companies like Boeing are completely out of events for the year. I spoke with a sales director at a small media company that produces events for marcom professionals across a range of industries. They’re down about 40%, and have budgeted to make it through the year. I recently spoke with a conference group director who had been laid off about two months ago. He was hired last week at about the same level. He referred someone to me who had recently been laid off from a financial services media firm.

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TED: A Lesson in Content

February 6th, 2009 No comments

The TED conference is taking place right now. You can get most of the content online, including this 18 minute presentation by Bill Gates on his philanthropy, wherein he releases a jar of mosquitoes on his audience. I watch a lot of TED presentations because they epitomize the best of what can be done in a live presentation, and they remind me of why meetings can be important. Read Virginia Heffernan’s Confessions of a TED Addict. When you plan your event imagine what it would take to get this kind of reaction from attendees. Never forget the 80/20 rule for events: matter what your presentation platform, content determines 80% of your success.

Big Small Big

February 3rd, 2009 No comments

E3 is the game industry trade show that grew immense shortly after its establishment, and then suddenly decided that it wanted to be be a smaller, more business focused event. I assumed that they had absorbed the lesson of Comdex and wished to avoid becoming another monster trade show meltdown. This is a decision that only an association event could take. No for-profit producer could walk away from revenue of this scale.

I assumed that we were going to see an exciting New Model–that they had a great idea for being a smaller event. There are a lot of cool potential here–if you were going to launch a hybrid, networked, technology-enabled event, this would be the place. Apparently not. They’re going back to being a trade show again. I hope they’ve noticed that it’s 2009.

I did a little work on Game Developer when it was being acquired by Miller Freeman. Game Developer is more business focused than E3. This is a weird industry sector. They have to put a lot of effort into keeping teenage gamers off the show floor, while making sure that teenage game development professionals (some very successful) still have access to the event.

About B2B Presence

February 3rd, 2009 No comments

Relationship marketing plays an important and underappreciated role in the B2B marketing mix. It is the job of the B2B marketer to move the potential buyer from brand/product awareness, to investigation, to purchase, and ultimately to an interactive, long-term relationship. The relationship aspect of this continuum is key in B2B. Consumer marketers make a lot of noise about creating communities of customers. B2B marketers, in a smaller universe, must quietly live and die by these relationships.

Conferences and events have traditionally served as the place where relationship are cultivated and harvested. As an event producer, I’ve seen a lot of neglect paid to this important tradition, by both event producers and business marketers. The strategy for event producers has been a big tent approach—create the largest gathering possible, and leave interaction to the participants. Too many event producers treat their business like a transient mall. They rent space and collect fees for a limited range of services. They recruit speakers, print badges. That’s not enough any more. Event producers must develop new tools that help business marketers create or leverage their customer communities.

Relationship marketing is fragmenting and fluxuating. Once limited to meetings and sales calls, business relationships are now cultivated through webcasting, user groups, social media, blogs, chat boards, traditional trade shows and conferences, inside and outside sales calls, informal meetups, custom/corporate events, product announcements, virtual events, and hybrid events.

This weblog will look at people, organizations, technologies and trends that will move event media forward and create new industry memes. Traditional marketing is built on the four “p’s: Product, Price, Promotion, Placement. Web marketers have proposed a lot of new “p’s”: Personalization, Participation, Peer networking. I’m going to roll them all up under the rubric of market “Presence.”

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