WasteExpo Uses Content to Grow

Challenge

WasteExpo has been one of the largest solid waste and recycling tradeshows and conferences in the United States for several decades. Still, show managers knew there was a growing segment of its audience that they were missing, those interested in organics and composting.

“We had exhibitors in that space for a little while, but we really weren’t serving them on the content side of things,” says Liz Bothwell, marketing director for Penton’s waste industry group.

“They just dropped off over a period of time. We saw so much opportunity on the content side.”

Plan

Provide content on the organics and composting sector, first, in WasteExpo’s print and digital editorial products and then in the conference component of its annual event.

Execution

“We hired a former executive director of the U.S. Composting Council to help with the content,” Bothwell says. “He’s now a consultant and a little bit of a superstar in that world. He’s had years and years of experience and we knewthat he was well-respected and had a lot of thought leadership.”

The “superstar” began writing articles on the subject for the group’s various publications and developed a conference track on the subject for the upcoming WasteExpo.

“Our editors were already doing some coverage of this, but they weren’t necessarily pulling it up separately for folks,” Bothwell says.

“Bringing it full circle,” she adds, “we created a pavilion on the showfloor where folks could go and find the solutions they heard about or read about.”

Obstacles

“There were a few competitive issues,” Bothwell says, referring to competing publications and events that are also in that particular field, “but the beauty of it was our entire group wanted it to succeed.”

Results

WasteExpo had 313 attendees register for the organics and composting conference track.

“That may not sound like a lot,” Bothwell says, “but all these people paid for the full event. That’s almost a third of the people who paid full registration.”

Further research revealed that 86 percent of those attendees were not at the 2011 or 2012 shows. “So we did successfully attract a new audience, which was our goal,” she says. “And now it helps us tell a better story this year in terms of sales. We can say, ‘You all said you wanted content in this area and we fulfilled that.’”

Advice

Bothwell: “Look for opportunities for new content. See what you’re already doing and fill the holes either internally or externally to make sure you are fulfilling on that. If necessary, go outside to find the expertise because you can’t be an expert at everything.”

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Posted by Michael Hart

Michael Hart is the executive editor of Expo. Reach him at mhart@accessintel.com.... View all articles by Michael Hart →