Package products to pump up events

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Nancy Walsh is exec VP of Reed Exhibitions, Americas, one of the biggest players in the b-to-b events business. Walsh oversees 40 trade shows in the U.S. and Canada, including the JCK Las Vegas Show and the PGA Merchandise Show. Media Business: In a down economy, what are the event-marketing tools that have the best potential for returns? Walsh: We're packaging a lot of our products, whether it's exhibitor space, advertising, sponsorship opportunities, online opportunities, operational expenses or drayage (fees charged to exhibitors to load and unload their wares). We're doing podcasting and blogging, but more as promotional vehicles and not as part of the packages. MB: You're scheduled to speak this month at an American Business Media forum about leadership during a recession. What's the takeaway for b-to-b media managers? Walsh: There are two perspectives. One is internally, which is working closer with employees, recognizing their value and contributions, and making them feel they're not alone in tough times. We've been meeting more frequently to share success stories and conducting more role-plays with sales to overcome common and new objections. The other [perspective] is external. We're increasing communication with customers, increasing [media] packaging opportunities and boosting ROI tools to provide better measurement. We're also introducing relevant business topics to our conferences on how to survive in a bad economy; adding career fairs and additional networking opportunities. —M.S.
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