Below is a transcript of the conversation.
Jeff Tippett: You’re listening to Victory by Association, I’m your host, Jeff Tippett. Welcome to episode two, with Ralph Henderson.
Well, hello everyone, I’m glad that you’ve joined us today, for Episode Number Two, of Victory by Association today. I am so excited to welcome Ralph Henderson from on OmniChannel Productions. Ralph works with associations and groups across the country helping them produce amazing events. Welcome Ralph.
Ralph Henderson: Thank you, Jeff, it’s such a pleasure to be here with you. I’m looking forward to talking today
JT: So we’re starting out this interview with a little bit of jealousy on my part. I’ll have to tell you that to see the beautiful outdoor image there where you are with the trees behind you, I’m slightly jealous that I’m stuck in an office and you’re… out enjoying the beautiful weather today.
RH: Well, I figured your audience sees enough of offices or are probably cooped up in one right now. So I thought this would be a nice working place.
JT: I love it, you’ll make us all jealous. First of all, if you wouldn’t mind, tell us something interesting or unique about you, something that most people won’t know; something, they won’t find on your LinkedIn profile, but would kind of be interesting to know.
RH: That’s a great question, and I think the one I always go back to, I spent six years in the Mediterranean during my Submarine Service. Now, you’ll find the fact that I was in the navy, on the LinkedIn profile, but you won’t find the stories that I had while I was in the Mediterranean. I was based in Sardinia, Italy, and we went to all of the countries in the Mediterranean and it really helped me as a young man to experience those different cultures to help me as I got into supply chain and what I do. So I thought your audience might find that kind of fun.
JT: So, let me make sure I’m understanding. You were in a sub, and you were underwater?
RH: That is correct.
JT: Alright, so I would probably be a little bit claustrophobic but kudos to you and I’m quite sure the experiences and what you saw and the colorful things that you experienced there, it is still impacting you today.
RH: Sure, yeah, I reflect on those experiences all the time both relationally and professionally actually. You work with associations as we mentioned when we kicked off today’s episode, and do some amazing things, producing events that really stand out and for associations, they really do need events — they need things that are produced that are done extremely well that stand out, that are different. That is part of how associations attract and they draw people into their events.
JT: So I would love to hear one. So if you have it stories, or some cool things that you’ve done, some victories that you’ve had for associations as you’ve worked with productions.
RH: No, I’m happy to do it. And I’m thrilled to work with these folks. Over the 10 years I’ve been running the business. I sunk my teeth in supply chain after the service and I really enjoyed it, and as a result I became an executive, and I went to a lot of these conferences and what I was finding was they were really good, they were very educational, but they weren’t, they weren’t productive from an entertainment perspective. I engineer connecting perspective and so some of the victories, I’ve had, I’ve worked with a Trade Association, which covers the material handling industry, I’ve worked with consultants, the Tompkins International, who is a conferences that have really… Well, what’s fun is I love the package, the tenets, the people who are getting it received in a more impactful way and I’ve been told many times how appreciative people are with that, and so the victory is just finding people who are receptive to that and then seeing how their information can be more impactful, but also more relevant and applicable, which is what people in this space want more than anything else is: teach it to me, but also teach me how I can use it, and I think we’ve been able to do that.
JT: Fantastic. Give us an overview, if you will, on attendance and association events and conferences and conventions, what have you seen… Did you see a dip following some of the recession? Are we seeing an uptick right now or what are you from your perspective, as the one who produces and makes all these things happen flawlessly for clients. What are you seeing out there right now?
RH: Yeah, well, what I’m seeing right now is no doubt about it, as a matter of if we go back to the recession and in 09 and 10 and 11, what happened was, unfortunately, people cut out of their budget to travel. And the conference is just one of those things that, unfortunately, affects cash flow quite extensively and I understand that, but what was really interesting, Jeff, was as a result of that, when the economy came back, there was this sense of distrust, that it wasn’t prevalent and it wasn’t really talked about but it was this lack of touch, that people had over the last couple of years, and I think what happened was as a result of that people needed to get back together with people because that’s how we build trust. And so what I have seen and what the statistics have been showing is, we’ve actually had more people going to shows and conferences, in the last three years than in the previous 50 years, and I think it is, it’s a couple of things. One is the change that’s going on and the exponential rate that it’s happening at I think is definitely one thing, but I really think the other thing is people at the end of the day, do business with people.
JT: One of the things that I’m curious about, and I know you’re extremely active on social media, I see your posts. I’m extremely active in social media and a it is huge to me, such a big part and so much I think is like email marketing and my website and making connections that way. But could you talk just a little bit about face-to-face and trust. Tell us a little bit more about how you see your events and how getting off of social media and shaking hands, and seeing eye ball to eye ball — tell me a little bit about how you see that helps people. It helps build trust.
RH: What I communicate is technology is great, and we need to have it and I certainly am not an anti-technology person. I think what we tend to do, though, is people and I’ve seen this now over the through a in business is that we… And so as a result of that, we start to evaporate. Some of the ways we do things and I think the face-to-face was one of them, and technology started to come in with email for example, and we got even more sophisticated with video people, whether they did it consciously or not, they just thought they could replace the way we grew up and communicating with one another from when we were children. And what I think I’ve uncovered is, you really can’t… And so the face-to-face doesn’t replace the technical… What it does in my opinion, is it makes the technical even more powerful. So the way I would communicate to the executives is: Look, keep doing what you’re doing on social. I’m a big fan. As you mentioned earlier, Keep doing what you’re doing on electronic communication, but please do not forget or under value, how important it is to see people.We have companies who are flying folks all over the country. If not, the world to meet with people. Why wouldn’t you to consider getting those people together and having some sort of time with them one-on-one and creating some real relationships and then use the technology to communicate between sessions?
JT: Love it, fantastic. So, let me ask another question that you mentioned: the word entertainment. And I know a lot of associations, where they’re producing events they have some cool entertainment in the evening, but still just a little bit about entertainment, throughout the day as well. And maybe that’s the type of speakers that they bring in, or maybe it’s things that happen in between sessions. Are you seeing anything around entertainment? And what type of value does that have on the audience?
RH: Yeah, I gotta tell you, I’m really spoiled in doing so, so many of these conferences that I do get to work with some really talented and very innovative people, and I just recently worked with one where what they did was during the break out sessions they had a panel, and what that panel did was they actually created a mock scenario using scripts for the content that they wanted to deliver to the audience, and the audience became a member of that drama if you will. And the surveys came back and said wow much everybody enjoyed that because first of all, it was entertaining and people like to be entertained, but the second thing was it was really relevant, it mattered to them, and everybody in the audience was involved and I thought that is just genius, and why, frankly, I’m probably gonna steal that idea and use it in other conferences.
JT: Fantastic, and you should, as well as our listeners as well, steal that. Well, roughly, we’ve got an email distribution list of about 50,000 executives in the association space that we reach out to and about 25,000, through our social media. So you’ve got a pretty solid audience here. Let me ask you this, having produced so many shows over the time and events, what one thing would you offer executives that you see that they might need to know? Maybe it’s coming from the production aspect or things that you’ve seen or where you see things trending. What one thing do you think our audience needs to hear from you today?
RH: Really great question. And if we can just impart this on any executive who’s considering doing well-produced, well-packaged conferences, and forums for executives work so well is because what they’re after is to get there and connect. You don’t have to have the presenter’s all talking about the same thing, but having a way so that the audience member feels like they’re watching a production and it all got put together, and I understand what we typically do is we do these things in silos, and on islands, and with the best intent. The audience member really does feel like it was a well oiled, well-produced event, so that everybody who leaves there feels that they saw something that was all connected.
JT: That’s fantastic. We leave each of these episodes talking about an association super hero volunteer. I just think there’s great value in people that volunteer people that are doing things of saying, thank you and being… Having a lot of gratitude for what they bring to the table. So Ralph, if you would. Let’s take this opportunity. I know you’ve worked with tons of amazing volunteers, but maybe there’s one of the… We we wanna say this was better than any other, but we’ll just say this is one that stands out that you wanna mention today. Tell me a little bit about who the super hero is, what they do, and let’s give them a shout out.
RH: Yeah, and I really appreciate that and the person that comes to mind is a gentleman who was just recently the president of an organization that is in the material healing space. He was a very exciting and innovative person, his name is Christian. In my opinion, one of the pioneers in the industry that is willing to embrace the innovation of how we communicate and how we can let people know what we’re doing in a more impactful way. And Christian, because of his innovative creativity he’s just recently left that organization and getting ready to be a star and a new opportunity, and his, what I love is that one of his number one priorities was that whatever he did, he could stay connected with the trade associations that he’s a part of that other people, to the point where he’s a part of the STEM program. And if your audience is familiar, this is a program that goes into the high schools, science and the mathematics and he is really active on helping those young people get plugged into the supply chain material handling space. And I was just so proud of him because that was such a big part of where he wanted to go.
JT: That’s fantastic, thanks Christian. Well, we say thanks for all that you’re doing. Thank you for your time today, thanks for joining us, thanks for sharing your expertise, you dropped some great nuggets here. That, I think, association executives can take and use as they plan out their next event. So, Ralph, thanks for your expertise and being with us today.
RH: My pleasure, any time you wanna come join me for a cigar. You are welcome.
JT: Yeah, you got it, man. I’ll have to do that. Thanks everyone for joining today, we’ll see you next week.