I had dinner with a colleague from the industry last evening. We traded stories and leads and finally got to philosophy. After several minutes of spirited discussion, we both concluded one thing:
It's not about the booth.
While this seems an overstatement of the obvious, too many exhibitors and suppliers view the trade show experience as about putting up an exhibit. Great for those who want to think that way. But as suppliers and supporters of strategic marketers we really are solutions providers. As I've said many times, if you do this right, you can do it on a bear piece of concrete. However, you shouldn't have to do that. But the perception of exhibit marketing is changing as is the approach.
More exhibitors, facing reduced budgets because of tightening credit and higher shareholder expectations, want a lighter booth and don't want to store a thing for months out of the year unused. Suppliers want to keep designing and producing effective space-using exhibits that keep saws turning and warehouses full. Hmmmm...do we need to rethink this model?
That's not to say exhibits need to go away. Quite the contrary--the best and most effective way to sell to new and existing customers is face to face. there isn't a replacement for that. That said, that means that the exhibit space needs to be a strategic location for selling and effective in execution.
Fewer, more targeted exhibits that are part of a larger strategy--well-timed and placed trade advertising, trained staff, consistent messaging.
Let's not shoot for the tactic but aim a bit higher.