Conferences were next to impossible before the shutdown…now?

Getting approval to attend government conferences was a harrowing experience before the shutdown. Travel restrictions, budget cuts and management approval made it very difficult to attend any government conference, let alone conferences out of town. But now the government shutdown is going to make attending conferences even more difficult.

Joyce Bosc is the President of Boscobel Marketing Communication. Lisa Dezzutti, President and CEO of Market Connections.

They have looked at the government conferences in their new PulsePoll. Dezzutti told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that the results of the survey shouldn't have beens surprising, but they were. 

"It should not have surprised me that conference attendance was down, but it was a higher percentage than what I was expecting. We asked the same question last fall in 2012. We asked it again about a month a go and the result was that 72% of all agency employees are attending fewer event this year. That’s up from 38% last year. And I thought 38% was a big number,” said Dezzutti.

Why are fewer people going to conferences?

“A couple of the reasons for the lack of conferences came out of the study. Some of the reasons were travel restrictions, lack of management approval and budgetary decline. The other reason is that we have been tracking industry show cancellations since the beginning of this last fiscal year. So far about 44 shows have been cancelled,” said Bosc.

“I don’t see it turning around anytime soon. It is going to take Congress picking up their big girl panties and getting their jobs done before we see any of this change,” said Dezzutti.

Less inter-agency and cross pollination, because of lack of interactions?

“Agencies felt like they would become more siloed because there is less opportunity to share. They feel it will be more difficult to maintain best practices, because they are not able to get out to these conferences where they learn. They also feel innovation is going to be hurt because they can’t get out there and see what is new. So there are a lot of areas that are going to suffer on the agency-side,” said Dezzutti.

What should folks be taking away from this?

“Both industry and government agreed that contractors are going to have to get creative in order to stay in front of government.

  • Some of the ways that government expects contractors to do this is to do webinars. (55%.) That’s way up because it was only 18% in November of 2012. These are not sales webinars by the way. But a true information and content sharing webinar that is helpful to government.
  • 52% of government said they plan to review trade publications for ideas. That’s another opportunity for contractors to do thought led articles or advertising.
  • 48% of government said they were going to be using websites. That’s another opportunity for contractors to update their websites. They can’t set it up and forget it. They can put up webinars, content or videos on their website. 3
  • 5% want to be reading white papers and case studies.
  • Only 19% of government actually plan on speaking with government. That’s a shocking number,” said Bosc.

Very targeted events?

“It is the re-birth of the road show. Many years ago when I was at GTSI we used to do a lot of road shows. We had a team that would travel around the country. I think that is a strategy that is going to work. Smaller, more focused events that are close to the customer are going to be the way to go,” said Dezzutti.  

You can find all our coverage of the shutdown here.

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