Media Conference Exhibitors Should Go Deeper to Engage
It has been a few weeks since I attended (as the guest of the event organizer) the Publishing Business Conference & Expo. This event, held each year in New York City at the Marriott Marquis, is, to me, like a library. Perhaps better said, it is like a direct inflow of endless and valid information from the source to me.
Do you remember the Star Wars scene in which R2-D2 (or maybe it was C-3PO) plugs itself into the main frame and finds the control switch to save Han, the Princess, the Wookie, and Luke from being crushed to death? By observing the press conference held on the first day and by attending some of the events, I felt like I was downloading tons of valuable information, new products, services and stuff.
I like stuff, particularly when the stuff can assist me in my goal to get other stuff via consulting-offering my intellectual capital and my reputation as a trusted advisor to fulfill my life mantra, "stuff begets stuff," or because it sounds so cool in Latin, "effercio effercio gignit." Everyone from the publisher Matt Steinmetz to the regional marketing specialist Rebecca Carmody did a great job.
That said, I'd like to offer some constructive advice on how these types of events could evolve, in the same way that publishing has evolved and will continue to do so. Covered within some of the sessions I attended were some powerful topics and trends, such as publishing's digital transformation, seeking new revenue sources, creative book marketing-and even the Pub Crawl-and all added a depth of engagement and dialogue to the event, a depth of engagement and dialogue that publishing knows so well.
This sense of engagement could be extended to the exhibit halls better by integrating exhibits with specific topics covered in the educational portion of the conference. What I mean is that many of the vendors presented concepts, products, and services that offer much information and assistance to users, but few really, in my mind, focused on the subject at hand-CHANGE. I understand the need to conserve market spend and repurpose existing booths and exhibits, but I think the Publishing Business Conference & Expo is a high-end luxury type marketing event, and if you are selling to the rarefied air, you need to be at a higher altitude than your customers.
Where is all the interactivity on display, interactivity that streams from the world of publishing? This could include displays that use technology to present new tools and illustrate the concepts being offered. Tablets, smart phones, and other screen-based products would have more effectively shown or presented their offerings in actual use or "in application." Interactivity can also mean linking the benefits of the product or services to the use via the consumer and tied to a video kiosk that could provide the attendee with "live" user testimonials. Perhaps some of the exhibitors could have partnered with others to combine their offerings?
Where are the direct and indirect benefits, applications, and case histories that need to drive attendees "to try it so I can like it"? Data-big and small-rules the day. Why not provide examples of success, case histories, endorsements, smiling readers and very revenue happy publishing executives? A recent study indicates that "hot" topics based on the need to know include: augmented reality, process management, personalization, integration of media and media convergence. Some exhibitors did sponsor workshops and breakout sessions, but I would encourage more partnering and collaboration among vendors to advance industry education.
Where are the tools to establish dialogue and build engagement? Rethink the creative development of the ad, the expansion of the publisher's role in that process, based on data. Explain the potential of increasing response rates via branded content, squeeze, micro or landing pages. Explain in detail using the hands-on approach, the correct and desired use of interactive tools, such as links to merchandising or catalog pages, measurement and tracking tools. Publishing now offers those tools and I think the exhibitors at this conference should as well.
The conference does a great job of getting the needed discussion active and out to the attendees. Exhibitors should look to differentiate themselves just like publishing properties do. Exhibitors need to think of themselves as extensions of the entertainment movement of interactive print and publishing. Move from a static table and banner set up to what I often called the living theater. Use statistics, results, numbers and interactive infographics to allow the passing attendee to grab the data via mobile device. In short an exhibitor should think of their display as a table of contents, a digitally alive interactive table of content.
Glamour is different from Vogue; Wired is different from National Geographic; a tablet version is different from a print version, not only on the surface but deep, very deep into the very soul of the publication's structure. Exhibitors need to be deep as well, not only to attract the attendees but to prove to those who are attending that they are truly "thought leaders," not just firms filling space committed to by some internal corporate official.
I felt that the many discussions I attended fulfilled the Disney approach to marketing: adding a little bit of magic and mystery into its content. The same should go for exhibitor content. After all, any changes or enhancements made by the exhibitors will increase their profit potential, and that is always a good thing!
Thad Kubis | Founder & Chief Integration Officer
Integrated Marketing • Media Convergence • Profit Advocacy Curriculum Development | Strategic Messaging | Key Note Speaker | Instructor - Education
Need to rethink your exhibiting and integrated marketing communication program, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 917.597.1891.
A selfish plug: I have just completed:
Guide to Integrated Print and Media Convergence.
The Print Provider's Guide to Use, Sell, and Profit from
Integrated Marketing and Emerging Technologies.
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