Last week, I stood on the end zone of the U.S. Bank Stadium, the new home of the Minnesota Vikings, to kick off Marco’s Technology Tradeshow. We rented out the entire stadium to host nearly 700 people for this technology event – just days before the largest crowd in Minnesota football history poured into the stadium for the home opener.
The digital display that our speakers presented their information on spans more than 8,100 square feet, making it one of the largest in the NFL. (I heard many say it was the biggest PowerPoint presentation they’ve ever seen). It’s among 13 high-definition LED displays that spread across 25,000 square feet in the new stadium, the most in the league. The sound and audio were of the same caliber.
I’d like to think that everyone came out for the technology, but I’m sure the opportunity to step foot in the newly built stadium and take a tour played into it, too.
Afterwards, we received a series of positive feedback from our clients, prospects, vendors and employees who participated in the event. Vendors shared that it was one of the most valuable events they’ve been a part of – meeting our goal of being both fun and informational.
A lot of effort and expense went into it, but the value to us was even higher. It’s not often we have that many IT decision makers assemble in one place. It was a bold move. This was the largest investment Marco has ever made in an event. I think we pulled it off pretty well – here’s why:
- Ensured quality presentations.
With presentations by Mitel, Barracuda, Konica Minolta and more, the event featured some of the best technology leaders in the world. A group of Marco team members spent time not only identifying who would be valuable presenters, but they ensured the presentations would hit the mark. We hosted a practice session with each presenter prior to the event to ensure quality content and delivery. We wanted the sessions to be informational, not “salesy." The result was highly attended breakout sessions that were focused on educating rather than selling.
- Provided elements of entertainment.
No matter the event, it needs to have an element of fun to attract and retain participants. At our Tech Tradeshow, participants had the opportunity to receive tours of the facility, get pictures taken with the Vikings mascot and cheerleaders and play games on an app we developed. The concept was to promote active participation by our attendees. Through the app, they earned points for a chance to win prizes such as an Apple Watch and Amazon Echo. The activities ranged from kicking a field goal to asking questions at each vendor booth to liking Marco on Facebook. Among the highlights was the keynote panel discussion with Paul Allen, the voice of the Minnesota Vikings, sharing light-hearted banter on the upcoming game with former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber and Vikings executive Lester Bagley.
- We were intentional about our invite list.
Who is in the crowd matters – to the participants and to us as the host of the event. We leveraged our sales team to identify their target clients in our Salesforce CRM to ensure the right people were invited based on a set of criteria. We were pleased that so many IT decision makers willingly accepted to spend the day with us.
- Planned well in advance.
We wanted our clients and prospects to know from the moment they walked in the door that we appreciate them taking the time to join us. That’s why our corporate event planner, Tina Meyer, along with our marketing team started the planning process a year ago so they could make sure that all details were covered on game day. It feels like they thought of everything (including what we would wear) and every participant was treated with such respect and care. Because I’m not a very good coordinator myself, I appreciate the good work that went into making this a successful event.
During my kick-off presentation, I explained to the group that I’m not a very good tradeshow attendee. It’s important to me that if I’m going to attend, the event needs to have significant take-home value and an element of fun as well. I hope our clients felt we delivered on both.
I had the opportunity to return to U.S. Bank Stadium Sunday for the inaugural game in the new stadium and be among the history-breaking audience to watch the Vikings defeat the Packers. It’s a super-cool facility and I’m glad our clients had the opportunity to be right on the field and learn what we’re passionate about, too.