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Why The 2012 ICCFA Convention Was The Most Productive Convention I Have Ever Attended

Over the last 5 years I have been to and exhibited at NFDA 4times, ICCFA 3 times, and the Ohio FDA Convention 5 times. After each show I generally walk away with the same conclusion; good conversation, got to meet a few more people, but was the productiveness of the show enough to offset the expenses.

I battle with feeling like I need to be there to continue to build my brand, if I am not there people are going to think something is wrong? Is being there as an exhibitor paying off? Would I get the same results if I just walked the floor and didn’t exhibit?

The ICCFA convention this year was different. I left this year’s show completely exhausted; I was physically and mentally drained. I didn’t feel like my month or my brain got the chance to shutdown at all during the 3-day exhibit. It was the best feeling I have ever had leaving a convention.

There was something different about this show. I have always felt that the ICCFA show always draws a more progressive and open-minded funeral director but this year that was more evident than ever. I was engaged by so many funeral homes that are so close to fully embracing social media, they are open to new ideas, and they see the over-whelming need to be present where their customer is.

I have read a few reviews from other people in the industry who really down played the quality of the ICCFA this year. They knocked the lack of progressiveness from the vendors and attendees. I did not see this. I feel that both groups have grown to be much more progressive. No, there weren’t any over the top crazy technology laced booths, but we have to remember, this is the ICCFA convention (funeral directors) not the Consumer Electronics Show (techie).

This profession is transforming quickly. Younger funeral directors are taking charge and they realize the need for change. They are starting to understand that their funeral home has to focus on the needs of their customer and not on their own preferences. Welcome to the beginning of the generational shift that will flip this profession upside down.

When my kids do something good, cool, or exciting I like to give them knuckles. So right now I want to send virtual knuckles to the ICCFA for continuing to support and drive evolution and change in this profession. See you next year. Knuckles

Ryan Thogmartin

Ryan Thogmartin is founder and CEO of two innovative companies. Connecting Directors LLC (www.connectingdirectors.com) and Disrupt Media Group, LLC (www.disruptmg.com). ConnectingDirectors.com is the premier progressive online publication for funeral professionals. ConnectingDirectors.com is a thriving global publication with a reader base of over 15,000 of the most elite and forward-thinking professionals in the industry.

Disrupt Media Group, LLC is a social media marketing solutions firm. Disrupt MG focuses on proficiently assisting small businesses in creating engaging social media marketing strategies. Without a social media marketing strategy companies and brands are just aimlessly posting without any coherent direction. Social media marketing is more than just having a Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube page; businesses have to have a strategy to telling their story, one that opens the door and starts the conversation.

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  • Joe Weigel

    Ryan -

    I agree with you about the productivity at this year’s ICCFA.  Most times, product companies attend these conventions for the reasons you identified – build/maintain the brand and to ensure people don’t think something is wrong at the company.

    Genesis Casket gave some thought about not attending, since our distribution is limited to primarily the Midwest, but I’m glad we didn’t.  Not only did we sell product there, but we received some great leads (and one of these leads has already manifested itself into product sales.)  And we fully expect some truckload orders to results from the connections we made.

    Double knuckles to the ICCFA!

    Joe Weigel

    • ryanthogmartin

      Double knuckles…I love it Joe :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Staab/100000281354570 Jeff Staab

    It’s so refreshing to hear that you could sense the change that is coming. It could be that social media is helping to get the word out of the value of attending these trade shows. Bottom line is, attend these shows and you will gain information you can really use, and the products that back it up. The bonus is many of the vendors will have the best deals of the year and these deals can only be found at the show. The deal savy attendees know to make purchases right at the trade show booth.

    Thank you for your honesty Ryan, I am glad to know your attendance at this years ICCFA was worth while. Lets hope this is new trend that will continue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jodiclock Jodi Perkins Clock

    Well said Ryan! This year’s ICCFA / PLPA venue was a full week of primarily business with little or no play, which is unusual, being in Las Vegas. I couldn’t tell you if it rained or shined or even what
     was a buzz in the city that never sleeps. Between speaking at the PLPA, participating in the events that were relevant to our own branding, introducing the soon to be release of my first published book “Navigating the Eldercare Journey..without going broke!”, and networking with friends / alums – this years event left me physically and mentally drained ….and given the financial investment to be there, that was money well spent!

  • Corey Gaffney

    On behalf of the board of directors of ICCFA, it’s comments like this that keep the “gas tank near full” for all of us.  We find ourselves as an organization in a similar situation as our profession as a whole; we don’t get enough feedback from our clients, in this case attendees and exhibitors, to know how things went.  So, feedback both good and bad is just the lifeblood for what you will see at the next convention.  We can always improve!

    On a personal note, I feel bad that I didn’t get to speak with about 5 vendors at the show because I was so busy.  And further proof that it was a busy convention for me was that my swimming suit never left the suitcase!  :)

    • ryanthogmartin

      Thank you for all that you and your board do to better the funeral profession!

  • Dick

    As a funeral home owner, we always come away from the ICCFA convention with one or two new ideas to implement.  We thought it was outstanding this year.  The workshops and classes are superb, and the vendor displays are always a source of new ideas too.

    Dick J.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Erin-Phelps/1106454357 Erin Phelps

    I was also in attendance at the convention in Las Vegas. This made my 3rd ICCFA convention and I have always walked away with the most forward thinking information to implement at my firm. I plan on being at the 2013 convention, ready to learn even more.

  • Mike

    Ryan…I was glad to see you had a productive time…this was the first positive response I had heard from several suppliers that had exhibited.  I had chosen not to have Trinity Fluids attend the show only because I felt that Vegas was not the venue to get full attention..I could have been wrong!  But I absolutely agree with you that the social media market is expanding for both suppliers and clients.  I also see the generational gap being a definite divide for firms struggling to reach out to new clients.   Our business has had continuous double digit growth for the last 10 quarters mainly due to social media marketing.  It has allowed us be seen and to locate  those clients that are open minded quickly and efficiently without a lot of marketing / travel expense to close deals.  We have grown our business to 40 states, 6 countries & 3 Continents over the past 3 years using social media as 90% of our marketing strategy.   We will continue to use the convention venues selectively to ensure that Trinity Fluids brand of excellence continues to shine to those that hide in the “shadows of the past” and cling on to what they think the public is wanting in a funeral home…those folks are not our clients, yet.

    I always look forward to your emails Ryan.   Keep it up..

  • Adrienne Kalmes

    Couldn’t agree more with you’re observations about ICCFA! Meadow Hill is also a company with a strong technology focus. Creating custom keepsakes is vastly simpler today because of the advances in technology and we are seeing funeral directors who can take a new idea or a new tool and see further applications for its use. Our Thumbies Fingerprint Scanner is just such an example. This next generation of directors have grown up in a digital world where connectivity is the name of the game. ICCFA seemed to be a gathering place for many of them this year! Kudos to ICCFA and it’s organizers!

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