Behind the Curtain: GAIN 2018 Conference

GAIN - which stands for Grow, Accelerate, Innovate, Network - has become the annual home for government marketers to come together and share challenges, tactics, and successes. This event, now in its third year, filled a void in the event landscape for government marketers.

Government marketing is a unique field given the strict guidelines that surround government purchasing. What works in the commercial market does not always translate to government. And speaking of translate, the government's acronym alphabet soup feels like a whole different language.

We spoke with Founder Lou Anne Brossman to find out what attendees should expect at this year's event.

What makes GAIN different from other federal events?

First, there's our focus on the marketers. When we started this event I had people come up to me and exclaim, "I've found my people!" Marketers are so busy and focused on their day to day that once they were able to take a step back and talk with peers they realized there was a huge value in the camaraderie of this field.

It's been exciting to watch people make connections. Our attendees started referring to themselves as GAINers both at the show and throughout the year. It's really been great to see this community form.

I think another unique aspect is this idea of community. GAIN was borne out of Government Marketing University (or GMarkU), a professional learning platform that takes a collaborative, community-based approach toward knowledge sharing and skill development in the field of public sector marketing.

We have over 60 gurus from all corners of the U.S. public sector marketplace -- marketers, thought leaders, government (current and former), media and sales leaders -- contributing their time and knowledge via classes and events. Sharing is not confined to one day - it continues year round with GMarkU.

Finally, I think a unique aspect of our event is the interplay between government executives and private sector marketers. We have ambassadors, many current and former government officials, that act as mentors to marketers, providing insight into what is happening on the government side. Continue reading

GAIN Access to 200+ Government Marketers

We've written here about changes in sponsor expectations and the ways event marketers are crafting sponsorship packages to deliver a measurable and meaningful return on investment. One thing that all sponsors want is access to attendees.

They want to meet with them at the event, gather information for contacting them after the event, and hear first hand their challenges and needs. One of our GovEvents partners is taking a unique approach to making sure sponsors get the access they want.

The GAIN 2018 Conference is a day-long gathering for professionals involved in marketing to the government. In the proverbial "cobbler's children have no shoes" scenario, government marketers were so busy planning and attending events that there was never an event dedicated to their professional development and networking. Continue reading

The Future of Event Sponsorship

With the ability to fast forward through commercials on our DVRs, brands have had to get more creative with their advertising. Speaking to a captive audience through sponsorship of events has proven to be one way to capture the short and distracted attention spans of today's consumers. But, as we've written about on this blog, with sponsorships becoming more appealing to brands, event organizers have to up their game from simply offering a logo on a sign to coming up with creative experience-based sponsorship packages. But these "packages" are not your grandfather's sponsorship options, today's sponsorships are personalized to both the event attendees and the sponsor.

This report suggests getting rid of the notion or gold, silver, and bronze sponsorship packages. Instead, it suggests tailoring the sponsorship offerings to the needs and even the mission of the sponsor organization. Key sponsors can be attracted by a package that aligns closely with their business mission and branding. A couple of ideas:

  • Snack or break sponsors - Instead of just putting up a banner with "Break Sponsored by X Company" customize it to fit the sponsor. If they company has the word "red" in their name, have all red colored snacks available. If a sponsor's name includes the word "water," they may make a great option for sponsoring water bottles or stations.
  • Sponsor lockers - Having a bank of lockers to store extra bags and electronics can be especially handy in urban locations where people take public transit. Pay for this addition with sponsor dollars from a cybersecurity company and come up with a catchy theme about keeping all your valuables locked up.
  • Sponsor the wifi - Everyone loves free wifi. Let a sponsor get the credit for the perk of wifi and include a quick ad that pops up or rolls when people access the network. This would be great for a networking or telecom company that touts fast speeds or connectivity as part of their brand promise.

Continue reading

Now More Than Ever, Events are a Key Part of the Government Contractor Marketing Spend

Market Connections recently released the findings of their 2018 Federal Government Contractor Study. This year's study had a special focus on the collaboration between Business Development (BD)/sales teams and marketing departments.

When it comes to organizational structure, the study found that the respondent pool was split about 50/50 with half having BD and Marketing report up to different supervisors and the other half having a shared supervisor for the two functions. Interestingly, the study found that companies with separate reporting structures had a higher win rate than those with a shared structure. As one of the speakers said, "what this shows is that BD and marketing are generally rowing in the same direction, even if they are not in the same boat."

One area where both BD and marketing do seem to be sharing a boat (much to our delight) is event sponsorship. Of those surveyed, 86% said that event sponsorship was a part of their marketing spend for 2018. Not only are organizations spending money on events, but they are seeing a return on that investment -- 64% said event marketing was very or somewhat effective in filling the pipeline with qualified leads (making events one of the top five tactics for pipeline marketing). Continue reading

This is the Greatest Show!

Attendees today are looking for more than an informative event. In an age where you can learn almost anything via YouTube, why would you take time out of a busy schedule to attend an event in person? It's all about the experience of learning with others and connecting with new people. Fortunately, event producers do not have to resort to bringing in elephants and fire breathers a 'la PT Barnum, there are a number of ways to drive the interactivity of events.

Many times the biggest hurdle to making a show more interactive is not technology or process, but attitude. During the planning stages, there is frequently a push-back that, "our attendees won't like that." While it is important to know your audience, a look at some basic demographics shows that most attendees (especially those going to Government-focused events) will embrace the opportunity to participate in a more interactive event.

People who were educated in the U.S. over the past 25 years were most likely exposed to "team learning." They broke into groups, discussed findings, gave presentations, and often experienced a very democratic way of learning. In childhood, the cartoons people watched talked directly to them and asked for help in problem solving - Blues Clues or Dora the Explorer broke the fourth wall of theater asking children to help find the circle. Continue reading