Forbes' iConferences Are Sticky: Virtually and in Reality
For anyone who's been to a real trade show, virtual trade shows look much the same. The speakers are there, the booths, the sponsors—it's just missing the three dimensions that come with an in-person event. That's the premise that Forbes is working on. And the New York-based media empire is finding that, indeed, its iConferences are working.
Matt Schifrin, vice president and investments editor of Forbes Media says the company started with an investor-oriented conference in May 2008 and found it to be such a success that in fall 2008, Forbes hired Chicago-based, privately-branded virtual event provider InXpo to host and has stepped up its event production. Three investor-oriented iConferences have brought in more than 34,000 registrants and the first event targeting advisors, held June 29 and 30, saw 2,000 invitation-only conferees.
Schifrin spoke with Publishing Executive Inbox on why virtual shows make such a good fit for Forbes.
INBOX: The iConferences work as lead-generation tactics for sponsors; do they work the same way for Forbes?
MATT SCHIFRIN: They work in many different ways for Forbes. Certainly lead generation is part of it, and it's not just for subscription prospects. But I think that these iConferences show our readers, customers, sponsors that Forbes is on the leading edge of technology and that we are very innovative in the ways we interact with our customers and constituents. ...
INBOX: Does Forbes use the iConference as a point-of-sale, both for itself and for its sponsors?
SCHIFRIN: Yeah, absolutely. When we do our retail iConferences, we mostly market investment advisories, investment newsletters, and it was very much a point-of-sale. Typically, we'd offer free trials of our newsletters. And, certainly, for our sponsors, they want to engage the attendees who come to these iConferences. And for many of them, it's about lead generation and, ultimately, that can become a customer down the road. ...