Brian Casey Interview at ACCESS – Insights on Current and Near-Term Trends

Take a moment to hear CEIR CEO and President Brian Casey, CEM share his insights about the outlook and trends for the exhibition industry at last December’s EDPA annual meeting, ACCESS.

EDPA – Brian Casey, CEM President & CEO, CEIR – Interview at ACCESS2014

Brian’s comments shared at that time about the anticipated performance of the industry are affirmed by the newest CEIR Index, released on April 13, 2015. To learn more, download the newest CEIR Index.

Millennials are the future of the exhibition industry, Brian shares some key traits to pay attention to when looking to accommodate young professional attendee needs and preferences. To obtain a fuller understanding, pull down the full reports here:

2014 Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study

Best Practices by Exhibition Organizers to Attract and Retain Young Professional Attendees

For those who want a complete perspective of young professional needs and preferences, take a moment to access the newest generational research completed by CEIR with young professional exhibitors: 2015 Young Professional Exhibitor Needs and Preferences Study.

Advice from a Leading Data Analytics Expert on Where Organizers Need to Focus Efforts

Jeff ‘John’ Tanner, Jr., Ph.D. and author of Analytics and Dynamic Customer Strategy
Dean, Strome College of Business, Old Dominion University

Dr. Tanner, a noted expert in the field, offers advice based on his extensive research on trends in the use of data analytics in business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing. His clients include major companies including IBM, Pearson-Prentice Hall and Cabela’s.

When it comes to analytics, does it really matter whether your data is big or small? Or does it matter whether you have the right data to make the right decision when you need it?
Rather than worrying about whether data are big or small, what most marketers should take away from the three Vs of Big Data are:

  • Data, if available, can support more decisions (Variety)
  • Data, if available, can accelerate decision making (Velocity)
  • Data, if available, can add value (Volume).

Don’t worry about whether your data are big or small; rather, think instead about the three Vs as benefits of data-driven decision making.

But take note of the caveat: If Available. If you don’t have the data available at the time of decision making, you don’t have time to get the data.

That’s why a sound data strategy is necessary before you need the data. And to start, let’s consider how you use data.

Decision makers use data for three things:

  1. to identify problems or opportunities,
  2. to make decisions, or
  3. to gain insight

Most organizations stop at #1 – if you think about traditional reporting systems, all they tell you is that things are either working or they’re not. The real value of data, though, is in making decisions and gaining insight.

For example:

I worked with Cabela’s on a project involving cart abandonment on their online store. People would fill up a shopping cart at Cabela’s online store and then not purchase it. We used data in two ways. One was to determine whether there were products with a greater likelihood of purchase if they went into the basket first – we looked for the opposite of cart abandonment. This exercise then gave us a list of products to promote, which resulted in a 400 bps improvement in margin while also doubling revenue compared to the usual marketing campaign. That’s using data for decision making.

Then, we dove deeper into the data in order to understand why things happened as they did. This insight then gave us ideas for additional opportunities. But here’s where the strategy came in. We already had significant data on households so we were able to do the data mining that made insight possible.

What about this example can apply to your exhibition?

No matter the environment, retailer, business-to-business exhibition organizer or otherwise, the principles of a data strategy are the same.

First, get your data together. The biggest challenge I see in using data for decision making is that the data is scattered in different systems. People won’t share data and companies are slow to build the data warehouses necessary to bring the data together. Executives, though, who see the power in data can make this happen. To help them see the power in your data, find out the questions they want answers to and illustrate which ones can be answered with a single complete view of your customer.

Second, define your data. A master data definition table tells you what data you have, the source, and what it means. For example, define “customer.” In some organizations, an attendee customer in the data is the individual and sometimes it is the decision location, not the individual registrant. The individual registrant is then linked to the decision location. In other settings, an attendee customer is a member to the association who is an attendee to an exhibition though may be a buyer of other non-exhibition offerings such as online webinars, education only conferences, emedia or print publications among other offerings. Such definitions are important for linking transactional data (How big is a customer? Depends on how you define customer.) and other forms of data.

Note that this language should be agreed upon across units, for example the group which manages exhibitions and the group which manages conferences. There’s nothing worse than an argument in a meeting only to find out the argument was all semantic.

At this point, you’re ready to begin using data for insight and decision making, much as we did at Cabela’s. But you’ll quickly figure out that there’s data missing. Now you can put into place data capture tools and processes to fill in those gaps.

For example, you might find that you need to add fields to your attendee registration system for all exhibitions, which might also then require adjustments to other non-exhibition events or conferences that are run or managed by your organization. You may also find that you need to add fields in the CRM system so that you can test different approaches to attendee marketing campaigns or to tighten campaign management and develop a lead nurturing system or an approach that achieves a higher pre-registration show up rate. With data, for example, you can determine whether a pre-show invitation that was opened not only predicted show attendance but was also predictive of post-show engagement. Documenting the effects of each interaction helps optimize the value of each marketing event.

Many organizations have adopted a “collect everything, sort it out later” mentality. That’s fine early on. As you gain experience, however, you’ll recognize which data is more important. Keep in mind that while data storage may seem relatively cheap, the cost of acquisition (especially if that involves customers giving up data) is not always insignificant. And remember, data needs to be maintained, kept current.

The goal is to have an intelligent conversation with your customer through all channels. Your data helps your marketing listen and respond. Thus, as your data strategy matures, those opportunities for capturing important pieces of information about the customer can be recognized and leveraged.

And that means thinking about all sources of data. When you talk with a friend, you aren’t just listening to what is said. You’re also reading body language, taking in contextual cues, and much more. New sources of data can give you those contextual cues. For example, Marketo salespeople use LinkedIn photographs to determine how to first contact a potential prospect. If the person is smiling, reach out one way. If not, use a different approach. How did they learn? They did so through using data for insight.

Your data may never meet the definition of Big Data. But who cares? What’s really important is that you leverage the data to make better decisions faster.

If you are interested in learning more about how business-to-business exhibition organizers are using data analytics today, two new CEIR reports are now available:

Use of Analytics Today by Business-to-Business Exhibition Organizers

Use of Analytics by Business-to-Business Exhibition Organizers Case Studies

If You Are at EXHIBITORLIVE Next Week, Join Me If You Can!

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, CEIR Research Director

I look forward to attending and participating in EXHIBITORLIVE! next week. It is always a privilege to conduct sessions with the high caliber brand marketers who travel to this event.

Next week’s lectures will focus on two important topic areas:

Do You Have a Digital Playbook for Your Exhibit Program?

This session looks at trends and approaches to integrating digital into an exhibit program. Adam Polaszewski, my colleague and co-presenter always brings great energy and passion to this discussion.

Align Your Face-to-Face Interactions with What Attendees Value Most

This is a topic area where exhibitors can never rest on their laurels, as it is important to keep a pulse on attendees’ most urgent needs and assure the exhibiting approach is positioned to hit their value meter. Doing so creates that opportunity to connect, converting a lead to an interested prospect and ultimately sales. This year’s session evaluates attendee needs in general as well as young professional needs and preferences. What I love about this session is the brainstorming element, where brand marketers share their experiences and ideas on how to ramp up their game. It is a fun way to take advantage of face-to-face interactions, and the power in learning it can deliver!

So if you’re at the EXHIBITORLIVE next week, come join me at one of the sessions. Or visit the IAEE booth, at 1709.

Also, we will be releasing a new report, The Marketing Spend Decision, at EXHIBITORLIVE on Tuesday morning. Stop by the EDPA booth (#859) or the IAEE booth (#1709) for a copy of the Executive Summary of the report.

Or if you are in between sessions and are on Level 3 on Monday, come visit me at the Smart Bar between the hours of 10 am and 11 am.

Top Five Reasons Why Young Professionals Offer Exhibitions an Exciting Future

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, CEIR Research Director

CEIR research with young professionals suggests an exciting future awaits business-to-business exhibitions and exhibitors that deliver the content they crave. Here are the top five reasons for this position:

POE 14.02 Figure 18Reason #1: Young professional attendees have a strong connection to the exhibition channel, 98% identify one or more high value takeaways from attending.

The most popular takeaways reflect the best of what exhibitions have to offer: keeping informed of leading trends/new products; gaining a deeper understanding of available products/services; interacting and seeing a wide variety of products and meeting with a large number of vendors in a short time period.

Reason #2: Most professionals who attend an exhibition plan to visit again. 93% say it is likely they will attend exhibitions in the next several years.

Reason #3: When it comes to walking an exhibition floor – it’s all about engagement. Young professionals are accustomed to immersive, interactive face-to-face entertainment settings. Those who walk the floor want to engage with the product (80%), booth staff (84%), and the booth offerings (87%).

Reason #4: Mobile devices are a broadcast media boon opportunity for organizers and exhibitors. Half come armed with their mobile device to help them record and process what they are experiencing. The most popular activity is taking pictures to look at or share with others.

Reason #5: Like attendees in general, young professionals come to shop (86%) and learn (83%), and they also attend for the EXPERIENCE (67%). The emotive aspect of attending is important, 44% of young professionals seek inspiration and motivation to help them advance their organization’s and personal career objectives. This quest is a call to action to organizers to step it up and assure content delivers on this goal.

There are many more reasons why young professionals’ wants and preferences speak to a bright future for the industry. Click here to download the full report.

To read about what organizers are doing to attract and retain young professional, click here.

Big Data and Analytics: Hype or Opportunity?

Stephanie Hedlund, Director, Customer Insights & Analytics
Diversified Communications

As Expo! Expo! 2014 fast approaches, I’ve been reflecting on my first visit to the event 7 years ago atThe Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Concurrent with Expo! Expo!, also at the Mandalay Bay, was the National Conference on Database Marketing. I attended both events and, being the numbers geek that I am, wondered if there was anyone else doing the same. What was the cross-over percentage? If I were marketing one of these events, how would I have identified potential targets for both? Would the conference organizers even want an attendee to go to both events? Then I found the Red Square Lounge’s vodka vault and haven’t mused much about that since.

But today, if a data or analytics conference was happening in downtown Los Angeles, I bet that cross-over percentage would be a lot higher. You can’t escape the conversation – big data, analytics, marketing automation, data-driven sales, the list goes on and on. For event producers, how can we leverage the data we have and turn it into actionable insights for marketing or sales or operations or even our customers? For the many companies selling their products into the event industry, how can we prove the ROI on our product, how can we make the data we collect easy to access and use? Data is at the root of many conversations of our day-to-day professional (and personal) lives.

Conference session spoiler alert! There’s a lot of opportunity with your data. Yes, the data you have right now. No, you don’t necessarily need to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to take advantage of it. You do, however, need to think about the right strategic questions to ask of your data and the right-size approach for your company. More and more data is available and easier to access but so are tools to harness your data’s potential and those tools are getting more affordable and easier to implement.

Find out what other event producers are doing with their data and get some ideas from a few fantastic case studies. I hope you’ll join Jeff Stanley of Exhibit Surveys, Nancy Drapeau of CEIR and myself for Thursday’s session on Big Data and Analytics. Opportunity awaits. FMI go here.

Email – Consistent and Reliable Performance – The Duct Tape of the Digital Marketing Toolkit

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Research Director

I know the title of this blog is a little tongue and cheek though I think the analogy holds, no pun intended. I used this analogy at a recent session at EXHIBITORFastTrak in Atlanta, it resonated with attendees and so I want to share it with you in this blog.

Think about it, duct tape is a versatile, consistent performer in addressing so many needs – whether to repair a boat cover, bicycle seat, vacuum hose or whatever else, it is often a solution that does the job well. It even was used to repair the lunar rover during Apollo 17!

The same is true of email. It is a versatile and consistent performer, according to results of a number of CEIR studies. Despite the onslaught of new, digital marketing tactic alternatives, email still serves an important role in the exhibition marketing mix for both organizers and exhibitors. Here are a few examples:

  • In the Digital Playbook, email is found to be a top performer for both organizers and exhibit brand marketers for cost containment and revenue generation. It is the most popular tactic used in exhibition marketing (86% of business-to-business exhibition organizers, 86% of business-to-consumer exhibition organizers and 84% of brand marketers). The popularity and effectiveness of email is documented in earlier CEIR research.
  • The use and effectiveness of email in organizer marketing efforts to drive attendance is noted in the recently released report, Cost to Attract Attendees.
  •  These results make sense, and align with the resources prospective attendees rely on when searching for prospective exhibitions to attend. According to Attracting Attendees, email from different sources – colleagues, organizers and exhibitors – are in the top 10 important information resources relied upon by them.
  • And for young professionals, according to The Young Professional Attendee Needs and Preferences Study Report released this past August, email from organizers and vendors is relied on and trusted more than content from social media when hunting for prospective exhibitions to attend. Emails from colleagues is also a more used and trusted resource for this purpose than social media.

Now the consistent performance of email does NOT mean it is wise for brand marketers and exhibition organizers to indiscriminately use this tactic for any and all purposes. Over emailing will fatigue a list, this is a longstanding rule and is just plain common sense. If anything, it speaks to the high importance of using email lists carefully and strategically. Marketing needs to assure that content is valuable to the recipients and that the number of emails is managed carefully, to avoid the spam filter and ‘block sender’ classifications.

Let me close in sharing an example of the strategic use of email that one of the EXHIBITORFastTrak attendees explained. This exhibiting company, in striving to avoid blast emails and at the same time striving to promote their participation at an upcoming exhibition, included an invitation to register to attend the exhibition as a part of the signature at the end of the email. It was a click thru link to the exhibition’s registration site. The email was sent from sales staff as a follow-up to a phone call. Interestingly, the exhibitor was paid by the exhibition organizer for any individuals who registered and attended the exhibition. This email campaign approach was a ‘win-win’ for the exhibitor and exhibition.

Trends on Integrating Digital in Exhibit Programs – Join Me in Atlanta Next Week

By Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Director of Research

I am looking forward to sharing trends with brand marketers who are attending EXHIBITOR FastTrak next week in Atlanta. This session offers an intense 1.5 hour discussion of current trends in the use of digital tactics in exhibit marketing programs. Along with sharing research insights, this session includes case study examples and peer-to-peer discussions. Adam Polaszewski, Director of Marketing at INXPO, will dial in and share his personal experience using digital tactics that generated outstanding results in meeting overall objectives for his company.

Which digital tactics are most popular and tend to deliver the most consistent results? Are companies abandoning traditional tactics entirely in favor of digital alternatives? How does a company magnify the power of the face-to-face marketing experience with digital tactics? Well, come to the session and find out. I look forward to sharing these trends and case studies that will help exhibitors determine whether their digital approaches are in line with what is found to work best or whether adjustments are needed. If you’re in Atlanta next week, it’s still not too late to register. I hope to see you there!