When trying to inject energy and creativity into an idea for a client event, where do you look? For me it is important to take a step backwards and look away from my drawing tablet and get some inspiration from new and different suppliers, peers and like-minded individuals. It stimulates ideas by listening and talking to others about how they tackle the never ending task of devising new ways of creatively engaging people. With this in mind I spent yesterday at The O2 visiting the Event360 forum which I found an invaluable experience.
I had a number of questions before entering the show as I had never attended previously. What could I learn? Who will I meet? What will I walk away with? Will it make me think differently about my job as a creative? With talks and expert insights from a wide range of industries and disciplines I certainly had an expectation that I would be able to cross-pollinate some ideas. I was looking forward to hearing about the delegate and customer experiences of others, and how these projects and campaigns are approached.
One of the big take-aways, which is fairly obvious, is that delegates attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Keeping them engaged in your message – and keeping it relevant – is vital for message retention. The use of gimmicks just to distract and entertain is getting old. The overuse of iPads in the conference world has helped drive this, with many organisers not defining the purpose and objectives of the use to ensure it adds value. There seemed to be a craving from my fellow attendees to return to hands-on tasks and creating more opportunities to engage with people, rather than a a screen.
Entrepreneur BJ Cunningham’s keynote speech about the brand being a promise rather than a logo was a standout highlight. Inspiring was an understatement. He gave an impassioned and engaging speech about always believing in your brand and what it stands fo making it a value that shines above everything. Only by doing this will people believe in what you stand for. Goosebumps at the end were rife I’m sure and left us with a very powerful message:
There were also a series of huddles organised so that we could be more intimate with industry experts, learn from their experiences and tell our own stories in more detail. It was really interesting to learn from a senior member of the Barclays events team as to how they tackle the task of delivering creative events within the banking sector. This resonated with us (having clients in this sector) and we saw similarities with the pharmaceutical industry – another regulated sector we work within. Barclays shared how they push and inspire their stakeholders to be more adventurous with their events and how they strive to have more strategic influence in shaping the programme shifting stakeholders reluctance to change to embracing new concepts and ideas and content – a task that we must all undertake when pushing to create memorable experiences.
The BrandSLAM! talks from NFL International, Fentimans, BeFit London and Airbnb provided fascinating insights into how to build the hype around an event to ensure maximum engagement when the big day arrives, and then how to maintain that hype without jading your audience.
Overall the day was a success and a valuable knowledge-gathering opportunity. The street food by Kerb was absolutely breathtaking and the event staff were really helpful. I will certainly be attending Event360 next year.