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‘Evolve or Evaporate’
By Cam Bishop, CEO
The headline for this blog post is a quote. Surprisingly, a quote from a rap musician — Usher, to be specific. I heard him make this statement on a television show and it impressed me. A pretty smart guy, I think.
His quote and, really I think, his life philosophy, is certainly appropriate in our world here at Ascend. That is, the world of custom content, content marketing, event media and the related creative arts.
This company will celebrate its 30th anniversary in business in July of this year. And, it has seen a dramatic evolution, to say the least.
The company started its life as an ad agency. Within a year or so, it published its first trade show newspaper. Word spread rapidly and within a couple more years, the business had evolved into a trade show daily newspaper publisher. It was called Atwood, named after its founding couple, Wayne and Linette.
The evolution continued as association and event clients began asking them to produce exhibit guides, membership directories, programs, maps and other ancillary print material.
Time moved on and we, the current generation of Ascend team members, have proudly continued the evolution. Primarily in the digital realm. First came Ascend’s proprietary and highly effective “e365” landing page website for events. Following closely after came the company’s interactive database-driven exhibit guides and buyers’ guides with a tremendous degree of flexibility and searchability.
Print magazines, directories and newspapers then began to move to digital form as well and Ascend was early on the scene with flipbook versions. One of our first was for the Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas. It was a beauty, so to speak!
We also are proud to say that we were early pioneers in the mobile arena with one of the industry’s first event mobile apps. Can you believe that launching a mobile product in just early 2009 makes one a pioneer in that field? Today, I have a list of 67 companies that claim to make some type of event mobile app. While many try, we’ve evolved through at least four generations of mobile event apps and will soon be able to provide a sophisticated new show floor geo-location technology that is not GPS-dependent. Stay tuned.
We then saw the trend in a new lead-generation tool called “QR codes” and we immediately began offering this new technology to our clients. We first demonstrated its capabilities at the annual Healthcare Exhibitors Association Show several years ago.
In the area of SMS text messaging, Ascend also has been offering that technology solutions to our more than 50 event and trade show clients for three years now. We sometimes euphemistically call it “mobile herding” because it can be such an effective tool to move people around a trade show. Even today, text messaging is an increasingly effective and accepted means of communicating with attendees and constituents.
We are now, of course, heavily into creating and delivering tablet versions of publications in both iPad and Android tablet formats. We’ve produced proof of concept work for The American Heart Association, the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and, most recently, for Sam Lippman’s ECEF conference program book delivered to more than 200 association and event senior executives.
Beyond that, we now offer a Virtual Totebag for exhibitors and associations to effectively and efficiently distribute their trade show literature to attendees. Plus, in late June 2012, we will debut our new AscendStreaming technology at this year’s (HCEA) Healthcare Exhibitors Association trade show in Orlando.
If all that is not enough, coming real soon will be version 2.0 of our interactive digital exhibit guides and buyers guides with some amazing new functionality and improved user navigation.
With all of that technology, we still produce a staggering variety and volume (more than 400 pieces per year) of print products, not the least of which are some 40 or more show daily newspaper projects averaging two to three days of live news each. That’s easily more than 100 issues per year, now totaling well over 2,200 issues for nearly 800 trade shows in our 30-year history.
Ascend strives to offer a fully integrated communications solution so that readers and users can access and use information with the same look, feel, style, tone and format regardless of what media they are using — print, digital, mobile or any combination.
Even though we continue to work aggressively to evolve to serve the needs of our clients, our goal of providing content for users “when they want it, where they want it and how they want it” remains the same.
Please come and join us as a partner, client or employee as we continue on this evolutionary trail in custom content.