ExhibitorLive is an annual conference held in Vegas each year. It’s my favourite advanced training camp for trade show planners and those who attend can earn points towards a USA Certification (CTSM) which marks you as someone who really knows what they’re doing. Being an Aussie girl, this has zero impact on home turf, but it does give me a unique education from some of the best exhibit trainers in the world. This year did not disappoint. With a fresh injection of inspiration I can’t wait to get creative with our custom designs and help our clients get more from their shows.
TRADE SHOW PLANNING
I attended a total of 19 seminars in 4 days and spent 3 of my lunch breaks on the show floor, exploring what’s new and meeting with suppliers from around the world. Priceless!
My number 1 takeaway from the entire event was… Planning. You need to do it!
I’ve always known there’s a lot to be done before the client gets to the actual trade show. I have always pushed our clients to go the extra mile because I wanted them to do well out of their shows, but after witnessing how the experts do it I’m only more motivated to spread the message of it’s importance.
It’s easy to fall back into doing what you’ve always done and get swept up in thinking only about the design or the costs. A common theme across all my lectures was getting all stakeholders (management, sales and marketing) on side before any of the design work takes place. It sounds like a common sense approach, but from experience I know that most of us get steamrolled by one side or another and the event loses its effectiveness simply because no one agrees and takes ownership for the outcomes. Unless everyone is on board it’s always going to be hard to change anything.
The overseas exhibit markets operate a little differently to those here in Australia, in that they LOVE exhibitions. (I was right at home!) They often ask for orders on the stand and their events are a seriously huge part of their marketing mix. As a result of asking more from their attendance, they get better results and then make a point of attending more exhibitions. They use the events to drive business and because they have set the expectation with their customers, it’s impacted the entire market. The ripple effect strikes again!
Of course, I learnt about new methods of construction to save money/time, met with others around the globe who I can call upon when business takes us there, but most importantly I came back inspired to drive the planning and strategy point home. KPI’s need to be in place so you have benchmarks across events and can see where your marketing dollars are best spent. This is what talks when it’s decision time next year.
I’m fairly sure the overseas headquarters of business’s with Australian sister companies see us as a tiny drop in the ocean. Not only in terms of turnover, but without getting results from events they have no real numbers to earn them the right for a larger slice of the marketing budget so end up only receiving enough pocket money to remind you that you’re still a part of the family.
What if … these companies started changing how they attended exhibitions? What if… These companies started getting results at trade shows?
This year really ignited something within me and I don’t know that I’ll be able to watch people continue doing what they are doing now that because I saw first hand what really is possible. Exhibit planning sessions across Australia needs to be a whole lot more than “What are we going to display?” and “How many bar tables should we have on the booth?”. We need to step things up a good few notches and make the most of these face to face interactions!