‘Doing a 360’ is a phrase I’ve often heard when people talk about changing directions. It’s not really accurate though, because if you did turn 360 degrees, you would only be spinning around – and end up facing the same way. That’s not changing direction.
‘Doing a 180’ would be a complete about-face. While a more accurate indicator of a change of direction, how often do we really want to go in the exact opposite direction?
As professionals in the events industry watch other media types struggle to maintain relevancy, it is clear that big changes are happening, and more changes are coming – whether we’re ready or not. Media consumers and media buyers are increasingly finding new ways to connect, have dialog and create relationships.
Face-to-face media still plays an important role in business as buyers and sellers still want to actually meet each other. Prospects still want the experience of immersion and participation in an active marketplace of competing ideas, products and suppliers. Vendors still value tradeshows as an arena for competition, for meeting new prospects, and for contact with customers.
But many of the event’s non-essential attributes are under enormous pressure as new-media, digital options and new technology platforms encroach on traditional face-to-face events.
• Attendees and exhibitors both, are increasingly utilizing other media options for research, education and information gathering.
• Changing demographics and new technologies bring new demands and represent real challenge – but also create a unique, but poorly understood opportunity to advance the state-of-the-art in events.
• The economic pressures of the recession are contributing to an accelerated drive of travel and marketing budgets toward alternative media.
Clearly, tradeshow organizers need to rapidly change some of today’s standard practices. But change what? Do they ‘Do a 360’? or a 180’? Of course not. But they do need to change their mix of technologies, processes and behaviors to keep their core product exciting, novel and necessary.
The event can no longer remain its own media silo – it must actively integrate with its attendees and exhibitors and with other media types.
In today’s atmosphere of broad reach, constant contact and continuous engagement – expecting your customers to alter their normal dialogs, to change their marketing activities to meet your specs, and to pay for short-span sponsorships is not a path to the future.
The modern event will encourage all participants to leverage their own content, contacts and social networks – and it will enable it on an ongoing basis. It must put a special emphasis on facilitating the conversation among attendees and exhibitors by becoming an integrated part of the marketing mix of the modern enterprise.
What events need now is not ‘Doing a 360’ — but ‘Going 365’.
When you add it all up, the difference between 360 and 365, is success!
What changes has your event tried? Have you found your best direction?