"The key challenge is to stand out from the crowd" - dmg events Head of EMEA gets real on the content game

Interview with James Drake Brockman, dmg events

We had a chat with James Drake Brockman, Head of EMEA and India, Digital Marketing Division at dmg events to see how he sees the content industry evolving specifically around events marketing. Here are the key takeaways of what he told us.

James, could you give us a brief introduction to dmg events?

Sure! Briefly, dmg events is part of the Daily Mail and General Trust plc. We organise somewhere in the region of 80 events in 25 countries each year and employ 300 staff.

So, what’s your story with events?

I’ve organised technology events since the late 90’s, working on the Windows Show, Linux Expo and Webmaster before taking over Internet World in 2005. During my six years on that event we repositioned it, turning it from a struggling IT event to Europe’s largest marketing and digital business event. After that I took a sabbatical and found myself in Sydney where I worked for dmg::events on ad:tech and then launched an iMedia Summit focusing on Online Retail. When I returned to the UK in 2012 I was initially tasked with identifying emerging markets for the dmg::events digital marketing portfolio to launch into, before being asked to take on the role of Head of EMEA. Since then I have added our exciting India business to my portfolio.

What would you say are the key trends you're seeing in B2B marketing for technology companies?

The core trend I have seen is the desire of technology companies not just to be service or solution providers, but to be thought leaders in their specific field. This manifests itself in a strong desire to engage in the content programs at events rather than just take stand space or sponsorship. This also stands true when it comes to written content and channels like our imediaconnection newsletter provide an great additional vehicle for them to get their message out. The industry we serve (marketing and advertising) is an ever evolving space and there is always a desire for knowledge and to be one step ahead of the competition. That’s where our events can serve a real purpose in helping them achieve this.

And how about the key challenges?

The key challenge would definitely be standing out from the crowd, but doing so in an environment that will get them noticed by potential clients. In my opinion, many technology providers spend too much time deciding what their USPs are and then trying to shout that message as many times as possible in the rough direction of potential clients. What they fail to do is understand the information their customers actually want or need. For example “The rise and rise of programmatic” is not a conference session title that will get brand marketers excited, whereas “increasing marketing efficiency and effectiveness through programmatic” is. It’s the age old mistake of focusing features not benefits.

In addition, a lot of technology companies are lazy when it comes to where they focus their attention. All too often they care more about what their competitors are doing and where they are doing it, rather than finding the right audience and creating a compelling message for them. To be fair, with the number of events these days it can be hard to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

How important would you say content marketing is in the events industry?

The heart of what we do is content marketing. We put on events with great speakers, talking about issues relevant to our audience. We also create a marketplace where our audience can be exposed to the latest products services and solutions available. All of that is “content” and is what compels our audience to come to our events. When it comes to the marketing of our events we do have a strong content marketing strategy as well, engaging our potential attendees through relevant content produced through our newsletter, youtube and other marketing channels.

Would you say content marketing has a measurement problem?

Sure but doesn’t most forms of marketing? Even in the digital age the holy grail of 100% measurable marketing is still a pipe dream. There are forms of measurement - how many people read your blog or watched your youtube channel - but as with any data it only goes so far. It doesn’t say what that individual thinks of your brand or whether they are more or less likely to become a customer.

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