Nicole Bowman is Vice President of Marketing & Communications at International Association of Exhibitions and Events.
We at Feathr are excited for this month's Expo! Expo! in New Orleans. Expo! Expo! is IAEE's biggest annual event, and one of the premier shows for the exhibitions and events industry. IAEE has been a Feathr customer for three years, and not only have we watched Expo! Expo! grow, we've learned what a dedicated and talented event marketing leader Nicole is. So, fresh on the heels of our 3-year case study with IAEE, we decided to have a conversation with her about her job, her experiences, and her philosophy.
What do you find unique about organizing Expo! Expo!, the Show for Shows?
Expo! Expo! is unique in that we do what our members and attendees do day in and day out. We provide experiences that our attendees can take back and implement for their attendees. It’s a unique situation. IAEE has been around for 90 years and we have created a tight knit community that meets every year during Expo! Expo!
What was the hardest challenge as a marketing professional that you’ve faced and overcome?
When I started by role at IAEE, my predecessor was completely different from me. And that is not a bad thing, just different and something that I wanted to change. IAEE needed a rebrand after so many years of the same look and feel. The rebrand started out slow and ended up taking about 18 months. It started out slowly and sometimes it was hard to see the forest for the trees because it wasn’t just a physical rebrand in terms of look and website. I wanted to change, as a whole, the way IAEE is perceived. Our tone on social media, emails and overall messaging needed to change until it became a subconscious thing where people expected a certain message from IAEE. That is ongoing, but I think we are finally there. That to me was the hardest part because I like instant results and this was a gradual process.
How does working on Expo! Expo! differ from other, more specialized events?
It’s different because we have to be a master to a lot of different stakeholders. And all of the stakeholders have very different needs to be addressed. With so many various groups to cater to, it is sometimes tough to be that master to all. Specifically for marketing, you can get to a point where you target too much. It’s a constant balance of trying to cut through our own digital noise and programs that compete with one another within Expo! Expo! and then also with all the other events that are out there.
What strategy for gaining attendees has performed the best for you?
We use many different methods on a consistent basis including email, social media, direct mail, calling campaigns, member outreach, blogs, Feathr retargeting ad campaigns and Feather Invites. All of these combined end up hitting people from different angles and getting the message out in various ways. In terms of definable ROI and metrics that I can report back to my bosses and to the IAEE board, I would say that Feathr has been the most effective.
What is the most memorable moment in your career at IAEE?
When I first started in my role, my boss told me that I was going to be in charge of advocacy. At first I didn’t fully understand what that meant. I was nervous. When people comment that our Exhibitions Day was one of the best things we do, that makes me really proud. We’ve all been desensitized to all of the negativity of politics, but when you go to Exhibitions Day, you see that what we are advocating for is industry wide and benefits the entire exhibitions industry – a ninety-one billion dollar contributor to US GDP. You’re visiting with these congressional staffers, sometimes you get the members of congress, and you see these thousands of people up on the hill just trying to make government work. You meet with real people who are just trying to make things work. I’m proud that we are a part of that and we’re cementing a name for ourselves through Exhibitions Day and our work in Advocacy.
Editor's note: be sure to read our case study showing exactly how Nicole uses Feathr and the incredible successes IAEE has accomplished with the Feathr platform!