Dx3 2014 To Focus On Education, Excitement Says Founder

December 17, 2013 Ben Myers

Duncan Payne doesn’t want to talk to you. Really, an email will probably do.

There’s too much happening right now. There are more than 100 exhibitors on the show floor and a five-stream digital-business conference happening simultaneously. Over the two days of Dx3 2014 on March 5-6, around 4,000 people will move through the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. At an event like Dx3, Payne represents just another hand to shake, despite the fact that he’s literally running the show.

Duncan Payne Dx3

Duncan Payne, President Hut 2 Hut Events & Dx3 Canada.

Dodging attendees from agencies, brands, and retailers, he’s moving past large and small booths and glancing in at the exhibitors. They’re too busy to say ‘Hi’, and he’s happy about it.

“When I walked around the first year, I tried to thank everyone for coming, and I was really pleased to hardly get in anyone’s booths – even at the end of the second day – and it was really encouraging,” Payne says. “That’s the mark of success for me.”

Canada’s largest digital-focused event

Dx3 is Canada’s largest event focused on digital marketing, advertising and retailing. 2014 is the third iteration of the annual conference and trade show, founded by Payne and Michael (Mick) Cooke. The two men have decades of experience organizing trade shows across several industries and continents, but settled on Canada’s online sector for their first original venture.

Entering December, Payne and his fellow organizers from Hut2Hut Events are recruiting exhibitors and sponsors, modifying floor plans and building attractions for the event. For the young company, this three-month window is when the heat is truly turned up. Payne, however, keeps on eye on the reason why Dx3 settled in Toronto.

“You can fill a hall full of people. You can fill a hall full of exhibitors… but if they don’t talk then the whole thing’s pointless.”

“Everybody talks about [Canada] being behind, both in terms of digital retail and in terms of our marketing and the way we embrace technology,” Payne says, comparing Canada to the United Kingdom and Australia. “So the people in those industries that should be embracing technology are the people we’re trying to attract. To get them in and just show them the fundamentals.”

“If we don’t get going, we’re going to disappear. That’s my belief as a small business owner, if you don’t embrace this stuff, and get on with it, you won’t be here long.”

Dx3 TradeshowThe method used to attract the executives, directors and managers behind Canada’s digital industry is to create an environment that stimulates conversations; a stage that encourages people to laugh and interact outside of their familiar circles.

“You can fill a hall full of people. You can fill a hall full of exhibitors… but if they don’t talk then the whole thing’s pointless,” Payne says.

Putting a digital Ferrari on the show floor

On the show floor, that means getting people hands-on with the technology that could power their business for the next decade. Payne has been working with Dx3 exhibitors to create a retail experience (called a ‘feature’ in the trade industry) that will combine mobile apps, robotic delivery and in-store analytics.

“Instead of having a static display, we’re trying to create these things where people actually experience technology and we’re trying to get people on the show floor to work together to create that feature, so the business person walks through it as a consumer,” Payne says.

“They’ll walk away and go, ‘Oh yeah, I remember that!’. It’s a bit like going to a car show and seeing the latest Ferrari, and you say, ‘Oh that’s neat,’ and you can get inside. That’s what we want to do.”

“I think our goal is to educate and broker that relationship, so that [the attendee] can be educated and then go and get what they need.”

The process of recruiting partners to build the feature has been ongoing for months, and will continue to develop as Dx3 2014 approaches. Payne sees the feature and the event overall as a learning experience; to create the knowledge and connections among Canadian businesses to move the online industry forward.

“I think it’s a pretty intimidating space, to be honest with you,” Payne says. “There are so many different solutions. There are so many different options and so many different opinions, it’s just overwhelming for most people.”

With the conference and trade show happening in adjacent rooms, there’s the opportunity for an attendee to become aware of how they can improve their business, and then meet a partner to actually make it happen.

“I think our goal is to educate and broker that relationship, so that [the attendee] can be educated and then go and get what they need.”

So if you spot the Dx3 organizer wandering the show floor, don’t worry about saying ‘hi’ right away. There’s always next year.

Dx3 2014 Fact Sheet:

For exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities, contact Michael Peace.

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