I just love it when an event shatters my expectations, and printForum 2012
was no exception. I had no idea what to expect from an event put on by a printer that invited clients and prospects to pay $50 each to attend an event that ran from noon to 8 p.m. last Wednesday in downtown Chicago. I figured there would be 100 or so people, and that the breakout sessions would be thinly veiled sales pitches by partner vendors such as GPA and HP.
Well, there’s wrong, and then there’s WRONG. And I was WRONG! Attended by more than 200 creative and marketing professionals, printForum 2012 was the third event hosted by Chicago printer Rider Dickerson.
Inspired by a trip to Dcsoop after having bought an HP Indigo digital press in 2008, Dean Petrulakis, senior vp of business development at Rider Dickerson, had an uphill battle convincing owner and CEO Bill Barta to invest in the kind of serious money it would take to create a branded experience like printForum. But Petrulakis was determined, believing that it would take a long-term commitment to the concept in order to really set Rider Dickerson apart from the hundreds of other printers in the Midwest that have invested in digital technology.
In addition to now owning a world-class branded customer forum and solidifying partnerships with key vendors that help defray the cost of the event, Rider Dickerson has experienced immediate sales results from hosting this printForum. It can point to at least two new customers who had an “aha” moment when they learned about services that they didn’t know the printer offered.
Perhaps even more compelling, though, is that—compared to the event held in 2011—not only did the event have increased attendance, the caliber of attendees also has risen. That means the average attendee was of a more senior level with more buying power and a more significant engagement attitude.
On top of that, the overarching value to Rider Dickerson is the community that it is building and how the company is engaging with customers and potential customers on a completely different level. Win.Win.Win
When I sat down with Petrulakis to talk about the event in a post mortem, I asked him what the biggest surprise of the aftermath has been. He said that many people told him they were ready for more—a longer event with more breakout sessions.
This is great news to him, and may cause Rider Dickerson to look at the format for next year. All in all, Petrulakis is very proud of the brand he has built around printForum, and what keeps him up at night is outdoing himself next year.
I have to say, this year’s keynote speaker, Sally Hogshead of Fascinate Inc., is gonna be a tough act to follow. I will have a lot more to say about her and her “7 Triggers of Fascination” in a future blog post.