Kerry Smith knows events. As senior vice president of the Marketing Communications Group at Access Intelligence, Smith oversees Event Marketer magazine, which he founded, as well as Multichannel Merchant, and the performance marketing conference LeadsCon. He’s also the author of the recently released book "Experiential Marketing."
As a noted speaker at the Folio: Show on Nov. 1 and 2, Smith will host a session entitled “Create an Onsite Experience Attendees and Sponsors Love.” Here, he tells Folio: how media companies can make the most out of their own events.
Folio: What do Folio: Show attendees have to look forward to at your session?
Kerry Smith: Media companies are in a perfect position to bring their communities together because of their ability to utilize content to attract an audience, and to build credibility for their brands through high-quality content. So as more and more media companies explore live events as a way to bring their brands to life, it’s really important to deliver a meaningful and quality experience that reflects positively back onto the media brand.
In the session, I’ll be talking about events from our perspective as corporate event marketers. Companies like Cisco and Coca Cola are creating their own live events for their customers, and in many cases, they’re doing it differently than media companies.
My session is oriented toward media people who are doing events or are interested in starting, to share with them some of the best practices in the corporate world, where event marketers are doing a fantastic job creating on-site experiences that increase the value of their events.
Folio: What are the biggest mistakes media companies make when planning events?
Smith: One is giving away too much and not valuing their events as a premium opportunity. A lot of companies will create live events and treat them as a value-added to their larger advertising programs. But more and more, marketers are putting a lot of value in getting in front of their prospective customers, and being face-to-face.
Second, there has been a mentality to look at conferences and tradeshows in terms of “how little do we need to spend to pull it off?” A big part of what I’m going to talk about is how you can do small things that create a big impact with the audience.
One thing that media companies can do is to focus on what type of experience they’re providing. From the look and feel, signage and registration, to food and beverages. You don’t have to break the bank, but you have to think creatively and focus on investing dollars where they’ll have the most impact. Don’t think, “how little can I spend?” Think, “how can I spend in a creative way that maximizes the effect for people on-site.”
Folio: What’s one of the best on-site experience you’ve been a part of?
Smith: It was one that we did. We asked ourselves how to get our attendees to interact with each other in a way that didn’t seem cheesy or forced. So we brought in a professional mixologist who gave a tutorial to about 500 people on how to make craft cocktails.
We had everyone divide up into parties of 10, and each table was challenged to create their own cocktail. And then there was a taste test and one table would win. It was fun and it got people interacting. That whole thing cost us $6,000, and the impact was huge. People were talking about it for days.
Editor's note: Access Intelligence is the parent company of Folio:.