Lucy Pitt is the first to freely admit that she uses personality to sell her shows. However, while consumer exhibitions like Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs and Cake & Bake can draw on TV personalities to boost visitor numbers and provide popular content, trade shows have to work harder and Pitt is prepared to sell her shows by creating an identity. Clearly, that is a method that works, as the CloserStill star won the Best Event Marketer award for an unprecedented third year running.
“That could be a challenge from the outside looking in,” she admits. “The shows I work on cover renewable energy, clinical and community pharmacy and dentistry. It is all about the personalities within that industry. What we are ultimately looking to create is an environment where the industry leads itself – we are just facilitating that and helping to bring everyone together.
“The community pharmacy industry, for instance, has a very strong set of personalities – people are prepared to engage, as they are passionate about their industry. That changes everything for me.
“There is no science to creating a personality, but that’s what I believe our shows have. It’s really important for us to continue that in our communication, in our creative, our campaigns, and our proposition. It needs to be consistent and deliver that personality throughout. People buy that. It’s got to be real. It becomes a show, and people have a good time, and that’s important.”
Pitt came to the industry from a completely different, and unusual, background. Living in Bristol, she was responsible for a range of chocolate products. However, when Pitt relocated, she was open to new sectors, so long as the role encompassed various elements of marketing. The events industry, and CloserStill, provided that challenge. Pitt now works tirelessly on The Pharmacy Show, The Dentistry Show, The Clinical Pharmacy Congress and Nextgen.
“As far as I am concerned, not having had events experience was a good thing,” says Pitt. “People in certain industries can get stuck in their ways. I’ve never been one to follow the rules and I like to bring some new thoughts and ideas to the table.
“One of the key things for me is that an event is an activity that takes place at a particular point in time, it isn’t a tangible product like a box of chocolates that I was marketing in the past. But events are brands that people can see and feel and have an association with like they do with traditional brands, and I think that’s the way I approach marketing – developing a personality for the show that people then have some sense of loyalty towards.”
Regardless of the sector, creating a personality for your marketing messages when you are targeting tens of thousands of varied individuals is a daunting prospect, and one that requires a methodical approach. With The Dentistry Show, for example, Pitt says they segmented the data 28 times, with bespoke letters being direct mailed to some 55,000 potential attendees.
Winning one of the individual achievement awards is clearly a great personal endorsement, and Pitt believes it makes her even stronger. Perhaps this is one reason why she has managed to bag three gongs on the bounce?
“The first time I won it, I was absolutely blown away, being recognised in that way,” says Pitt. “It helps to give you that sense of achievement and belief in what you are doing because sometimes you do doubt you can achieve the targets that are set, or you can’t see the wood for the trees. So it’s recognition and just desserts for the blood, sweat and tears that go into pulling an event off.
“It gives me that belief in my own ability to not be afraid, to stand up and say we should do things differently. That’s key for anybody – don’t be afraid to try new things.”
However, all good things come to an end, and Pitt has already decided not to stand for the EN Awards next year as an individual. However, she is adamant that one of her talented colleagues from the CloserStill stable will continue her legacy.
“I am going to be encouraging, helping and supporting other members of the team to win,” she says. “We have some great people on our team and they also deserve to be recognised. I just help to colour everything in.”
Pitt’s doing herself a disservice. Recording the kind of conversion rates, rebookings and delegate numbers her shows have achieved at CloserStill takes dedication, passion and talent. Yes, she is backed, supported and mentored by brilliant colleagues, but you don’t win three personal EN Awards just by putting bums on seats. Just ask next year’s winner.
This was first published in the June edition of EN. Any comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org