By Mary Tucker, Sr. PR/Communications Manager
Jenn Ellek, CMP is Sr. Director of Trade Marketing & Communications for the National Confectioners Association. In 2016, she was recognized for her ability to marry marketing strategy with execution in the face of a very aggressive buyer attendee growth goal for the 2016 Sweets & Snacks Expo. She organized her efforts and outreach via a sophisticated series of micro-targeted campaigns to grow her 2016 registration by 10%. This is outstanding considering her previous three-year trends had the show growing by 1% annual CAGR.
Additionally, one of her greatest challenges was growing the show without the availability of significant or substantial resources. Jenn achieved such success through the efficiency of analyzing her event data and showcasing why her hustle, brains and fortitude led to an extremely successful event. Her skill and prowess earned her the 2016 IAEE Outstanding Achievement in Marketing & Sales Award.
IAEE: You were recognized for growing your show, the Sweets & Snacks Expo, by leaps and bounds through arduous marketing and sales activities. Your nominators noted that you knew from the start the significant challenges you were facing. What is your approach in mentally preparing for projects of this magnitude? Do you have anything in particular you do to help make it seem less daunting?
JENN: The best strategy I have found with facing an overwhelming goal is breaking it down into digestible milestones. Another strategy is to identify what is actually possible and achievable, given your human resources and budget. Then put it into a plan and follow the plan. Look at it every day. Think about it in the shower…
IAEE: One of your challenges was working with limited resources, forcing you to be creative in your approaches. Where/how do you go about finding inspiration for creative solutions?
JENN: How fortunate is it that our industry is sharing and transparent. There are wonderful event marketers I have become good friends through IAEE, who have much bigger budgets than mine. They are happy to share their latest “wins” and from that I can gauge what is doable with our budget. Industry events like the monthly IAEE chapter meetings and the annual Expo! Expo! are invaluable to see who is at the cutting edge and how their tactics are working. I ask a lot of questions and invite folks to lunch – the price of a lunch can give you a whole campaign’s worth of insights! Build your contacts, then use them.
IAEE: Was there a lesson from this project that really stood out to you? Perhaps something new that you learned or something you would do differently knowing what you know now?
JENN: There are no stand outs that I would “do-over,” but I will say our strategy for success involved our outside partners in our overall goals and their role. I work with nearly 10 outside companies. They are my team, and when we start out the year we review our goal and how we are going to get there. They are laser-focused with us and help us problem solve. Our growth could not have happened without buy-in from Bear Analytics, Experient (registration), TSR (telemarketing) and Freeman (social marketing), along with so many others who work with NCA.
IAEE: What do you find innovative in the marketing world in terms of how it applies to exhibition and event marketing specifically? Is there a concept you think deserves further development that would help exhibitions and events marketers significantly?
JENN: Get personal. Know your audience and speak to them in their voice. If you can pull off a few things very well, it’s much more rewarding and received than doing a lot of initiatives with mediocrity.
IAEE: You delved quite deeply into data analytics in order to develop your marketing plan. What suggestions do you have for marketers who are interested in big data, yet perhaps are intimidated by the process?
JENN: Start small. Pick one goal and stay focused. We knew we were not going to “boil the ocean” in year one. Many get overwhelmed with the myriad findings from the data. In our case, we had to decide what part of the insights we wanted to focus on. We did and it worked, and now in year two with our “big data” partner, Bear Analytics, we are able to go deeper and boy, what a fun ride it is! I did not think it could get any better.
IAEE is accepting nominations for the 2017 Outstanding Achievement in Marketing & Sales Award! Click here to learn more about the IAEE Individual Awards and submit your nominations today!