ems_tori_240As a Digital Project Manger at FLIRT, I focused my time at Event Marketing Summit 2013 in sessions focused on digital and technology solutions that could enhance our clients’ events. Since the majority of our client portfolio is B2B, my mind was constantly applying the presented tools and strategies to the often-complex world of internal communications. We’re frequently asked to keep event details and messages private. As a result, many digital trends become off-limits due to confidentiality issues. However, there were three sessions that were well worth my time and allowed my creative energies to flow, even with these limitations in mind.

Teaser Campaigns Aren’t Just For Your Customers

First, I heard from Kathy Searle, a VP at Textron, as she spoke about how Bell Helicopters, a division of Textron, recently released a new product, Relentless, at the HeliExpo. Searle presented her team’s strategies for garnering excitement around the product launch before the big reveal. Apparently in the world of helicopters, every new innovation must be protected like a matter of national security so Searle’s team was limited in the information that they could share with both their client purchasers and the company employees. The solution was a teaser campaign to both audiences. A teaser campaign isn’t revolutionary, don’t get me wrong – but I loved how Bell Helicopters placed just as much priority on energizing and promoting the new product to their team members as they did to their customers, customizing every marketing material (YouTube clips, micro-sites, print collateral) to each audience. One of our favorite FLIRT philosophies is that co-workers should be treated as consumers and this is truly an exemplary case study for that mindset!

The Mystery that is AR

Then I joined Marxent for a micro-session focused on “Transforming Your Next Live Event with Augmented Reality.” AR is a fun concept, no doubt, but the ROI on this tactic is still debatable.– Does it really extend engagement when attendees have to physically disengage from peers to experience it? The user experience is bulky in my opinion and that answer is still TBD. However, it’s a new technology that has ample room for improvement and I’m sure strides are being made to prove its value.. Until then, I’d advocate for incorporating augmented reality as a method of excitement and surprise – something that all events, especially B2B,  could utilize.

RFID Continues to Evolve

Finally, I heard how to “Create Events That Are ‘Social by Design’” from Thuzi. This company’s capabilities are endless for consumer or experiential events. Simply by scanning an RFID badge (or cup or wristband, you name it!) at various event activities, attendees can “like” products, tag themselves in photos, update their statuses and brag about their latest game score on their personal Facebook profiles.  Though the company is a preferred partner of Facebook, they also work with other social media (the usual culprits – Twitter, LinkedIn – as well as Yammer and email). Most of our clients do not advocate that attendees share their event experiences publicly using social media (remember the privacy situation…) but the trick is that those features can be turned off. For a B2B conference, attendees can still be asked to wear their RFID badges, but photos and game scores could be emailed privately to them. Attendees can still “check in” to various activities, but that check in isn’t posted anywhere, it’s simply saved as data for the client to know where the attendees have visited. The attendees are still able to participate in a fun, personal engagement while the event is protected. And the best part? All of those photos and data can be used in a post-show campaign.

I only stopped by for an afternoon – what sessions and ideas did I miss that could transform digital marketing at corporate events?

Also, see what my colleagues thought of their time at Event Marketing Summit! One composed a review of the Expo Hall and the other commented on event design and strategy as a whole. Take a look!