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Event Face-to-Face Still Ranks High & How To Leverage Mobile To Make It Rank Even Higher.

August 27, 2012

Face-to-face interaction has never been more valuable, according to a new report.  This good news comes despite the avalanche of information and new ways to connect brought to you by the digital age.   If you are an event organizer, what are you doing to maximize your impact?   We hope to show you how the mobile/digital revolution can make face-to-face even more valuable for you, your exhibitors and your attendees.

Face-to-Face Still Matters in the Digital Age

Last week, CEIR released their new report  “Change in Value Over Next Two Years and Effects of the Great Recession and Online Media.”  Its key finding:  Nearly half  of event attendees surveyed say that face-to-face interactions experienced at exhibits at exhibitions, conventions and annual meetings are more valuable today than two years ago. And 43 percent believe the value of these interactions will continue to increase over the next two years. No other face-to-face interaction alternative comes close to these results.  The study examines the long-term value of face-to-face marketing and exhibitions in particular in light of major economic fluctuations and the influx of technology and alternative marketing tactics, including digital media. More than 9,000 attendees and 800 exhibitors participated in this initiative.

Among the findings:

  • Both audiences (exhibitors and attendees) rank exhibitions highest in terms of the value of face-to-face interactions from a list of 10 possible options including sales calls, exhibits, conventions, annual meetings, educational conferences with or without an exhibit component, hosted buyer events, sales calls, to name a few.
  • For attendees, the exhibition setting is the top rated, with 48 percent, ranking it first over all other listed options.
  • And 43 percent anticipate this setting will be more valuable looking out to the next two years.
  • No other face-to-face interaction alternative comes close to these results.
  • In-person sales calls are a distant second at 26 percent.

But Times Are Still Tough

This is the good news, but it doesn’t mitigate the many risks associated with hosting and or attending events. Budgets are decreasing and every dollar is being scrutinized.  One industry veteran put it well: 

You cannot afford to rest on the historic influence the event industry has had as a marketing tool. We need to challenge the norm and look to adjust our model for the future. Savvy marketers want a simple, measurable and hassle free experience. So what does that mean?

Simple—Everything from the contract process to payments to registration needs to be easier.  Consider an alumni program that will take basic information (address, phone, contact, product category, directory listings, etc.) and carry it over year to year.  Give them the opportunity to update that information, but why should you ask your returning customers to recreate the wheel with every event?

Measurable—We all deal with question on ROI. Unfortunately, there is not a one size fits all approach, but if your staff understands a marketers objectives in advance of the event, you can work to formulate and define what is or is not a realistic outcome. How will you ultimately be graded?

Hassel Free—If you have been in the business for any period of time, you know the single biggest complaint is drayage, labor and other variable costs.  Most exhibitors do a poor job of planning, and far too often they are surprised by their invoice.  Make it easy and look at “all in” packages that are inclusive of drayage, basic utilities, etc.

Mobile Apps Offer the Best of the Digital World To Enhance Face-to-Face

DAZZMOBILE would add two Must-Haves in today’s environment:  – Go MOBILE and Think (Year Round) Engagement…  which helps address the three above and so much more.

Go MOBILE!

Let’s start with Going Mobile.   Simply put, if you host/promote  events, solutions like DAZZMOBILE’s Showdazz app allow you to engage and build relationships with your exhibitors and attendees, why they also engage and build relationships with one another.  How, you might ask?

1.  By making it highly social…  both in terms of sharing and in discovering

Well-conceived platforms like Showdazz will center the socializing around the event in a branded environment (as opposed to leveraging 3rd party apps like Twitter, Linked IN or Facebook where the socializing is diluted among lots of information in somebody else’s branded app– Think private party vs. a crowded, noisy rock concert.)  Additionally, the best platforms will facilitate social discovery via a single click:  want to see which of your twitter followers or the people you follow are present? Want to see if any of your LinkedIN connections are in attendance?  Facebook friends?  All are a click away.    Social sharing and discovery facilitates deeper bonds between attendees and between attendees and exhibitors… all within the environment of your branded app… (if it’s a platform like Showdazz!).   And social sharing and discovery adds more value to the event experience.

2. By making it fun and ‘edu-taining’
Events that feature break-out sessions, seminars, and keynotes (and the like) have a huge opportunity to engage their audience via the mobile devices in their pockets or the laptops/tablets on their laps during ‘breaks in the action’.   Platform solutions like DAZZMOBILE facilitate the custom push content like games, quizzes and trivia that informs, entertains and engages.  And such interactivity is not limited to breakouts, seminars and/or keynotes.   Platforms like DAZZMOBILE can also facilitate scavenger hunts, exhibitor check in games, and most any fun/crazy idea you might come up with.

3. By keeping attendees in the know with collateral rack, real-time updates and auto upload. 
Want people to get more value out of your event? Give exhibitors and presenters the opportunity to pre-fill their collateral rack (for a fee of course).  Push content based on attendee location (booth proximity and/or presenter session). Update your program content on the fly if you have a speaker switch times, add an exhibitor, and learn other details about your event. It’s easy to make changes via platform solutions like DAZZMOBILE which then updates automatically within the app.

4. By ‘gamifying’ your event to incent attendees to take the actions that will make your event a success.
Platforms like DAZZMOBILE allow event organizers to turn the entire event into a point-accumulation contest where attendees earn points for doing the things that matter like attending presentations, keynotes, sponsored events, and much more.  Because every event is different, so is each Showdazz deployment.  We sit down with event organizers to map out the key user-experiences and build them into a point-accumulation/status rewards experience.  Of course, attendees enjoy this feature because it allows them to earn points they exchange for cool stuff!  And you will enjoy it because of the new revenue streams it opens for your event.

Content Market Year Round

One of  the many benefits of platforms like DAZZMOBILE’s Showdazz is that opens the door to continued multi-directional dialog before and after the event has concluded.  First, because the Showdazz platform is controlled by the event organizer, you control the user data and earn permission to continue the dialog.  When combined with a content marketing strategy DAZZMOBILE can help you craft, you are armed with powerful tools to stay top of mind, relevant and engaged with your audience.   Year-round event content marketing will be a deep-dive topic in a future post.  It is a powerful means to build engagement and therefore brand equity with your audience.  For now, if you would like to learn more about the topic, check out this post, Tips for Creating Year-Round Engagement With Your Event Audience.

Mobile Powered Face-to-Face:  Deeper Engagement, More Value, and New/Enhanced Revenue Streams 

Despite the many uncertainties brought about by the Great Recession, face-to-face events are still recognized for the value they offer attendees and exhibitors.  We at DAZZMOBILE believe in the coming years this will only intensify as platforms like Showdazz do their thing to bring people together in new, fun, and informative ways.  What’s more –and most important– platforms like DAZZMOBILE can help event organizers not only bring higher levels of engagement and value to attendees and exhibitors, but also new revenue streams that will have a major impact upon your event’s bottom line.   We invite you to get in touch with DAZZMOBILE to learn more about our offerings and to allow us to show you how we can impact your event economics like never before.

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