By Andy Slawetsky – I attended the Marco Technology Event held outside Minneapolis MN on Sept. 12. The event was held at the Mystic Lake Casino and was unlike any dealer event I’ve been to before as over 700 attendees participated in the afternoon programs and over 1,400 attended the evening event.

Who is Marco? They’re really two companies; an IT side and a more traditional copier/printer side. And they’re big; very likely one of the top 3 companies in this space in the US market. They have at least 50 locations with well over 1,000 employees. When they were acquired by NEP in 2015, it only made them stronger, providing the funds Marco needed to continue their acquisition and growth strategies and even taking them up a few notches.

The number of customers at this event was impressive; larger than some OEM shows I’ve attended over the years and certainly larger than any dealer event I’ve been too. Customers came from all over and in many cases, Marco provided busses to take people back and forth, to and from different locations. They  came from as far away as Bismarck ND (7 hours) and possibly from even farther.

The product fair was impressive too, with a room full of major vendors, some of whom you may know very well, including ACDI, ecoprintQ, EFI, HP, Panasonic, PaperCut,  and PSIGEN among others. You can see them all in my event photos. Canon and Sharp were also major sponsors, but it was Konica Minolta who put the event over the top by supplying REO Speedwagon as the evening’s entertainment. BEI had a couple of people there as well. This was the kind of event all the vendors and partners wanted to be a part of.

The day essentially began with a nice lunch, after which, attendees headed into presentation sessions they had registered for. The presentations were generally given by Marco’s technology partners and from what I saw, they were well attended. Attendees were also free to walk around the technology fair to learn about different products and services that Marco offered that the custoemers might not yet know about.

Click here to see all event photos and videos!

One of the things that really made this event truly special (besides the two happy hours that they held) was the fact that people at such high levels in this industry were willing to come spend the day and night in Minnesota for their client, Marco. Canon sent people. HP sent people.

Sharp sent their President and CEO and their VP. Konica Minolta sent the pack, with Laura, Sam and Rick all in attendance. Glenn, president of PSIGEN was there as was Jennifer from PaperCut. Collabrance sent people. The list goes on and on. There are very few companies in this industry that can bring a guest list like that together under one roof. Very few.

Imagine the bond Marco reps built with their customers when they brought them from 7 hours away, put them up overnight at the casino, fed them, gave them drinks, treated them to a great day and an even better evening and then introduced them to the senior executives from companies whose technology they may have used for years. You use Konica Minolta copiers? Want to meet their president and CEO? You use Sharp displays? You want to meet their president and CEO?Judging by Facebook Page posts from their customers who were at the event, they established some very strong relationships that night. Here’s one I thought said it all:

I must say, this was certainly an eye-opener as to who Marco really is. Their ability to pull all of these competitive OEMs together, side-by side, at that level; the sheer number of customers that gave up a day (or two) of work to attend; the level of the entertainment (OEMs don’t generally spend NEARLY as much on their bands)…this all adds up to an incredibly fun and educating customer experience.

The marketing team seems to have thought of everything; the entertainment was spectacular, the event flowed nicely, the product fair was huge, they had a really big crowd and those customers had an absolute blast while possibly even learning something important or making a connection they will someday need.

I greatly appreciate the invitation by Marco to cover the event. It was extremely well done – right down to the breakfast sandwiches and coffee by the door the next morning. They even had free, secure charging stations (like you see at the airport…but free) throughout the event so you could drop your phone to charge for a bit and come back to some charged device. They thought of everything! OEM’s take note. Your dealers may be hosting better conferences than you!