Us marketers love meeting customers or at least organising ways in which customers can meet other parts of our business. But increasingly its getting harder and harder to prise people out of the office for a few hours, let alone a half- or full-day. Of course we like to make it "worth their while" and entice them with seminars featuring reputable speakers, dynamic content and, sometimes, the hallowed industry gurus.
Inevitably, it seems, we surround these events with food as if that'll be a clincher - be that a breakfast briefing, a lunchtime discussion or an evening roundtable. But I don't know about you, but I'm not exactly dying for another meal, in fact more often than not I'm trying to reduce meals out in order to keep that waistline/heart in check.
And of course if you're trying to reach more senior executives, the de facto choice is the Golf Day. But seriously, do you think the golf-mad CEO/CFO/CMO of a FTSE/Fortune company isn't already a member of a decent golf club, and not short of the opportunity to get a few rounds in if needed?
Which is why I think the dear old world of events needs a shake-up. You're not offering any differentiation offering the same old same old. You need to do something different, that appeals to a more modern way of thinking about business relations. Increasingly attendees want something more than indulgence. They want something new, something that enriches them, something that they get a return on. Which is why cycling is starting to feature heavily on the corporate agenda.
At Adobe, we run regular rides around our major events and they're consistently sold out. Why? Well, they're certainly original (for now!) and the trick is to include cyclists of all ability. But the impression I get is people have an increasing interest in fitness and wellbeing. Getting outside for an hour or two and doing that without impinging on the working day (many of our rides are first thing in the morning) has an enormous appeal. Individuals feel an immense sense of satisfaction and, yes, you can have a conversation whilst riding too! And it sure beats enduring another three course dinner listening to that industry guru.