Swipe these 6 strategies from CEMA Summit 2017

October 12, 2017

Lisa van Rosendale

With more than twenty years of experience, Lisa designs and delivers customized solutions that meet the specific needs of clients around the world. Her extensive background in non-traditional sales and marketing informs the sponsorship sales practice, among many other things, at FreemanXP. 

Does an event like CEMA Summit even need an introduction?

This annual conference by the Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA) attracts event marketers of all tenure for learning, networking, and soaking up best practices.

Luckily for you, I had a special vantage point this year. So you’re about to get privileged best practices from the inside. Freeman was attending as a sponsor, speaker, and — thanks to my newly announced assignment to the CEMA board (thank you, thank you) — as a committed partner.

Give first-timers a flawless experience

CEMA Summit 2017 had the usual hungry turnout. The difference this year was the record-breaking percentage of first-timers attending. Treating newbies well is important, as that group typically has the highest attrition. The CEMA event marketers were prepared, and they taught everyone an important best practice for attendees to use at their own events.

First-timers enjoyed a special welcome reception with the CEMA board members. The experience was carefully crafted. The list of first-time attendees was divided equally among the board members so the board could personally reach out and make themselves available. Then the board members acted as hosts with white glove treatment.

This gesture made a huge impression, and I encourage you to think about how you can take care of first-timers at your events!

A second lesson comes along with this: you don’t have to boil the ocean to be successful. You just need focused objectives that you can hone in on with an activation or strategy. The deliberate attention to first-time attendees illustrates that.

Are you feeling schizophrenic or overwhelmed about an aspect of your event? Think about how you can focus on a single issue so that everything falls in line.

Prioritize face-to-face interactions

Many people attend events for the networking they enjoy. It’s immensely valuable for the audience, and it’s one of the differentiators of participating in an event over another channel.

Knowing how critical networking is, make it easy for participants to network!

At CEMA Summit, the policy is no hard selling. This allows the event marketers to lower their guards and open up to one another. It’s a fantastic place where you can see peers, competitors, old friends, new people — and you can build contacts that you wouldn’t normally meet.

As you think about your next event, consider ways you can remove walls — both literal and figurative — to allow for better participant connections.

Own your sponsorship

We were excited to attend CEMA Summit 2017 as a sponsor. But it wasn’t the typical sponsorship – and an atypical sponsorship is not uncommon.

When you receive the standard sponsorship package, think about your business objectives and what you’d like to achieve. Then go back to the organizer and tell them what you’d like to modify, working together to get a higher return on investment. Many times the organizer will accept.

Think about it: as you’re putting together events and looking at sponsorships, is the goal just to check a certain number of boxes in the categories you’ve created, or is the goal to raise sponsorship dollars while providing value to the sponsors? Your customized suggestions can help the organizer with their goals while you’re achieving yours.

Next time you get a sponsorship prospectus, think about what success would like for your organization before signing it and sending it back.

Design for the audience

CEMA Summit 2017 had some amazing, inspiring speakers such as Johnny Cupcakes and Amy Blankson. A variety of big names, big lessons, and big brands showed up to deliver content. And because the audience ranged from junior to executive, the mixed seating reflected that, allowing people to work while listening.

We get it, people are busy. Priorities conflict. Instead of fighting the fact, embrace it by designing different environments where you can support people.

Whether it’s providing an array of couches and highboy tables in the rooms or creating common spaces for people to escape to, think about how you can give participants freedom instead of handcuffs — and a guilty conscience!

Test new tech

We’ve mentioned before that it’s best to avoid using technology for its own sake. But if you can deepen engagement and personalized experience through technology, then you’re using it for what it’s meant for.

For example, CEMA launched a chatbot at the show. The chatbot sent you looking for clues, and you could get points for meeting board members and sponsors by taking a picture and posting with a hashtag. It was a great concept that illustrated some fun uses of the tech as well as some areas to improve in the future. Regardless of what you thought of the app, everyone got to experience it and get ideas about how they could customize it for their own events. 

Are you thinking about using new tech at a show? How might you be able to launch it as a beta version to get valuable feedback while also adding to the audience experience?

You can’t monetize what you don’t measure

I’d be remiss not to mention Haluk Kulin’s presentation “Return on Experience.” The content dove into the power of data, science, and metrics, uncovering how these topics differ but work together. He applied these lessons to brand experience and how to get the most from the experiences we create for audiences.

What can you measure to show success at your next event — and not just measure, but use as a learning mechanism to improve your process?

CEMA is well respected for its thought leadership and professional networking. The annual summit was a fantastic event that provided both of those aspects to new and experienced participants alike.  


This blog originally appeared on the Freeman website and is reposted by permission.


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