Putting Attendees at the Heart of an Event


Author: Felippe Diaz       

Agency George P. Johnson (GPJ) partners on marketing campaigns and flagship events for IBM, including its Think conference. After taking Think to the Australia and New Zealand market in 2016 and 2017, GPJ wanted to kick things up a notch for 2018. Here, GPJ’s Felippe Diaz — who will be presenting at AIME this month with IBM’s Brooke Byrne — explains how the agency implemented a new data-driven initiative to drive Think attendee engagement.

The challenge for us locally has always been to create an event that not only meets all of IBM’s business objectives, but one that is designed with the audience at the heart of the experience so that it grows to reach “must not miss” status in their calendar.

When we started the journey in 2016, we set out to challenge our audience to think differently about what was possible when technology and humanity came together. We wanted to create a community of thinkers that would enjoy, not only challenging their peers, but being challenged themselves.

After each event, we undertake an in-depth debrief or reflection process where we conduct an honest appraisal of the event. After the 2017 iteration of the event (known then as Watson Summit), we identified two key areas for improvement:

1. Data Capture

In 2016 and 2017 we had done a reasonable job of capturing the basic data profile of attendees. We knew who they were and what they were interested in, but we had no real understanding of what they were doing once they got to the event. This presented a missed opportunity in our eyes.

2. The Delegate Experience

We wanted to a better job of placing the attendee at the heart of the experience. The event had become a great vehicle for IBM to tell its story, build new relationships, and generate new business opportunities. But for 2018 we wanted to ensure that we delivered an enhanced experience that would add value for the delegates, as well as IBM.

We did this by creating a data-driven programmatic experience that harnessed the power of real-time data to intersect an attendee’s journey and trigger the delivery of targeted content, relevant to their information needs and interest areas.

As each attendee progressed across the experience, a deeper understanding of interest areas was profiled via registration forms, location tracking, and dwell time data (received via beacon gateways). This was then put into action by the correlation of location-based data with event content that was pushed to each attendee via our custom-built IBM Live mobile app.

This inaugural data-driven initiative gave IBM a much more detailed view of each delegate’s journey, allowing for a more personalised follow-up discussion, while also allowing for a hyper-personalised delegate experience.

Live brand experience is crucial to the success of a solid marketing campaign, especially within the technology sector — where an offering can at times be complicated or quite abstract. When you are talking about fast-paced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and quantum computing, we always strive to engage with our audience in a way that is tactile. Being able to touch, feel, and play with the technology first-hand is so much more engaging than simply being talked to. That is at the heart of everything we do: engaging, inspiring, transforming, and connecting audiences through integrated storytelling.

Felippe Diaz is business director at George P. Johnson Australia, the global event agency partner of IBM.

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