In my early days as a Creative Director in London it wasn’t unusual to invite key members of a client’s marketing team for a strategy dinner in Paris, or to fly them business class to Monte Carlo for an industry specific conference.
Which is why it was extremely refreshing to be invited to take part in CutureTech’s creative marketplace in Derry, an event where clients and agencies could meet and agree deals and where the businesses attending had been given access to funding to buy design services on the day. As an experienced designer this was one of the most enlightened and trail-blazing events I have attended anywhere in the world.
Outsiders wouldn’t perhaps think of Derry as a shining example of new creative thinking – a place where the new wave of design agencies could gather and help define the future of business, but that is how the city is presenting itself through CultureTech.
As the owner of an agency it made sense to get involved in this event and as part of the innovative approach the exhibition space was free to invited companies and both the CultureTech staff and the technical support at The Millennium Forum were superb in helping to get us all set up and running.
While some of the more traditional companies exhibiting clung to their pop-up banners, thanks to our web site and our number one ranking on Google we had already secured our first contracts before breakfast and there was a steady stream of interest in Brandlogik all day long.
There’s a lesson there for all companies attending events and conferences, not just design agencies. Most attendees and businesses will have checked you out on Google and social media long before they arrive and I can’t stress enough that it always pays to have a great online presence and to invest time in getting it right before attending even the smallest of events. Pop-up stands and give-aways are largely irrelevant for the new wave of technology-driven businesses.
While we did pick up lots of new business at the event, I felt it important that we chose clients in the same way as we always do. So we’ve now already delivered some exciting new projects for companies where we can build future relationships and partnerships that will hopefully grow and develop.
Talking to Barney Toal, Chief Executive of Noribic and one of the driving forces behind the event, it’s clear that the underlying message is that local government-funded agencies are determined to build on the legacy of Derry as the 2013 City Of Culture, and even more determined to help local businesses get lasting benefits from design and new technology.
CultureTech and Noribic clearly see design and technology as having real value in delivering economic growth and believe that design agencies can play an enormous part in helping all businesses grow. In this approach Derry is putting Dublin, London, Shanghai and just about every other city in the world to shame. Derry rocks!