1. Lessons In Leadership
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Good News Behind Daunting Data

Boiling the ocean and other idioms.

Anyone who follows my posts knows that my perspective is based on a long career in the events industry. I am no doubt biased in my belief that the world of events is a force for good that is too often undervalued. But more objectively, my experience has shown that an analysis of trends that surface in the world of trade shows and expositions can be applied to almost every business sector. That’s because we thrive in the live interface that connects industries and brands to their most sought-after prospects.

Connection is the operative word for anyone engaging in commerce, education, entertainment, or professional networking. If you are interested in any of these, please keep reading.

In a previous post, I commented on the importance of applying ROO measures (Return on Objective) as an approach to closing the gap between marketing objectives (exhibitors and sponsors) and their target audiences’ expectations (event attendees). Our most recent Freeman Trends Report recommends a number of specific tactics that event organizers, sponsors, and exhibitors can use to move closer to (i.e., attract) customers. There’s a lot of chewy material here.

That said, some people may find the report’s data-driven recommendations overwhelming. This is especially true for exhibitors with moderate budgets who are grappling with the inflationary price increases affecting travel, shipping costs, and almost every other line item. The encouraging thing is that the research also suggests that introducing small but meaningful tactics can help move the needle in significant ways.

For example, we know that the majority of marketers agree that taking a stand on the environment is an effective strategy because it is important to their customers. But we also hear from many exhibitors who believe that sustainability measures aren’t affordable given their budget constraints. Here’s a simple win-win tactic: stop handing out brochures. There are many advantages to switching  to digital content. It saves printing and shipping costs, keeps discarded brochures out of landfills, and shows attendees that you are paying attention to them and their concerns. Digital materials may also earn pass-along lead generation if the content is relevant and valuable.

We’ve all heard the adage that to make meaningful change we don’t need to “boil the ocean.” There’s a terrific Forbes article about the relative merits of this expression, and given climate change, I’m not sure it conveys what it used to. Maybe a better idiom to describe our daunting task is the one about eating an elephant one spoonful at a time. Although now that I think about it, that just sounds creepy. And the bit about the longest journey beginning with the first step seems trite.

I guess I feel most comfortable returning to the dating analogy used in my earlier post. Some corporations with big event budgets can afford to throw bouquets at their heart’s desire — dazzling attendees with spectacular attractions and over-the-top experiences. That’s awesome. But if your budget is more modest, don’t despair. Stay focused on the needs of the person you most want to connect with. Sometimes you don’t need to promise a rose garden; offering a single rose, or maybe even a daisy, will do. Intention and follow-through make the difference.

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