by David Saef
With summer in full swing, state fairs and music festivals in full force, and many of us heading to the beach, the woods, or the mountains with a good book or Pokemon Go, it is easy to check out mentally. Yet this is the most important time of the year! Why? First, you have less than five months left to achieve your 2017 goals; about five weeks left to finalize your 2018 budget; and 15 days or so to update your strategy, change out staffing, or tweak your programs before Labor Day comes, and the focus shifts to day-to-day execution.
To save you time, here are my top five steps to maximize performance (and get you back to leisure activities):
- Benchmark and change. If you are an organizer, compare your events’ results to the CEIR Index: your attendee growth, exhibitor growth, square footage growth, and overall revenue change. If your show is lagging, ask yourself: Do I have a plan to engage my community? Are we spread too thin? Has the marketing become stale? Then, create a case for change (and budget for it). If you are an exhibitor, compare the leads and results of all your shows in the past 12 months, and then segment them into top performers, borderline performers, and underperformers. Ask yourself: Why are the underperformers occurring? If you are an organizer and not sure how to measure effectiveness, check out the Event Performance Analyzer; if you are an exhibitor, check out the CEIR ROI Calculator and Toolkit. Are you creating the right presence? Undertaking the right outreach? Do you have the right people on site? And do you have enough touchpoints on site? Make adjustments for fall and winter, and take a hard line when budgeting for 2018.
- Be different. Of course you want to distinguish your brand and offerings, and today that’s all about interactivity. The most obvious example is the explosive popularity of Pokemon Go–prompting a perfect opportunity to offer and participate in a Pokemon Go sponsorship. Or how about taking an ordinary object, like a bench, and making it interactive and sensory? In Warsaw, Poland, the tourism agency has commissioned a series of interactive benches to tell the history of Frederic Chopin’s life in the city and to play his music to tourists and passersby. Or take page from the festival front. At Lollapalooza in Chicago, Toyota created cool when it offered body marbling to music lovers–something unique, interactive, and awesome–and had Lolla lovers lined up all day! Or Alex and Ani, which conducted a brief survey for jewelry fans about their personalities, and then presented the personality logo that matched. Fans took the logo to a station to get it applied to a jewelry bag. A personalized experience and a unique giveaway– and a big hit!
- Remember, marketing is in the moment. At last year’s Experiential Marketing Summit, David Meerman Scott aptly pointed out in his keynote that we should not obsess so much on what’s been done before or what comes next; instead, we should be part of the conversation today, and market our events based on the present. David’s case in point: Donald Trump. Surprised? Love him or hate him, he represents where marketing is NOW. True, Trump may be provocative, but he’s reinforcing the way communications must happen–in real-time. This requires taking risks and knowing where you stand with your audience. James Spellos, another keynote speaker at the Summit, complemented David’s advice with this simple exercise: summarize the heart of your brand in six words, curtail those down to four, and then make everything you’re communicating revolve around that phrase. Use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to help tee up tweets and posts–and then make sure you stay in the conversation as it happens.
- Audit your show or booth and plan for improvements. This is the time to assess whether your physical presence–the show floor or booth, the registration or reception counters, the demo areas, and the messaging–are compelling and relevant. (Exhibitors: click here for steps to conduct a booth audit in a matter of minutes.) Then, make a plan–either make updates now, or identify what needs to be done if you have extra funds at year-end; and start to build a case for a totally new presence in the future.
- Get inspired. Go to a botanic garden, take an architectural tour, visit a museum, or go to an “experience store”–an Apple Store, Microsoft Store, Samsung Experience Center, American Girl Store, Best Buy Store (try Occulus Rift), or Lego Store (where they have augmented reality viewing stations). Take a tour and listen for how designers create interactive and immersive experiences. One last tip: block out every Friday from 3 to 5 pm for something I call “Saef Time.” This is my time to read up on trends, look online for inspiration, or step back and think about the coming weeks or months. It is one of the most important parts of my week, as it allows me to focus on the future. Try setting aside your own protected two hours, and watch as your capacity to grow and be successful increases!
So there you go–there’s a roadmap to a more deliberate and successful 2017 and beyond. Let me know your own ideas refresh, renew and revolutionize.
David Saef is GES’ Executive Vice President of Strategy & MarketWorks. Opininos are his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.