The #Marketingtrend to watch for in 2016

In my opinion, the biggest trend we will witness in 2016 is the convergence of Marketing and Customer Experience. Traditionally, marketers have been back office, systems focused. Sales have been the front line. The link from marketing to the customer. In recent years this has changed. As marketing has involved from a transactional focus to one of building relationships, we have seen how ensuring high levels of customer experience is vital to setting your business apart from the rest.

The #Marketingtrend to watch for in 2016 – The Convergence of Marketing and Customer Experience 

Staying ahead of your competition is not easy. One of the best ways to achieve this is to ensure your customer experience is exceptional.

“The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.”

~ Jerry Gregoire, former CIO of Dell and Pepsi. Read more at

For us in the events industry, this is often assumed to be limited to onsite/or at the event itself. But what about how our customers experience our marketing?

The Buying Process – ask yourself how easy is it to register for your event? Can you improve the functionality of your website to optimise the customer’s experience? Having a mobile friendly website is one such (very important) way of doing this.

Copy – why is spamming so frustrating? Because we live in a world where business executives receive hundreds, if not thousands of emails a day. And this makes it nigh impossible to filter out those that are relevant. Let’s be totally honest, companies are not going to stop emailing. What needs to change is the message. I am assuming you have received an email from a conference company, probably encouraging you to download a conference brochure. Open it – and I guarantee it will contain a conference agenda that is highly detailed. How do you spot the information relevant to you? That’s where copy can help. Copy should be used to streamline the customer’s experience of your product information. Focus their attention on to what is relevant to them. What will help them to solve their business needs.

Content Marketing – there aren’t many events companies that have successfully used content marketing. In my opinion, this is because we forget to think about the customer experience. We release content that we have, share it across our third parties, and onto our blogs. Is it really the content that our customers want? Is the content in a format that suits the customer? Is a downloadable PDF what they really want? Could the key information be condensed to a blog or an info graphic? Is video or audio an easier way for your customers to absorb the content?

Multi-channel approach – don’t be afraid of using multiple channels to communicate your message. Remember that this message needs to be consistent. It is frustrating for customers who see one message and then receive another. For example, clicking on a ppc advert that advertises an eBook on How to generate high quality leads for sales. But instead of being directed to a download they are taken to a page that talks about your product, that in fairness, can help you to generate high quality leads. This is misleading to the customer. Make sure the message across your channels align. And if you have multiple messages for different target profiles (as we all often do), ensure that the customer is guided through your marketing so that they experience a consistent message.

Internal customers – don’t forget these guys. They are as important as external customers. How do your colleagues experience marketing? I wrote a blog a long time ago about how I felt my job had become one of nagging. Since then, I have tried to change this. As marketers, we need our team mates. We need Sales. We need Production. We need IT. We need Finance. They also need us! But perhaps instead of discussing the nagging – I should’ve looked into how these customers experience marketing.

Instead of focusing on solely on how customers experience your product, think about how they experience your message and your communication as well.



Marketing is like a fine wine

Marketing is like a fine wine. The art is knowing when the time is right to distribute.

Stage 1 of Wine Making – Harvesting

Harvesting is a vital step in the wine making process, just as the planning process is vital for marketing. Both take time, dedication and selection. Selection of the right grapes – selection of the right marketing channels, the right marketing partners.

Stage 2 of Wine Making – Crushing and Pressing

After the grapes are selected, after the marketing channels are selected, both are ready to be prepared. The grapes are crushed. The marketing collateral is prepared. In the olden days, grapes were crushed under foot. Nowadays, this process is often mechanised. The same can be said for marketing. We used to send every promotion manually. Now we have systems that allow us to, for example, send emails automatically based on consumer behaviour.

Stage 3 of Wine Making – Fermentation

“After crushing and pressing, fermentation comes into play. Must (or juice) can begin fermenting naturally within 6-12 hours when aided with wild yeasts in the air. However, many wine makers intervene and add a commercial cultured yeast to ensure consistency and predict the end result.” – Laurel Gray Vineyards

After the “crushing and pressing” stage of the marketing plan, fermentation comes into play. Internal activities begin fermenting naturally when aided with external marketing partner activity. However, many marketers interview and add additional internal activities to ensure a wider net of distribution and predict the end result (a.k.a. boost the initial product release).

Stage 4 of Wine Making – Clarification

Clarification is the process where the wine is refined, through fining or filtration. The same process occurs in setting up a marketing strategy. You refine your strategy by filtering out the activities that don’t suit your target market. You choose where to spend your budget. You maximise your time and the distribution of your product.

Stage 5 of Wine Making – Aging & Bottling

Your wine is ready, waiting for the perfect time to distribute. Your marketing plan is ready. Leaving it to age, preparing all collateral, making sure you have the resources you need. Getting it ready for the right time to launch, to distribute.

The Wine Making process – courtesy of Laurel Gray Vineyards

Regenerative medicine – potential treatments for rare diseases #stemcellsusa

Here at World Orphan Drug Congress USA, we understand that sometimes it is really useful to have the stats! So here they are – in a handy infographic!

We thought this breakdown and overview might be helpful to some in the orphan drug sector. We took this from the FDA’s list of approved and designated orphan drugs and is one the ways we decide on who to invite. The list keeps changing, of course; we had about 4 more designations in the last week. This total is as of August 25th, 2015 .

From the US FDA List of Orphan Drugs 3,492 - World Orphan Drug Congress USA

Originally posted on Total Orphan Drugs

How to bake an event?

View the recipe card on Slideshare >

I was never a chef, I was a baker. I always enjoyed creating and experimenting in the kitchen, and if I may say so myself, my creations were delicious! As event marketers, we get to experiment and create. With all this creative potential, it is important to remember the basics.

Just like baking a cake, creating an event requires certain ingredients…

My Mum taught me a simple sponge recipe when I was child. We would start with soft margarine and caster sugar. When planning event, its important to remember that there a two basic ingredients required: great product and great data. If you have a great product and great data to distribute your product to, you have the first ingredients towards baking a delicious event.

Next we would add the eggs, gently whisked before we mixed the margarine and sugar. The Sales team are the eggs, prepared before being added to the cake mix. The Sales team sells the vision of the event before the final product is completely finalised. They benefit from the great data, from which prospects can be identified.

The flour is the next ingredient to be added. This vital ingredient ensures that the cake raises to perfection. When adding the flour, it’s important to sieve out any lumps and gently stir into the cake mix, avoiding adding too much air to the mix. The promotion of the event is the next ingredient in our event bake. When adding the promotion, it’s important to sieve out anyone from your data selection who is not relevant too avoid spamming. Carefully tailoring the promotional mix to those left – your perfect target audience, will ensure that your communication effectively generates leads and revenue – raising the event to perfection.

The final stage of our cake and event recipe is the addition of flavour! That little extra something that makes the event something special. This is where the on-site experience and 1-2-1 partnering service come in. These extra flavours add that something extra to events, making your event stand out against the competition.

Put together your great product, great data, top-notch sales team, targeted promotion, and your extra flavour…you have yourself a bake-off winning event!

Becoming the Howard Hughes of event marketing

After a long day at work and a gruelling gym workout, I poured myself a glass of sauvignon blanc, ordered Seamless and settled in for an evening of Netflix. Unsure what to watch, I found myself choosing to watch The Aviator, which tells the story of Howard Hughes entrepreneur, aerospace engineer, filmmaker, inventor, investor, aviator, philanthropist and innovator. Possibly the main reason I chose to start watching is fact that it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, who is not terrible to look at!

About an hour in, I start thinking about how much of an innovator Howard Hughes was, not only as an engineer but also in the entertainment business. When I first started in the New York office, my primary goal was to put in place the necessary systems and processes to streamline the marketing. Now the marketing department has a solid base from which to innovate, to test and to push the business to the next level. I want to be the Howard Hughes of event marketing and enable my team my business to soar! 

Thinking of innovation remains me of a presentation I heard last week at #CNX15 which in part discussed that “Not all digital marketers are created equal.”

What does it mean to be an innovator? This is one of the hardest questions to answer. To me, the term innovator describes someone who is hungry to learn. Someone who takes the lessons they learn and applies them in a smart, realistic and creative way. They also test, measure and analyse. Innovators constantly seek the new and the creative.

So how am I going to become the Howard Hughes of Event Marketing? I need to set myself and my team clear objectives and targets that echo the objectives of our business:

  • To increase sales
  • To build brand awareness and product recognition
  • Establish ourselves as market leaders

After a year in the New York business, I have now collected enough data to get much more visibility about our customers’ needs, understand what methods of promotion they engage with and what sets us from our competition.

Now is the time to take these lessons and apply them. For example, website personalisation. Guide the customer through the website by creating subject specific or need specific pages. This gets the information they need straight to them, helping to move the customer through the decision-making process to purchase.

That is not all. I need to be committed to learning. By attending events like #CNX15 I can learn from and network with marketing innovators.

So here’s to becoming the Howard Hughes of event marketing.

Using AIDCA to improve copy

Copy is one of those things we all have to do. Whenever I ask one of the conference producers to write some copy, I get a look of despair! The word copy seems to ignite fear.

That was the reaction until we starting using AIDCA – a formula that can work for all types of copy. From brochures to email, following this 5 step copywriting process.

AIDCA stands for: A – Attention I – Interest D – Desire C – Conviction A – Action

In any copy, the writer needs to grab the reader’s attention and entice them to continue reading. The writer now needs to convince that the copy is in the reader’s interest. Now the reader needs to feel that the product or service will help them. It needs to satisfy a need or desire. This is where the emotion of the writing comes in. The reader also needs to be convinced that you as the product or service provider can deliver. You as the writer need to have conviction in what you say. In other words, provide evidence. And finally, the reader needs to know what action to take to purchase.

Here is an example email from a recent email we wrote. This email for Aviation Festival Americas 2015 which got a 16.2% open rate and a 54% click-through rate.

A – (Subject line) The CEOs of Spirit, Frontier and LAN Colombia are doing one thing you should try

I –6 years ago, Terrapinn started the World Low Cost Airlines Congress, which brought together the top CEOs across the Americas. They addressed new ways of gaining ancillary revenue and how new business models could change the aviation sector. As the divisions between LCCs and legacy carriers have fallen away, we now bring together all airlines and key airports seeking innovation and business opportunities at the much larger and spectacular Aviation Festival Americas 2015. You can join the leading CEOs, CCOs and CTOs of the top airlines and airports at Aviation Festival Americas.

D – Can you afford to miss the opportunity to meet executives from over 100 airlines?

Here are 10 reasons why this is the one Aviation event you need to attend this year:

  1. Never be bored! Pick from 3 streams of content on topics related to Aviation IT, AirXperience, Low Cost, Air Retail, and Aviation Interiors
  2. Hear from Spirit Airline’s, Ben Baldanza, and Frontier Airline’s, Barry Biffle, on how they are maintaining the lowest costs and able to offer the lowest fares
  3. Join interactive roundtables to speak closely and directly to industry experts on topics like how to tie IT into improving the customer experience 
  4. Determine where the industry’s next big ancillary revenue increase will come from with Insel Air’s Chief Commercial Officer 
  5. Understand how WiFi systems on passenger jets are at risk of being hacked with international tech guru Ruben Santamarta
  6. Hear from Google on building your brand and appealing to the connected traveler
  7. Ask new airline executives your burning questions during the audience participation at the New Airline Start-up Panel
  8. Debate what new opportunities lie within NDC with IATA’s Regional Director, Americas, Jean Charles Odele Gruau
  9. Sit down with Miami Int’l Airport’s Director of Information Systems and discuss how they are using location based beacons
  10. Network at the Up In The Air Cocktail Reception with Caribbean and Latin American airlines like Azul, Volaris, Avianca, Copa, LATAM, VivaColombia, Bahamasair, VivaAerobus, Sunrise Airways, Surinam Airways, andAir Yucatán

C – Hear from: Barry Biffle, President, Frontier Airlines, Hernan Pasman, CEO, LAN Colombia, Trevor Sadler, CEO, InterCaribbean, Edward Wegel, CEO, Eastern Airlines, Ken Choi, CEO, Jeju Air, Adam Scott, CEO, Odyssey Airlines, Hamish Davidson, Chief Operating Officer, Sunrise Airways, William Shaw, CCO, VivaColombia and James Callaghan, Chief Technologist, WestJet. 

A –  Book today by visiting the website

I don’t know who originally coined AIDCA – thank you!

What do you need to build an effective marketing strategy?

You need the building blocks – the what, the who, the when, the where and the how!

1) The What

What are you marketing? Whether its an event, a toothbrush or a haircut, you need to know what it is you are marketing. What sets your product/service apart from the competition? What is your USP? How would you position your product/service in the market? What is the price of your product/service? Does this align with your positioning? Be careful not to price yourself out of the market – be competitive, cover your costs and remember to think about the value your customer attributes to your product/service.

2) The Who

Who are your customers? Who is your product/service for? Go into detail so that you understand your customer. How old are they? Are they male or female? What are their interests?

What are your customers wants or needs? Use this along with your What information to write down the features, advantages and benefits of your product/service. This acts almost like a spellcheck – making sure your product/service is suitable for the Who.

The Who also covers your internal resources – staffing.

3) The When & The Where

What is the distribution plan? Where can the customer get your product/service? When will the product/service be available? How will customers purchase from you?

4) The How

How will you communicate all this to your target customer? What elements of the promotional mix are you planning on using – Advertising, Direct Marketing, PR, Personal Selling or Sales Promotion? Remember to think about your customer and what communication channels they favour. Marketing is not one-size-fits-all.

These four building blocks will ensure your strategy effectively anticipates, identifies and satisfies the needs of your customer!

“Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.” –CIM

How to get an entire city talking about your event in 2 days

Home Delivery World Billboard


A little over a two weeks ago myself and our Managing Director headed to Atlanta on behalf of Home Delivery World 2015 which is taking place this year on April 8-9. This year for the first time, this event is now an expo with over 70+ stands and an expected attendee number of over 1000.

One of the challenges in marketing this event has been ensuring that we are promoting to the right people in Atlanta and Georgia. So 4 weeks before the event, we headed to Atlanta. With 6 scheduled meetings, 1 radio interview and 500 vis-tickets to distribute we had our work cut out for us!

What were the results?

In just two days we managed to distribute 400 Visitor Tickets via the Atlanta-based sponsors and associations we met with. We also met with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce- Supply & Logistics Division whose partners which include Georgia Power and the Georgia Department of Economics. These guys provided us with inside knowledge on the industry in Atlanta and helped us to understand how our event can help to solidify Atlanta’s position as the USA’s industry hub.

Thanks to marketing’s amazing efforts we have several incredible Georgia-based partnerships. I got the chance to meet with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the biggest newspaper in the region to discuss the possibility of extending our partnership. Our MD was also interviewed on Business RadioX, a local Atlanta station. These guys are also conducting a series of interviews with our sponsors and speakers in the run-up to the event.

Check out the interview here >

On top of the interviews with Business RadioX, another of our partners Hypepotamus (an online portal dedicated to raising awareness about Atlanta’s innovative tech & creative community) has been conducting interviews with our speakers from Start-Ups. They have also conducted a little guerilla marketing on our behalf by distributing vis-tickets wherever possible! On top of this, they have been posting any and all relevant content we have put together over the past year on their site. This partnership is a great example of how media partners are assets of any event.

Check out this recent post from Hypepotamus on LinkedIn >

A pit-stop at Atlanta Tech Village on the way back to the airport gave us the opportunity to distribute the remaining 100 vis-tickets.

What this trip to Atlanta has proven to me is the importance of face-to-face meetings. Everyone we met is now even more invested in the success of event and gave us loads of ideas of what we could do to promote the event locally. Not only that, but they are all promoting the event themselves. Great Word-Of-Mouth Marketing for us!

For me this trip was a great opportunity to develop my skills, as this was my first business trip! It really helped me to understand the dynamic of the industry and the event. What I’ve learnt is that as marketers we can’t rely on the BDM’s to talk promotion on their sales trips – they have other priorities. For expos like this, it is so important that we are constantly in contact with the local industry! For 2016, we are already planning our trips to Atlanta. We are also applying what we have learnt to our other events. For America’s Customer Festival which is in New York this year, we already have face-to-face meetings in the diary with local associations to get them invested and on board early.

Meanwhile…the team back in the NYC office were busy taking full advantage of this momentum! One of the great successes of this event was the confirmation of Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed as a speaker and the team have been working with his PR team to promote his participation. They also organized a giant promo team, branded shuttle buses, a billboard along the I-95 and a mobile billboard (pictured)!

Everywhere you go – Atlanta is talking Home Delivery World US.