3D printing is a global industry, and following the business often leads to attending events around the world.
Personally I’m still recovering from the last vestiges of jet lag from last week’s trip to Israel, where I attended the grand opening of XJet’s new Additive Manufacturing Center. Last month, it was a shorter jaunt from my base in Cleveland, Ohio for the trip to Chicago for IMTS, but just a few weeks before that it was a full day of travel each way for a day-long Additive Manufacturing Symposium in Taipei. Looking ahead, next week it’s off to Boston for the Markforged Additive Manufacturing Day, a week in my office, and then the biggest event on the 3D printing calendar with formnext as our entire team prepares to head to Frankfurt.
The above are a small sampling of events, and those just the ones requiring physical travel; this week alone I’m recording two webinars, with Rize and Dassault Systèmes, as virtual events also pick up.
Industry shows are getting bigger as the industry gets bigger — and that “bigger” isn’t always a physical footprint. Plainly: there are a lot of events in additive manufacturing and associated technologies, and the numbers are only rising.
How do you decide which events to attend?
With an increasingly crowded business calendar, what makes an event stand out? A lot of it comes down to location — Frankfurt, for example, is central for much of the European industry and home to a great deal of business, and is relatively easy for international travellers to get to. Only a few years in existence, formnext did well to leverage a strong organizational team and sign on major names in the industry. The mid-November timing is a strong calendar positioning, and many announcements are planned with this timing as the look-ahead to the next year begins to set in with a fuller picture of year-to-date performance.
For smaller, company-specific events, organizers are tasked with attracting the right-fit crowd of attendees. Positioning as a boon to local business can help community strength (e.g., city officials), while personally inviting farther-out guests ensures that the word spreads beyond the immediate geographic circle.
Even for those of us by now accustomed to attending many (many) events regularly, business travel takes a toll. Long flights, iffy hotels, massive time differences, difficulty in keeping up with regular work or sleep, time away from home and family: all of the ‘human’ aspects of travel that we like to pretend aren’t a factor during the meetings and interviews that in fact hum quietly in the background. There comes a point when we have to start turning down invitations purely to continue functioning as people and as a business.
How do you make your event stand out?
So what really attracts people to an event? Not to sound pro-clickbait, but we need something that draws attention.
Is the topic of a symposium especially gripping? Will new announcements be significant? Are big names — in terms of companies exhibiting, keynoters presenting, or other access to well-known figures/businesses — attending and available?
These considerations are of paramount concern, as looking through the agenda of an event will be the entirety of the decision-making process for many potential attendees. Why should someone come to your event? If that can’t be answered in a quick look through the event’s website, at least superficially to draw eyes to the finer points, the browser tab will be closed without a second thought. Content needs to be attention-grabbing for the right reasons, of course; no one is going to take seriously “Best-Ever Can’t-Miss Event of the Year!!!” any more than they’re going to click on those “you’re the millionth visitor” popups on hinky sites. Working with a strong team of media-savvy event-planning pros will help with the right sort of branding and messaging, and ensure the announcements make it into the right inboxes.
It comes down, ultimately, to a marriage of the right information being presented in the right way.
How do you get media to your event?
When it comes to deciding which to attend from a media perspective, we have several factors to take into account:
How will this benefit/interest our readers?
How does this fit our schedules?
Do we have time to plan?
Will the time out of office be worth it?
Will we have access to executives for exclusive interviews?
Are we being hosted or asked to make our own way?
Have we worked with the organizing team before?
While many events tick enough of these boxes to make sense for us to be on the ground, not all do — and sometimes that response changes based on experience.
Travel is both easier than ever and perhaps more difficult to coordinate than ever before. It’s incredibly helpful to know ahead of time about events, especially those requiring international travel — and ‘ahead of time’ often means at least a month. I recently had to turn down, with great regret, an invitation to an event I had hoped to attend again simply because it was too late to work out the logistics of travel. I’ve still never been to China, as two trips have fallen through due to lack of time to work out a visa. Some events in my own Cleveland I’ve had to pass up because I committed to farther-off events at the same time first.
We recently shared some advice, as well, for marketing in 3D printing geared toward upcoming event coverage.
How do you benefit from events you can’t physically attend?
We do our best to get to events as a publication because we understand that not everyone can be everywhere. Following attending media’s coverage — and not only as stories, but on social media and other immediate avenues — allows for the spread of information in this digital age. That’s why we’re there, to share information and offer analysis of where it fits into the bigger industry picture.
But what about events that don’t fit your schedule or ours? Following the organizers’ coverage is of course very helpful, as is access to any papers or other presentations from the event.
One hard lesson I’ve been learning lately is that some events, though, you’ll just miss: you won’t be there, and following some bit of coverage isn’t quite the same as sitting in on the keynotes and swapping business cards at the networking events. Follow what you can — and buck up, another event will be coming soon on its heels.
See you around (the world) soon, I’m sure.