Early this month I was honored to be the keynote speaker as well as moderate and industry leader panel at the Center for Exhibition Industry Research yearly event CEIR Predict. As with most events this year, it was a hybrid experience with in-person attendees and speakers live at MGM Inner Harbour and online attendees watching the live stream.
Below is a write-up from the panel that I moderated which included Joey Graziano, SVP at National Basketball Association, Melissa Ashely Advisor at AirFair and Leana Salamah, Vice President, Marketing | International Housewares Association.
Panelists from the 2021 #CEIRPredict provide key findings on how marketing and digital transformation will impact the future of B2B exhibitions.
“We are not going back to the way we ran events before the Pandemic. It is essential to rethink/reimagine what the future is going to look like.”
When speaking with panelists from the recent CEIR Predict session on marketing and digital transformation, a clearer picture of our industry’s future came into focus.
In this forward-glance, we measure our Total Available Market as the world, and we’re are no longer limited by physical boundaries because we’ve mastered personalization-and-customization-at-scale.
Joey Graziano, SVP Business Development & Global Events, National Basketball Association, also believes this profit/experience utopia need not be just a dream. It comes down to leadership, clarity of intent, and monetizing live, viral moments. The key to Graziano is,
“We need our engagement and monetization strategies to stop being mutually exclusive. The best strategy reimagines the experience for our audience AND drives the P&L.”
Joey Graziano, NBA
Melissa Ashley, Advisor, Airfair, put it this way, “Everybody shifted to using technology to navigate the marketplace. The customer has the choice of when, where, and how.”
This dynamic will not be shifting back. When given multiple choices of how you want to consume your content, why would you ever wish to have your preferences withdrawn? You wouldn’t – and our audiences won’t either.
So what now? How should our organizational leaders prepare and empower their teams for a digital future? How can they leverage an economy of creators and serve audiences who have extensive choices of where they receive their content?
The key to unlocking the value of the medium may live within the very nature of Communities.
Brian Fanzo believes that a key to unlocking value could live with relatability, “If influencer marketing is the business of trust or an extension of trust, the Creator economy monetizes and builds community across platforms.” He goes further,
“This is the most connected generation ever. It isn’t that the younger generation has no attention span; they just have no tolerance for irrelevant content.”
The opportunity is there.
Graziano believes firmly in the responsibility of leadership in plotting this future, “As leaders, it is our job to take a problem, develop simple success metrics, push them forward, and enable people to decide the ‘how.’” Empowerment drives ownership. This shift in mindset could be the difference between holding onto traditional ideas and becoming poised to capitalize real-time on moments of live engagement.
He gave a few examples:
Think about a soap opera, right? The writers know what’s going to happen next. In many events, you know the viral moments because you scripted them with your speakers and entertainment. How can you monetize that?
You have an online event with 50,000 people, and they’re all paying $99. Perhaps 20,000 of those same attendees would pay $250 for a personalized experience. How do you find that out and offer that experience?
He added an important distinction. I call it out as a distinction because there is something our industry has been hesitant to mutter. Graziano’s perspective is, “We need to shift our mindset from ‘nothing is as good as live’ to ‘live is one valuable entry point’ and use our content to reach hundreds of thousands of people globally.”
Throughout the Pandemic, we’ve all spoken the phrase, ‘Nothing will replace the power of face to face.’ We believe it, and we’re not wrong, but it could be that we’re unintentionally limiting our sphere of influence – and at the same time, eroding our teams’ confidence in other mediums.
Specific to COVID-19 and our response to it, Graziano sees it as, of course, a tragedy but also an opportunity. “COVID-19 destroyed our sense of connection. It gave us new fears and futures. And yet, it created an opportunity for us to innovate, define new audiences, remove bureaucracy and emerge stronger.”
This perspective became even more powerful when we learned that Graziano’s father is a retired NYC firefighter and 9/11 survivor. He taught Joey and his siblings that it is the sum of our responses that define us. He would ask, “If your neighbor’s house was on fire, would you run into it?”
The sum of our responses.
If anyone reading this hasn’t yet leveraged the Pandemic to innovate with your teams and prepare for our collective future, now is the time.
For an industry that has always been about its people, we can make that happen. We can look after one another’s houses – even when they aren’t on fire.
To help your teams, we’ve summarized all the findings from the Thought Leaders – Focus on Focus on Marketing & Digital Transformation for you.
The future of marketing is relatability – people want to connect and understand what is important to them. Your brands can be relatable through authenticity.
The future of business is Community. You can build Community with customers, staff, clients, etc.
Individual creators create their own communities. The creator economy monetizes and builds Community across platforms. (Platforms changed the word “attendees” to communities)
Digital enables us to do more in-person. How one uses tech will ultimately enhance the in-person experience. Repackage content and release it over time.
Most obstacles are imaginary and are really opportunities.
Organizers need to create exclusivity, scarcity, personalization and customization.
Research indicates trade shows are coming back, but you can supplement them with other content year-round.
You can do nearly anything digitally. Organizers must drive additional value and raise the bar.
Tapping into emotions:
Organizers must address the emotional reasons people go to trade shows. Foster creativity; do not control it.
Prioritize engagement and Community – look at where you are not positioned and look to outsource to organizations that do this well.
Empower creators and embrace that they think differently.
Want people to feel ‘these are my people, people I can trust.’
Brands aren’t great. The people behind the brand make it great.
Join us again next week as we continue our conversations with CEIR Predict panelists. Next Up: Focus on Industry Disruptors.
Ps. If you’re thinking, ‘Wait, wasn’t this week’s content about disruptors?’ You’re not wrong. Everything covered above is about digital and marketing disruption specifically, but as we know, disruption isn’t limited to those topics. Next week we’ll explore ways you can support your teams as they build a culture of inclusivity, navigate the future of work, and protect their employees, attendees, and customers from physical and cyber security threats.
I’ve been all-in on the social-audio app Clubhouse since December 9th and it’s driven more leads for my speaking business than any other content marketing strategies I’ve used over the last 5 years. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Grant Baldwin the host of the Speaker Lab podcast to share my tips and tactics for growing my speaking business without pitching or even promoting my services. Give this episode a listen and then connect with my @isocialfanz on Clubhouse and let me know your thoughts.
Using Clubhouse for Your Speaking Career with Brian Fanzo
Have you heard of using Clubhouse for your speaking career? The clubhouse is the hottest app right now and it’s by invitation-only.
Friend of the show, Brian Fanzo, is joining us on today’s The Speaker Lab. He’s here to talk about what it is, how to use it for booking gigs and how it has helped his mental health during the pandemic.
Hear us dive into those Clubhouse-related topics and so much more on episode 331 of The Speaker Lab.
THE FINER DETAILS OF THIS SHOW:
In this conversation he answers all of these questions for me…
What is his top tip for using Clubhouse as a speaker?
How is this app like a pop-up mastermind?
Why asking great questions on Clubhouse is the way to stand out.
Is it better to host or participate?
How this app has helped his mental health through this pandemic.
How can you find your groups on this app and insert yourself in their conversations?
Should you have a call to action?
And so much more!
Going back to that opening sentence of this email, neither group is better than the other, by the way. Some of us naturally gravitate to experimenting with new technology and some of us would rather stick with the tried and true.
There’s no right answer for ALL of us, but what’s right for YOU?
No matter what you call it “pivoting to virtual” or “forced to work from home on video,” the one thing that won’t work is merely doing the SAME thing we do offline just virtually!
That is what causes content shock and adds noise to the already noisy world. We can all think of painful recent examples where a 60-minute zoom calls with one person talking into the camera puts us to sleep. The webinar that shares slides in full screen with a robotic voice speaking to us as though we can’t read what’s on the slides ourselves.
Here’s the thing…
I don’t believe virtual will replace what we do offline!
But I believe that by reinventing how we think about virtual and what a virtual experience is, we will discover new opportunities and experiences we never knew were possible.
What we can’t do is combine offline limitations with the new limitations we are presented within the virtual world.
The reason most virtual presentations suck and many fail when making this transition to virtual is they don’t reinvent; they repurpose. They create based on the old limitations and then blame the new for not being as good or the right path to the future.
Virtual experiences require a paradigm shift embracing a 360° perspective of what’s possible, rethinking everything from:
How we share our knowledge?
What format do we deliver our message?
How long do you require the audience’s attention?
What visually is best to convey the emotion and impression we desire?
Virtual experiences aren’t about having multiple cameras, or 3D avatars or interactive overlays flying across the screen.
It’s about discovering what is possible in the virtual world and reshaping the experiences we create to capture, maintain, and scale TRUST with today’s hyper-connected virtual audience.
Find more Virtual Presentation Resources on these pages:
During this period of social distancing, you’re likely expected to speak on camera more than ever or if you aren’t excited it’s probably because you are being forced to speak at an upcoming virtual event or your teams next zoom video meeting.
Whether it’s for a Zoom call, a department meeting, a virtual speaking gig or a video storytelling project, it’s crucial to project confidence, calm, and authority to keep those on the other end engaged.
With that being said we are getting pressure to make sure our presentation is engaging and interactive and dynamic which lets face it makes the entire virtual presenting process extremely overwhelming. This is the reason I created this video below:
How to avoid the PLEASE GOD NOT ANOTHER WEBINAR with 4 Virtual Presentation Skillsets!
In this video you will learn how to: –
Evoke the right emotions through your body language and visual presentation
Establish authority and rapport with audiences of any size
Speak clearly and concisely without sounding staged or rehearsed
Beat on-camera nerves and project confidence and calm
Set the stage for an effective visual presence whether you’re on a webcam or professional camera
Maintain a high-energy presence and form a connection with your audience Whether you’re speaking to an audience of one or 100, you can’t miss this chance to unlock the secrets to a strong on-screen presence.
Virtual Event producers tend to get caught up in things like technology and speakers and getting attendees to sign-up…
So much so that they tend to forget about the piece that brings everything together and no it’s not the theme or the branding. Not only does this role keep a digital event on track, but it also encourages people to attend, interact, and stay engaged.
All of which are invaluable.
This video will not be a popular one amongst my keynote speaker peers but I believe the value of virtual events is dependent on the utilization of this role and re-inventing how this role is leveraged throughout the event planning process.
The NFL Virtual Draft leveraged this role to perfection which is the reason I still consider it the best virtual event I’ve attended in 2020.
Do you have an idea of which role/asset I’m referring to? Let me know your thoughts in the comments on YouTube!
If you are looking for more virtual event insights or want to transform your never virtual keynote presentation make sure to visit the Virtual Event Resources landing page which is updated weekly.
Here’s a YouTube comment that I felt summarized exactly how I felt and what inspired me to create this video!
“I don’t think I have ever been more on board with a video before this one. You are 100% spot on! Over the last few months (and even a little bit before) I have attended and spoken at online events that don’t have anything anchoring the experience, guiding us through our time together, except for that opening email and closing survey.
This past week I attended my FIRST virtual conference that had a host doing exactly what you say they should do. It changed EVERYTHING! While I still would prefer in-person events, this was the first experience where I closed my screen on the last day sad that it was over, excited about what I learned, and WHO I MET! I actually felt like I was in a community of people, gathering to learn together, to create something new, and to walk away richer in connection than when we started the event.
Thank you, Brian! Thank you! I hope many people watch this and put into motion what you are sharing with all of us.