Mike Gwynn — sales trainer at The Media HouseHow long have you been working with the media house as a consultant and trainer? What do you enjoy about it?

The first course I ran for The Media House was for RBI in 2010, and since then I have delivered quite a wide variety of training and been involved in a number of interesting consultancy projects. It is probably this diversity that makes working with The Media House so rewarding — one minute I will be training a group of exhibition salespeople on how to sell sponsorship, and the next I am helping the board of an well-known media company formulate its events strategy. A major plus is also being able to compare notes with some very knowledgeable and experienced events people.

What is your background in event sales?

My early sales career was in publishing, and in keeping with many media companies we extended our brands beyond just the magazines and into events. Later, I worked for a content provider — Jane’s Information Group — which also gave us the chance to run our own conferences. Most recently I looked after sales and marketing at ITE, putting on exhibitions and conferences in some very challenging emerging markets.

Can you highlight a couple of the courses you have delivered and what makes them so special?

One of my favourites is sponsorship sales — probably The Media House’s most popular sales course. The point when people have that ‘light bulb moment’, when they realise how to sell sponsorship properly, is very satisfying. It’s actually quite straightforward when you know how but, unfortunately, not enough people do.

Another course I really enjoy covers how to stand out in a very competitive market. It’s a sad fact that most salespeople do and say the same things and there’s very little to differentiate them from their competition. The most pleasing bit is when, during that first day, people start to think more creatively, and then I find that the follow up workshops we do with the groups to reinforce the messages and make sure they are on an upward track have so much impact on their business.

You have delivered courses in Asia, do you find training requirements differ? Tell us about your Asia trips

I’ve been training in Asia for 10 years now, and like many parts of the world it has its own idiosyncrasies. The events business in the region has made tremendous strides forward in recent years, and it’s now extremely competitive, yet there is still a thirst for knowledge of how things are done in Europe and the US.

I also find that the level of creativity shown by sponsors and exhibitors is lower in Asia and so sales and marketing people have to work harder to convince companies of the benefits of participating in their events. On the plus side, with the right knowledge and approach, there is a great opportunity for salespeople to be regarded as marketing consultants, and this is where I have seen so much progress made in teams I work with regularly.

Have the requirements for marketing changed much?

Hugely. It is well known that marketing generally is becoming increasingly experiential — which is what makes events so attractive — but also people just don’t have the time or inclination to wade through large swathes of promotional copy any more. As attention spans lessen so we need to be told what’s on offer in bite-sized chunks — or even better though sight and sound. A picture paints a thousand words, as they say — and a video even more!

With the rise of experiential marketing, a key element of the conversations that event salespeople must have with exhibitors or sponsors is how they plan to make the most of their event participation. So many companies simply rely on branding to make an impact but it rarely does, which then makes the post-event ROI/ROO conversation much more difficult and lessens the likelihood of a rebooking. Contributing towards an attendee’s experience through creative activation may increase the sponsor’s cost but it will pay dividends in the end.

Why are media house training courses so effective?

From what I can see of the other Media House courses, they are all run by people who have been there and done it, and been very successful at doing it, too. That’s only part of the requirement, though. Without the ability to impart their accumulated knowledge in a way that leaves delegates armed with new ideas, fired up and raring to go, that experience counts for little. Thankfully, the company has pulled a strong group of consultants together, and we are fortunate that we can all recommend other Media House courses with confidence.

We’re also encouraged to attend these other courses to broaden our perspectives, and we are fed a constant flow of material and information which not only might be useful additions to our courses but also keeps us fully up to date with current and likely future developments in our respective fields.

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