Talking Shop with… Dave McConnell & Mark Deuschle, GMDC

Dave McConnell, president and CEO, and Mark Deuschle, vice president business development and chief marketing officer, for the Global Market Development Center (GMDC) talk about why—and how—the trade association is using innovation to carve a path forward.

GHQ: GMDC is incorporating innovation into its marketing strategy. Why is this important for the industry?

Dave McConnell: There are a lot of great associations in the industry, but we were becoming concerned that all of our business models looked the same. Since GMDC is a smaller organization, and our business is around health and wellness, beauty and general merchandise, we felt we needed to stretch a little bit and find new ways to bring value to the industry.

This led to the creation of the President’s Innovation Network (PIN), a group of half a dozen current and past GMDC members and executives from the industry, whose role is to look outside of our industry for innovation and cultivate ideas about how we can apply it to our organization.

Last year GMDC unveiled its video conferencing Telepresence network, GMDC Connect, and has since added core elements to support virtual meetings. How have these technologies impacted the industry?

McConnell: “Face-to-face at a distance” is what GMDC Connect has been dubbed internally. Using a cloud-based server, the teleconferencing service we are launching will be available to all of our members, and we are installing cameras and audio systems into our wholesale and retail locations. For both of our marketing conferences in 2012, we facilitated meetings using Telepresence that were highly successful. It changed the way people viewed both our suite-based meetings and our tabletop meetings on the floor. In addition we have received a tremendous amount of interest for use of this service inside our member organizations. Other associations have since expressed an interest in tapping into these services, and instead of being proprietary with it, we are going to share our expertise as we travel this path of innovation at our conferences and on the desktops of our members.

The GMDC Connect network will also be used to facilitate educational programming. Through hosting and recording live teleconference events, facilitated with live dialog and chat, we will be able to create a resource for members not in attendance. It is taking webinars to another level and also allows members to facilitate their own events as well.
Mark Deuschle: GMDC is known, foundationally, as one of the strongest associations for connectivity. We believe the power of this technology is away from the conference, by driving value for our members 365 days a year. The system allows members to continue to have what feels like a “live meeting” experience.

You initiated another new service this year, GMDC365. How is this initiative coming along?

McConnell: We created GMDC365 (www.gmdc365.org), which is a repository for members to promote their products and highlight new launches. Moving forward, by the beginning of June, manufacturers will be able to post information about their products, including a video announcement or commercial, and retailers can view them according to category and request follow up including the option of a video conference with the vendor.

What kind of response have you received?

Deuschle: Retailers and suppliers are looking at this in very different ways. Many retailers see it as an opportunity to engage in conversation with their vendors more frequently and to streamline the product search and category review function. Suppliers see the chance to get their product information out to the market faster and facilitate better communication between retailers and the supplier sales and broker networks.

Is there more innovation on the horizon for GMDC?

Deuschle: We initiated many things over the second half of 2012. This year is going to be about execution, so by the end of the year we will be ramping up some new stuff. Global is certainly an emphasis and expanding on some of the things that we started. It is safe to say, we are committed to continued innovation but we are equally committed to execution of our ideas—not just dreaming them up. c

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