Our 5 Key Takeaways from the AEO Marketing Forum 2016

Our 5 Key Takeaways from the AEO Marketing Forum 2016

We joined over 200 marketing and operations professionals from across the event industry for the AEO Marketing and Ops Forums at the beautiful Business Design Centre, London on 29th January.

The theme for both of this year’s Forums was building communities. It’s something of a hot topic at the moment, the responsibility for which largely falls to us as events marketers.

While tfconnect were there to present an interactive panel session on Talent, we got the chance to soak up some fresh ideas around marketing in our industry. So, we’ve extracted our 5 key learnings from the marketing ‘stream’ of the day to help point us all in the right direction!

TF Panel

Trevor presents a Talent Panel, joined by Damion Angus – Montgomery, Lourda Derry – Easyfairs and Hollie Lawrence – Freeman EMEA

1. Practice making communication valuable in order to build a community

Keynote speaker for both Forums was Grant Leboff – one of the UK’s leading sales and marketing experts.

Grant observed that many of us continue to bombard our marketing databases for half the year and show them the cold shoulder for the remainder. Plus we’re probably just annoying many of our prospects by only ever delivering sales messages.

Leboff asked “What if the BBC were to only broadcast at Christmas?” He emphasised the importance of communication delivering year-round content which will add value for prospects, regardless of whether they’ll be able to attend this year. Get them excited about what the brand has to offer and your community will build itself!

2. You have no USP!!! But you should have a singular, clear brand proposition

Grant’s second point was that we are no longer truly able to differentiate by ‘what’ we offer. The differentiation lies in how we do things and who we’re doing all this for.

The pitfall of trying to be all things to all people is very real and limits how creative we can be with our marketing. Is there opportunity within your show to really close in on a specific audience or an existing community? Can you have one message and mantra that will place your show at the heart of that community?


Grant Leboff – Sticky Marketing

3. Be prepared for mega-trends to further disrupt your marketing approaches

Minds were blown in a later session from Dorman Followwill, Senior Partner at Frost & Sullivan, who painted a vivid and dizzying picture of the high-tech future we’re already creating for ourselves.

The rate of change will only increase with time and it can only be a good thing to keep a close eye on new technologies such as the mind-boggling speed of upcoming ‘5G’ mobile speeds. That’s not to mention the digital currency of Bitcoin and the Blockchain – which threatens to entirely re-shape the way our global economy and security works.

4. Retailers are getting personal and events can too!

Nolan O’Connor of NOC Marketing pointed out how much further ahead of the game the retail world seems to be when it comes to targeting and personalisation – sigh!

Nolan’s fascinating smorgasbord of case-studies revealed that retail marketers seem to have gotten over any fear of ‘creepy’ personalisation and they’re just going for it – and why not?

To Nolan, being targeted with a half-price suit matching his exact measurements didn’t feel like ‘Big Brother’ was watching him – it was just convenience. With the masses of data we obtain from our visitors, we should be serving content we know they’re interested in seeing. If you don’t know how to do this yet, you can always learn how.

If all else fails, you can always learn more about your visitors by scanning their shoes


Nolan O’Connor – NOC Marketing

5. Sell the value of your marketing to your sales team and let them support you

Finally, Mark Sallows of Turtl gave a touching sermon on the importance of bringing the Sales and Marketing functions closer together.

There’s a mutually beneficial circle of life in Salespeople recording data so that marketing can do clever things with it and… hey presto… generate better sales leads. The problem is that sales needs are often immediate and marketing is a slow-burn that can take weeks or months to deliver.

Mark suggests inviting your sales team to input on all the wonderful things you’re doing with your content marketing strategy. Let them see how running a blog can build lead intelligence and scoring over time. Of course it takes two to tango – as a marketing professional, getting out there to sales meetings to see your clients face-to-face is equally as important.

Anything we missed?

Did you attend the AEO Marketing and Ops Forums in January? We’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings in a comment below. Keep an eye on the AEO Forums website for details of next year’s edition.

Marketing & Data

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