360 Live Media
360 Live Media is an event strategy and digital marketing agency in Washington, D.C. serving association, professional society, and not-for-profit conferences.
360 Meeting Strategies Smarter Mornings Rewind

ICYMI: Meeting Strategies #SmarterMornings Rewind

Last week in the District, 100 association professionals spent their morning exchanging business cards, sharing best practices…and chowing down on BBQ for breakfast. But, most notably, the real “meat” was delivered though insights and real talk from a powerhouse association panel.


This Smarter Morning started with a challenge:


“What—as a result of this panel—is going to be different today from yesterday?” asked Don Neal, Founder & CEO of 360 Live Media, to a room full of meeting planners, association executives and association partners.


The answer: The lens through which you view your meeting strategy.


In case you missed it, here are 13 key learnings you can take to the bank:


1. Everything matters
Brian Wynne, CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) told us that making sure all the elements of your event come together and meet your business objectives is crucial. To be successful, you have to identify industry influencers, generate awareness, educate your audience, showcase innovation and engage members. “I’ll take this one step further and challenge you to look at your meeting like an association leader,” said Wynne. “Work backwards from your business objectives and run your annual meeting like you would any successful, cutting-edge brand.”


2. ‘Cupcakes’ for all
Wynne gave us a creative mnemonic device with his use of the word “cupcake.” A cupcake to the self-proclaimed “Drone Guy” is the value you add to each partner or participant in your meeting. Wynne urged the audience to make sure you’re passing out the right cupcakes – and delivering enough value to your business partners. All great partners deserve their own “slice of the cake.”


3. Future-proof
Susan Newman, SVP of Conferences & Marketing at the National Retail Federation (NRF) operates in an industry that reinvents itself every six months. In retail, technology needs to mirror and be ahead of what’s in the marketplace. “Stay one step ahead always and you’ll succeed,” she advised.


4. Beyond the surface
“Your event has to be different than anything your members can get online at 2:00AM, on a Friday night on their couches,” said Charlie Simpson, CCO of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Your meeting must deliver beyond education to inspire and connect with millennials and more.


5. Same players, different rules
“The best way to stay competitive is to talk to your internal and external stakeholders on a regular basis,” shared Simpson. It’s a whole new game folks. You can’t just do what you want—you have to deliver on what your members and partners need.


6. Facilitated accessibility
Sponsors will pay a premium to have meetings with VIPs and to be true content providers and thought leaders. Neal encouraged event professionals to throw out the old prospectus and maximize the richness of your business partnership offerings. “Where is the rule book that says we have to charge $10,000 for a booth or $2,000 for lanyard sponsorship?” asked Neal. Here, it’s OK to break the rules and make the prospectus more relevant.


7. Secret sauce
Newman’s secret sauce? … hold the extras, and trim the fat. This 2014 Show Manager of the Year told it to us straight that she has zero tolerance for people who can’t carry their weight. Her leadership style includes defending her team. “No single team member should have to overcompensate for someone not pulling his or her weight,” Newman said.


8. Strengths
Millennials crave leadership training. Simpson explained how incorporating StrengthsLIVE™ again at OMED 2015—the AOA’s annual conference—will focus on members’ strengths and encourage emerging leaders to participate in a shared leadership experience. Simpson tied a “strong” bow on it by calling StrengthsLIVE™ “a critical engagement builder.”


9. More than location
Gone are the days of marketing your annual event with pictures of palm trees. JP Moery, President of The Moery Company, challenged planners to remember that location is only one selling point. You have to deliver tangible value to attendees if you want to break through to the next level.


10. Living in the moment
Remember that $100K budget that was gobbled up by that expensive…fleeting native app? Stop spending your premium marketing dollars on an app that provides no utility the minute after your event is over. Instead, use social media platforms to connect with attendees before, during and after your event. “Your live event is the original social media,” according to Neal.


11. Blue sky meetings
There’s risk taking and courage required when selling innovations to your board. You need to own your argument. During “Blue Sky Meetings,” Newman asks her board, “If money wasn’t an issue, what would we do?” Simpson creates a board co-op to get them involved. Remember, if you’re not growing at 10% or more annually, the world is passing you by. Don’t get stuck in ‘better sameness’ as Neal likes to call it.


12. No budging
Association events compete against commercial events and similar industry opportunities. Getting your pricing strategy right and sticking to it is how Newman has achieved success. By being married to deadlines, Newman’s members know what to expect…and no, she doesn’t budge.


13. Bored (board) meetings
It’s time to take the road less traveled. Most board meeting agendas are weather reports. If you want to innovate you need to start the innovation. Start by adding trends and news items to your next agenda, and it’ll pack a punch.


What’s your meeting strategy?