In 1992, Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company (PM) dropped its even-year incentive programs and replaced them with an Educational Symposium, a high-level educational experience that also helps producers meet their continuing education requirements. The program has been a huge success, but the challenge for Jaimee Niles, PM's director, meetings and professional relations, is that the Symposium concept doesn't change much from year to year. "We use the same property every year because it's within walking distance of our home office and allows us to showcase our products and people. And while we change the courses and speakers, we really don't change the format a great deal, yet we still have to keep it fresh and exciting, and create an impact."

For the 1996 meeting, one thing that added excitement came in the form of a silver and gold disk, a CD-ROM packed with pictures, video clips, music, and all the conference and company information you could want at the click of the mouse-schedules, bios, course handouts, and so on.

The disk is a duplication of every piece of information in the corresponding notebook handed out at registration. And although not all Pacific Mutual producers have CD-ROM drives with which to view the disk, Niles says it's the principle not the practicality that's important at this point. "We're positioning ourselves as being cutting-edge. We see this as where we're headed." No one had to miss the high-tech show, however. The CD-ROM was demonstrated in the exhibit hall, wowing producers with pictures from previous symposia, promotion for an upcoming Vienna incentive, and even top producers talking on video clips.

Company: Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company

Event: 1996 Educational Symposium

Site: Newport Beach (CA) Marriott

Dates: April 23 to 26, 1996

Qualification Period: January 1, 1995 through December 31, 1995

Qualifying Attendees: 300

Total Attendees: 500, including producers, field staff, field management, and home-office staff

Design: Niles worked with the in-house design team to create the palm tree and pen logo that was picked up for all promotional materials, including the CD-ROM. The illustration was created on a Macintosh computer, using Photo Shop software.

Promotion Budget: $10,000 to create and duplicate the CD-ROM

Savings Ideas: In large part, Niles piggybacks her promotion for the Educational Symposium on existing marketing vehicles such as Pacific Mutual's quarterly newsletter and its monthly cassette tapes sent to the field. On the cassettes, which keep producers abreast of PM products, competition, and other sales insights, Niles records "commercials" for her upcoming incentives.

Departments Involved: Meetings and Recognition, Information Services, Marketing Design, Media Services, Marketing Communications

Planner Comments: For Niles, every aspect of a meeting is, in a sense, promotional: "I view promotion as