Along with a rich array of education sessions that ranged from executive level tracks to a newbie "boot camp," ISES Eventworld 2011, which ran Aug. 4-6 in St. Louis at Union Station Marriott, showcased several event experts presenting the C-level approach to effective event strategy and production.
THE POWER OF EVENTS
At the opening general session on Thursday, longtime advertising executive Don Neal, now president of consulting firm 360 Live Media, presented a fast-paced session underscoring the power of live events.
Neal reminded attendees that 90 percent of all communication is nonverbal, and that live, branded media experiences have a unique power to change behavior. "Events are the most powerful marketing channel," he said.
Underscoring the importance of behavior, "We are what we do," Neal said, not what we say or think. He offered this mantra for effective events: "Engineer an experience that triggers an emotion that leads to action."
Neal urged attendees to measure the value of their events using a formula that determines value by dividing the quality of an event by its price.
TIPS ON GOING VIRTUAL
Next, Angie Smith, vice president of client services at InXpo--a provider of privately branded virtual events--addressed "Demystifying Virtual Events."
Formerly with Cisco Systems, Smith described her extensive experience creating hybrid events for the company.
Smith was able to achieve both remarkable cost savings coupled with guest outreach by adding virtual elements to her events. Using "hybrid events," which offered both in-person and online options, she said she was able to increase participation at her events by 30 percent while reducing the cost per participant by more than 90 percent.
DON'T JUST DO IT
Although many event planners feel pressured to add high-tech elements such as video streaming to their events, "Don't do it just to do it," Smith said. She cautioned that sometimes complex, immersive experiences wind up being more confusing than helpful. She recommended instead that event planners strive to create events that are "accessible" to audiences and that create "persistent communities."
Smith urged event planners to consider a mix of live and virtual event options. "Give people a choice" of whether to attend the event in person or to experience it online, she said.
On Friday, David Rich of experiential marketing titan George P. Johnson Co. outlined the "Experiential Marketing Imperative." Using examples of GPJ's work on huge projects such as the 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremonies, Rich—senior vice president for program strategy worldwide—gave attendees crucial rules in keep in mind for creating effective events.
Rich urged attendees to develop clarity of purpose, efficacy of strategy and fidelity in execution. For events to succeed, they must create the right experience for attendees; that is, they must be objectives-based, audience-driven and brand-personified, he said.
Rich stressed the importance of getting all the details right in order to achieve fidelity in execution. "Successful experiences are the sum of carefully crafted parts," he said. "Every detail counts."
Successful event planners need four skills, Rich said: Skill at telling stories that are then retold by the audience, a grasp of new media production tools, an understanding of new information system products, and the ability to use new staging techniques.
To illustrate the power of technology in supporting brand experiences, he showed a video of the Ralph Lauren 4D Experience, a dramatic video spectacle that played across the façade of the Ralph Lauren women's flagship store in Manhattan last fall.
In closing, Rich urged attendees to "think like a marketer, create like a movie producer and measure like a CFO."
EXCELLENCE AND ESPRIT WINNERS NAMED
Eventworld 2012 runs Aug. 2-4 in Dallas; the event will be the 25th anniversary of ISES, which launched in Dallas at The Special Event in 1987.
Photos by Special Events