Event Planning

Make Magic by Expertly Mixing Education and Entertainment at Your Next Event

MPG hired a magician to help entertain dental hygienists at Crest + Oral-B's annual ADHA breakfast

How do you show 700 dental hygienists you appreciate them at 7:30 a.m.? By putting on a great show!

Crest and Oral-B attend the American Dental Hygienists Association’s annual conference to connect with hygienists and showcase all the ways that the brands support their profession. That’s because hygienists are vital to improving oral health, and they are major recommenders of oral care products.

Crest and Oral-B show their love by hosting a breakfast event that has become a “must attend” at the conference. It includes a healthy helping of product information and promotion for the brands’ Hygienist Proud program, but the key to success is an expert mix of education and entertainment. (For highlights, check out our video.)

If you’re hosting a VIP gathering and want to strike the right balance of fun and information, consider these tips:

Craft an Engaging Theme – It grabs peoples’ attention and opens the door for creative approaches to content. Our most recent ADHA breakfast featured a magician, so we created the tagline, “Supporting You and the Magic You Do,” then tied all elements to it.

Hire a Great Act – Taking a break for music, dance, a comedian or other entertainer not only makes the event more enjoyable, it can help with pacing. Have them perform one long set, or several shorter ones as intervals between more serious material.

Get an Experienced Emcee – A professional host can keep things moving, engage the audience, and put everyone from speakers to special guests at ease. Don’t leave this important role to someone on your team, no matter how great they are in front of a crowd. Trust us on this one, you need a pro.

Keep it Crisp – When developing your event script, try to keep the entire production under an hour. Be mindful of how long any single person or group is onstage. You want your audience to leave wanting more, not worrying they’ll be late to their next class or meeting.

Use Great Visuals – Hiring someone to create an event logo, a custom template, and even a few animations will pay off. Strive to keep a good variety of visuals onscreen at all times, from Powerpoint or Keynote slides to IMAG, which can be coordinated with your production company.

Speaking of which, MPG can help you engage, educate and entertain any audience. Contact us to chat about how we can make your next event a “must attend.”

 

<3 Your Audience - Put a Little Love in Your Presentations

Photo by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

A presentation is a bit like a first date. You want to be likeable. You want to make a meaningful connection. And you want to leave your audience wanting more. A good presentation can be the start of a beautiful relationship. So whether you’re appearing at a trade show or hosting an in-depth meeting session, try these tips for standing out and helping your audience feel the love.

Make It More About Them, Less About You – Craft your content around what will be meaningful to them. It’s fine if your end goal is sales, but offer something they can’t find anywhere else, too — unique insights, new research, or even just a memorable experience.

Respect Their Time – For a trade show booth, the ideal presentation runs between five to eight minutes. For longer presentations, try to break things up into shorter, sweeter segments. And don’t forget to simply thank people for spending time with you. It’s a simple gesture that goes a long way.

Engage Their Senses – For presentations detailing the science behind shampoo, we’ve passed around vials to smell and hair swatches to feel. We’ve even filled a theater with bubbles. Go beyond visuals, when possible, to craft experiences that feel immersive.

Entertain if You Can – For longer events especially, think about creative ways to deliver your content. Could you involve musicians? Acrobats? Dancers? Presentations of any length can benefit from audience involvement. And a fun theme can make even the most dry content feel fresh.

Make Them Comfortable – Consider the environment overall. If you’re presenting at a trade show, remember your visitors have been on their feet for hours and provide seating. For longer sessions in bigger spaces, make sure it’s easy to see, hear and get involved with the action.

Give Gifts – If your industry allows it, reward your audience with free samples or fun swag.

Follow Up – Don’t ghost them when the event’s over. Ask your audience to opt in for future communication, then send a little something of extra value: Exclusive content or a special offer. Remember, face-to-face marketing is all about building relationships.

Happy Valentine’s Day from MPG. To see if we’re a good match for your brand and message, contact us today.

 

Experiential Marketing White Elephants: Turn Challenges Into Gifts With These Tips

Happy holidays from MPG! As the year comes to an end, many of our clients are creating exciting new marketing experiences for 2019. Most projects, however, come with a few white elephants—challenges and line items that no one really enjoys, but everyone has to make the best of.

If that sounds like your next project, check out these tips for transforming some common live marketing white elephants into gifts your audience will love.

Challenge: Old booth or exhibit that generates little traffic

Transformational Tip: Consider adding a live presentation or live demos. Touchscreens and graphics rarely capture or hold attention. But a live person delivering your message creates instant engagement, plus the impression that your space is a “must visit.” Why be static and dull when you can tell a complete story with a personal touch?

Challenge: Highly technical content with lots of jargon

Transformational Tip: Find a theme that allows you to simplify while engaging your audience’s imagination and emotions. If you’re marketing to an audience of subject matter experts, you don’t want to dumb it down. But a layer of storytelling can bring your message to life and make it more memorable.

Challenge: Too much content

Transformational Tip: Spread it out over several mediums. Keeping experiences under five minutes—eight minutes max—keeps people from getting bored. Capture their attention first. Then post content experts nearby, hand out supplemental material, or direct your audience to a website.

Challenge: Too many cooks

Transformational Tip: It’s common to have a lot of stakeholders giving input and approval throughout the creative process. To minimize delays and bottlenecks, create a clear schedule with plenty of time for everyone to weigh in. Then create one point of contact between your internal team and your agencies.

Challenge: Unmotivated team

Transformational Tip: Face-to-face marketing is a specialty. Expecting your sales team to sparkle at a trade show for 8 hours a day may be unrealistic. Professional brand ambassadors, on the other hand, are experts at drawing people in, communicating full messages, and maintaining friendly smiles, even when their feet are killing them.

Do you have a project that could use transforming? Contact us to find out how we can make your message shine.

Jetting into the New Year with International Business Travel Tips

A few members of our team were lucky to spend some holiday time in Barcelona, helping with an international meeting. The event went well, but required quick thinking and creativity from everyone. That’s because weather snarled airports around the globe, causing canceled flights, delays, missed connections, and lost luggage.

Organizers who had planned to arrive a comfortable couple of days in advance got there the night before. A few key personnel arrived with just hours to spare. Many were without a change of clothes, let alone professional attire.

Luckily, most were able to fit in a quick shopping trip. And our team helped ensure that presentations were formatted, rehearsed and ready to go, even if the speakers were bravely battling jetlag. We learned a few things, that’s for sure!

So here’s our New Year’s gift: Tips for performing at your peak while abroad. Assuming you’ve done the basics, like making photocopies of your passport, securing visas, and getting cash in the proper currency, be sure to…

Store files online. Powerpoints, agendas, spreadsheets… If you’ll need it onsite, don’t let the only copy travel on someone’s laptop. Use Box, Google Drive or another online option to ensure everyone can access their materials from anywhere.

Rehearse at home (or on the plane). Don’t count on a leisurely rehearsal day to make sure you’re ready. Practice your presentation, with slides and any other visuals, well before you leave. If that’s not possible, spend some of your airplane time going over it in your head.

Be healthy before take-off. Travel takes its toll, especially if it’s drawn out with extra flights and long waits in airports. To arrive as fresh as possible at your final destination, start getting plenty of sleep, fluids and healthy food at least a week before you depart. While en route, drink lots of water, avoid caffeine and alcohol, and try to eat light.

Carry on toiletries, and a change of clothes. If possible, bring enough for a day so you can be fresh should your luggage get lost. That includes clean underwear, a toothbrush, make-up and an extra shirt or lightweight dress that looks more professional than your travelwear.

Pack energy food. There’s always a chance you’ll have to skip a meal, or that the local fare won’t appeal to a sensitive stomach. Bring granola bars, trail mix, pretzels—something you can eat on the go that will keep you fueled for the journey.

Let the hotel help. The concierges at our hotel were wonderful at tracking down our luggage and making sure it found its way back to us. Rather than spend time on the phone, struggling with an unfamiliar language, take advantage of the services available where you’re staying.

Save receipts. Most airlines will reimburse for the cost of replacing clothes and toiletries up to a certain amount per day. It might not be much in the long run, but every little bit helps.

Keep calm and soldier on. Travel woes happen—everyone understands that. Focus on what you can control: doing your job as well as possible. And, if you get a free moment or two, make the most of the trip by seizing the opportunity to sightsee. You won’t regret it!

Are you looking for a new experience in the New Year? Give us a call to discuss how MPG can put your message in the spotlight.

 

8 Tradeshow Tips to Win Over Anyone

Valentines2

With Valentine’s Day coming, we’ve been thinking about how live events—especially trade shows—are a lot like speed dating.

Surrounded by primped and primed competition, you have just moments to stand out. You must intrigue your audience, build trust, and make them want to take the relationship to the next level. You’re creating connections with the potential to turn into much more.

Whether your field is serious, technical or more conducive to fun, we’ve got a formula—a love potion, if you will—that can give you an edge over the others:

#1. Be attractive. Great booth design is important. You don’t have to be the biggest on the floor, but do invest in looking your best. That includes staffing. In addition to your most personable team members, consider hiring professional hosts to welcome visitors into your space. From the minute they step onto your footprint, your visitors should feel taken care of and valued.

#2. Offer an experience. Don’t just tell why your solution is best. Let your audience try it for themselves through guided sampling and hands-on demos. If visitors can’t experience your product live, create an activity that demonstrates the benefits in a unique way.

#3. Be emotional. Create a journey connecting your product or solution to your visitors’ everyday needs and desires. Demonstrate how your brand improves lives. Tell a story that tugs at the heartstrings, and help your audience envision a bigger picture.

#4. Make it fun. Or, if you’re striking a more serious tone, be powerful. Impactful. Interactive. All of this adds up to enjoyable, which will make your audience glad they decided to spend time with you.

#5. Be real. Amazing technological advances aside, it’s still hard to fall in love with a touchscreen. So make sure your experience has a healthy amount of human interaction. One-on-one encounters are one of the best reasons to exhibit at tradeshows, so don’t leave your visitors in front of machines. Engage them the old-fashioned way – with a handshake and an offer to share more.

#6. Create an easy traffic flow. Good storytelling has a sequence, and a great experience includes not having to jostle through crowds or guess what to do next. Combine booth design with signage and professional hosts to help visitors make their way smoothly through your space while getting the most from your message.

#7. Be memorable. If you’ve done all of the above, visitors should walk away remembering you. But don’t leave it to chance. A unique, high-quality parting gift can be the spark that reminds someone to seek you out for more in-depth talks.

#8. Make it a snap to follow up. Now that you’ve captivated your prospects, don’t let them leave without a clear invitation and a way to contact you. Nurture the relationship by following up and staying in touch.

For more on the benefits of face-to-face marketing, check out our post on the power of a great live presentation.

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Making the Most of Experts at Events

Make the Most of Experts at EventsOne big benefit of face-to-face events is the opportunity to have experts and scientists interact with industry thought leaders. Not only does this bring credibility to your message, it makes guests feel like VIPS with exclusive access to your company’s best and brightest.

In a recent post, we discussed how you can leverage experts on video if they aren’t able to appear at your event in person. If budgets and schedules do allow you to feature a live expert, then follow these tips to make the most of the experience.

Choose someone who enjoys the spotlight. Brilliant in the lab doesn’t always translate to brilliance in front of an audience. If possible, select someone who speaks well, succinctly, and with confidence. (In our earlier post, we suggested keeping a working list of professionals within your company who are good public speakers.) If your star scientist isn’t a people person and doesn’t mind handing off the microphone, consider sending his or her second-in-command.

Make the most of their time. When travel budgets are tight, you can make a better case for an on-site expert by having them appear at various venues and in a variety of capacities. Schedule them for seminars, evening meet-and-greets, and Q&A’s at the booth if you’re attending a trade show. Are they social media savvy? Have them Tweet, Facebook and Instagram from and about the event.

But don’t overwhelm them. Event professionals like trade show presenters and hosts are used to interacting with the public for hours on end with few breaks. Your experts probably will not be able or willing to do this, nor will it make a great impression if your spokesperson is exhausted. Trade show activities should not be built around live experts. Rather, they should have areas and times when experts can slip into the experience and enhance it. For example, schedule 3 to 4 appearances throughout the day, then advertise them and feature a few complimentary activities to make those times extra-special.

Prepare your experts well. Of course your expert knows his or her material, but try to review it before the event to make sure the content is presented in a way that’s engaging. Help your expert create visuals that really sing and, if possible, have him or her practice with you. If you’re expecting media coverage, brief your expert on questions that are likely to be asked, as well as how to handle any sensitive subjects that might come up. You want the expert’s contribution to be part of one cohesive message, so make sure he or she understands the overall goals of your event.

Let them know they’re not alone. Treat your experts like VIPs by assigning a point person to help manage their schedules and make sure they’re taken care of. You want the experience to be positive, not just so that your experts can put their best foot forward, but so that they’ll want to help out the next time an event calls for the kind of content and credibility that only a true company insider can provide.

Capture Gold at Your Next Event by Tapping into the Power of Emotion

The Winter Olympics are underway in Sochi, and, like the rest of the world, we are watching in amazement! Not only are we Wow’d by the athletes’ skill and amazing stunts, we also are moved by their inspiring personal stories.

Events like the Olympics wouldn’t be what they are without a healthy dose of emotion. Sponsor brands like Procter & Gamble know this, and they’ve tugged our heartstrings many times with their sniffle-inducing “Thank You, Mom” ads.

It’s a perfect example of the power of emotional connections, and it’s something we look for in every project. Emotional ties are abundant in sports. But you can create an emotional connection even if your company or product involves something a little (or a lot) less moving. We’ve done it for clients ranging from oral health product makers to software developers and builders of construction equipment. Here are a few tips.

Tap into the why. What does your audience enjoy about their profession? Why did they become a dentist or an accountant or a dermatologist? Are they making a difference in peoples’ lives, even if it might not be readily obvious? What are they passionate about? What makes them feel they’ve done a great job?

Make them heroes. How can your product or service help your audience succeed in their mission—and not just succeed, but really make an impact? Can you follow the ripples to show how their contribution becomes part of a bigger, more impressive and moving result? How can you help them solve the problems of their patients, their clients or their companies? In what ways can they touch and improve peoples’ lives?

Tell a tale. Instead of relating a bunch of dry facts, wrap your message in a story. Case studies featuring real people are great. Or, create a composite story to illustrate an ideal outcome. Pretend you’re writing a children’s book. Can you use metaphors or fun examples to bring the experience to life?

Engage all of their feels. Remember, there are a ton of other emotions besides those that make us reach for our hankies. People love to laugh. They’re moved to action by fear or the desire to best a competitor. They enjoy being surprised and delighted. Use humor. Inject an element of competition. Show what could happen without your solution, and don’t be afraid to get dramatic.

How do you know you’re effectively engaging your audience’s emotions? If you’re at a live event, it will show on their faces. Are expressions blank? Then you’re not reaching them. Look for empathy, laughter, looks of determination and nods of understanding. And always keep your eye on the prize: if people walk away remembering how you made them feel, chances are good they also will remember you.

Booth Envy – Is It Time for a New Tradeshow Exhibit?

MPG and IGE Group created this stunning new booth to replace an older property for P&G's Home Away from Home at the BlogHer convention.

MPG and IGE created this stunning new booth to replace an older property for P&G’s Home Away from Home at BlogHer.

If you’ve been exhibiting at trade shows for any length of time, then you know the feeling: There, across the show floor, is a gorgeous new booth. Its elegant design, engaging presentations and drool-worthy technology make your exhibit look shabby and outdated in comparison.

At least, that’s how it feels to you. With a few updates, your current trade show booth might have some life left in it. Or, your hunch that it’s time to build something new could be correct. Here are 5 ways to tell.

1.       You’ve outgrown your current booth.

Perhaps your business has expanded, giving you more products or brands to showcase. Or maybe attendance has boomed at the trade shows where you exhibit. If space makes it impossible for you to accomplish what you need and want to do, or if your booth is so crowded that it creates a less-than-stellar guest experience, then consider getting something new. While bigger is better, it’s still a good idea to have your designer create a modular strategy so you can scale down at smaller shows.

2.       The wear and tear is impossible to hide.

Every trade show exhibit will eventually show its age. And occasionally, as with one of our clients whose booth was damaged in Super Storm Sandy, stuff happens that’s beyond your control. If you’re no longer able to cover the scratches and scuffs, it’s time to put that old exhibit out to pasture.

3.       Your current booth is too expensive to ship and assemble.

Trade show displays made of older, heavier materials can be more costly to ship and put together. If you exhibit at a lot of shows, it might be worth making the up-front investment in something that will be lighter and easier to haul around. Sometimes, the money to design and build a new booth can be taken from a budget separate from the one that covers the expenses of individual shows.

4.       You’re being outpaced by your competitors.

Everyone needs to put their best foot forward at a trade show, and for some brands and companies, it’s vital to look like a leader. The size of your booth, the quality of the design, the general impression it makes on the show floor speak volumes to attendees before they ever set foot in your space. If you really do appear smaller and shabbier than the competition, it might be time to step up your game and leave them with booth envy.

5.       You need more flexibility.

Your trade show exhibit was created around a certain set of activities, but now you want to shake things up and try something new. If your current design makes this all but impossible, then look into something that gives you more options. A good designer can help craft a space that allows you to evolve year after year.

Want to see what one of our clients did to combat booth envy? Check out what MPG and IGE did for Crest + Oral-B.

The new Crest + Oral-B Experience debuted at the American Dental Association convention in New Orleans, and it’s getting rave reviews!

What We’ve Learned from 10+1 Years of Growth and Success

Unisys

Ten years ago, our presentations often included song and dance numbers, like this one.

November 2013 marks a special milestone for MPG. We’re celebrating 10+1 years of being in business!

“But wait a minute,” you’re saying. “Eleven years isn’t a big anniversary. What happened to celebrating #10?”

The truth is, we were so busy that we let our tenth slip by without fanfare. Now, as we head toward Lucky 11, we thought it would be fun to take a look at how much MPG and the experiential marketing industry have changed.

It’s not the same old song and dance. Years ago, we routinely created flashy numbers and other theatrical tricks to sell everything from fire equipment to home security systems. These days, clients still expect an unforgettable experience to communicate their messages, but substance is every bit as important as style. Today, our presentations are more science-based, often with demos that bring tough concepts to life. We’re ready and able to bring out the singers and dancers, but we’re also equipped to talk hard science with the most discerning audience member.

AAD presentation

These days, our presentations are much more science-based, incorporating a broader spectrum of technology and presentation techniques within lighter, more environmentally friendly properties.

Properties are lighter and more sustainable. Companies want to reduce costs. They also want to be kinder to the environment. So they’re requesting booths made of materials that are easier and less expensive to ship and assemble—properties that can be put to multiple uses, that, if possible, are created from recycled goods, and that require less fuel to move from one place to the other.

Technology has boomed. This is no surprise to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock. The tools at our disposal to wow audiences and help our clients build relationships are simply amazing—and they seem to be evolving by the minute. Through it all, we’ve challenged ourselves and our clients to remember that “whiz bang” for “whiz bang’s” sake isn’t a winning strategy. Technology only makes an impact if it connects and communicates in a meaningful way. And technology is still no substitute for the face-to-face interactions that happen at live events.

Travel is tougher. We definitely are not immune to the challenges posed by fewer flights and higher prices. We’ve gotten very good at teleconferencing and reducing costs in other ways. But when our team needs to get to a show, we have to get creative so that travel costs don’t eat up the budget.

Giveaways are no longer throwaways. Trade show attendees used to be happy with a tee-shirt or a pin. These days they want something they can use, something that helps them connect with a company or brand in a meaningful way. Samples are more sought-after than ever—the bigger the better. Attendees also appreciate clever gifts that help keep our clients top-of-mind.

Timelines are tighter. Yesterday’s deadlines now feel leisurely thanks to technological advances, shrinking budgets, and a culture that demands quick thinking, fast response, and ultra-efficiency. Our clients are under pressure to deliver more, faster, which means we’ve grown accustomed to doing great work in record time.

Despite the challenges of a growing industry, some things remain the same for our team at MPG. We’re just as passionate about our work as we were when we started this company. We still have a great time together. And we’re still 100% committed to bringing our clients creative solutions that make their messages unforgettable while forging lasting connections. We’ve been honored to work with amazing companies and partners. Thank you for helping make the last 10+1 years so great.

Event Scripts: Less is More!

Image courtesy of jomphong/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jomphong/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Can you guess one of our biggest challenges as an experiential marketing firm? Is it budgeting? Logistics? Making sure hundreds of people have a wonderful, memorable time?

You might be surprised that one of our most challenging tasks is editing! As in, making sure scripts for events and experiences are short—but meaty—enough to hold people’s attention and get them excited about our clients’ messages.

Right now we’re crafting scripts for several projects, and with each one we’re reminded how important it is to keep things short and sweet. Optimal running time for main presentations at trade shows is 7-8 minutes. Demos should run no longer than about 5 minutes. For a breakfast event with several speakers and entertainers, we made some tough cuts to bring the time in under 50 minutes.

It’s a real art getting science, claims and product benefits into an experience that’s compelling and compact. We want audiences to walk away wanting more, so they’ll be more likely to engage with our clients face-to-face. That’s where real relationships are built.

And that’s why it’s important to have a skilled writer on your team. Even then, never be satisfied with a first draft. Read scripts aloud, preferably with the talent who’ll be delivering them. Listen for spots where your attention starts to wane. Look for ways to get the same thought across with fewer, snappier words. It’s better to make 2 points memorably than to make 10 and leave the audience numb.

And since this post is about brevity, we’ll cut it off here. Do you have any stories about a particularly challenging event script edit? Tell us about it!

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