Quirk's Editor Joseph Rydholm outlines the factors behind the creation of The Quirk's Event, a conference for corporate researchers and their supplier partners that will debut in February 2015 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
In my 26 years in the editor’s chair here at Quirk’s, as the landscapes of the industry I cover (marketing research) and the industry I work in (media) have undergone seismic shifts, I’ve been proud of our ability, with a small, dedicated staff and modest budgets, to keep pace with the change around us.
From our legacy product, Quirk’s Marketing Research Review, we have branched out to add an information-packed Web site, a suite of apps and a host of other digital tools and vehicles for consuming our content.
Best of all, thanks to our valued advertisers and industry supporters, we’ve kept all of our resources free of charge.
We’ve accomplished these things by listening to and trying to anticipate the needs of our audiences – the client-side researchers and the research product and service suppliers who aim to work with them. And as we started to look at entering the conference and event realm, as so many other media outlets are doing these days, we were mindful of all the feedback we’ve heard while attending MR events ourselves.
Client-siders have told us they don’t have the time or the budget to get to all the events they want to attend. Research suppliers who have advertised through Quirk’s have told us we should mount an event ourselves, as a way of enhancing the already-strong levels of trust and engagement our readers have with the Quirk’s brand in a more intimate, face-to-face setting.
Thus was born The Quirk’s Event, to be held on February 23-24, 2015, at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. (Visit https://quirks.wufoo.com/forms/preregistration-form/ for more information.)
Our aim is to flip the traditional conference model – or at least tweak it a bit. At The Quirk’s Event, the exhibit hall is the center of things, augmented by a slate of curated sessions in nearby presentation rooms. By moving away from the usual focus on keynote speakers and breakout sessions punctuated by breaks in the expo hall – an approach to programming that, while worthwhile, also entails high costs that have to be passed along to attendees and exhibitors – we aim to drive costs down for everyone.
The fees for research suppliers to exhibit, sponsor and speak will be in the bottom-third of all research events and, perhaps most importantly, the cost to the client-side attendee will be extremely low. By keeping rates low for exhibitors, our hope is that they will have budget left to augment their exhibit spaces in fun, engaging and innovative ways, to take the attendee experience beyond the typical trade show one.
Fostering attendee learning will be a top priority as we select and approve the speaker proposals. Our goal will be to mix case studies, presentations of research findings on key markets or demographics, sessions on best practices and product and service demos. (On that front, demos will always be clearly labeled as such, so there are no unpleasant surprises for attendees who come to hear one type of presentation and end up getting something else.)
No matter the ostensible topic, we will strive to have presenters deliver concrete takeaways.
Complements rather than competes
Look, we realize we are entering a crowded field. There are many conferences for research and insights professionals (we partner with most of them!) and they do a fine job of delivering interesting keynotes and timely topic tracks. Our aim is not to duplicate their efforts. Rather, our hope is that by leveraging some of the qualities that have helped Quirk’s become such a respected name within the research industry – we are independent, ethical, responsive, friendly and long-standing proponents of marketing research – we can deliver an event like no other, one that complements rather than competes with other available offerings.
I hope to see you there.