Is a Partnership With an Independent Show Organizer Right for Your Organization?

Independent Show September 11, 2019 By: Rick McConnell

Associations looking to expand their meeting and tradeshow audience beyond their members may consider partnering with an independent show organizer. A look at what makes for a successful partnership.

While associations traditionally do a great job marketing events to their own membership, there is often more that can be done when it comes to growing their meeting and tradeshow audience beyond members.

One way to go about it is to partner with an independent show organizer. An ISO’s main focus is to connect buyers and sellers through events that help them do business together and thrive. Together, ISOs and associations can benefit from the other’s expertise and create a powerful combination that will benefit members and increase attendance. Here are three things an ISO can bring to a partnership:

Economies of scale. Due to the large number of events ISOs put on each year, they have strong relationships with venues and services that can benefit associations when planning an event or program. In addition to their experience, ISOs have the power of negotiation and can leverage their cost advantage to associations in a partnership.

Expanded digital tools and developed networking platforms. Data and digital solutions are an area that ISOs have been focused on over the last several years to help attendees navigate the event and build meaningful connections with other visitors and exhibitors. These new data and digital tools are used 365 days a year to help create year-round market connections and can also help attendees share experiences and lessons learned. These tools also provide access to programs and learning modules to make these events more worthwhile. Examples of expanded digital tools for associations include event-matchmaking apps like Brella.

Together, ISOs and associations can benefit from the other’s expertise and create a powerful combination that will benefit members and increase attendance.

Broader sales reach. Associations have an experienced sales force in place that support their marketing efforts. When coupling those resources with an ISO, it can expand sales reach.  ISO sales team members can be used to focus on driving new business or in deepening relationships with current account contacts. Tapping into a broader ISO sales team can truly give the association additive firepower.

However, for these partnerships to be successful, both parties must be willing to share knowledge, which includes being candid about each other’s marketing and sale strategies. In attending industry events, I have increasingly noticed partners from associations and ISOs coming together to share best practices and strategies, which didn’t happen a few years ago.

Lastly, the use of social media in a marketing strategy has become a transformative phenomenon for associations that leverage these channels. By combining the social media efforts of both the ISO and the association in the distribution of content, this can broaden an association’s reach and generate additional traffic to events.

Together and with a core focus on better serving attendees, ISOs and associations can develop and deliver more robust marketing campaigns to drive new members and attendees, new ancillary digital revenue streams, and new lead generation sponsorships.

Rick McConnell

Rick McConnell is President of North America, Informa Markets, in New York City.