“Daddy, what is X?”
My daughter asked me this while doing her math homework and it reminded me of a thought I’d been incubating awhile.
I was thinking about the challenges that those of us in the events industry are confronting. Aside from a weak and uncertain economy, enormous technological and demographic shifts are happening every day. Some of these changes represent a real threat to us.
Take, for example, the impact that Craigslist had on the newspaper industry. It was an unexpected, unforeseen new-media force that had a devastating impact on the revenue generated for newspapers by classified ads. Newspapers were a traditional institution long used to loyal followers, steady revenues, and unchallenged relevance. Is there a ‘Craigslist’ lurking out there in the events industry?
Craigslist is to Newspapers and Classifieds what X is to Associations and their Trade shows.
We are all working hard at staying ahead of the curve. At Advertising Week in NYC last month, marketers were everywhere – looking for better ways to communicate with their customers as they continue to move billions more into the digital marketing mix. All of the traditional media were there too — newspapers, magazines, broadcast TV, radio, mail, billboard – in their old analog and in their new digital forms. The creatives and the ad agencies were there as well – thanking Don Draper of Mad Men for making advertising cool again! The new distributors and platforms of cable, web-apps, mobile apps, gaming and online video were well also represented. And last, but certainly not least, “New Big Media,” like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter were out in force, making big impressions.
At MediaPost’s Online Media, Marketing and Advertising (OMMA) event, we saw numerous visions of technologies, buyers and sellers converging at incredible speeds, in incredible ways. Interactive, engagement, behavioral, location-based, social – all part of marketing plans.
We think we have a grip on what’s coming and what we need to do – but what if we don’t? In the face of our challenges, and after seeing all that, it is prudent to ask: What if we don’t see ‘it’ coming? Or what if we don’t recognize it? Can we stay relevant? Can we survive? What’s next?
What is ‘X’?
One perspective on that that might be the following:
NM > OM
New-Media is greater than Old-Media.
Another view might look like this:
(Tradeshows + Old Media) = (Not-So-Relevant-Anymore)
For our tradeshows, the clear danger is having exhibitors and marketers equate us with old-media as they plan their marketing spending. ‘X’ is that new, outside force that diminishes our relevance.
But across all media types – even in the newspaper industry – there are leaders that have embraced the new-media technologies and are successfully staying vibrant with it.
The challenge in the events industry then, is to rapidly and intelligently embrace new-media in order to stay ahead and to stay relevant to marketers. Our customers demand it.
(TradeShows + New Media ) = (More-Relevant-than-Ever)
To solve for X is to embrace new media technologies – to not only negate X, but to increase the audience, the revenue and the relevance of our events – and, therefore, of our associations.
What is the X that keeps you awake at night?
BTW – I told my daughter that X is often referred to as ‘the unknown factor’ - it usually represents the answer to your problem.