by Ellen Campbell-Kaminski, VP of Marketing
What do a mascot, mad scientists, 169 classes, virtual reality, four magicians, video testimonials, skateboards, exams, balloons, Vegas, and aching feet have in common? Well, if you throw in some of the most innovative and creative trade show booths imaginable, you’ve got ExhibitorLIVE: the Annual Professional Development Conference for Trade Show and Corporate Event Marketers.
After months of planning our presence: objectives, theme, trade show booth design, visitor engagement, client video testimonials, pre-show marketing, and brand ambassador training, it was finally time. My reservations were booked and my luggage was packed and our marketing materials were saved onto thumb-drives and securely packed in my carry-on luggage.
Impression 1: Education is Serious Business
On the first morning of conference, I attended a beMatrix breakfast meeting where Exhibit Concepts was named Finalist in three categories: The One That Got Away; Best Use of the 360 Solution; and Most Innovative Use. Walking down the hall I passed an enormous wall filled with the class schedule. I was struck by the sheer number of offerings. A few that caught my eye, in addition to the four sessions on exhibiting internationally that my colleague Jeff Hannah delivered, included: Build a Better RFP and 11 New Rules of Trade Show Marketing. Our industry is changing rapidly and at the same time, there is a proliferation of ways to reach our target audience which means we, as marketers, need to develop sophisticated, integrated campaigns in order to reach our intended audiences, wherever they may be.
Impression 2: The Value of Face-to-Face Marketing
I was recently asked why I joined a company that focuses on trade show exhibits, permanent installations, museums, events and mobile tour marketing. I think of our industry as “Face-to-face marketing, the original Social Media™.”
I believe that human beings are inherently social and at the end of the day, people buy from people. We want to be able to examine what we are potentially buying and we want to know who we are doing business with;. hence, I think face-to-face marketing will be required for years to come. And here I was, attending a conference of thousands of people who understand and are invested in advancing the profession because they too understand the value and necessity of trade show and corporate events.
Impression 3: Materials, Lighting and Special Effects
Oh My Goodness! The beauty and variety of materials used in the exhibits on the show floor was astounding. Everywhere I looked, there was something new to see and wonder, “How did they do that?” Woods and metals. Fabrics and laminates. Every surface told a story- one of innovation and really thinking outside the box. The hall was bright and every booth was brightly lit, inviting attendees in at every turn. Special effects included a dancing wall of water and even holograms with eyes that followed you as you walked down the aisle.
You’ve made the decision to attend a trade show and you’ve
You’ve decided that investing in face-to-face marketing will achieve your brand
Recently, over 100 individuals from our industry gathered to speak to our representatives on Capitol Hill during Exhibitions Day. The annual fly-in is led by the International Association of Exhibits and Events (IAEE), and 2017 was the fourth installment, with attendance growing each year. While there are no exhibits, it is the epitome of the time-limited face-to-face marketing influence that is central to our industry.
When you are relatively new to a pre-existing events team or program, it can be overwhelming to get a handle on all the different number of trade shows, show acronyms, venues, assets, internal and external partners, products, brands and sales professionals. Taking a “program approach” and organizing your shows and assets into tiers can help you stay focused, concentrate on your objectives, control spending and will probably help your peace of mind.
So, you want to take your domestic trade show to an international audience. Or perhaps you’re already participating in international trade shows but you want to expand your program to additional cities. Regardless of the stage of your particular program, there is great value in understanding how trade shows operate internationally because it can be very different than in the United States.