02 Apr 2015

ISA CEO Lori Anderson to Explain Multi-Year Initiative at ECEF 2015

The realization that “a renewed focus on the business aspect of the [ISA International Sign Expo] was paramount for its continued growth and success,” led ISA to launch the kind of in-depth customer research usually reserved for big-budgeted Fortune 500 corporations. “But spending millions on research was not an option,” said Lori Anderson, President and CEO of ISA. So the creative leader of ISA found an affordable alternative, beginning with studying the “personas” of its customers. 

Anderson will present a road map of the multi-year initiative at the Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum (ECEF), May 27, 2015, in Washington, D.C. “By taking aggressive, pro-active measures to keep ISA Sign Expo relevant far into the future, Lori is providing the kind of leadership that points the way for many other organizers,” noted Sam Lippman, President of Lippman Connects and moderator of ECEF. In a preview of the session, Lippman and Anderson exchanged a brief Q&A. 

Lippman: What convinced ISA that research was needed? 
Anderson: For years, technology has fueled the growth of the ISA International Sign Expo. While technology remains a key reason attendees and exhibitors participate, there are increasingly other options. In addition, as technology changes, the traditional business lines of the ISA membership also start to blur. Because of the importance of our exhibition to the association, the ISA Board and leadership realized that a renewed focus on the business aspect of the trade show was paramount for its continued growth and success. 

Lippman: How many personas emerged in this process? 
Anderson: Approximately 10 attendee personas and 6 exhibitor personas emerged in a continuing process. For over a year ISA volunteer leadership, staff and volunteers developed data through interviews and focus groups. At a minimum this is a 5-year project, where the persona development was the first step. 

Lippman: Did ISA validate the accuracy of the personas before acting on them? 
Anderson: There is a certain “leap of faith” in this type of research. Hard data propelled us to launch the project. After initial development of the personas, an effort lasting more than a year, we launched an effort with our registration company to capture relevant unique data points that would further help. “Soft data” is being layered over “hard data” to add more meat to the persona construct. 

Lippman: What can you tell us about the new initiatives that were launched? 
Anderson: This is an ongoing process. A few immediate initiatives include an ISA Elite program providing up-and-coming professionals with a “scholarship” to attend. We revamped our education to include show floor “lounge and learns,” and we partnered with GraphExpo on a print theater on our respective show floors. Before us now is a comprehensive database review so that ISA can better capture and analyze data in the future. 

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About Lippman Connects 
Lippman Connects produces and facilitates exclusive events for exhibition and convention industry professionals. Each event—Exhibition & Convention Executives Forum, Attendee Acquisition Roundtable, Exhibit Sales Roundtable and Large Show Roundtable—provides attendees, and a select group of sponsors, the opportunity to network, discuss challenges, and share best practices. In addition, Lippman Connects is a leading provider of advisory services to event producing organizations. More information is available at