Unpeeling the Onion of Event Success

MPI recently published a blog entitled, “Event Planning & Unpeeling the Cultural Onion.” It explores the importance of understanding how your target audience’s cultural experiences drive their actions and reactions.  The “onion” metaphor is apt; we all have multiple layers of attitudes; some are easily detected near the surface, while the ones closest to our core are stronger and harder to detect.   

But while analyzing your target audience’s hidden attitudes is important, it’s equally important–when creating trade show engagement programs–to look inward. When you reveal the unknown and/or unspoken needs and desires of your internal decision-makers (and yourself, for that matter), you’ll create trade show programs that are perceived as successful by your entire organization. 

Here are some questions that may help you “peel” your Senior Managements’ onion:

  • How do event goals align or differ between various layers of management, i.e. what spells success for your C-Levels, as opposed to Senior Management, Marketing, Sales, etc?

It’s common to assume you know the answer to this question.  If you unequivocally ask each level of management, “what spells success for you,” their answers may surprise you.  Then you can use their responses to re-engineer your approach to trade show messaging and engagement.

  • What attitudes influence how your team operates, and how do these attitudes affect their creative processes? 

We’re all limited by our peculiar experiences.  It’s important to understand your team’s talents, as well as their limitations.  An outside POV may be necessary to help move the needle on this. 

  • What is the generational/cultural/racial relationship between your team and your target audience? 

In today’s multicultural “woke” environment, defining these limitations can reveal valuable correlations, as well as harmful disconnects. Witness South Dakota’s tone-deaf marketing campaign from last year, “Meth: We’re On It.” 

  • What kind of historical data do you have about things that worked well?  Is that data relevant today?

We live in a world consumed by data; but data has a shelf-life.  What was true five or ten years ago … even one year ago … may currently be irrelevant or detrimental to your goals.  

  • Do you know why a past engagement program didn’t work? 

If you don’t know, fixing it will be difficult.  Again, an outside POV may be the answer.

Finally, it’s easy to allow your personal biases to color your perception. Therefore, it’s important that when you quiz various levels of management, you listen with an open mind to their answers.  

Only then can you uncover what they may not be telling you, and how the unspoken attitudes that lie at the core of your management’s personal “onions” will shape the perception of your trade show program’s success.