Discovering their competitive advantages

The eighth annual IB Expo & Conference brought together more than 1,000 Madison-area professionals with the businesses that serve them.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

With a sports-inspired theme and key Wisconsin sports leaders on deck, the annual In Business Expo & Conference returned to the Alliant Energy Center Oct. 24, attracting more than 100 exhibitors and 1,050 attendees, and providing a forum for local businesses to market their products and services and make meaningful business connections throughout the day.

The eighth annual IB Expo kicked off with a keynote breakfast attended by nearly 500 professionals interested to learn how business leaders can take their companies from underdog to brand powerhouse. In delivering the keynote, Steve Battista, former senior VP of Brand for Under Armour and a CLIO award-winning branding expert, noted his belief that brands succeed because they find ways to connect with fans at a deeper level, enough so that brand fans will fight for them.

“A company and a brand are two different things; a company conducts transactions with customers, but a brand is a living, breathing thing with it’s own identity and culture,” Battista explains. “When you put them head to head, brands always win. Brands build relationships.”

At midday, attendees also had a chance to hear from the experts at the first-ever Business of Wisconsin Sports panel discussion, a lively Q&A moderated by Matt Lepay, “The Voice of the Wisconsin Badgers,” that featured the following: Barry Alvarez, director of athletics, University of Wisconsin; Jason Hartlund, chief revenue officer, Milwaukee Brewers; Alex Lasry, senior vice president, Milwaukee Bucks; and Dirk Willis, PGA, general manager and group director of golf for Kohler Co.

Inside the main hall, attendees conversed with exhibitors representing a wide array of business products and services and collected signatures from booth vendors as part of a scorecard game. Attendees and exhibitors also competed for their spot atop the podium in the IB Office Olympics and a chance at $100 Food Fight gift cards, along with gold and silver staplers for the first and second place finishers.

The event was also an opportunity for IB Expo exhibitors to interact with potential clients and each other. Among the exhibitors new to the Expo this year was Acuity Insurance. Dana Bear, product analyst for Acuity, says having the opportunity to get in front of so many people was worthwhile because it generated a lot of leads. “It’s been a great experience, with really good traffic,” Bear notes. “We’ve been able to inform a lot of people who aren’t familiar with us about what we do, and everyone from the other exhibitors to the guests have been very friendly.”

Kristen Parent, firm marketing and training director for MassMutual Wisconsin, a frequent exhibitor, says the event is always a great way to make new business connections. “We value In Business as the premier business magazine in our community. Time after time we see the value in how this event brings community partners together. The Expo is a one-stop shop for our advisors to make as many connections in one day as possible, and the event for us is all about building brand recognition. When our advisors call on people, they’ve heard of us, and that’s the power of the event.”

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