I had the privilege this month of attending the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, an event that attracts over 10,000 manufacturers and merchants that specialize in outdoor sporting equipment. It was my first time attending the event, and the sheer scale of the show overwhelmed me. Picture an event so large that it completely encompasses the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City and then expands to three enormous outdoor pavilions. I lost my bearings at least a half dozen times (which led to some unexpected and amazing discoveries). Fortunately, on day two I downloaded the Outdoor Retailer event app for my iPhone. Suddenly I felt empowered, much like ancient mariners felt empowered when they were first offered sextants.Now I've been to a lot of trade shows. And when I mean a lot, I mean a lot (I've got a draw full of badges to prove it). I'm always excited to attend them, because I always learn something. This is especially true when the event focuses on a market that I've never been exposed to before. Trade shows are a great way to soak up the gestalt of a market and tune you into what really matters to that audience. So as you can imagine, I was thrilled to be going to the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. It was a new market with loads of great stuff to learn. It also gave me the chance to meet face to face with one of our best partners in the Magento space, an agency called Digital Operative. Now every market, and by extension every event, has its own personality. Some are quirky and contrarian (think Linux World back in the day), some are serious, intense and driven (think Oracle World) and some are artistic, inspired, and visionary (think any Apple event). And sometimes this personality, this core ethos of a market, is something really special and a gift to experience. Sometimes it’s so pure and undistilled that it catches you by surprise and reawakens in you that special something that drove you be a marketer in the first place. The best marketing, after all, gives voice to something special. It gives expression to the universal truths that bind us all together as human beings. When we are at our best as marketers, we inspire others to do better and to be better and to reach for the seemingly unreachable. There was something special going on at Outdoor Retailer. This impression didn’t hit me all at once. Little by little, as I met with our partner Digital Operative, some of our customers and a laundry list of manufacturers and merchants that I never met before, the sense grew that there was something more going on than just commerce. These people shared an intense passion for the outdoors and its transformative effect on the human spirit. And this passion manifested itself in an almost never-ending parade of innovations and stories and songs that they couldn’t help but share with me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the term “market” was a misnomer. These people were a community, one that was connected by a shared sense of purpose, history and vision. And I was amazed at how incredibly welcoming they were to an outsider like me. All of this got me thinking about what makes communities so special, and the role that marketers can play in enhancing and prolonging them. I don’t claim to have all the answers, just a beginning, a framework for asking the right questions, as we think through this important topic together. Outdoor Retailer gives us an example to reference, and an opportunity for me to provide more detail around what I mean by “special”. But in order to do that, I need to share a story with you about someone special that I met at the show. Someone who epitomizes everything great about this ecosystem of kindred spirits. We’ll get to that in my next blog post. This post originally appeared on LinkedIn – see it here. About Tenzing As an ecommerce infrastructure specialist Tenzing has been helping retailers prepare for the holiday season for almost a decade. Tenzing combines scalable infrastructure, deep platform expertise, advanced managed services and extensive industry partnerships to help merchants increase revenues and deliver remarkable customer experiences. Retailers and Solution Partners choose Tenzing because we help them increase SEM performance, reduce shopping cart abandonment and ensure performance during peak seasons. To find out more about us visit www.tenzing.com or email us at email@example.com
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