by Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing
My wife may disagree with this, but I take no great joy in saying “I told you so.”
It’s no secret that events targeting government employees have fallen on tough times. We’ve used this space repeatedly to encourage immixGroup clients and channel partners to re-evaluate their event marketing plans. Unfortunately, we’re seeing more and more examples to prove this re-evaluation is necessary.
We learned today that the DoD Cybercrime Conference has been “postponed” with the following message as an explanation:
“Based on DoD’s budgetary uncertainty, The Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) has been given direction to reduce the government expenditure rate. Therefore, DC3 and Technology Forums have reluctantly come to the decision that we will not be holding our annual DoD Cyber Crime Conference in 2013. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate everyone’s efforts and support.”
This came on the heels of this message which we received on January 15:
“In response to DoD and DON guidance, the DON IT Conference, West Coast 2013 has been cancelled. The conference was scheduled for Jan. 28-30, 2013, at the San Diego Convention Center.”
In mid-December we received this notification of an event postponement. Is this a precursor to another shutdown?
“As a result of much deliberation, as well as guidance from the Army, AFCEA International has reached the decision to move TechNet Tucson to Augusta/Fort Gordon, GA. The event will be renamed TechNet Augusta, and take place September 10-12, 2013 at the Marriott at the Convention Center.”
While I can’t yet confirm this, we’ve heard rumors that many of the AFCEA conferences may be cancelled this year. We hope that’s not the case but it’s worth watching.
The drop in demand for government event attendance was clear in the recent data put out by Market Connections. This confirmed what most of us already feared:
With shrinking budgets and fewer resources to support mission goals, federal government decision makers and influencers plan on attending fewer events this year. According to a recent poll by Market Connections, Inc., a leading government market research firm, 38% of government employees plan to attend fewer educational and trade events in FY2013 compared to FY2012.
The main reasons for the expected decrease in event attendance are budget and travel restrictions (78% and 58%, respectively). Just over one-third (36%) of respondents also report management will not allow them to attend events in FY2013. However, some government workers plan to attend about the same number of events (27%), and a few plan to attend more (5%).”
Market Connections notes a few silver linings in the data (summarized here). Most federal workers still prefer live events to webinars. They still see value in attending events to learn about new technologies in addition to networking. The key is to make sure your events align with the preferences of your target audience:
“Of the 400 government workers we polled, 58% prefer smaller, content-specific events over large trade shows with multiple vendors. Many of the respondents are thinking local, with seven in ten more likely to attend events that are close to home (69%) or hosted by a trade association (72%), as opposed to traveling to events that require a hotel (29%) or are hosted by a corporate entity (25%).”
So when your sales team or corporate office asks you to set up that glitzy product demo at the Ritz to attract 100 federal CIOs, you may have some bubbles to burst.
We’ve been proactive over the past 18 months to re-align our marketing programs to stay in front of these changes. If you’re an immixGroup client, contact your senior account manager or email me at [email protected] to learn more.
UPDATE: As if on cue, I just got this message only a few hours after this blog post went live:
“Due to U.S. Department of Defense evolving budget directives and its current fiscal constraints, DISA has notified AFCEA International that DISA has cancelled its “Expanded Forecast to Industry” conference scheduled for 14-15 August 2013. Senior DISA leaders are hopeful they will be able to resume the conference with AFCEA in FY14.”