SmartBrief is talking directly with small and medium-sized businesses to discover their journeys, challenges and lessons. Today’s post is a Q-and-A with David Adler, founder of BizBash, a resource hub for the event and meeting industry with its website, magazines, and trade shows.
Are you a small-business owner and would like to share your story? E-mail me jdasilva [at] smartbrief.com.
For those who might not know, what is BizBash? What need did you see unfulfilled when you started the company?
As the leading trade media for the industry, BizBash is the place event and meeting professionals turn to discover new event ideas, resources, and trends. Our website, magazines, trade shows, and conferences provide event organizers — responsible for everything from White House state dinners to the Oscars — inspiration to take their events to the next level.
I started BizBash because I wanted people to have a “peek over the fence” and see what their competition was doing, since you can’t get in to their events. This marketplace for ideas allows these planners to explore the hottest trends, latest technologies and newest vendors to implement into their events.
What have been some of the challenges in your industry, especially at the start? How tied to the broader economy is BizBash’s fortunes?
I’ve always felt like the event industry was sitting at the children’s table, but we are finally being taken seriously. The industry experienced struggles after 9/11 and during the recession, when events and event departments were the first place to experience major budgetary cuts and layoffs. After these major changes, I gathered together a group of influential event organizers to prove events were the premier medium to connect with, and show appreciation to, consumers.
Today, brands realize the importance of face-to-face interaction, allocating 25% of marketing budgets for events. I expect this to grow even higher as more companies discover the important neurological impact of events.
What led to the creation of the regional advisory boards [such as the D.C. board — ed.]? What benefit do they provide, and what must be done to ensure they don’t fall off or become forgotten?
Like they say, all politics is local — and face-to-face is as local as you get. While the goal of the board is to advise the company, the true objective is to get local people talking to each other.
We still have them involved in numerous aspects of our company, including judging for our Event Style Awards program. We feel it is important that these industry giants recognize other event professionals who are making a great impact on the event world.
When people are seeking a job at your company, what are some of the qualities you’re looking for — their attributes and/or how they relate to others?
At BizBash, we love creative thinkers — people who aren’t afraid to think outside the box and conceive new strategies, products, ideas and designs to elevate our brand. Between editorial, sales, marketing, events and everyone in between, all of our team members are driven individuals with their fingers on the pulse of what’s hot in our industry. People are always surprised at how small our company really is, which I think says a lot about the quality of employees we have here.
What do you consider strengths of your leadership style, your approach to business? What about weaknesses?
Creativity is my strong suit; I love trying to inspire people to come up with their own ideas by giving them permission to think in unconventional ways about conventional subjects. My weakness, but still a potential strength, is that I am very A.D.D. and depend on others to carry out some of my creative visions.
You founded a magazine in the mid-1970s, right after college, and made it a success. What were some of the keys to staying afloat then, and what lessons helped once it came time to start BizBash many years later?
In the late ‘70s I started Washington Dossier, a society magazine in Washington, D.C. This is when my love for events really blossomed; I would attend events with politicians, White House officials, and Washingtonians, and noticed they were more interested in these events than their day jobs. These face-to-face conversations were more important than anything, as it forced people to pay attention and not be distracted by outside disruptions. I learned that everything is in front of your nose and you need to practice, what I call, “managed serendipity” — otherwise known as the art of rubbing elbows with the folks that you want to create relationships with.