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IAEE Expo Expo: Roundtable session

I loved this session, which was kind of a speed-dating thing where you pick a topic table, discuss that topic for 20 minutes, then shift to a new topic table. The three I hit during the session were: Extreme makeover, trade show edition; social media and attendance marketing; and incorporating experiential content into your show. Way too much to go into here, but here are a few takeaways:

Extreme makeovers can be risky: some things may go over well, others may flop. Make sure everyone's ok with that concept.

Social media and marketing are a natural, but your marketing department may be a little scared of it. A great solution probably almost no one can do is to hire a dedicated social media person to track and contribute to conversations your organizations should be involved with.

If you're trying to market your meeting by starting up a Facebook or LinkedIn group, make sure there’s something in it for the attendees/exhibitors (give them free VIP passes for participating, or something). Getting people to participate is the hardest part for many who are just getting started.

Pay attention to your evaluations, and let people know what you learned, and what you're changing as a result of their suggestions. No one wants to participate again once your comments have fallen into a black hole once already.

Do a staff post-mortem on everything about the show, where everyone on staff makes comments anonymously. One person said her organization does this and gets about half of its best ideas this way.

Also, talk to temps and get their feedback on the show. Recruit the best temps to be your spies and find out the answers to some key questions for you through casual conversaton with attendees. Attendees will tell them things they’ll never tell you, like what your competition does better.

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