Growth might be top of mind for most start-ups but entrepreneurs who think big know that it is possible to play in the big league even if your company isn’t the same size as your competitors. Just ask Daniel Marcus, founder of luxury online marketing and conferencing company, Living Your Brand.
“One of the biggest challenges in conferencing is getting your name out there, and proving that you can pull off an event that attracts both sponsors and delegates – and adds real value to both,” he says. It’s something Living Your Brand successfully achieved with their first Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Conference held in Cape Town in late 2010.
The conference was so successful that a second is planned for May in Johannesburg, and Marcus is busy planning a third in London later in the year. The reputation established by the first conference has attracted solid sponsorship and caught the eye of the marketing community.
Marcus knows a thing or two about how to turn big ideas into successful businesses. He launched the luxury lifestyle publication, Live Out Loud Magazine in Cape Town in 2007, and together with Mark Bernberg created the Poker Room, coordinating poker logistics and online marketing strategies for the website. Experience gained through these ventures allowed him to identify the market niche for Living Your Brand and has paved the way for working with brands such as Bentley, Nandos and the Jacob Zuma Foundation.
Doing it differently
“I strongly believe that as a small company it is possible to pull off a really spectacular event,” says Marcus, “I’ve attended so many bland and uninspiring conferences – even the ones with great keynote speakers follow the same format. There’s a speaker, followed by an audience Q&A and the sponsors get their logo on a banner. For me, that’s not enough – I believed there was a market for something different, something that added more value to everyone.”
In addition to headline keynote speakers and interactive audience Q&A sessions, the IMC Conference included workshop rooms where sponsors got the opportunity to present to smaller audiences, providing them with more mileage.
However, as Marcus points out, these sessions were not simply a product pitch. “Sponsors needed to provide the audience with real value and knowledge, using case studies and their experience of current trends. The focus was firmly on education, with the topics closely aligned to the needs and interests of the delegates. We got delegates to tell us upfront what areas they were interested in,” he explains.
Delivering maximum value
The format was a definite drawcard for sponsors – NATIVE, Rocketseed, Bloom Marketing, Realmdigital and HKLM among the top brands that signed up to host workshop sessions – and has contributed in no small part to the
impressive list of sponsors Living Your Brand has managed to sign for the second IMC Conference.
But it delivered on its mandate to add value to delegates as well. “I think this is one of the slickest conferences I have been to in a while,” said one MD in providing feedback. “A super slick experience – nothing to fault,” quipped another.
Diversifying income streams
With the first successful conference under its belt and planning for the second bedded down, Living Your Brand has established a nice income stream from conferencing. “I believe that the market for really good conferences is huge and it’s something we plan to leverage,” says Marcus.
However, the business also plans to use its expertise in marketing to generate growth in its other divisions – Events, Marketing & Promotions, and Online. “We started out as a company servicing luxury brands, and while we’ve grown into other areas, we’re still able to offer specialist services to brands that target the luxury market,” he explains, adding, “At the end of the day, the key to being successful in all these areas is having great ideas and there’s no shortage of those in this company.”
Living your brand
Player: Daniel Marcus; Darren Kramer (silent investment partner)
Tel: +27 (0)21 671 6362