Ghost towns are wonderful, if in fact you are a ghost. But if you are a company or association that has invested a significant amount of resources on your Fresh Summit experience, a ghost town is not what you hope to experience on the last day of the expo.
To be clear - I believe that events are what you make of them. If you arrive at Fresh Summit with your team properly prepared with objectives (quantitative and qualitative) and a strategy for meeting those objectives, poor traffic on 1 of the 3 expo days should not prevent you from achieving results that make your investment worthwhile. So this post is NOT about what PMA could've done to keep exhausted attendees, members and buyers in Orlando another full day, because we know they've tried lots of strategies.
It's about how we have an opportunity as an industry to look beyond our walls or supply chain to consumers. There was a lot of talk about growing the consumer connection at this year's show, but reaching the consumer is not a simple move from point A to point B - it's a journey that requires continuous nurturing. One of the steps along the way is to target those who are influencing our consumers' knowledge and opinions about the trends and innovations that we so proudly put on display each year.
What if… next year's 3rd day of Fresh Summit was about inviting select groups of "influencers" (and yes, they happen to be local consumers themselves) to attend an expo tour so that this one time a year, they have the chance to really be immersed in our innovations without the distraction of competing retail items, enjoy the flavor of our products, engage with the growers and suppliers, provide one-on-one feedback and share their experiences with our products?
What if… this effort was organized so that industry volunteers would host or lead these small groups of influencers and allow them to participate in a guided tour through the show floor on the last day?
Think about the mutual benefit of having, let's say, 200 or so influencers divided into small groups and becoming involved in the excitement that we experience each time we come to Fresh Summit. Why shouldn't they see firsthand the beauty that our industry represents?
So who are the influencers? Well, without much thinking (we are still dragging a bit from Fresh Summit) we came up with these:
- Leading news groups, food bloggers, and food writers
- Local PTA presidents
- Regional healthcare providers
- Human Resource VPs of large Atlanta corporations
- Members from the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce
- Sports nutritionists from local sports clubs
- Students and professors from the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Atlanta
- Families First
- Georgia Recycling Coalition
- Atlanta ISD School Board
- Atlanta City Council Members
- Georgia Department of Education
- Atlanta YMCA
- And I would personally be happy to escort Alton Brown around the show floor.
- How would this effort be organized?
- 9:00 – Welcome, group assignments, and meet the industry volunteers leading the tours
- 9:30-10:00 – Group presentation on our "fresh story"
- 10:00 – 12:00 – Organized floor tours to highlight multiple areas throughout our supply chain, covering 8-10 booths and each providing a 5 minute presentation
- 12:00-1:00 – Cooking demonstration and lunch
- 1:00- 2:00 – Free stroll
So What?: Increasing the consumption of fresh produce does not happen overnight, but we know viral marketing can have a huge impact in one short day. Let's think beyond our traditional strategies of telling our story and even beyond our most current viral marketing efforts. Let's carve out an opportunity to engage and educate in person, and purposely affect consumers who are also in a position of influence so that they can talk, write, tweet, blog, and Facebook their experience with those in their network. I believe if we make this effort to connect - one market at a time - we will see a difference in how our products are perceived, purchased and consumed.
To the PMA Convention Planning Committee, Board and Staff:
I am volunteering my company's time, talent and reach to brainstorm, sketch and bring this "what if…" to life. My cell: 214.507.8780.
Posted by: The Entertainer (Dan'l Mackey Almy)