dmexco: Becoming the Biggest Marketing Show by Accident

Christian Muche, founder of dmexco, talked with Juergen Seitz about the conference and his success

The biggest digital marketing show on earth is not located in London, New York or even Cannes. It is located in the city of Cologne, Germany. Every September dmexco becomes the epicenter of the digital marketing world. People come from all over the world to discuss strategies and tactics in the area of digital marketing. dmexco was created by two people: Frank Schneider and Christian Muche. Professor Juergen Seitz (Stuttgart Media University) talked to Christian Muche about his overall success and why on earth dmexco is located in Cologne.

CHRISTIAN, YOU LIVE IN NEW ZEALAND AND YOU RUN THE BIGGEST MARKETING SHOW ON EARTH IN COLOGNE, GERMANY. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
Muche: To be honest, it was basically an accident. After working as an executive at several Internet companies, I wanted to change my lifestyle, moved to New Zealand and – together with my business partner Frank Schneider – came up with the idea of dmexco as an interesting sideline business. Shortly afterwards, I realized that dmexco is not a side business at all, but far more, a huge opportunity in the market of trade shows and conferences.

WHY ON EARTH COLOGNE?
Muche: dmexco developed out of a local digital marketing event in Germany, and Cologne is one of the best places to be, very well connected, open minded and with a great infrastructure. That is why we decided on Cologne. We still believe that there are good arguments for Cologne for such a show, because we have great facilities for hosting such a large number of visitors, it is easily accessible from all over the world, it is in the center of Europe, and our success proves that it was the right decision.

WHAT MAKES DMEXCO SO SPECIAL THAT PEOPLE COME FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD TO ATTEND? AREN’T THERE ENOUGH OTHER MARKETING CONFERENCES?
Muche: It is all about quality. Most conferences are either focused on content, networking or partying. We deliver in all three areas and are highly business relevant. Our conference program is great, with well-known international speakers, but we originated from a trade fair. People come to dmexco to make deals, to demonstrate their companies’ abilities and marketing solutions and they meet over a coffee to talk business – annual commitments are often agreed on at dmexco. It is not just a “lobby con”. It is a really great trade show. I have often had to explain this to people from various nations. And of course, there is a lot of partying as well. The whole city is focused on dmexco. A kind of tradition exists in Germany when it comes to these kinds of trade fairs.

From the idea of an sideline business to the biggest digital marketing conference on earth: the demexco 2015 expects more than 32,000 visitors.

From the idea of an sideline business to the biggest digital marketing conference on earth: the demexco 2015 expects more than 32,000 visitors.

WHY SHOULD AN ENTREPRENEUR COME TO DMEXCO?
Muche: As an entrepreneur you need to scale your business, and digital marketing is crucial for scaling your business. If your company is focused on the ad tech industry, then it is obvious that you have to be here, but even if you are in e-commerce or any other area of business, you have to understand which are the right channels for you to scale right now. What are the best strategies and tactics? And even more important: Who are the right partners? Nowadays, in this era of content overflow, it is almost impossible to understand who the right people are, just by doing web research. dmexco helps a lot in terms of getting a closer look into the digital marketing industry and the players within this industry. In a nutshell: It is precious time well spent.

WHAT TOPICS SHOULD ONE FOCUS ON?
Muche: The overall industry is booming and therefore it is not only about focus, but also about speed and overview. Entrepreneurs should focus on fully understanding the digital landscape and realizing the new opportunities that arise in daily consumer life, along with all their consequences, for example those that originate from the Internet of Everything, data-driven advertising and people-centric approaches such as content and engagement marketing. With our motto for 2015, “Bridging Worlds” we have set ourselves the goal of bringing all of the analog and digital worlds from every region on our planet together in one place.

EVERYTIME WE WANT TO TALK WITH YOU, YOU ARE AT THE AIRPORT FOR A LONG-DISTANCE FLIGHT. HOW DO YOU MANAGE THIS?
Muche: I travel a lot because the dmexco has become really international. We assume that 50 per cent of our visitors come from abroad, which makes travelling the world and convincing entrepreneurs to come to Cologne a necessity. And it’s almost more important to show them how they can make the best of their visit. My wife and family support me tremendously. That’s why I’m able to travel a lot and regenerate in New Zealand within a few days.

An other interview situation between Seitz and Muche – at the dmexco Night Talk Hamburg.

WHAT ARE YOUR GENERAL ADVICES FOR NEW ENTREPRENEURS?
Muche: Nobody knows your industry better than you do. Be aggressive, but humble and resilient at the same time. There are only a few overnight successes. It is much more about execution, taking risks and having the necessary stamina to win the game. I’ve seen a lot of startup companies with tremendous growth, and in every single instance, they had a great inspiring founder who was pushing things forward personally. Yes, you should delegate stuff, but the core initiatives are still driven by CEOs, even if your company employs over 100 people.

IS THERE A LIFE FOR YOU AFTER DMEXCO?
Muche: Right now I cannot think about that. dmexco is my adventure; it is not a lifestyle business anymore. And I think we are still at the beginning of a tremendous industry. What is certain though, is that I will never retire. I will never stop working. I would only change the way I work. It is very likely that I would spend more time with young founders, inspiring them and giving them advice and being generally helpful with tips on how to scale a business.

CHRISTIAN, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THIS INTERVIEW.

Professor Juergen Seitz interviewed Christian Muche for Internet Innovators.