Operations and marketing executives from a host of UK event organisers converged on the Earls Court Conference Centre recently for the sixth annual Association of Event Organisers’ (AEO) Marketing and Ops Forum.
The two co-located events on 13 September attracted 187 delegates and focused on a range of topics stretching from Wi-Fi connectivity and health and safety issues surrounding temporary structures, through to marketing in a digital age, consumer behaviour and brand evolution. The overarching theme was the ‘evolution of events’.
Following a welcome from Marketing Forum Chair and Centaur Exhibitions Marketing Director Nolan O’Connor, Senior Lecturer in Marketing from Cardiff Metropolitan University Paul Buckley opened the forum with a presentation on consumer behaviour.
Buckley stressed customer motivations as the most important backbone of any event and the first step in achieving a successful marketing campaign.
“You have to start with what motivates the customer by identifying their needs,” he told the audience. “Who are our customers? Most consumer buying is psychologically-based, while business-to-business interaction is economically based.
“Customers buy benefits, not features. The benefits of your event must be valued by the target market and should tie up to those customer motivations.”
Next up was BskyB’s Director of Self Service, Digital Customer Experience and Engagement Mark Nicholson, who delved into the blend of digital and offline techniques used by the broadcasting giant in its customer campaigns, as well as reporting and data trends emerging in the digital marketing sphere.
Other marketing speakers included IT lead event consultant James Gower, who discussed the role of TV and how it tied into event brands; Media 10’s Group Marketing Director Rob Nathan, who explained expanding a brand outside of events; and the Mobile Marketing Association’s chief Marketing Officer and MD of EMEA Paul Berney, who looked at mobile marketing and its increasing presence in exhibitions and events.
The Ops Forum was chaired by Reed Exhibitions Operations Director Piers Kelly and kicked off with a panel session on the industry eGuide. Panelists included representatives from the Event Supplier and Services Association, Association of Event Venues, ACC Liverpool, EventShare and Earls Court and Olympia.
The audience was also treated to a case study on the significant operational challenges presented to meetings and events show IMEX when it attempted to take its Frankfurt exhibition and hosted buyers’ programme to America.
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