Did You Know? MPG Does Podcasts!

At MPG, we tailor experiences to audiences, and that means going where the audiences are. When Trimble Ag wanted to share marketing updates and best practices with its dealer network, Trimble knew they most likely would be on the road, driving to and from customers’ farms and other facilities. For that unique audience, a podcast made the most sense.

MPG took the wheel, from concept to scripting and professional voice talent to production. The result: “Tune Up Your Marketing with Trimble,” a travel-themed podcast dedicated to helping dealers jump start new projects and fine-tune what they’re already doing—putting them on the road to better awareness for their dealership, stronger relationships with customers, and a more profitable business.

Because we know an engaging voice is critical to a good podcast, we wrote for and hired a professional emcee whose tone and delivery would resonate with Trimble ag dealers. His friendly, interview-style approach lets Trimble’s marketing experts shine while discussing a variety of topics, from social media to artificial intelligence.

We also created ways to keep each episode rolling with elements like Trimble trivia, favorite on-the-road snack and music advice, and even a “Dad Joke of the Day.” Rounding out each episode are messages from Trimble leadership. “Tune Up Your Marketing with Trimble” has become an important tool for Trimble Ag to connect with and support its dealer network. To listen, go here

MPG may be famous for live experiences, but we also are experts at webinars, podcasts and virtual events. When you need to craft a message and deliver it in a way that connects best with your target audience, we can make it amazing, whatever the medium. Simply share with us your objectives, and we’ll work our magic from creative to flawless execution.

While we’re sharing little-known MPG facts, did you know we have a new demo video? To get a taste of the full breadth of our services and expertise, check this out!


Celebrating Record Attendance at P&G Booth as Live Events Continue Their Comeback

As we predicted not long ago, live events have come roaring back as Covid restrictions have lifted. Companies and brands are eager to connect with consumers and influencers in person once again, and nowhere was this more evident to us than at the American Academy of Dermatology’s 2023 meeting in New Orleans.

Procter & Gamble’s skin care brands teamed up to host a booth experience educating dermatologists about new products and innovations spanning everything from body wash and facial skin care to hair removal, scalp care and fabric care for patients with sensitive skin.

The centerpiece of the experience was a live presentation, scripted and produced by MPG, featuring four of our premier presenters. They paired up to give back-to-back presentations to audiences who packed our theater and stayed to hear the entire message. You can see a sample here!

The experience was such a success that a record number of attendees came through P&G’s booth, even with an evacuation the last day due to a fire on the trade show floor. Attendance was up 25% over last year’s record—a real testament to the power of live marketing and of live presentations to draw a crowd.

In addition to booth design and fabrication and live presentation production, MPG staffed P&G’s space with brand ambassadors who delivered our trademark excellent and friendly service. It was an exciting and refreshing way to kick off the spring, and proof to us that face-to-face experiences are more valuable than ever.

If you’re looking to get into—or return to—face-to-face marketing, get in touch and let us know how we can help!

Are You Ready to Return to Live Events?

We love good news, and we know you do, too. So we thought we’d pass along some encouraging things we’ve heard recently around the return of face-to-face events.

– Eric Gavin of independent hospitality management company Benchmark says: “With the anticipation of widespread vaccinations in late spring, we are seeing early signs of pent-up demand for meetings and gatherings. In our view, 2021 is a turn-around year that will kick off a substantial recovery for the meetings industry.”

– Meetings Today recently held an in-person event at Walt Disney World and shares it as a huge success, with no Covid clusters reported and attendees saying they were thrilled just “to be able to stand in line for a glass of wine.” Organizers said simply having the confidence to do the event has raised confidence in doing more face-to-face events.

– Kara Krause, an SVP at E.J. Krause & Associates said in Forbes: “I’ve heard many of my clients express eagerness to return to face-to-face B2B events. They feel that they can generate more impactful business opportunities and better reach potential customers … when they’re not communicating from behind a screen.”

Sounds great, right? If you’re as happy as we are to hear this news, we just have one question:

Start Now! Tips to Prepare for Returning to Face-to-Face Events

A presenter giving a live presentation to an audience at a trade show

Are you ready?

Ready to connect in-person and reap the ROI that only comes from face-to-face marketing?

Ready to fire up your live presentations, meetings and exhibits with a new focus on safety and efficiency?

The world is ready.

Ready to say goodbye to virtual events. We see a future for them in hybrid models, but as a substitute for in-person marketing, they often fall flat.

– A new study by the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry finds “Exhibitors have a strong preference for live events—networking in particular—and feel digital events currently don’t provide a good ROI.”

– Glitches, screen fatigue, oversaturation and distractions … this Forbes article spotlights why in person events beat virtual events every time.

With COVID vaccinations and rapid testing ramping up, officials predict a return to a more normal-feeling world by summer/early fall. That may seem like a long way off, but when it comes to planning a great live experience, you’ll want to start now.

Get ready to go live!

Great experiences take time to create, especially since you may want to re-envision your approach. As you prepare for a new, safety-conscious world, here are three things to consider:

1. Plan a Presentation. Social distancing means minimizing close encounters, which means your reps may not be able to spend as much one-on-one time with prospects. A live presentation can ensure your visitors get a full, succinct message. Spacing the audience on squares or seats lets you limit capacity and control distancing, while running presentations back-to-back with a double cast lets people who missed one show return for another.

2. Re-think theme and graphics. It’s a new year and new chance to make a splash. Craft something that will make your return to the live events space shine. Be sure to include an inventory of graphics. Which will need to be replaced or refreshed? These often take the longest to plan, design and get approved, so create a production schedule now.

3. Consider a contingency. Could a hybrid model—a live experience with a complementary website/virtual option—help cover you in case a show is canceled? Plan each in tandem so they work together to help achieve your goals.

We’re ready.

MPG is ready to create experiences that connect in new and exciting ways with a focus on safety. We’ll help you get the most out of your investment when live events come roaring back—and the time to get started is now.

Contact us today. Let’s kick off a better, brighter year together.

Our Hope for the Holidays: From a Barren Year Blooms a Beautiful 2021

Wildflowers in a superbloom on a California hillsideEvery decade or so, magic happens in the California desert. The barren land explodes with millions of joyously colorful wildflowers. This rare phenomenon, when seeds that have lain dormant germinate and blossom all at the same time, is called a superbloom.

Conditions have to be just right for a superbloom to occur. In fact, the hardship that kept the land dry and empty makes it all possible. Because grasses compete with flowers for moisture, the soil has to be parched enough to keep those grasses from getting established.

Then, when the right amount of rain comes, the hills transform into an impressionist painting of orange poppies, purple bluebells, desert sunflowers and white evening primrose. 2019’s superbloom was so vibrant it could be seen from space.

As 2020 ends and a new year approaches, we’re thinking about our industry—how Covid-19 brought live events to a halt, drying up revenues, creating a landscape of barren exhibit halls and meeting spaces. Rather than dwell on anxiety about the future, however, we think it has the potential to be beautiful indeed.

We think we’re due for a superbloom.

The hardships of the past year have created the perfect conditions for live events to come bursting back when the time is right. Solitude has shown us how valuable face-to-face interactions are. Technology limitations and screen fatigue have demonstrated that nothing can replace the relationship-building ROI of an in-person convention.

Vaccines and other rays of sunshine are already peeking through the clouds. When the sprinkling of good news becomes a shower of confidence in the ability to safely gather again, our industry will blossom more vibrant than before.

In the meantime, we at MPG are focused on planting seeds in peoples’ lives. We want to nurture and invest in others. Because like those desert hillsides, we never know when the seeds we’ve planted are going to take root and sprout. One of the many blessings to come from this strange and difficult year is the realization that success isn’t measured by how much we make or how many plates we have spinning. It’s measured in the lives we impact.

As we celebrate the holidays this year, we pray that you’ll experience the optimism of a bud waiting to grow from impossible soil. Plant those seeds, wait patiently for the rain, and keep hope alive so we can all bloom more beautifully together.

Happy Holidays from our MPG family to yours.

Advocating For Our Industry – Bringing Back B2B Events and Jobs

Socially distanced audience at the Together Again Expo

The past five months have been hard on the live events industry. An estimated 6.7 million jobs have vanished as Covid-19 forces the cancellation of conventions and meetings. The economic impact to cities is also grave as hotels, restaurants and other hospitality businesses lose customers.

Our clients are in a less-than-ideal spot, too. We’re seeing and hearing that digital experiences, while a great stopgap, aren’t providing the same connection, awareness and ROI that come with in-person events.

The good news is that safer events are possible and starting to happen around the world, led by innovative professionals dedicated to ensuring the safety of attendees, exhibitors and staff.

Our industry is resilient and innovative. We know the fight against Covid-19 will be a marathon. In order to lead with hope, we’ll need to work together to educate our local, state and national leaders, as well as other decision makers, about the benefits and needs of the live events industry.

B2B Does Not = Mass Gathering

In her Summer 2020 update, Cathy Breden, CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, says exhibitions in the U.S. are categorized as mass gatherings rather than controlled environments.

As we saw at the Together Again Expo in Orlando, meetings and conventions are nothing like festivals, concerts and other events that are lumped into the “mass gatherings” category. With limited capacity, masks and temperature-check requirements, mandated traffic flows and constant sanitation, they absolutely are controlled environments. This is a message our legislators need to hear loud and clear.

Face-to-Face is Vital to Business Success

Breden also had some enlightening insights during the State of the Industry panel at the Expo. Within the consumer sentiment surveys she’s reviewed is a “pent-up demand for a return to live events.”

“Exhibitors have told us they’ve lost leads and sales opportunities, not having the ability to build brand awareness they’re accustomed to at live events, and a difficult time in maintaining and building the types of relationships with current customers and prospects (that they could face-to-face). And of course many companies launch new products into the world at live events.”

Safe Gatherings Are Possible

The Together Again Expo demonstrated how a convention can operate safely. Just prior to that, an estimated 12,000 parents coaches and kids participated in the 2020 AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships in Orlando. Reports are that there were no positive Covid tests after that event.

Many organizations have written guidance on how to safely and effective return to events. And some countries have started exhibiting again.

Raise Your Voice

Whether you’re an event professional or marketing manager, we need to educate legislators and political leaders about the impact of live events and the need to support them through financial stimulus, tax credits and other initiatives that help the business event ecosystem.

Talk to your elected officials. Do your homework on the issues before Congress. Take action!

Here are just a few of the organizations and initiatives that are advocating for our industry.

Exhibitions Mean Business

Go Live Together

Events Industry Council

Lead With Hope

2019 was our industry’s best year ever. With collaboration and creativity, we can return to that kind of success.

According to David Dubois, president of IAEE, China’s event industry is stronger than it was pre-virus. He expects parts of the U.S. to start slowly ramping up in early September followed by parts of Europe.

And Karl Ely, Vice President and Publisher at ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership, says the digital events so many companies are turning to now come with a “silver lining” in that they’re drawing in people who will be more open to attending live events later.

As companies and attendees grow more comfortable with gathering again, it’s up to us to model what safety and success look like. The precautions and protocols we develop now will only help us be better prepared to face the next crisis, whatever it might be.

To discuss how our MPG team can help you get back to in-person events, contact us.

Innovating for Safety: Returning to Exhibits and Presentations

Stage at the Together Again Expo

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the importance of flexibility and innovation. As Covid-19 continues to challenge marketers, we’re talking with our clients about how they can adapt to safely exhibit and sponsor events at meetings and conventions once again.

The reality is that Covid will be with us for some time. And while digital events have been a great pivot for these early months, we’ve heard and experienced a “pent-up demand for a return to live events.”

Those were the words used by Cathy Breden, CEO of the Center for Event Industry Research, at the Together Again Expo in Orlando as she described the consumer sentiment surveys she’s been reviewing.

“Exhibitors have told us they’ve lost leads and sales opportunities, not having the ability to build brand awareness they’re accustomed to at live events, and a difficult time in maintaining and building the types of relationships with current customers and prospects (that they could face-to-face). And of course many companies launch new products into the world at live events.”

Every business is different. Companies must make the call whether to attend and/or exhibit at conventions and meetings. In many cases, those decisions are driven by things like travel restrictions to and from destinations, as well as quarantine requirements upon return home.

But it can be done. And we are excited about the creativity and commitment to safety shown throughout the industry. When it comes to individual exhibits and presentations, the experts on our team are planning to:

Cut Down on Crowds – Reducing capacity within tradeshow booths is vital, and organizations like the Global Biorisk Advisory Council have issued guidelines to help ensure each person can have 6 feet of space around them at all times. At MPG, we’re reviewing current booth layouts and expectations to determine how best to keep visitor count at the “sweet spot” of reaching as many as possible while maintaining social distancing.

Make Traffic One-Way – MPG has always advocated experiences that have a distinct journey, including a well-defined beginning and end guided by friendly ambassadors who keep things flowing smoothly. Traffic control and pulsing is one of our areas of expertise, and we anticipate utilizing it even more in the coming year.

Design for Distancing – Overt and subtle cues help visitors stay in their own zones. Seats in our presentation theaters will be spaced six feet apart. Furniture can be placed strategically to encourage distancing. And touches like drapes, plants and lighting can help create a warm, welcoming atmosphere.

Go Touchless – At a time when touchscreens, games and other high-touch interactives could help spread disease, live presentations are going to shine. They’re a great way to deliver a complete message and engage your audience safely and succinctly. At the end of the experience, rather than handing out sample bags, consider giving a code visitors can enter digitally to get samples sent to them.

Give Branded Masks and Safety Swag – Our MPG team sees this as an opportunity for our clients to transform their visitors into walking advertisements.

Dividers, Partitions and Shields, Oh My! – In areas where people will be in close contact, we’ll use transparent partitions to provide extra barriers. We also are considering a transparent panel between our presenters and audiences.

Re-imagine Panels and Presentations – Space chairs and podiums six feet apart. Instead of a shared mic, use individual mics or a boom. Participants should wear masks unless they’re speaking. And instead of a large panel, consider pre-recording the conversation on a platform like Zoom, then playing it back live.

Sanitize and Sanitize Again – While each venue should have services and guidelines for disinfecting surfaces and air, plan and stock up for your own cleaning protocols as well. At MPG, we already know we’ll be disinfecting our presentation theaters after every show. It not only reduces germs, it provides an added sense of confidence that we’re taking care of every detail to help keep visitors safe.

For the time being, these are “the new norms of face-to-face engagements.” But with a few modifications, we can still provide a great experience. To discuss how you can create a safer exhibit at your next convention or meeting, contact us.

Safer Conventions and Meetings: Glimpsing the Future and Gaining Hope

A socially distanced general session at the Together Again Expo

Conventions and meetings are coming back: That’s the message we heard loud and clear at the Together Again Expo in Orlando. In some parts of the world, re-openings already are happening. But they will look and operate differently—at least until Covid-19 is no longer such a threat.

The Together Again Expo was designed to showcase how an event can enable those all-important face-to-face connections while helping ensure the safety of all involved. Masks: check. Temperature checks: er… check! Staying 6 feet apart? Double check. Yes, it’s possible!

Exhibitors and attendees demonstrated best practices while sharing new smart technology and services in the arena of social distancing and elevated wellness and safety. In many ways, we experienced the convention of the future.

So what does that look like? Today’s post looks at the big picture, while our next one explores individual booths, presentations and meetings.

#1 – Partnerships and Planning are Key …

… With Health Officials – In May, the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, a Division of ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, introduced its GBAC STAR™ facility accreditation program on cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention. It provides “third-party validation that ensures facilities implement strict protocols for biorisk situations.”

The Orange County Convention Center, where Together Again was held, has the GBAC accreditation, and many other venues either have or are working on getting it. Together Again organizers also walked through with their facilities and plans with the Florida Department of Health.

One other innovation we heard about was medical concierge services, which can provide 24/7 advice and resources to event participants.

… With the Hospitality Infrastructure – Everyone traveling to an event needs to feel safe from the plane to the hotel to the places they eat and the transport they take to meeting/convention sites. Airports, hotels and other service providers should be implementing their own safety procedures and seeking third-party verification such as the GBAC accreditation.

#2 – The Basics are Essential.

Masks and Temperature Checks Mandatory – At Together Again, participants received branded masks, and those who passed the temperature check were given an “I’m cool” sticker to wear.

Social Distancing For All – In addition to design that encouraged the standard “6-feet-apart” rule (more on that below), ambassadors roamed the area to remind people to keep their distance as they conversed and interacted.

Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize! Everywhere we looked, staff were wiping down surfaces and using electrostatic sprayers and other disinfecting methods. New technologies were also on display, not only to clean but to instill confidence in participants.  

#3 – The Guest Experience Has Been Reimagined.

Lower Capacity Lowers Risk – Future trade show floors will have fewer people, with entry perhaps limited alphabetically by time of day.

Traffic Flows Flow Differently – One-way traffic and wider  aisles reduce crowding and allow for social distancing.

Central Session Spaces Replace Breakout Rooms – The biggest change we saw was a central staging area where general sessions and breakouts alike take place. Seats were positioned six feet apart, and one design concept showed each with its own desk, storage area and power so attendees could create their own self-contained “pods.” This arrangement may mean fewer breakouts, or repeating sessions to maximize attendance, but it reduces traffic moving from room to room and avoids putting people into smaller enclosed spaces.

Other, bigger-picture ideas were discussed, too.

For example, organizations may hold more regional and local events vs. single big conventions so attendees don’t have to worry about air travel and/or quarantining upon their return home.

And of course, the “hybrid” experience we’ve all been hearing about is here to stay. Even when Covid-19 is no longer a major threat, allowing people to experience at least some of an event digitally from home can actually build attendance for future in-person events by building awareness and interest.

With all of these protocols in place, we heard many Together Again Expo attendees say they felt more comfortable there than they did at their local grocery store. It’s a testament to our growing hope and confidence that with collaboration, creativity and conscientious attention to detail, we can bring back live events sooner rather than later.

To discuss how you can safely host and participate in live events, contact our team.


Together Again: What Re-Opening Live Events Could Look Like

Together Again Expo in Orlando

Last week we did something we haven’t done since February—we attended an in-person convention. It felt wonderful and a bit odd. In the five months since Covid-19 forced the cancelation of live events around the world, we’ve grown used to experiencing them virtually. But screen fatigue has shown us that nothing can replace face-to-face interaction, and we’ve eagerly awaited the time when we could all be together again.

It just so happens that Together Again is the name of last week’s expo, organized by a group of intrepid industry pros who wanted to explore and showcase how live events can safely re-open. More than 1000 people gathered at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando for a day of sessions and exhibits showcasing everything from state-of-the-art disinfecting to design for social distancing. Masks were mandatory. So were temperature checks. We found it hopeful and enlightening.

Why did we attend? Because, frankly, live events are an essential part of our livelihoods and those of others who provide services, goods and talent tied to tourism and conventions. An estimated 6.7 million jobs have been lost in the events industry this year.

But live events also are important to our clients. While everyone has made the “pivot” to digital (Another 3000 people participated in Together Again Expo’s live stream), we are hearing anecdotally and seeing in real time how virtual events can’t replicate the live experience. In a State of the Industry panel, Cathy Breden, CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, said in all of the consumer sentiment surveys she’s seeing, brands are reporting that they’ve lost leads and sales opportunities, as well as the ability to build awareness and relationships that they were accustomed to at live events.

Time and again during last week’s expo, participants asked the question: Is it too soon? Covid cases are still climbing, so should anyone be gathering for something as big as a convention?

As one panelist put it so eloquently, we are industry leaders, and leaders take risks. Someone has to go first.

Because live events won’t come back all at once, but they will come back. Some parts of the world are already seeing a return. And fighting Covid-19 is a marathon, which means the way we operate will be different for quite a while. We all need to be prepared to usher in the “new normal,” because while we want to get back to gathering and making money, the safety of attendees, exhibitors and staff is the most important consideration of all.

Over and over, this is the message we heard last week: We can do it if we work together.

Our team learned a lot at the Together Again Expo, and it gave us a lot of hope. In the next few days, we’ll be sharing more details and thoughts on safely reopening live events. We also welcome your questions and ideas. If you’d like to chat about how you can safely get together again, then contact us.

Six Tips for Effective Virtual Presentations

A woman giving a virtual presentation

“The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher”

 – Chinese Proverb

If we could pick one theme for 2020 so far, it would be “adapt.” COVID-19 has forced us to change how we approach nearly every aspect of our lives. For many, that’s meant moving events that would normally be live into a virtual space.

After a couple of months online, it should be obvious that nothing can replace the live experience. The yearning we all feel to get back to socializing and gathering tells us that interacting face-to-face is a deeply human need. And for that reason, we’re confident in the bright future of live events. When we are able to safely come together again at conventions, meetings and other venues, enthusiasm for these in-person interactions will translate to even better ROI.

Until then, virtual events are a way of adapting—a stop-gap that allows engagement to continue and investments to be salvaged. There are benefits to be sure: one is ease of tracking and measuring results. Even when live events return, experts think online components will stick around.

For now, many are still figuring out best practices for pivoting to virtual. If you find yourself presenting in front of your computer screen instead of a live audience, you might be nervous. The good news is that the fundamentals of a great presentation have not changed. With some adaptations, you can still engage your audience and make your message memorable.

Shorter is (Even) Better – Our running-time rule for live presentations is ten minutes at most. Attention spans are even shorter online. Shoot for eight minutes or less. For a crisp, compelling message, a good script writer is your best friend. Or consider an interview format with a professional moderator. Conversations hold attention better than long monologues.

Practice is (Even More) Important – Plan at least two rehearsals on the platform you’ll be using. The first should be a dry run to ensure your equipment is working correctly. The second should be a dress rehearsal. Get used to not having live audience feedback. Make sure that elements like background and camera angles are correct (see tips below). This is your chance to make sure you look and sound your best, so make the most of it!

Know How to Present Yourself – Audiences are used to a more casual look online, but there are some fundamentals to keep in mind:

– Make sure your background is uncluttered, free of inappropriate materials, and not open to through-traffic. A branded backdrop could be a good option.

– Position yourself so your upper body is framed, not too close to the screen and not too far away.

– The camera should capture you straight on, not from below.

– Lighting is especially important. Go for natural light, but not behind you (for example, don’t sit in front of a window.) To mitigate lighting issues, consider investing in a ring light.

– Dress professionally. Casual may be acceptable, but a ratty t-shirt won’t cut it. Wear simple, plain- colored clothing, avoiding stripes and other patterns.

– Audio is more important than ever, so don’t rely on your computer’s microphone or a phone connection. Go for a USB computer connected microphone or directional mic, if possible.

– Be energetic! Without live audience interaction, and with a limited ability to move around, it’s easy to let your energy level droop. Stay upbeat.

Have a Plan B – Glitches are a common drawback to virtual experiences. Your technology may fail. Your internet may cut out. Expect these things will happen and come up with a strategy for every one. Short, pre-recorded content “pods” can fill unexpected downtimes. Or a professional host can keep your audience entertained with banter while you get back up and running. Work closely with your broader team and partners to share resources, troubleshoot and back each other up behind the scenes.

Consider Pre-Recording  – Pre-recorded video can minimize unexpected interruptions and tech issues. Rather than doing your presentation live, consider a “hybrid,” where your presentation is recorded, and you host a live chat alongside it.

Seek Out a Pro – To make the very best impression, you can’t beat a professional presenter. They’re skilled at making messages memorable no matter the venue or format, and you might be surprised how affordable they are, especially without expenses like travel involved.

Our team at Moening Presentation Group includes script writers, video editors, content specialists, and professional presenters and hosts—everything you need to make your presentation the best it can be. Contact us to talk about how we can help you shine – virtually today and live tomorrow.