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Getting the Most Out of IBC, Including Yourself

Content Insider #818 – Growing, Surviving

By Andy Marken – andy@markencom.com

“I’ve believed in magic a few times in my life. I’ve seen things… things I can’t explain. I’ve come to believe it’s not so much what you believe … it’s how hard you believe it.” – Indiana Jones, “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” Walt Disney Studios, 2023

Whether it’s your first … your fifth … or gawd forbid, your fifteenth, there’s always something really different and special about IBC.

Two years of isolation awhile back slowed the industry down – a little – but entertainment survived and creatives learned new, better ways to make video stories on a global scale. And frankly, four days in Amsterdam seems to be woefully insufficient to absorb/digest it all.

Fortunately, Mike Crimp (IBC CEO) and his crew will also capture a lot of the event’s highlights and key sessions and provide online access for the industry.  

Great, you can review them after you get back home, and your mind clears … a little.

  • It’s a darn good thing because this year there are:
  • 100s of technical and best practice sessions featuring experts who will share what works and doesn’t
  • More than 1,000 exhibitors will be spread across 13 halls to show you the latest in products, services, technology
  • Equity, inclusion, sustainability sessions to help folks improve things in their business, country and the world
  • Sessons by IABM, SMPTE, SCTE, IET, RTS, IEEE and organizations like MESA  to learn more about the latest standards and strategies that will change/improve the industry

Here are some hints that will help attendees and exhibitors based on way too many trade events inside and outside the stands.

Dutch Art – The Amsterdam Convention c\Center is a study in practical beauty and will house the latest in products, services and technology for the content industry 12-18 September.   

Attendees’ Hunt

IBC is packed with treasures for everyone in the content creation, production and distribution industries and like Indie Jones, the best way for attendees to get the most out of the show is to study the sessions, floorplan and plan accordingly.

Start with stands you feel you must visit and sessions you really feel you have to sit in on that will improve your work/business.

Map these out first and leave sufficient time between them so you’re not running from one area to another.  It’s further than it looks on the floorplan and remember, there are 55,000+ other people at the show and many of them are going the other way.

In addition, leave chunks of time blank because sometimes (often) something will grab your attention you didn’t even know you wanted to know more about.

It’s logical – and necessary – to make certain you spend as much time in the major exhibitors stands that have products/services that you use and can use but don’t overlook the smaller and start-up stands.

These are the emerging firms that could be your next major product/service provider or have a unique solution to a problem you didn’t even know you would have tomorrow.

Who knows, it may be the technology or application you didn’t even know you wanted/needed that could make the whole trip worthwhile.  

Expert Discussions – Experts and executives from around the globe will share information on what is new, available and in the works to enhance and improve the video content industry during the back-to-back sessions.

It often happens more often than you realize and when it does, you just quietly say to yourself, “Jeezz, I’m smart.”

After you have the key stands and sessions planned out, add in the sessions and stands you think might be/should be of interest and assistance.

Don’t simply choose stands and sessions that talk about generative AI because:

  • That will be every stand and every session
  • Lots of them will be smoke and mirrors that you won’t hear about or see next year.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Leave plenty of time to network with your counterparts from around the globe.  

This is your opportunity to meet with/connect with executives, decision makers and executives from 100+ countries at the networking breaks and content-led roundtables.  

One contact, one idea could change everything.

It happens!

Exhibitors’ Hunt 

Companies spend a lot of time/money at IBC and other events and often waste their opportunities for new business relationships, customers.

Even before setting up/manning the stand, marketing’s first task is attracting the right people to the stand.

You can do this with:

  • A targeted, high-visibility direct mail effort aimed at specific prospective prospects
  • Pre-show publicity – create “news” that covers what you’ll be showing in the stand, highlight new products/services, clearly spelling out your stand location in the many halls
  • Email outreach to IBC attendees about special events, activities and solutions to show you understand/appreciate their business needs 
  • Use Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and/or TikTok video/written social media outreach to attract folks to your stand 
  • Produce special IBC insights and hints on how to find what they need, who they need to talk with
  • Unique advertising tags for your online ads and email signature blocks as constant reminders of your participation in the major global show they will be attending like “See us at IBC, 15-18 Sept, Hall 3, Stand #1234”

For special customers and prospects, initiate a more focused email campaign that includes embedded video and presentations. 

Tomorrow’s Tools – More than 1700 product and service providers will fill the 17 halls of the convention center, all waiting to help visitors stay ahead of the rapidly changing pace of the content industry.  

This can be highly effective when you want to:

  – Have key people meet specific individuals face-to-face

  – Demonstrate a specific product/technology to them

 – Have in-depth management discussions

 – Literally close a contract

If people simply stumble by/into your stand and aren’t certain why they must be there, they’ll simply stumble on to the next stand. 

You’ve missed another opportunity. 

If you’ve walked the halls of IBC and other events, take some time to check first and second impressions:

  • Team members clustered around catching up with each other instead of attendees
  • Pass by a stand with people eating.  Drinking water is okay because everyone needs to stay hydrated … including you
  • Talk with stand people who don’t know the new products, services, technology 
  • See exhibit staff standing around with their arms crossed – a sure sign they don’t want you invading their space 
  • Then there are the stands with self-assured/smiling folks who welcome you in with a handshake or fist bump, establish eye contact, talk to you by name (you have an IBC badge after all), ask what you do in your organization, explore your needs and want to discuss how their products/services/technology can help you solve your problems/needs
  • When the discussion is done, they thank you (by name) for coming by, say they will follow up with more detailed information, mean it and … do it

It’s really easy to make the right impression and develop a relationship.

Prepare to Go

We know you’re an adult and this probably isn’t your first rodeo, just think of these as gentle reminders so you’re ready for the expected and unexpected.

The temperature in Amsterdam is going to be on the cool or refreshing side – 20C (68F) 16C (61F) – so you’ll probably want a jacket, at least for your evenings out.

You may want to double-down and make that a raincoat because …

Relaxed business casual is best for the show since you’re there to give and get information. Dress to be comfortable and professional, not to impress. 

If you do have evening meetings, try and squeeze in time to go back where you’re staying for the show, grab a 

quick shower and change into fresh clothes (especially shoes/socks).  

Yes, that includes your unmentionables – tighty-whities, boxers, whatever – every day is tough and long so treat yourself.

You’ll feel remarkably refreshed and your feet will thank you.

Speaking of your feet, you’re going to be walking … a lot.

Spare Shoes – You’ll spend a lot of time on the convention floor walking from one hall to the other (sorry no bikes allowed inside), so several pairs of comfortable shoes are mandatory for IBC.  

Pack several pairs of ultra-comfortable, flat shoes.  Heels may make you look taller and your legs awesome but you’ll be spending hours walking on concrete floors with only a modest amount of cushion.

There once was a time when we had three pairs of the same shoe that were set aside strictly for conventions/conferences.  

When we went, they went until it was obvious they had seen much better days … man, I hated to see them “retire.”

Double down on the pairs of socks you pack or buy more in one of the local stores … think of them as special gifts for your feet.

Necessities – A compact, lightweight backpack can hold everything you need each day you’re on the convention floor, including your water bottle and plenty of room to carry the stuff you collect as you tour the booths.

Our trade show bag is actually our compact, every day, go-everywhere computer bag.  

The difference is once we get to our hotel, the computer and its accessories come out and stay in the room for use in the evening when catch up on business of the day and notes from meetings.

Fully loaded commando and mountain climbing bags impress us when we see people lugging them around but for days on the show floor we minimalize, take the necessities for the day – pads for notetaking, a couple of pens, daily agenda, business cards – so there’s plenty of room to pick up the company/product information we collect along the way.

We take along one of the same water bottles we use in our workouts, stay hydrated and refill the bottle as necessary.  Shows are tough on your muscles, joints and brain so sip often.

IBC has some excellent food/concession stands throughout the 15 halls.

Dutch pastries are flat out delicious but admit it, the snack/meal on the go isn’t the best for your diet.  

We carry several nutrition bars in the bag every day to keep our energy up rather than indulge in a sugar or spice.

In packing for the trip, we also include little things we may need – breath mints, band-aids, aspirin, safety pins, gum – some of the items we use every day, others only if we’re unlucky.

Floor Time

Like most trade shows, IBC is a challenge, a test of your planning ability and … endurance.

There are sessions you really need to attend, more that would really be nice to attend and those that are yeah …but.

We usually end up with two (maybe three) sessions a day that are really important.  Depending on the locations, we map out and schedule our meetings leaving plenty of time between the sessions and stand meetings because distance is deceiving on that “little” floor plan and the real convention center.

In addition, the show floor is packed with folks all going the opposite way you want to/need to go.

And while you’re on a mission something could catch your eye in a stand you really have to learn more about so it’s nice to know you have a little time buffer.

As we mentioned, we start the day on the show floor with a pretty light bag – a paper copy of our schedule, several note tablets/pens, a fully charged/fully loaded smartphone (agenda, translation app, plenty of room for photos).

The agenda and photo space are obvious because a quick photo in a stand can be an excellent way of remembering things you want to follow up on later.

While practically everyone at the event is multilingual (except for Americans who sometimes don’t even grasp good English), we still plan ahead for the international show by “relearning” basic conversational phrases in Spanish, French, German and Dutch.

People are pretty tolerant when you at least attempt to speak in their language and will nicely correct you.  By the end of the show, we’ve got the fundamentals.

For other languages, we use Google translate that will translate our questions/comments in their language and theirs into ours. We both appreciate it.

Spare Power – Sometimes you feel as though you are cut off from the world when your smartphone battery is pushed to the limit.  A slim battery pack can keep you going until the show floor closes and you have time to go back to your room and recharge your connected tools.

All of this means we rely heavily on our smartphone battery, so we always have a portable battery ready to recharge the unit when it gets “a little low.”  

Back in the day, we used to have a couple of spare batteries and swap them out when necessary; but now with repairable/unrepairable phones, the external portable battery fills the void.

We could carry along a tablet but hey, the phone and old-fashioned paper tablets are sufficient.

Break from the Show

We know you’re in Amsterdam to learn what is new and improved as well as new techniques/technologies that can improve your content creation/production/distribution business; but whether it’s your first or fifth visit to the city, enjoy it/experience it like a native.

To and From – The trams in Amsterdam are reliable and economic. Or, if you want to really join the locals, rent a bike and enjoy the sights, sounds and experience.  

The tram is an excellent way of getting around town as well as to and from the convention center.  

Or do what thousands of citizens do every day, rent a bike and pedal back/forth and around town … yes even in the rain.

If you’ve planned your IBC trip properly, you’ll arrive a couple of days early or stick around to unwind a little before you fly back to the hectic world of content creation/production/distribution.

Smart move because there’s a lot to see and it’s a whole lot better than the concrete and casinos of Las Vegas.

l

Relax, Unwind – After four tough, information-packed days of content creation, production and distribution overload at IBC, you deserve a break. Perhaps nothing can help you unwind more than a couple of days exploring the city of Amsterdam or surrounding communities like Marken Netherlands.  

The Netherlands is rich in history and beauty and it’s a great way to unwind after four days of dashing from session to session, booth to booth.

A step back to a quieter, more relaxed time is a day trip to our namesake town (Mereke in the original dialect).  

It’s a small village (under 2,000 residents) that feels like a fishermen’s town and island that features traditional dress, picturesque houses, the original Marken house, museum and wooden shoe (clogs) factory – they aren’t that comfortable but are a nice conversation piece when you get home.

And if you’re already looking forward to IBC 2024, let us give you a little recommendation.

Water Way – A great way to relax after a brutal day on the IBC show floor has got to be sitting on your water-bound deck and watching the city traffic go by.

The hotels in Amsterdam are very good but we think it’s time to get more out of the annual event.

For years, friends of ours would actually plan their visit to the Netherlands around their visits/meetings at IBC.

They took short-term rentals of one of the houseboats that line the canals and told us it was the best way to experience the convention.  

It seems like an excellent way to learn what’s new and what’s coming and then retreat to the privacy of water lapping against the hull.

It looks like the best of both worlds.  

Maybe Indiana Jones was right in his latest saga when he said, “A few times in my life, I’ve seen things. But I’ve been looking for this, all my life.”

Andy Markenandy@markencom.com – is an author of more than 800 articles on management, marketing, communications, industry trends in media & entertainment, consumer electronics, software and applications. Internationally recognized marketing/communications consultant with a broad range of technical and industry expertise, especially in storage, storage management and film/video production fields. Extended range of relationships with business, industry trade press, online media and industry analysts/consultants.

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