Strong Relationships: Foundation of Successful Business

By Rita Walston, senior director, marketing programs

Social media has made it possible to connect with potential customers and partners from afar — without TSA close encounters, battling beltway traffic or even picking up the phone. The sales profession has changed immeasurably over the last decade or two, but one thing has not – the value of face-to-face communication in building and strengthening relationships.

As we count down the days until the 5th Annual Government IT Sales Summit, it reminds me why we started it in the first place – to bring our partners and suppliers together in a place where they can make the connections to grow their government business and turn potential into results.

In our industry, events have endured pendulum swings —  for instance, the demise and resurrection of AFITC— but one factor ensures that events will always play a role in business: the irreplaceable value of face-to-face communication. There is nothing quite like it.

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Air Force Fine Tunes Its Cyber Policy

Stephanie Meloni_65x85cybersecurity_092816By Stephanie Meloni, Consultant

Two main themes emerged at the recent Air Force Information Technology and Cyberpower Conference (AFITC) that will affect future Air Force cyber activities: increased automation and further integration of cyber across all warfighting domains.

Air Force senior leaders gathered at AFITC in Alabama to discuss their vision for the future of cyber operations across the organization as the service evolves its cyber practices and discovers vulnerabilities in networks and weapon systems.

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Air Force IT Conference is Dead

by Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

R.I.P., AFITC.

As many of you know, the Air Force IT Conference held each August in Montgomery, Alabama was cancelled this past year. It had been held annually since 1983 and was the largest IT conference within the Department of Defense.

Now it looks like it’s not coming back.

According to an announcement on Friday by Montgomery AFCEA President Joe Besselman, “the Air Force has no plans to ever restart an Air Force-led conference like AFITC.” Besselman continued: “…the earliest one could expect a conference similar in nature is 2014. AFCEA International is working with the Air Force to gauge the need, content, and potentially the location.”

This provides further evidence that DoD in particular is looking to consolidate trade shows and conferences to eliminate duplication and save taxpayer money. I’m all for that, but this takes a great marketing vehicle off the table for those looking to pitch their offerings to the Air Force IT community. This show was always a source of qualified leads and great relationship-building opportunities for us.

For those immixGroup clients who need to find a way to stay in front of this community, please contact us and we’ll see what we can do. The Montgomery AFCEA chapter hosts a number of other events, including MITS 2013 in June. There’s a tentative Air Force Industry Day event planned for the same time.

As I said in a previous post, keep your marketing plans and budgets fluid this year to accommodate changes like this. More are coming.

DoD Freezes Conference & Travel Spending

by Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

Last week I wrote about the cancellation of the Air Force Information Technology Conference (AFITC) which was slated for August 2012. Today I was greeted with news that the Defense Department has ordered an immediate freeze on all conferences and related travel (see related articles on Defense Systems and USA Today).

Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has ordered military service chiefs to review all upcoming conferences costing more than $100,000, which will require approval from top Pentagon officials.

Events have always been an important part of most federal marketers’ lead generation and brand awareness plans. IT companies targeting the DoD in particular tend to rely heavily on defense-related conferences and trade shows. Is that reliance about to change? Are we going to see much larger crowds at the local AFCEA breakfasts or other events that do not tax the travel budget? What role will social media, webinars, and virtual events play in picking up the slack?

We’re developing some new ideas to help our clients deal with these changes in the market. Let me know what you’re doing!

Air Force Cancels AFITC Conference

by Allan Rubin, Vice President, Marketing

Restaurateurs, travel agents, and hoteliers in Montgomery, Alabama must have a collective headache today. The Montgomery Advertiser just reported that the Air Force has cancelled its 2012 Information Technology Conference (otherwise known as AFITC). The event was scheduled to take place from August 27 to 29. It has been held annually in Montgomery since 1983 and is the largest IT conference within the Department of Defense.

It was only two weeks ago that we learned of another victim of recent scrutiny over travel to events: the National Guard’s 2012 NGB JC4I Conference, which was cancelled due to government cutbacks. There’s no question that a trend is emerging, especially when you add this news to recent headlines about other conference and event cancellations.

It’s not clear yet how these cutbacks will impact the information-gathering habits of government employees who already had made reservations to attend AFITC or any of the other now-cancelled conferences (who doesn’t want to visit beautiful downtown Montgomery in mid-August?). But the news is certainly forcing us to adjust some of our 2012 marketing plans, and I’m sure we are not alone.

We’re currently exploring other options to help our clients reach qualified prospects within the Air Force and National Guard IT communities. What marketing media are you considering? We’d love to hear your ideas.

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