Greg Reid, chiefofficer of YRC Worldwide, had an interesting message for the 170 people who gathered last week at the Washington (D.C.) Convention Center for the Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum: Get deviant. No, he wasn’t telling them to channel their inner juvenile delinquent. He was, however, exhorting the crowd to depart from the manager’s usual habits if they want to reach the ever-more-elusive marketing executives like himself.
Here’s his six-point plan for deviance:
Another highlight of ECEF was a session on measuring engagement and the effectiveness of marketing media, led by Glen Hanson, BPA Worldwide; Gordon Hughes, American Business Media; Roy Pettit, Marketshare Partners; and Bob Liodice, Association of National Advertisers. As Hughes pointed out, “In order to compete in today’s marketplace, we need good research and to untether ourselves from our past sales mentality.” The panelists cited several studies, including one from Forrester, that found that business-to-business events continue to be an important tool for business decision-makers: Not only do a majority of BDMs say they attend industry-specific events, their number—and the number of days they spend at events—has grown since 2001. Despite the fact that these events rank No. 1 for helping BDMs learn about new products and services, they still plan to under-use industry-specific events in 2009. “They under-use our media because we don’t sell it like TV or radio does,” Hughes said. “We need to start advocating it if we don’t want to start contracting in 2009.”
What many say was the best, however, was saved for last. At the end of the day, Galen Poss, president of Hanley Wood Expositions, provided a brutally honest case study of how his company recovered when its 2004 Surfaces show went from having its best event ever (in terms of revenue, attendance, number of exhibitors, and square footage) to losing its top four exhibitors—along with their 90,000 net square feet of space—and another 15,000 net square feet of exhibitor-contracted space, for a total loss of 20 percent of its show. In a riches-to-rags-to-riches story, he detailed the steps his staff took to stem the immediate damage, then build the show back over time to new records in revenues, exhibitors, and net square footage.