Marketing Events Design

PP021 | 4D Design | Discover Why Understanding Marketing is Crucial to Event Success in 2016

Suzanne MalhotraSo far it has been an amazing journey for us this year here on Planner’s Pod! We’ve learned so many things about the Events Industry and heard about so many experiences over the course of the show. For the last episode of 2015, it was our pleasure to be joined this week by Suzanne Malhotra, the Commercial Director of 4D Design.

4D Design is a company that Creates Superior Brand Environments™ for clients who wish to explore new and creative ways of pulling together a brand experience. They specialise in the live events, exhibitions and experiential sectors, and have worked with companies in Aviation, IT & Telecoms, and Emerging Technologies. Suzanne tells us about the marketing aspect of events and how important engagement is for a client’s brand during an exhibition.


  • How Marketing plays an important role in the Events Industry
  • What is the difference between an Event Professional joining 2 decades ago, as opposed to someone joining in 2016?
  • Why the future of events is very connected to technology.




0:25 – Intro

0:46 – Opening Words with Toby and James

5:37 – Interview with Suzanne Malhotra

5:54 – Hear about Suzanne’s background as an Events Pro

6:27 – An overview of what 4D Design does

6:58 – How do they define a brand experience?

7:39 – Putting brand experiences anywhere where there’s a 3D environment.

9:00 – Having face to face engagements with your target audience.

9:34 – What is the link between being an Event Professional and being a Marketer?

10:45 – Understanding what your visitor will take away from the event.

11:13 – How do you want your audience to feel?

12:20 – It’s pushing boundaries and asking the right questions.

12:32 – About creating memories

13:19 – “You want them to go away with a nugget of information.”

15:10 –  Today’s event planner (in 2015) is also a marketer.

15:19 – Marketing is about listening to your clients and understanding what it is they want.

15:40 – What is the difference between an Event Professional joining 2 decades ago, as opposed to someone joining in 2016?

16:42 – Having a real understanding of the “Why”.

17:16 – Relying on your network of resources and suppliers.

18:01 – How does an event professional today come to know about this area and have a deep understanding of the industry?

18:17 – Put yourself out there. Use networking opportunities. Listen to podcasts such as this.

18:43 – Passion and commitment are always going to be very high requirements.

19:45 – Having a Marketing background is a big plus.

20:15 – Educating yourself and engaging with like-minded people through the internet and beyond.

21:27 – How has engaging with the customer changed since the mid 90s to now?

23:12 – Authenticity is very important to young consumers and audiences.

24:20 – Making things easier during an event with a personalized app.

25:46 – Hear about what went on working with a client and their brand experience

27:10 – The future of events is very connected to technology.

27:18 – Hear about James’ experience during a photography show.

29:32 – Learn about the “slowed foot-fall” measurement

31:27 – The best strategy is to leave someone alone.

32:29 – Doing research in retail.

33:14 – People are “buying” experience now.

33:52 – How to connect the digital world and the physical world through the eyes of your consumers.

36:24 – Creating an environment where people engage with each other.

37:28 – Social Media is part of the way forward.

39:49 – Marketing is following up on client success

40:22 – How can you discover about the “Brand Truth”?

40:39 – Every employee is a brand ambassador.

42:13 – How do you get loyalty and good performance out of freelancers?

44:55 – For Event Planners, it’s about sharing knowledge, sharing the brief, sharing that message.

45:24 – Where to get in touch with Suzanne and 4D Design

46:13 – Closing comments with Toby and James




Suzanne Malhotra: So what we try and do is we understand what the client, what the messages that they’re trying to get across to their audience. We deep dive into what those brand values are and then the secret is really trying to transmit and portray those brand values to the customer, to the visitor to that particular event. We want that visitor to go away with something that would change their perception about that brand or about that product.


Narrator: Toby and James are involved in amazing events all over the world. You’re listening to, where top event professionals share real world experiences and cutting-edge ideas. Sponsored by

Toby: Hello, and welcome to the final PlannersPod episode of 2015. I’m Toby Goodman and my year has been full of pleasant and unexpected surprises, not least, the success of this podcast. James Eager, you’re still here too. Have you had a good first year of PlannersPod?

James: Oh, the podding has been exceptional. How has it been for you?

Toby: Well, I’d loved it. I wonder what’s your highlights or is there one particular moment that you thought, “Oh, this is actually really good now.”

James: I think the biggest moment for me was about four, five months where I got to interview James Schramko. He’s been a guy that I’ve greatly admired in the internet marketing space across the globe, and find out about the events that he gets on in mainly in Australia. So that was quite a moment getting to speak to him. If you checked that episode back, you can hear what an incredible mind that guy has got. He’s so on it, it’s ridiculous. So that was a good one. Tell me about your highlight.

Toby: Well, I would say, you know, I sort of did my first interview and I stumbled through, did the first interview with Louise Perry back in episode one and so some went through, a few others really enjoyed, sort of, switching up a notch to started to talk to the big companies. I think the first of which was Avalon, we stepped in some Avalon. And then, you know, moving forward obsviously you’ve spoken to a few major guys right up until, you know, the latest few episodes which is obviously the last one that went out — the last few that went out Bespoke and Smart AV. And now today’s episode which we’ll talk about a little bit more. But, yeah, I just think, you know, it’s — we stock at it and the results were amazing. We’ve — the range of people we’re speaking is brilliant.

James: Yup. I would agree with you there.

Toby: Marvelous. So, yeah, why don’t you ask the questions, James?

James: So, Toby has asked a couple of questions quite persistently over the past few weeks. He’s a curious champ. And he wants to know where are you now? Okay, so, what are you doing in your event planning career and where do you wanna go? So, think about the — your career would like in the years’ time, in three years’ time, five years’ time, it doesn’t really matter but we just wanna see where you’re heading and all would become clear if you emailed them to

Toby: Perfectly delivered. So, yeah, so we’re inviting you to answer these questions because we’re also inviting you to register to join the PlannersPod community and this is a place where you’re gonna meet light-minded event pros from all around the world. You’re gonna be the first to know about the most influential trends in events, event design, et cetera. And you’re gonna have a community. So you’re gonna get support from your peers and benefit from amazing training from our network of experts, some of you you’ve already heard. And they’re obviously people that are always on the lookout for fresh talents. So, they’ll be in there, those more established event professionals will also be inside that community and so you’ll have access to them and they’ll have access to you, so what it means for you if you’ve got slightly more established event business and we haven’t spoken to you yet, is that you’ll get access to the most talented and passionate event professionals who we’re looking to get into the industry or advance their career and they’re gonna help you take your business to the next level. So what’s more, when you register to join before our launch in 2016, you’re gonna benefit from an amazing never to be repeated founding members rate. So, that’s that. Get in touched. James, who’s on today’s show then?

James: Well, today, we’ll talk to a very interesting lady called Suzanne Malhotra, who is the director of an event cut design company called 4D design who provide what’s called superior brand — sorry, superior brand environments.

Toby: Well done.

James: Check out my website. They’ve got some credible client success stories. I’m looking at Google on here, Sony, Volvo. You like that one, don’t you? Volvo.

Toby: I like Volvo.

James: Hewlett Packard, ExxonMobil, the list goes on. This podcast was recorded in person. This time, I evicted my cats upstairs and locked them away there so we have a peaceful chat with Suzanne from 4D in my kitchen.

Toby: Excellent. See you at the end.

James: See you at the end.


Narrator:        Planner’s Pod is Sponsored by

James: Welcome to PlannersPod, how are you doing?

Suzanne: Morning. Fine, thank you.

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James: Excellent. You run a company called 4D Design in the events industry and the marketing industry. Before we go into any detail about that, can you give us a little bit of your personal background?

Suzanne: I’ve been working at 4D Design since 1996. I’m a true marketing girl through and through, having done my business studies and institute of marketing course. And then I met somebody many, many years ago whose running an events and exhibition company and just absolutely fell in love with the whole industry and preferred being client side. So, when the opportunity came onboard for me to work with 4D Design, it was something I absolutely jumped up.

James: Fantastic. Can you give us a little bit of an overview of 4D, what 4D do?

Suzanne: Well, we primarily design brand experiences which encompasses events, exhibitions, product launches, conferences, anything where there’s an environment that needs to portray brand values to the customer on behalf of our client.

James: So, the brand already exists normally?

Suzanne: Yes.

James: You don’t create brands?

Suzanne: Nope.

James: So how do you define a brand experience?

Suzanne: So what we try and do is we understand what the client, what the messages that they’re trying to get across to their audience. We deep dive into what those brand values are, and then the secret is really trying to transmit and portray those brand values to the customer, to the visitor to that particular event and say be that be a conference, a launch, or an exhibition. We want that visitor to go away with something that will change their perception about that brand or about that product.

Toby: Yeah and so it’s — Continue James, I know you’re all fired up there. But just looking at your about page and just picking on something you said. So you put brand experienced in different places, not just the events? Basically, it’s advertising as well, right?

Suzanne: Well, not so much in 2D, anywhere where there’s a 3D environment, anywhere where people are face to face rather than obviously what you’re doing is all about listening and there’s so many other ways that you can portray brand messages through site, advertising, reading. And what we do is about this 3D environment where you actually could put customers in front of their customers.

Toby: Yeah, sure. So I’m just gonna look at that about page because it was something really interesting that I read about you talk about customers meeting a brand.

Suzanne: Yes, yes.

Toby: And you mentioned — I can’t say it now. There you got. Yeah, and evolving event where customers want to meet brands and exhibitions and conferences as what is on the road, there are gonna be tube stations [ph 0:08:31.8]. Just tell me about an example of a meeting — someone meeting a brand of tube station for example.

Suzanne: Well, for example, Carlsberg this year have been very, very successful with all of their experiential and their advertising. And they’ve taken it to the next level, so, you know, they have that fantastic poster campaign. There are lots of, you know, TV shows with fortitude, have the polar bear around London. You know, it’s really just engagement and engaging with that — with that visitor and just rather than just seeing and advert. It’s actually understanding what it is that they’re going to get from that particular product or working — or buying from that particular company. And it’s exciting the visitor, really.

Toby: Yeah, cool. Before we sort of go too far into that…

Suzanne: The brand experiences?

Toby: Yes, I’ve got hundreds of questions I will ask about because I think it’s amazing. But what I wanna do is just pull this right back to basics and ask you, in your view, what is the link between being and event professional and being a marketer?

Suzanne: Okay, well, the two traditionally, I think everybody would understand an event planner or an event manager. Traditionally, much of incorporated weddings, parties, those sort of events. And a marketer at the end of the day is responsible for promoting a product or a service to their audience. And I think where we are now is about experiences and the two marry very, very well. Like, people are not buying just on the features and benefits of that product anymore. If you buy a TV, you know what specification is, you understand what it is that that TV does. You’ve done the research online, but what you want to know really is what’s the experience of buying something that has been manufactured by some. For example, what is the experience of going to a particular event when you got to a festival, when you go to Glastonbury, what do you take away. And you take something more than you’ve just read or seen you’ve actually felt it. I think that’s where the two can marry beautifully between and event manager and a marketer because it’s actually understanding what it is that you want your visitor, your guest, your customer to take away from that event. So if I was a wedding planner, first question I’d ask my customer — my client is, “How do you want your guests to feel? What do you want them to feel all that day?” Not necessarily what food you want them to eat, what theme, what color do we want it to be, it’s about how do you want them to feel and what do you want them to take away? And I think that’s exactly the same question a marketer would ask about a product when they’re promoting it, how do you want that customer to feel when they buy that product?

Toby: Wow. I love that. I think that’s amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever been sat on an initial wedding planning meeting or something that I’m certain is more — a lot of times more down to the lines of what color do you want the flowers. And so, to hear someone going into such depth about what do you want to feel, I mean, that’s a deep in motive question which I imagine a lot of bride and grooms and I don’t wanna disappear too far to the wedding industry because we’ve done a lot of podcast on this already. Probably having necessarily thought about, they just — they just go, “Well, it’s a wedding, we wanna do this, we got to do it.” Okay, there’s a set where a lot of time we’ve seen in our industry. There’s almost like a textbook way of doing a wedding.

Suzanne: Yeah, tick boxes.

Toby: Yeah, tick box and — well, that’s what a — that’s what this particular type of weddings got to be and we’ve spent part of our in Metropolis going, “Well, does it have to be that?” Let’s think of it a bit more naturally.

Suzanne: No, it’s pushing boundaries and it’s just asking the right questions.

Toby: It’s memories, isn’t it? It’s all about…

Suzanne: Yeah, you’re creating memories.

Toby: It’s creating to specific memories and the interesting challenge with the wedding is always that it’s your big day in a way that, you know, it will — you know, all being well and it happen once and all that stuff, so when people come to us at that stage is all about them. And rightly so, and our job is always to pull it back and say, “What experience do you wanna give your guests and your family and the memories that surround that?” Because obviously then, you’re creating a unique sort of memories because what we don’t wanna do is have people saying, “Oh, that was Metropolis to that wedding.” We’ll have people say, “Oh, that was, you know, be in, you know, Jan’s wedding.” And, you know, that’s what I remember. And so that’s totally…

Suzanne: And that’s where it ties across too, you know, business to business conferences and launches. They are memories, you know, they spend a whole day there and you want them to go away with a nugget of information. If it’s about a particular product, well, then fine but make them remember something about it.

Toby: Yeah, so you’re literally selling an experience in the memory that you then marry. Excuse, sort of with the brand.

Suzanne: Absolutely.

Toby: So people will go in — I supposed, you know, everyone talks about Apple [0:13:39.4] all the time that they’re such great example of so many great things from a customer experience point of view. When you go and buy a product, you almost always have a memory so I said with hopefully how could the services been and how clean the shop is and all that kind of stuff and I supposed that kind of is creating environments of that matter.

Suzanne: Well, yeah, I think we’ve talked about how, you know, customers are buying differently, you know, they don’t buy — you don’t have a selling point anymore, you know, you need a buying point. Why should people buy from you not what it is you’re selling. And that’s what, you know, marketing has always been about what the customers looking for and trying to promote the values of the customers looking for. But I think what’s great is that that’s actually becoming more tangible and you can, sort of, incorporate those into events now.

James: Cool. Before we go too far down. I could see this conversation us going.

Toby: Sorry! Can you go back to your tick list.

James: And I’m not…

Toby: And I think we’re against. No, that’s fine. Carry on.

James: Before we talk too much about Apple, I’ve — because that could be a whole — another whole podcast in itself discussing about marketing. But there’s another brand that I wanna discuss with you a little later which I believe is one of your clients. And so, we’ll come back to that. So, next — so do you believe that today’s event planner in 2015 is also a marketer?

Suzanne: Absolutely. Definitely. And I’ve sort of just mentioned, it doesn’t matter what type of event. Marketing is about listening to your clients and understanding what it is they want. So, yeah, 100%.

James: Fantastic. So, you joined the industry back in 1996?

Suzanne: Before.

James: Okay. Well, 4D joined there?

Suzanne: Yes.

James: Okay. What is the difference do you feel between young event professional joining in 1996 and joining in 2016?

Suzanne: I think you can learn very, very quickly about things because the internet makes information available to you. So for example, either a client or you might have an idea and that, you know, “I wanna put this amazing piece of technology onto this event.” It’d be really, really quick to become a guru on that piece of technology because you can read about it on the internet. But I think what’s really important is it has to be relevant and it has to be applied to put play. And I think lots of shoehorning technology, and ideas, and creativity into events but missing the point. And I think — so the difference between then and now is that, yes, you can get access to so much more information but what similarity is, it still should be relevant and that’s why you need to work with companies within the industry who specialize still in some of these things.

James: So, you believe it’s all about rather the, sort of, the technical side of how to put an event on it you believe is having a real deep understanding of the why?

Suzanne: Absolutely. Yeah. And then using great companies who can provide you with that technology or that — you know, the hardware that you need or the theming or whatever, but it has to be relevant.

James: So do you have stuff or is it just a situation of identifying the need and then pulling in partners?

Suzanne: Well, one of the beauties of 4D being a design and management company is that we know we don’t have stock, so we rely on our network of resources and suppliers. We work very, very closely with some of the leading supplies within the industry and we’re continually working with them to see what’s out there, what’s new, and quite often, we’ll make suggestions to them and then we’ll ask them, “Can you go and source this bit equipment?” And then they love working with us if we’re pushing their boundaries as well.

James: So do you think their experience with you is very different to their other clients?

Suzanne: I’d like to think so. And often we get feedback from our suppliers. You know, we love working with 4D always asking us to do something a little bit different.

Toby: Cool. That’s good.

James: Right. So how does an event professional today, 2015, 2016 possibly by the time, even 2017 by the time you’re listening to this podcast. It’s gonna be around the wire, come to know about this area to have this deep understanding. And then, sort of, secondly, what would then make them a suitable employee, member, staff, part of the team, freelancer, whatever it might be for 4D?

Suzanne: I think one of the best things you’re gonna do, just put yourself out there. You know, use your networking opportunities, listen to podcasts such as this, find out who’s around in the industry linking with them, you know, really just follow people. Some of the leading players within the industry and the leading companies. You know, there’s a lot of great blogs, a lot of good articles that are out there and really just make yourself be as knowledgeable as you can be. And then, I think the, you know, passion and commitment are always gonna be very high and up there in terms of a requirement. But for, you know, if I were looking for a new candidate, I want — I’d be looking for somebody who could do exactly as we’ve just talked about, translate brand values into something that’s gonna be a memorable experience.

James: Okay. So you have a graduate come to you?

Suzanne: Yes.

James: Okay. I think I had other podcast we know that you don’t have to be graduate to work in the events industry. So you have a graduate comes to you. One has a bachelor’s of marketing, one has an events industry degree. What is the most relevant one to you?

Suzanne: I’d be honest with you, probably the marketing which probably isn’t because I think…

Toby: Not very great news for events degree people.

Suzanne: No. It isn’t. And — but then, I’ll be absolutely honest. I don’t know enough about the event courses and that’s something that I think I would like to dig deeper into, because to be fair, if that covers an awful lot of marketing, then I would say yes because then that would tick both boxes. Yeah, then from the event side then, yes.

James: Yeah, I think what we need to do fairly soon, Toby, is to get a head of — not head of marketing. Head of events degree course which I love…

Suzanne: Which I’d love to dig deep into what the courses are.

James: If you’re listening to this podcast we want to hear from you.

Toby: So before all that kind of stuff, you know, before you’d even maybe got to the point where you’re gonna go off and study and perhaps you’re not able to study, that thing about engage and like following blogs and reading blogs and educating yourself is so much more information out there to a degree. Actually, then you can start to engage with those things because you should be commenting on those blogs and not just following and reading passively.

Suzanne: Probably start your own.

Toby: And reply and say thanks for the post and all that. Because I suppose that’s a nice way of starting to build up visibility and, you know, perhaps if you got a blog, I should know this.

Suzanne: Company we do…

James: Yeah, 4D book. And presumably, if somebody is constantly engaging with you now, then you’re gonna…

Suzanne: Yeah, if you have that dialogue and you can start to see and so then might — because at the end of the day it’s all about being light-minded and working with light-minded people. So if you’re reading or responding to the same blog articles, then straight away you’re starting to meet people who, you know, think alike.

James: Yeah, it’s an apathetic kind of thing, isn’t it?

Suzanne: Yeah. And we — you know, it’s about collaboration, showing knowledge, so I think anybody who reads and responds is already on the right lines.

James: How — okay, let’s talk a little bit about the customer briefly, the person who’s experiencing the brand, okay? How has that changed since the mid-90s to how people until today because obviously, marketing has changed massively 20 years ago from what I can understand certain school there. I hate to admit. But it was — it was more if that more like the hard sell now we’re very much in this education-based marketing phase — I don’t think phase, I think it’s here to stay. It’s people what value. You have to give enormous value before making a pitch of your want. So how do you feel the customer has changed?

Suzanne: There’s so many different levels to answer that question. There authenticity, there’s, you know, people — let’s just say you can read Facebook, you can read all the social media, the Twitter. But at the end of the day, when people buy, they want to know that they’re buying something genuine and from a genuine authentic company. So that’s where the face to face opportunity comes in to actually pick those messages from a genuine point of view.

James: Can you give me an example of a brand or that you feel has enormous amount of genuiness, is that a word? I think it is.

Toby: Authenticity.

Suzanne: Authenticity is a difficult one. I think — because I’m of the generation that looks for that less whereas, I know my teenage children, for example, they’re of that generation where they use Facebook all the time and social media, when they’re buying, they’re looking for brand. Adidas for example. You know, they’re looking for that sort of brand authenticity. And, you know, you and I know that that comes down to sponsorship and working with the right brand ambassador, all those sort of things. But as a young buyer, they’re — you know, they’re believing that element.

James: Just give me some examples of just brands your children are in to?

Suzanne: Well, Adidas, Nike.

James: Toms is good, isn’t it? You know that Toms, the sandals?

Suzanne: They’re shoes, aren’t they?

James: And they — don’t they donate for every pair you buy they give a pair or something like that.

Toby: Yeah, to the deserving country, that’s their plan of message.

Suzanne: Yeah, my 14-year-old son who lives his life on his phone, on Facebook. He’s the one who said to me, “Mom, don’t read — believe everything you read on Facebook.” Oh, really?

James: That’s just like our parents say don’t believe everything you read on papers.

Suzanne: Yeah, exactly. It’s exactly same. So I just think from young event managers, you know, if we’re talking to that sort of younger audience, it’s really important that there’s a level of both authenticity and genuine.

James: So where do you feel brand experiences going? What’s — what is the future?

Suzanne: So, authenticity, one of them, personalization I think. You know, when you’re buying nowadays on Amazon and, you know, everything’s all thrown at you because you’ve looked at something before. I think festivals, conferences, exhibitions. You know, I would like to walk to an exhibition and the — they’re an app or something that tells me straight away where I can get coffee, because that’s the first thing I do when I go to shows. Get a coffee, sort myself out, and then I’ll walk around. It’s the same in the shopping wall.

James: We’ve interviewed an event technology company.

Suzanne: Can they do that already?

James: But one of the things they did, they have an app which goes there and it introduces delicate, like mildly delicate. It’s sort of internet dating but for business meant. So we know that’s very much where that kind of thing is going at the moment.

Suzanne: And I went to the dog show and they would ask me five questions. What’s the first thing you like to do? What type of dog are you looking for? What sort of family, you know, you probably — literally, within the first half an hour, could’ve got my coffee, seen all the cavachons that I want to see and then I’ll just spend the rest of the afternoon mooching instead I spent the whole morning with my kids, stressed out trying to find this one stall. It was — yeah, I think personalized. I think there’s a lot of B to C, you know, a lot of cues from retail that could be taken across the to the B-to-B arena.

Toby: So Bizzabo is the app, and the company. Bizzabo. You could see this is a podcast on our website. And if so, if they could have a front screen saying, “How do you like your coffee?” And they’re little site map to the coffee stand.

Suzanne: Oh, perfect for me, absolutely. Yeah. You tell them that I said.

James: So let’s relate this to something that you’ve — to a client you’ve already worked with.

Suzanne: We — yeah, a client we’ve worked with Peter Rye who were young, innovative, very technology-focused company. They do word proof coating for phones. Those sort of devices. We worked with them a couple of years ago, and the brand experience was depicted on exhibitions and trade shows by us really getting a good understanding of their brand values, and their messages and what it was they wanted their audience to take away. So we came up with an expert campaign “Water off a Duck’s Back” and then we used that throughout the whole campaign for a couple of years.

James: Can you give an example of what you did in one of their shows for the Water of the Ducks Park.

Suzanne: Yeah, so we had some little quacky ducks that you get in the bath all branded up in pools of water. We had a water — logos — water curtains where the logos displayed through the waterfall. We had a magician on the stand because it was all about illusion and creating this sort of magic that they can do. So lots of really cool — again, tech effects but all really, really relevant. And so, the audience went away totally understanding.

James: So there’s huge amount of technology in what you — does technology excite you?

Suzanne: Oh, very much so, because there’s so much you can do with it.

James: Wow. Okay. So, do you feel the future events is very connected to technology?

Suzanne: It is. Yeah, I do believe them.

James: Great. I think that’s great. I’m just thinking — I’m gonna talk just very briefly. I had an experience dissimilar from this. I’m a very, very, very amateur photographer and I went to the photography show at the summer and I recently just bought new Olympus cameras and so they have this thing called micro four-thirds technology which means the cameras are a lot smaller. And so, the whole — their whole marketing thing was about — was — I think they almost had like an Apple type of thing where they been to their four frame cameras and we’re just going to this technology. Okay. And I went to the photography and that was far the most engaging and because these cameras are a lot, lot smaller, the whole thing was they had masseuses on the stand giving people massages as they wet passed because the whole idea they were trying to get. But these are smaller, they’re not gonna break your back. And we got friends which are professional photographers which have been going well, “I’ve got a carry too,” these enormously heavy things around over 14, 15…

Suzanne: It’s reverse psychology.

James: And you’d see all our photographer friends have got scuffs around this sort of chair.

Toby: Because well, they’re heavy cameras hanged up.

James: Yeah, and it’s just — I went — I came away with just a total feel of that brand. I don’t know with the — I don’t know psychology deep enough if I — how much answer again to a degree. I know it. But I know that I’d already committed a little bit to that brand. I was already bought one of their products. I like what they stood for but it was clear to me by spending time in that stand it was by far the most engaging thing for me there and I just love the way they were going with it.

Suzanne: But from your point of view, you probably saw, well, there’s a company that’s actually thinking about the customers and their lifestyle and how we can make their life better by having the smaller product and then therefore don’t need the massage on your back because you know, you’re not bogged down on, you know, with this really heavy product.

James: So does a brand measure success on this stuff? I picked up one thing off your website. I mean, I guess the bottom line is same also the other day, but I picked up another phrase from the website which said “Slowed-Footfall”. So as people are walking fast, they obviously spend more time at the stand, more people on it. They do however as I sort of see it, are there any other measurements that we should know about?

Suzanne: Yeah, 4D is working with a couple of companies and starting to implanting actually sensors on stands, actual hardware also where we can analyze measure footfall and dwell time. Because also, the usual measurement is how many leads did you get? Did that convert, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla. But obviously, that’s such a long cycle and how can you really know if that lead was already there. So what we’re doing — because we’ve been asked by our clients, if they’re making that investment, how do we know if we get…

James: You’ve got a measurement.

Suzanne: Yeah. So, and say we can put sensors on stands, we can actually — so for example, we did a stand the other day and the client insisted on putting this big product on there. It took up half the aisle and we had a sensor to buy this product and nobody, hardly anybody would stopped and look at it. So we were to go back to the client and say, “Look, next time don’t do that. Do something more exciting. Do maybe a digital con, you know, display and a 3D animation.” I said, “You don’t need that great big physical piece on the stand.”

Toby: The reason why that’s really important for me straight away is that some depending on the profile of the person, it’s very much, you know, people increasingly protective about giving an email address. So even having a chat now, just looking for that very much. So you can’t — as an exhibitor in a traditional way, it’s impossible to qualify, you know, any one. And some people are happy to come and chat to you for hours and will never be a customer because they simply, you know, maybe don’t have the money or they just, you know, tire kickers. But yet, they’ll go, “Oh, yeah, you know, email me all your stuff.” You know, because some of a little bit of a the geek whatever it is. And yet, it’s the person that goes now, “I’m not gonna give you my email address. I’m just gonna stand here and discover everything I can and then, you know, leave me alone and I’ll contact you when I’m ready.” And sometimes, it’s the best strategy to leave someone alone, isn’t it?

Suzanne: Absolutely. And I think we — and so we can take a lot of cues for retail. You know, you walk into a big Nike store and they know exactly who you are, what you’re doing, and where you’re gonna go. You know, they can — and — because that’s why they put product in certain areas. They know exactly what they’re doing and I think we as exhibition companies or experienced companies need to take queues — need to be sophisticated so that we can lay the space out so that it works. So as the visitor walks pass, engage with an LED screen, you know, they’re not pounced on… there’s so many cues from retail but we…

James: So there’s a pace — there’s a pace, isn’t it almost as you walk into a space or a shop. So there other than — or you’ve just mentioned. But are there any other brands that you keep an eye on, you know, when you’re in the west end or…

Suzanne: Well, my team, I spend a lot of time, you know, doing a lot of research in retail and seeing what we’re doing.

James: But who’s really nailing it?

Suzanne: There’s a shop in London Pro-Direct I think it’s called. The guys have been talking about and it’s just a very much, sort of like a concept, digital concept store. You don’t buy in there anymore, you know, you just go and you look, and then you order online. It’s delivered to your house. You know, that sort of stuff.

James: So it’s a gallery.

Suzanne: Yeah, it’s just different now to how you can buy. You just very rarely walk around with big shopping bags. Most people go to shops I believe now to mooch and then you go online and do the shop — it’s delivered to your house.

James: The Apple store doesn’t even have a teller!

Suzanne: No, exactly. You know, it’s all about the experience of the store but then you actually go online and order it.

James: Yeah. So do you think they go in — yeah, mooch around the shops.

Suzanne: Get the feel of the what it would be like to buy a product.

James: Yeah.

Suzanne: It’s fascinating stuff.

James: And do the analyze on the tube on the way home and then click to buy the one that they’ve chosen because they enjoyed the experience.

Suzanne: The experience. Which comes back to our very, very first question, it’s all about the experience. People are buying on experience now.

James: What I find curious about this is I’ve been searching, I got a Facebook marketing recently. I’ve been understanding that. And the traditional method of trying to get the email address has gone — has been gone. It’s all about what they call amplifying posts at the moment. So you — and then how they do it is they pick all your website and then you get headed to a customer audience which they can then remarket to you later. But it’s all about mostly they’ve got some rather been a jargon. I’m so sorry. The one that they’re basically getting rid of that blockage of having to give your email address, they want you — they want rather to engage with you and give you something of value to begin with, and then nurture that process down there. And one of the things that they constantly said is you got to look at this process and imagine it and put it into the physical world, not the digital world, if you see what I mean. And then, and if you’re a guy at the party for instance who meet someone else and start pitching immediately, you’re instantly turned off, aren’t you?

Suzanne: Absolutely.

James: And so, it’s the same. And it seems like you’re very much with these experiences trying to tap into how people are thinking and feeling all the time and how the modern consumer is behaving basically. And for me, as I guess, the marketer, we run our own business here. We’re trying to engage the people. It’s how to connect the digital world and the physical world together.

Suzanne: Absolutely. Yeah. And because at the end of the day we’re all human. So if we go to a trade show I might be going to buy as I specify something what we might think is quite boring, you know, as a bit of a playing part. But in the end of day, I’m a consumer, I’m a normal human being, I use my phone. You know, I’m still going there to look for the latest in technologies, the latest in trends. It might just be a play in which, but I want to be turned on the same way as I would be if I was going to Glastonbury. You know, at the end of the day, I want something to engage me and excite me and make want to find out more. So we’re all human at the end of the day.

Toby: Yeah. Are there ways that you were able to — obviously, the other thing about these events is the actual things that you go to rather than sit in the computer. Do you find people you were able to create an environment where people meet each other? You’re able to sort of initiate communication and all that stuff. Is that something that happens as by-product. Was that something that you actually do?

Suzanne: Well, I supposed that’s what we hope comes out of because we provide –we’re trying to provide the — sort of the hardware, the platform for an exhibitor to display their messaging, their communication, and obviously as we just talked about which ones take you to the next level where it’s the whole experience. So that is what we hope comes out of the three-day exhibition. Even if they don’t buy such on that day which they probably won’t do, they’re going to open up a dialogue with that company.

James: And each other, like, you know, separate visitors or delegates or the event, you know, if they don’t know each other. Do you see that happening? Do you see people introducing themselves to each other and create your memory around. You know, we met this such and such stand.

Suzanne: Yeah. We’ve proposed and have done a number of campaigns where we prolong after the events, you know, using social media and using Twitter and Facebook. So we’re encouraging the visitors to carry on that engagement afterwards through this community.

James: Do you feel Social Media is incredibly important in the way things are going?

Suzanne: Yes, definitely. It has to be a part of it. It’s not the way forward, it’s part of the way forward. Absolutely.

James: It needs to be integrated?

Suzanne: Yes.

James: So can you give me an example of how social media has been integrated into one of your stands?

Suzanne: Yeah, as also sort of eluding to, you know, we might have a campaign where we pre-event. We’ll start to do a build up towards this campaign and invite people to — you know, our client to promote on their Facebook page so get likes, come to the stand, that sort of thing. And then afterwards…

James: How is this working? Are you — you’re putting strategy together, proposal whichever you see your guest authorized. Are you then instructing their marketing department on how to build up to this?

Suzanne: It depends on each client. Everyone’s different if they’re going to have in-house resources or if we need to bring in a third part to help.

James: So there are times where you will have an in-house resource and there are times where you’re actually resources for the third party. Wow. That’s interesting.

Toby: So, do you personally have a preferred platform? Twitter, Facebook?

Suzanne: I think Twitter definitely. Even though everybody thinks it isn’t business to business, but it absolutely is being used by businesses. It’s instant. You can get photographs so you can generate interest definitely.

Toby: Yeah.

James: It’s quite most important for us, doesn’t it?

Toby: Yeah, I think so and…

Suzanne: And I don’t think you can’t afford not to do it. Not necessarily it’s — and I think it’s the same with all of these things, it’s all that touch points. You can’t say, “Oh, we do Twitter now. We don’t exhibit. We do Facebook, we don’t exhibit.” It has to be part of the — and that’s what the marketing is now. Very different to when I was doing my Institute of Marketing and, you know, so many different disciplines now that they need to integrate.

Toby: Where was that? Where is the institute of marketing?

Suzanne: I went to Ealing and did it there at that time. But many years ago.

Toby: Yeah. So completely changed now and you have to…

Suzanne: Yeah, the four P’s. And now got lots and lots and lots of other levels within them.

James: You’re right. That was their mistake.

Toby: Cool. Any more from you James?

James: I mean, I think I’m just about there. Where are you going?

Toby: Yeah, I’m just kind of looking through my notes. I love the term success story. It’s much by testimonial, clients testimonial.

Suzanne: Yeah, because it’s about the client’s success, it’s not ours. It’s what they — yeah, how successful it was for our clients.

Toby: Totally result driven. You know, thanks for that term. It definitely take that on.

Suzanne: Stealing that word, are you?

Toby: Yeah, I’m stealing that one. I love that — talking about the why and I’ve just made a little know about signing next to it. If you know about the golden circle, DVD title. That’s definitely, you know, been a number one learning again reinforced by you. And the brand truth you talk about in your — in your about page which I put, how can you discover a brand truth? Is it by people talk about personifying a brand but does it — is it in many cases brand defying, if that’s a word, a personality when you’re actually going to the company. And say, “How old on a minute, you’re really interesting and fun. It’s not coming out in your brand yet. So let’s just do it that way.” Does that happen?

Suzanne: I think…

Toby: It happened to me the other day.

Suzanne: I think now every employee is a brand ambassador as well, and so it’s so important that every employee understands what it is our message. Because, you know, at the exhibition, at the conference, wherever, we talked a lot about experiences and events. So that’s where you become face to face with your potential clients.

James: The interesting thing I think about that is that people talk about — and businesses talk about staff is being client facing and I guess non-client facing. But sometimes, we’ve had experiences, I remember this, when we were doing a Jewish wedding somewhere up north recently, and they cater a big, big cater, one of the biggest in this country, I remember meeting they’re kind of guys which are loading the trucks or whatever at 1:00 in the morning as we were loading out, they were such happy person. They were northern guys from up north and they were really…

Toby: They’re happy up there.

James: Yeah, they’re fun and it — they were just such great ambassadors.

Suzanne: For that brand?

James: For that brand, and yet, they were kind of — they are I said, basic, sort of just guys loading trucks or something.

Toby: What’s interesting about that particularly, and this is a really good question to ask you as well, is those guys, it was 1:00 in the morning, they worked their absolutely bottoms off to deliver a great event. They were still happy to load the truck at 1:00 in the morning which I don’t think anyone ever I ever met is particularly in a great mood which made our lives much better. Sharing the lift and all that kind of stuff. Those guys were freelances. They were fulltime employee stuff with holiday pay.

Suzanne: And that’s a hard one. Uh-hmm.

Toby: So this has always been one of my fascinations is how do you get loyalty and that kind of performance out of the freelancer who’s actually not on big bucks. Let’s be honest. And he’s also working on Social hours. What’s the strategy behind that? Because I know that this particular company I think you’re referring to see the client and she does every single time. I mean, they’re great…

Suzanne: I think if you’re — if clarification of what it is that you’re all trying to achieve and what that message is, you know, at the end of the day, she’s probably very, very clear as to — as a company how she wants that company perceived and that what message is. And she probably is then engaging with everybody at every level to make sure that they’re delivering a message. And I think what you were saying earlier about your either client facing or you’re not through channel such as social media and Facebook and everything. There — even if you’re non-client facing per say, you are. Because you get the opportunity to tweet, to use the — so you might have a whole tech department that tweets about the research that they’re doing and all that sort of stuff. So the sort of client facing in the modern way. So it’s really important that they’re tweeting our message.

James: I kind of feel almost like saying… that everybody’s kind of facing.

Suzanne: Absolutely. They are.

James: Because like our next referral to that caterer, the next referral could actually, ironically be from us because we’re big fans of her work. If I’ve met someone who made — and I have. I’ve seen this before where people having wobbly at 2:00 in the morning. That kind of stuff being really difficult. Written off a company down their own for, because of me saying, “I’m never gonna work with them again.” And that was just a guy, the driver they sent in. And now, I’ve just seen a great example of…

Suzanne: And it isn’t just about wearing the logo on the t-shirt. You know, the minute they put that logo, that shirt on, they need to understand — and there’s more than quality and service because it’s taken us red now that all companies have to deliver the — you know, it’s actually what’s going to make it a little bit special how I deliver. How I put this marquee up, how I put the band stage up.

James: Yeah. It’s the briefing period, isn’t it? Because even if it’s a bloke loading stuff into a van, if you take the time to talk to the bloke loading stuff in the van and just say, “Look, this is the event. This is what the customers even is about. This is the result that you’re going to achieve.” And even just by imparting that information, you almost can’t help but be emotionally involved with why their unloading the van.

Suzanne: Want it — I want it as much.

James: Yeah, and that — I, you know, I have spoken to the other sort of slightly less experienced event planners. You’ve got we just sub.

Suzanne: Well, that’s a really good sort of take away from this, I supposed for the event planners, is to, you know, it’s about sharing knowledge, sharing that through, sharing that message, making sure that everybody gets it so that all the freelances you use, all the subcontractors you use, they need to understand what is you’re trying to achieve which goes back to what is the customer going to take away or the visitor.

Toby: Well, I think we sort of, kind of — let’s wrap it up at this moment. I think it’s a great point to leave there. What can we do to make it a little bit special? Is that what you just said?

James: I think it was. That’s great. Suzanne, it’s been amazing talking to you. How…

Suzanne: Pleasure.

James: Where can we find 4D on the internet?

Suzanne: So our website is We have a Twitter page.

James: I’m pleased to hear it.

Suzanne: Facebook page. You can follow us through all the usual.

James: Are you happy for people that have tweet directly and ask you questions?

Suzanne: Yes, of course. Please do. Yeah.

James: Yeah, please do comment on the post here. Ask Suzanne questions. We’ve — I now off air she was saying she was very passionate about education as well. We could do a whole another podcast on some point on that as well. And so, please do ask questions. We’re all about sort of sharing the love here I guess.

Toby: Not just sort of. We are.

James: Yeah. And so, let’s leave Suzanne. Thank you very much. Toby, thank you.

Toby: Oh, my pleasure.

Suzanne: Thank you, both.


Narrator:        You’re listening to


James: So Toby, that was my interview with Suzanne. Well, actually, let’s face it, it’s really both of our interviews with Suzanne but I was the one which did the research. So what was your take away from that one?

Toby: Well, you know, I also did a little bit of research too but thank for hosting it on your kitchen table. Mine was still — my kitchen was off-limits, I believe during that time and so I was having a new outfitted anyway, yeah, a really good chat there. Enjoyed it a lot. I think I’m a big — our big learning was, you know, we speak to these people who are normally in the corporate business event arena, and obviously, there’s a lot crossover with marketing, all that kind of stuff. So we’re kind of thinking this isn’t really applicable to, you know, the events professionals that work in the wedding industry or whatever. You know, this is not really gonna be right. But actually, one of our real big discoveries is that actually, all events have marketing angle, even a wedding. So, you know, if you’re putting a wedding together for one of your clients, you’re actually having to discover and sell and articulate and represent their brand, you know, their them as people if they’re a couple or whatever. So there is marketing angles basically every single events. And I think that’s — yeah, it’s kind of really important certainly if you’re saying as a wedding planner, you know, and you don’t think this stuff is applicable to you, it is clearly all the other stuff that’s very obvious, you know, expose and all that kind of stuff, yeah, of course. You know, the way that 4D kind of conduct business is very, very personal and they’re really trying to get human connection with what they do. So that was the first thing. Is there anything you would like to kind of reflect on that?

James: I’m just dying to ask you what your personal brand was at your wedding?

Toby: My personal brand was…

James: Oh, I’ve never seen you stop for words.

Toby: Panic? I don’t know! No, it was — I certainly wasn’t thinking like that when I got married, young man, but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a successful day because she said yes.

James: Yeah. And you did down the aisle.

Toby: I did all the branding work and they say it was pitch beforehand.

James: Exactly. So, your proposal is the same pitch, did you?

Toby: In a way. I supposed it was, wasn’t it? I have my wife…

James: Indeed. I actually we’re actually having a bit of a laugh here. I think we’re just proving the point that so many things are marketing that we don’t realize, do we?

Toby: Yes, please, please, please marry me. It’s not very — you know, results lead, is it? You know, I didn’t really ask her. I didn’t really tell her what the benefits were.

James: I’m more interested on what the benefits are there.

Toby: Yeah, what the — she — luckily, she acknowledged me to bullet the benefits but we’ll get to that in the training maybe inside the community. Right, back on track, you cheeky man. At least your proposal is gonna be fantastic when you get around to it.

James: Oh, man, it’s gonna be copywriting though like you’ve never seen before.

Toby: I know. I can imagine the amount of hours I’m gonna be having to work on that for you. Okay. Right. The next point was that Suzanne’s got a real handle on the B-to-B side of things. So what does that mean? That means that she’s got obviously a massive appreciation of her client who obviously might be normally it’s a business. So, yeah, but I’m talking about specifically her understanding of the suppliers she works with. You know, we found out that she doesn’t actually carry any stock particularly. She’s a designer. So what that means is she has to have a network of other business she works for that provides her with audiovisual equipment, you know, staging, you know, plastic ducks if you heard that example that she gave about that. So she needs that loads of people that will provide her with an amazing service so she can deliver to her own client. And that’s amazing that she really thinks about her suppliers. She doesn’t just say, “Well, you know, just have to get someone who can give me some ducks.” They might need to brand the ducks. They — you know, all that kind of stuff which she talked about branding out rubber ducks. You know, it’s part of the experience people have and what that means is she’s got a load of network of supplies obviously that she can trust and also the suppliers kind of trust her vision, and invariably, she said actually really love working with them because she’s pushing them to perform perhaps slightly out of their comfort zone, but obviously then achieve and reap the rewards from that. Is that fair enough?

James: I would agree with you 100% there. It’s all about the client experience. And so, if those ducks make the difference, that’s all part of it, isn’t it?

Toby: It’s the D in 4D “ducks”.

James: I think it’s design.

Toby: Okay.

James: But maybe.

Toby: All right.

James: Before this conversation gets really surreal. Should we wrap it up?

Toby: It’s Christmas. It’s Christmas. Suzanne, please forgive us. Excellent. Yeah, we should. So, for more info on 4D who are a very serious and brilliant company. They’ve got a really impressive website as well, so have a look at that if you wanna see what a great design website looks like.

As ever, we are on, twitter/ Metropolislive1. This podcast is still directly available of our iTunes and Stitcher. Just search for PlannersPod. Our company Next Media and links from those podcast, all that good stuff that is there. Certainly if you wanna pick up any links, you can find everything on And you are going to give us a Christmas Eve Five Star Review on iTunes because you love us and we love you. And again, those questions, where are you now? Where do you wanna go? Send those to me and sign up, get in touch and ask us to be put on the waiting list. We’ll put you on the waiting list and you’ll get an amazing deal from us. And that’s it, I think. It’s that it?

James: I think that’s it. Just so everybody knows, one of my projects for the next years of the part — back of these past three episodes is I want to speak to some lecturers. So if you’re listening here in event management degrees, we’ve heard various discussions over the past few episodes and now it’s time to hunt you guys out and find out what goes in the classroom, I guess.

Toby: Yeah, that’s — let me just — yeah, absolutely. If any of you were doing event management degrees or anything like that and loving it or not loving it, either way, can you put us in touch with your heads of department? We really want to talk to them and give them a chance to respond to some of the stuff that some of the event professionals have said to us off — I was gonna say off camera, but you what I mean. But, sort of, after we pressed up on the record. You know, there’s been some quite interesting things said about this courses, and actually, ultimately, what some of the professionals have said is “Actually, I don’t know. I know what I think but I don’t really know what’s going on inside these degrees. So I’m not sure what value they have to me.” So who wants to talk to us about that and who wants to answer some of those concerns? We have a list of them from even professionals that have got really brilliant businesses and they would kind of like to find out a little bit more about that. So, we’re gonna do that as well.

James: Okay.

Toby: Until then.

James: Until then, I’m — I just want to wish you a Merry Christmas, Toby.

Toby: Thank you very much. Merry Christmas to you. Merry Christmas to all of you and thanks for listening. And we will see you in 2016.

James: Goodbye.

Toby: Goodbye.

Narrator:        You’ve been listening to with Toby Goodman and James Eager. Sponsored by

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