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CAROL Krugman, CMP, brings insights from her 25-year career to her new position as director of client services for event marketing powerhouse the George P. Johnson Co. Here, she discusses how the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based company is expanding the scope of experiential events.

SPECIAL EVENTS MAGAZINE: Please describe your career. Did you plan to work in event marketing?

CAROL KRUGMAN: I spent 10 years in academia. In the early 1980s I went to work in the international division of Merck Sharp & Dohme — first in public relations and then in product management. From there I moved to the agency side, working at two medical education and communications agencies. I started my own company in 1990, had a great run with it and then decided to join GPJ. The pharmaceutical industry has been my focus and passion for over 20 years, so it is very exciting to be a member of the GPJ team at this time of growth and renewed commitment to this industry, as well as other markets.

Q: You bring a strong background in incentives to your work. How has that business changed?

A: Twenty years ago, with a predominantly middle-aged, white-male attendee profile, incentives were organized around traditional activities such as golf. There wasn't much attention paid to the needs and desires of women. Fast forward through the 1980s and 1990s as the age of the incentive qualifier began to drop with the advent of the IT {information technology} industry. Finding locations and activities to excite and motivate members of the MTV generation and beyond became much more challenging. “Adventure” destinations and programs surfaced alongside those leisurely golf and beach outings. An increasingly well-traveled, more sophisticated participant base has made incentive program development more challenging at a time when budgets are being cut and incentive planners, like their colleagues in meeting and event management, are being asked to do more with less.

Q: Would you define the difference between an “event” and an “experience”?

A: Experiential event marketing goes beyond the traditional definition of what an event should accomplish. The true event “experience” is designed to support and highlight the marketer's brand and business objectives. An experiential event is designed to launch that audience on a specific cognitive or emotional journey that will result in actions that achieve the marketer's goals.

Q: What are some strategies that successful event marketers will be using?

A: They will require technology such as our “Global Links” suite, which is currently in use worldwide in nine languages. Global marketing often requires local implementation, and local implementation does not always occur in English.

{At exhibitions}, we don't want people to just visit the exhibits we develop for our clients and leave with a brochure that gets thrown away before they leave the exhibit hall. We want to engage them, have them interact with our client or our client's product, and learn as much as we can about what they want and need while they are in that space. The exhibit experiences we create differ from industry to industry, but the central objective is always the same — when they leave that exhibit space, we want the customers to be empowered and act in a way that is beneficial toward our clients and their products and services. That is, we want the exhibit experience to contribute to the growth of our client's business in a clear, measurable way.

Q: GPJ has the image of specializing in work for automotive industry clients. Is this accurate?

A: It is true that our original roots are in the automotive industry, so it is easy to understand the predominance of this perception. But the fact is that for a very long time, GPJ has served global brand companies from a number of industries in the areas of event services (logistics and content), technology, sales and production, as well as providing strategic services geared toward consolidating and maximizing our clients' event spend through consistent branding and measurement. We continue to serve the auto market, but our clients today include Fortune 1000 companies from diverse industries across the globe.

Carol Krugman is based at the Boston office of the George P. Johnson Co.; phone 508/230-0955, or visit

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