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Digital Playbook – a new research and guidance report for the exhibition industry

A cross-industry collaboration representing major players across the exhibition industry has released the Digital Playbook, a new research and guidance piece meant to be an actionable tool for corporate marketers, show owners and association executives looking to optimize their tradeshow and conference model.

The report outlines specific recommendations in three areas: revenue generation, attendee and customer engagement and cost containment. The Digital Playbook aims to give senior marketers and exhibition industry professionals a common framework to benchmark spending, understand where customer behavior is headed and align investments to measurable business objectives.

Under the umbrella of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the research arm of the exhibition industry, the group behind the Digital Playbook includes the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Exhibitor Magazine, the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), InXpo and George P. Johnson Experience Marketing.

“Our mission is to create the most educated, informed and empowered exhibition industry possible, so we are delighted to spearhead the Digital Playbook effort along with our partners,” said Cathy Breden, CAE, CMP, chief operating officer, IAEE and executive director, CEIR. “We designed this for utility, so the report is full of not only useful findings but also recommendations about how to move forward.”

Some of the Digital Playbook’s key findings:

  • 68 percent currently have a digital strategy in place, leaving a digital-strategy gap
  • 72 percent predicted increases in digital spending
  • 70 percent of all respondents customize their digital offerings to target audience segments
  • Going forward, 67 percent plan to do more mobile and social tactics
  • Email continues to be a workhorse as a digital tactic; it is the top-ranked resource used for revenue generation and most used for cost containment

“The Digital Playbook reveals that we’re in the midst of an enormous shift that in its size and scope reminds me of the move from a tactical event management mindset to an event marketing mindset that swept our industry in the 1990s,” said David Rich, senior vice president of strategy and planning, George P. Johnson. “While there’s no set formula that applies to social media and digital that works for everyone, there are emerging standards and best practices all must know.”

Initially revealed at a VIP Keynote Panel at the IAEE Midyear Meeting in Atlanta on Aug. 6, further promotional efforts will put the Digital Playbook in the hands of marketing leaders looking to improve their integrated marketing model as well as exhibition and sponsorship decision-makers tasked to optimize their budgets and increase the value of events.

“It’s in the interest of any stakeholder in the exhibition industry to develop a discipline around social media and digital marketing in whatever manner drives results for their organization,” said Robb Lee, chief marketing officer, ASAE. “Otherwise, you run the risk of reacting to adverse behavioral changes that may prove difficult to alter; it’s better to be proactive to ignite the conversation and garner results.”

The Digital Playbook is available at www.gpj.com/digitalplaybook.

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