AEO Marketing Forums – Review

The end of January always means one thing, the first AEO Forums of the year are upon us.  Having had a week of reflection I thought I would share my key learnings from the content we were offered at the BDC last week.



The day started with a panel discussion with representatives from Centaur, Media 10 and ReedPop.  They discussed their marketing strategies, how they use data and how they alter their tone of voice for different audiences.  It was nice to hear Ruth from Centuar praising NPS as a measurement tool and relaying to the audience how she tracks performance year on year whilst constantly developing her content streams.

Gary from ReedPop sees his attendees as “fans” – meaning their experience really is central to everything they offer and Nathan from Media 10 spoke about using different ideas, such as a Beer Festival, to further engage B2B event attendees and I personally loved his reference to Grand Designs Live being a ‘prosumer’ event.  His final message was “don’t rule anything out”.



Next up, we had Grant Leboff from Sticky Marketing Club speaking about Growth Hacking.  I found Grant a really compelling speaker and his talk centred on behavioural data.  Grant eluded to his own personal experience of Disney Land and their ‘Magic Bands’.  These bands allow visitors (adults and children) to buy food and drinks, go on rides and buy merchandise and souvenirs.  All of this data is fed back to the park owners and they can they analyse consumer habits, correlations and trends and refine their offering accordingly.  And the best bit of this?  All this information is given voluntarily by the park visitors!  The win-win data collection scenario is something we can all learn from.



I ducked out of the session before lunch, but reports suggest that it involved Nolan in a wig so it may be that the less said about that the better!


After lunch, another highlight of my day – the tarts were fantastic! – we had 3 more sessions, the first of which provoked thoughts on responsibilities and whether Directors, Managers or Execs should take ownership in certain situations.  This provoked a good debate about the roles and responsibilities of each group and also again touched on the tone of voice that should be used.


The penultimate session was with Debrah Harding from the MRS and Kevin Christensen from Cvent.  Debrah introduced the legislation changes that come into play in May 2018 and how they will effect businesses.  Essentially the way we use data will change fundamentally and shift to a more ‘opt in’ culture.  It goes without saying this will create challenges for event organisers and indeed companies like us!  We have already started to review the data we hold and this will continue over the next 6-12 months until we have a clear strategy within our business.  This is going to be a challenge for lots of us, but discussing it between peers and sharing experiences should be encouraged and I personally think it was good that the AEO raised this now, while people have some time to research and learn about the changes coming.


The final session of the day was another panel discussion this time on crisis management.  The speakers – Alison Church from Easyfairs, Gareth Dedman from Haymarket and Rob Nathan from Media 10 – were invited to share their experiences of when dealing with problems when they do surface at events.  The resounding ‘take home’ from this was that the more forward planning we can do to define and imbed policies, the easier most things are to manage.  In essence, a lot can be said for staying calm and not hitting the panic button.



Nolan wrapped up the day and the post-event networking had its usual buzz before we headed home to the clean Norfolk air.  It is always good to meet up and discuss industry topics and challenges and we’re happy to discuss them more, so if anyone would like to get in touch, please do!


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