Steven Smith: "2016 will be the year of virtual reality in live marketing"

Published on 1/25/2016 by Christoph Spangenberg

On 1 February, Steven Smith will be taking on the management of MCH Global AG, a newly founded company within the MCH Group. In an interview, he speaks about this new challenge and the trends in live marketing and reveals what it takes to stage a successful event.

MCH Global Steven Smith

Mr Smith, you will be joining MCH Global as Managing Director on 1 February 2016 after acquiring a wealth of experience in a number of large companies in the events industry. Could you introduce yourself?

Steven Smith (38): I’m originally from the UK but have spent the majority of my career living and working around the world – primarily in developing markets in China, Africa, the Middle East and south-east Asia. I’ve spent the past six years in Singapore where I’ve had the good fortune to work with some fantastic companies in the events and marketing industries – most recently with CWT M&E and George P. Johnson Experience Marketing, where I was the Managing Director of their south-east Asian business.

I was attracted to MCH Global because of the individual strengths and reputations of the business units, and the unique proposition that the combined business can provide to the market. As Switzerland’s leading events company, I am very excited about partnering with the different businesses within MCH Group to grow the brand on a global scale.

On a personal level, relocating to Switzerland should be a wonderful experience for my wife and three young children, although we may need to invest in some winter clothing, after so many years in a tropical climate!

What services do you offer? Where does MCH Global want to position itself? What are its target groups?

MCH Global is a live marketing company, which provides strategic and conceptional consulting in the fields of culture, sport and to corporates on an international level. We take a dual competence/approach: combining strategic knowledge with creative thinking and world-class execution. Our expertise stretches across both online and offline spheres, enabling us to create digital and physical event experiences for our clients, as well as seamless campaigns that blur the boundaries between the two worlds.

By leveraging the strengths of the MCH Group businesses, we are uniquely positioned to offer high-level strategic consulting level to our clients, which can be extended to a One-Stop shop offering for those clients with end-to-end live marketing requirements. We will be focusing on our 3 key segments (culture, sports, corporate) to create unique strategies and solutions for leading organisations, event organisers and companies.
Within the MCH Group you have access to a successful network: Reflection Marketing (Marketing Consulting), Expomobilia and Metron Vilshofen (exhibition and events construction), Rufener Events (Events Management) and Winkler Multi Media, plus their subsidiaries. How are you going to work together?

I think this is probably our biggest competitive advantage: having all of these leading brands in-house will give us the ability to bring best-of-class solutions to our clients, in a very joined-up way, while keeping costs low. As the live marketing industry is so fragmented, you end up with very extended supply chains and a lot of subcontracting. Although this provides companies with flexibility, it comes at the risk of poor project management and quality control, as well as mark-ups being added to mark-ups. The MCH Global offering can be taken as a One-Stop Shop solution or tailored to our clients‘ needs.

To make this work, the only way forward is through communication and collaboration. Within our network we are used to collaborating, so this will continue to be the foundation of our success.

For me personally, I am thrilled to be working with so many industry leaders within one business. I have fifteen years of global live marketing experience, but I can’t hope to match the combined knowledge of the leaders and managers MCH Group brands. I am very conscious that MCH Global will be standing on the shoulders of giants, so I intend to listen and learn from my new colleagues as we build our global capabilities.

Which trends or challenges do you think will have a major influence or impact on live marketing in 2016?

I think that 2016 will be the year that virtual reality starts to come to the forefront of our industry. The technology is really maturing and clients are becoming more adventurous with their willingness to try new things. I worked on some really exciting VR projects last year and I think that this area of the market will continue to grow.

More broadly, I expect to see the shift to digital to continue to gather pace in 2016, which will present further challenges to the live marketing industry. As marketing budgets remain under pressure, the successful agencies will be the ones who can create customer experiences that work as well online as they do offline – and facilitate the movement from one channel to the next and back again. And this will have massive consequences beyond the events industry – as it will affect the ad agencies, marketing consultancies and many other businesses all chasing the same pot of money.

Brands and event organisers regularly outbid each other. How can you  create a unique experience, engender long-lasting enthusiasm and engage with the target group in a lasting manner in this day and age?

The live marketing and events industry has always been a very competitive space, so the constant rounds of pitching to win business are nothing new. Similarly, the need to create amazing experiences and customer engagement have always been with us, so I don’t think there is anything new about that either. I think the key to success remains the same as it always has been: agencies that can best understand their clients – and most importantly their clients‘ customers – will always be able to generate the right results and experiences. If anything has changed then I would argue it is simply that there are so many new channels and touchpoints available to consumers today. Therefore, live marketing agencies need to provide solutions and experiences that work on multiple levels in a consistent manner – which is why I feel that the MCH Group strategy represents the future of our industry.
Official media release.

Christoph Spangenberg

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