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Getting Down to BizBash with David Adler

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David_Adler.jpgFounded in 2000, BizBash is the leading trade media for the event industry. BizBash publishes magazines and e-newsletters, hosts websites, and produces trade shows and award shows for event professionals. In this two-part Q&A, we sat down with its founder and CEO, David Adler, to discuss tips, trends and his favorite events of 2014.

You are 100% engrossed in events. What attracted you to the business?
In the late ‘70s I started a society magazine called Washington Dossier in Washington, D.C. It was so fascinating to go to events with politicians, White House officials and Washingtonians who were more interested in events than they were in their day jobs. I learned that political organizers are really event organizers. They loved getting people in a room and using every trick in the book to persuade them to their point of view. It was the intersection of public relations and face-to-face events; I saw that people listen when they’re not distracted, and at events you’re forced to listen to the person standing face-to-face with you.

What do you think is the one essential element of every really great event?
Every event detail is designed to make people remember where they were, what they did, who they talked to, and what they gained. BizBash president Richard Aaron feels that all event organizers should be “memorologists,” creating moments that people actually remember.

One essential element for event organizers is to understand the neuroscience of events. They need to know what colors create an impact on the mind, how music changes the way we think, how scent affects how we feel. The science of events studies how the mind works and how people interact.

What to you are the most important objectives of any good event?
The goal is to get the right people to your event; getting to that point is harder than it looks. You need great audience generation, a reason for them to stay, and something that stimulates conversation and creates a shareable, indelible impression. In the old days, that was done through word-of-mouth conversations; today we have social media to help amplify our message.

Most events want to accomplish three basic things:

1. To sell things to others (ideas, products, or concepts)
2. To motivate people to sell things to desired audiences
3. To create networks of people who are motivated around a concept so the word can be spread

Even the most fun event has some sort of agenda. Understanding your agenda is now part of the strategy for event organizing and event marketing.

How has the industry changed in the last 10 years?
The most important thing is that the event industry is now really being taken seriously. I used to say that people in the event industry always had to sit at the children’s table. Now, 25% of marketing budgets are allocated for events—we are beginning to really understand the science of how people interact and the power of that interaction.

Really brilliant planners are studying everything from registration and ticketing, to the experience of being at an event, to the post-event ROI. Marketers are using innovations and activations to create conversations. People like Alex Pentland, who wrote the book Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread, are reinventing the power of interactions and conversations, as they have the power to change the world. It’s important to note that we are no longer hosting events for the people in the room, but rather for their social networks. Social media has been the ultimate game-changer.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into this business?
I’d say that understanding neuroscience is one of the key learnings to being an amazing event organizer. I call event organizers “programmers of human interaction;” having the skills of understanding human behavior and putting those practices into action for events. I find that people involved in their school and college activities naturally seem to gravitate towards events. They understand the importance of human interaction.

It’s also important to be a bit of an extrovert, being able to effortlessly talk to people. It’s a lost art, and the most impressive people are the impresarios who know how to connect people. Connectors are natural event organizers.

Another great attribute for somebody who wants to get into the business is to be an expert on the concept of “surprise and delight.” Understanding strategy and being able to be creative, as well as organized, is a very important skill.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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