Thursday, August 20, 2009

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Thursday, August 13, 2009


When trying to work within your budget, always consider every item:

  • Do I really need an internet connection?
  • How many days do I need someone on site to support me?
  • Do I have to set (or tear down) the exhibit on Saturday, Sunday or after hours (can I do this on straight time?)?
  • Can I reduce my shipment to lower drayage and shipping costs?
  • Is renting a booth cheaper than buying one?
  • Do I really need to continue to go to this show (that's a whole other topic).

Look at the list and be prepared to cut or make trades.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On-site support

After all of the prep work to get a show (or program) together, it can't fall apart in execution.

Being on show site is the best move you can make to ensure success. Recently, due to cost constraints, a client was asked if they had to choose between an internet connection and a few extra days of on-site support, they'd chose the on-site. While there may be a workaround for the on-line access for most industries, there are few options of not having an on-site, dedicated professional watching out for things at the show, in the booth and for the staff. For example, here is a short list of things that NOT to burden the rest of your staff with:

  • Badge updates
  • Set up and tear down supervision
  • Service bill collection
  • Hotel room changes
  • Directing execs and guests to the booth and receptions
  • Coordinating receptions
  • Ensuring lead collection
  • Catalogue description
  • Local transportation
  • Competitive data collection
  • Subcontractor coordination
  • In-booth staff meetings
  • On-site graphic and exhibit corrections, repairs
  • Space selection for next year

This is just a simple slice of what can be had for the price of travel, per diem and a daily rate. Usually a pretty good ROI.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Working toward face to face

The recent wave of social media tools lend themselves directly to the trade show experience.

The fact is, social networking leads to face-to-face networking.

Face-to-face networking happens in the trade show selling environment. Savvy trade show marketers will link the two types of media to enlarge their sphere of influence and increase sales. Reaching out to the customer starts with a conversation.

That conversation can be electronic in nature so that when you actually do meet face to face, you know more about each other and the cycle can be shorter.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Having a plan and philosophy

A client just shared with me her internal trade show program plan. Great stuff and shows vision.

While it has the requisite charts and graphs showing costs and shows and timelines, it also includes direction, how vendors are managed and a long-term expectation of where the program is headed.

This helps as a directional tool, but also in succession planning.

So, think ahead and write such a document. In subsequent posts, we'll share examples.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Knowing more about your client's business

In order for us, as a trade show suppliers, to provide the best solution for our clients, we MUST know their business.

That is, will the exhibit we provide work with the goals the client has set for the show and their company? If we think we are just filling a space we are wrong. From what the exhibit looks like to how it flows to how the staff is trained (let's start with these three), if it doesn't reflect the company brand or how the product is sold or what the messages are that need to be conveyed, it won't work. Period. And we will have wasted our client's precious budget.

Sure, we'll sell them the first time. But when it doesn't work, they won't be back. Simple as that.

So, we need to do our homework and understand the whole of the problem. Maybe they don't need to even go to a particular show. We need to be real with the client and with ourselves.


Monday, August 3, 2009

The Trade Show Experience

This past weekend, I was contacted by a former colleague of mine from Honeywell. He reminded me of a conversation we had had a number of years ago about the value of trade shows.

He wrote that over the years he has learned that a trade show was "a place where we could interact with customers and sell them on the benefits of products." My correspondent continued about "how everything tied together to accomplish that objective...."

What my friend was talking about was the trade show experience. No matter how many brochures we rain down on prospects and customers, no matter how many phone calls or web clicks we share with them, it really doesn't come together until you meet face to face. And the whole of the marketing experience must be consistent and on message.

My colleague also took it a step further by saying his career has morphed "from being this technical guy who knew everything about round thermostats to becoming a generalist who could create marketing platforms and strategies that were transferable to other products and companies."

That's another benefit of trade shows: they are the cauldron of business in that everything comes together on the trade show floor: marketing strategy, sales activity, competitive interaction and analysis. Employees benefit from being in this fire as it warms them up to the possibilities of the company, the product or offering and themselves. Another friend in marketing for a software firm routinely promotes his trade show managers into product marketing because they "know the way."

Being visionary isn't always about selling the most product. Sometimes it's nurturing not only the selling environment but the sellers.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

A colleague reports: Why Exhibit at Trade Shows?

Our colleague, Linda Musgrove, AKA the Trade Show Teacher, posted a recent video on YouTube. In it she outlines the top reasons to attend trade shows:

  • Reach prospects. It's the best way to reach more prospects for fewer dollars
  • Face-to-face interaction. You can learn more from people in less time meeting them in person.
  • Showing off products and services. Your suspects/prospects/clients and touch and feel your products without having to visit a site or factory or have a sales person call.
  • Gathering leads. Hey, you get to collect more leads in a shorter time.
  • Develop relationships. More time with people means you know them better.
  • Scoping out the competition. The show floor is great for this: see your competitors and their presentation within a short distance of your own.
  • Media exposure. The trade media and popular press will be at the show and you can get their attention.
  • Market research. Learn more about your market and industry in a shorter amount of time, See new products, get real-time opinions from clients or prospects (or industry insiders)

Thanks, Linda, for this good information.


Linda Musgrove is The Trade Show Teacher,

Friday, July 31, 2009

At the right show?

Recently a colleague related a story about a client's confusion over a show.

There are a number of shows in several industries that have similar names. In this example, the client thought they were going to the Dubai Air Show, when in fact, they had booked space at the Dubai Airports Show. The former is a defense and aerospace show on a par with the Paris and Farnborough Air Shows. The latter is an equipment and services show for the commercial or civil airport markets.

Fortunately for the client, his trade show service provider was able to flex with the situation and save the day. Appropriate graphics and booth properties were substituted in a 6-hour span and the on-site sales guy was pacified and able to sell in the space.

However, it is important to make sure that, either as a client or an advisor, that the right show for the right audience is chosen before you pay for space.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Report from the Field: Trade Show Bob at TS2

Our colleague, Trade Show Bob Milam was at the Trade Show Exhibitor's Association (TSEA) TS2 (trade show for trade shows) last week in Chicago. He filed this report for us.

"I have indeed just returned from TS2 last week, where I had some very interesting conversations with industry colleagues. It was my first TS2 in a number of years, since it always seemed to conflict with another show, or something."

"I was somewhat surprised, yet pleased, to see the difference in the attendee make-up between TS2 and Exhibitor Show. While Exhibitor Show caters to the client-side-based 'Trade Show Manager', I noted that TS2 attracted a much broader (yet sparser) spectrum of the industry. I&D Company principals, transportation guys, designers, show organizers, exhibit builders, etc., etc., were walking the aisles alongside some exhibit managers."

"I was able to have several discussions about current industry 'hot issues' with many of these industry participants - which was the most valuable part of TS2 for me. In listening to their comments, I have drawn the following conclusions:
  • Shows are definitely needed - face-to-face isn't going anywhere (I already knew that, but ...)
  • Attendance is down universally - with corresponding buying power % up.This isn't helping the health of the shows - down is down = less money coming in to stage the event.
  • The two big issues for shows these days are : 1) exhibitor retention and 2) attendee attraction.
  • Most shows don't know how to do either one very well.
  • Exhibitors continue to show how naively ignorant they are (as a group) when it comes to evaluating a show's potential for success.
"These last few bullets have really got me thinking about how to reach more potential clients for 'Trade Show Bob' while having the greatest impact on the industry. I'm formulating some plans now that I'll be testing out in the coming weeks. If all goes well, I may have new success stories to share."

Thanks, Bob, for your insights and observations.


Bob Milam can be reached at

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Revisiting choosing a marketing partner

In an earlier post, we discussed how you should choose a potential marketing partner. With the economic climate being what it is currently, you should revisit this process.

Just because the incumbent is the incumbent doesn't mean you should keep them--or shed them. Ask for regular reviews and to revisit your contract or pricing structure. If they can afford it and you need to make cuts, come to an understanding so you both can survive. You can make it up to each otehr later.

You should also broaden the scope of your view of suppliers. Many times you might be able to get away with one supplier rather than two or three. Can your branding agency handle your trade show program? Can your trade show house support your branding and marcom mix? Do you hyave an outside consultant who can broker all of the above?

Be creative in your approach and consider the many alternatives. There is more than one way to skin a cat.


Monday, July 20, 2009

TSEA and the exhibit manager

TSEA's annual TS2 event opens in Chicago today. If you are an exhibit manager and you haven't heard of this organization, take a look at the reports from The Windy City and consider keeping up with these folks.

The Trade Show Exhibitor's Association has been around for years and was my first exposure to a group doing what I did. Being a 3D communicator in an internal marketing communications group led by 2D people made me a bit of the odd guy out. However, when I went to my first Trade Show for Trade Shows (TS2) years ago, I found myself among my own kind and feeling like less of an island.

At TSEA I met those people in my community--the trade show and events community--and learned that what we did wasn't just an afterthought to the brochures and executive interaction that my bosses found so important. What I did learn was that me and my peers at other companies creating the selling environment that directly generated revenue and profit for our employers. Wow, I thought, this job could really make a difference to the bottom line.

Being able to walk the exhibit floor as a potential buyer and interact with my fellow TSMs and our suppliers (some of whom I still connect with to this day) gave me the energy to seek more. More information to make my exhibits powerful selling tools. More information to train our exhibit staffers. More information to justify and support the ROI of my program. It was that great culmination of training, salesmanship and camradarie that we all need as professionals in whatever field we choose.

While Lee Knight's Exhibitor Show draws bigger and is the CEU keeper now, it is always good to know that there is more than one source for information and training. and, for me anyway, the original trade show for trade shows.

Keep up the good work, TSEA. I hope to be back in a future year.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Report from the field: NECC Show

Our colleague, Micheal Edgren VP of Marketing at Renaissance Learning, just returned from the National Educational Computing Conference with this report.

“NECC has been on an upswing for years now. There was a time when shows like FETC (Florida Educational Technology Conference) were a national draw for educators interested in technology, but the attention has clearly moved to NECC. Reported attendance was 12,850. Although this is down 4% from 2008 attendance they’ve done significantly better than other educational conferences. Some, like IRA (International Reading Association) had horrendous years due mostly to the necessary belt-tightening on the part of our public school systems.”

“NECC was held in Washington, D.C.this year just before the 4th of July. You might think that there was something special in their thinking, but this show is always held just before the 4th. It is remarkable how successful they are considering that the vast majority of educators are on vacation or working second jobs at this time."

"The exhibit floor of NECC is everything an exhibitor might hope it would be. Attendees are hungry to learn what’s new. They are serious minded and willing to spend quality time to learn. About 2/3 of all exhibitors seem to understand how to engage these educators, while the remaining third just don't seem to get it. The best create highly interactive and engaging presentations that more often than not involve a hands-on experience. Entertainment can work but only to the extent that it is backed by solid information. Something we learned last year when we started each presentation with a 3-minute very physical comedy sketch that mixed The Matrix with Back to the Future and half a dozen other sci-fi fantasy films."

“This year, we (Renaissance Learning) scrapped the entertainment and did just as well without it. Exhibitors that don’t seem to get it often have conventional overbuilt structures that are foreboding, overdress their employees (suits and ties don’t get visited, polos and t-shirts with friendly sayings do, particularly if there is a chance that the visitor might score said t-shirt), or overstaff their booths.”

"It is a terrific show, very well run, and gets better each year. ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) that runs the show is to be congratulated. Here’s hoping education budgets improve and we can see 15,000 or more in Denver next year.”"

Thanks, Mike, for a very complete report. It's great to hear from exhibitors that get it and know how to use shows to their full advantage.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

From Paris Air: is customer service dead or on life support?

Our colleague just returned from the Paris Air Show with a story that, in this day and age, is a bit unbelievable. But given our source, undeniably true.

Having hired a limo service for cars (for execs) and a bus (for staffers), it seemed that all was going well. the execs had drivers who were on time, knew their routes and spoke when appropriate. The bus, however, was quite a different story.

The first day, the driver not only arrived late, but shut off the bus. Doing that caused further delay in that it couldn't restart without a lot of gut grinding. Finally started, the driver proceeded to take the freeway to the show, causing further delay. This set of circumstances couldn't go without a call to the limo service contact.

Even with the call, the second day the same driver showed up (did I mention he lacked English-speaking skills?), again stalled the bus and had to have a second bus called for back up. More complaining and not a real clear conclusion.

Fortunately, the execs were immune to these problems.

The remainder of the show went smoothly. It's hard to say whether they will be used again.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Using space appropriately with your product

It is easy to get caught up in the size of your space and the properties you will use to fill it. However, one of the most effective ways to do space planning is to step back and look at your product (or offering or service).

How will your clients and prospects interact with the product? How do you want them to interact? What is the best use of space to display your product?

As they say, white (empty) space has weight. This can be used to your advantage. Why not base your display around your product rather than a display? One of the best recent examples of this is EBAA Iron's island booth at the AWWA show in San Diego.

EBAA has a distinct advantage when considering this approach: their product is large and dominates most any space.

Rick Rackow, the marketing manager in charge of trade shows, really populated the carpeted space with large pipe and arrayed graphics between them. Then hung a visible sign above it all. Straightforward, simple, but eye-catching and workable.

This also uses the space to their advantage in that conference and discussion space is easy to find. Since a large part of their business is relationship based (distributors, resellers and end customers who are government), having meeting spaces became a paramount consideration.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Good old boy networks

OK, the old ways do have a place. But do they?

Loyalty and dedication are one thing. Blindness relating to either is quite another.

A recent experience with a client and an incumbent supplier brought this to light. Just because there is an incumbent, doesn't mean they are the best fit. And from the supplier side, we think about this daily. Yes, choose your suppliers because they are loyal, provide the service when you ask, you like the contact person, and they've been with you since day one and know you and your business real well. However, in today's environment, both suppliers and buyers must be looking for or provide the best value for the effort. In recent times this has been referred to as "value-added" service.

Do you provide value-added service? Are you getting value-added service?

If the selection of a supplier is the responsibility of one of your direct reports, let them make the decision on who to choose. Chances are, your colleague has a great sense of what is needed from the supplier and best for the task at hand.

From a supplier standpoint, do you review your services on a regular basis with your clients? Are you evolving to support their changing markets and needs?

Having old, good friends as suppliers has its place, but we must be judicious, but polite.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

The convertible exhibit

Trade show program properties many times are engineered to do double or triple duty. That is, can your properties be set in multiple configurations--10x20, 20x20, 30x40--while still maintaining the look and feel of the brand and the company?

A variation of this is a property that can be configured and shaped into different sizes and appearances to support multiple clients. Our friends at Smalley & Associates in Dallas have a custom rental property that we'll use here as an example.

The booth was originally built for a client in the industrial power control business. The kiosks and graphic spaces featured the brand and products in multiple configurations.

The same properties were also proposed for a client in the security equipment and monitoring business.

While the offerings are quite different, the basic booth allowed for demonstration and client-staff interaction (the key to effective sales and marketing). The structure was modified with vinyl and/or graphic treatments to give it the look of the renting client.

The point of this case is to, as an exhibitor, be thinking of how you can direct your exhibit dollars by either having a versatile exhibit built for you or how you can rent someone else's booth and configure it for your purposes.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Changing your display approach

One of the difficult things to do in exhibit management is change course when it comes to presentation. Most times, strategy drives these changes. Lately, cost and a realization of what a real ROI is has helped make the decision.

Our colleagues at Aviall made changes based upon both.

At the Paris Air Show, Aviall showed less hardware and product than they have in previous years. They are using more graphics and using storytelling by staff to portray the products as opposed to actually displaying things. This accomplishes several things:

  • Sharpens the focus of Aviall's mission from the product to the process
  • Reduces expenses by lowering freight and drayage costs as well as saving time in filing paperwork to import and export displays and products.
This evolution has helped reduce clutter and cost and help tell more of the Aviall story, since it is now not focused just on product, reports Kim Williamson of Aviall.

This is a great example of a company sharpening the focus of their presentation based upon their key messages and understanding their clientele.


Report from Paris Air

Our colleague, Kimberly Williamson of Aviall, recently returned from the Paris Air Show at LeBourget Field. She filed this report for us.

"The show went well for us," Kim said. "while the rain was a disadvantage for those with outdoor displays, it drove traffic indoors to our stand," she said.

As with others reporting on shows during these interesting economic times, Kim reports that while overall attendance appeared to be down, the visitors they did receive were high quality.

"We are a supplier-based business," Kim continued. "We had the right people visiting us (from our standpoint)."


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Field Report from AWWA

Our colleague, Rick Rackow of EBAA Iron, just completed the American Water Works Association trade show. Here are some of his observations of this year's show:

"Show attendance, according to AWWA, was down only 3% to 6%," he said, "which was surprising."

"Our (EBAA's) traffic was light, considering past shows," Rick reported, "but the traffic we had was of high quality. Many other exhibitors reported the same, while very few said it was (bad)."

While attendance was low overall, some people here (at the show) try to find one cause, Rick said, "I feel it was more of a combination of all causes (economics, etc.)."

Thanks, Rick. Sounds like a theme from others reporting from other industries' shows: lower attendance, but higher quality leads (more buyers). Attendees are becoming increasingly selective.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Reporting from the field: using a show to full advantage

Our colleague, Sheri' DuMond, of Pacific Biometrics Inc. (PBI) is on site at the AAPS (American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists) National Biotech Conference this week in Seattle. She will report for us as time permits.

Before things get started tomorrow, Sheri' told us this as she and her colleagues prepared to staff the exhibit and attend the show:

"The show starts Sunday and will be good" for business, she reported. "We're hosting a lab tour and open house Tuesday," she continued. There are a good number of people pre-registered for the tour. "(Our business director) has several appointments and I have a major client dinner Tuesday night" at a local high-end restaurant.

Several good ideas floating here:
  • If your facilities are located in the show city, offer up a tour. Great way to show off your capabilities first hand and show off the staff, too. Also gets the staff involved and understanding of the sales process.
  • Customer-only dinner. Again, in your city and you get to keep them captive for a few hours and show them a good time.
  • Planned ahead. Pre-registration is a great idea to gauge interest and control the guest list.

Thanks, Sheri', we look forward to more reports from the show.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Report from HCEA

Our colleague Corbin Ball was at the HCEA show this past week and filed a report for us.

HCEA stands for the Health Care Exhibitor's Association ( This annual event is a conference between health care industry people who exhibit at trade shows and events and the suppliers of the exhibit industry.

Corbin reports:

"It was a quick in-and-out for me so I did not get the full feel. I don't have the attendance figures, but it seem about the same as past years (around 700 people). The exhibit (floor) also seemed about the same size as in past years. I did not see anything new on the floor in terms of event technology, however. Twitter is just starting to catch on at HCEA with Freeman using it to bring people by their booth. All in all, it was a good time."

Steady attendance, continued discussions, low-key introductions of technologies. Steady is good.


Thanks to Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP, technology speaker and consultant from Bellingham, WA (

Monday, June 15, 2009

Reports from Paris Air

Watch this space. The Paris Air Show opens today at Le Bourget.

This show should be quiet. With airlines asking for their orders from Boeing and Airbus to be delayed, the crash of the Air France jetliner in the Atlantic and the Boeing Dreamliner's maiden flight not taking place until after the show, look for news from other areas.

Most likely defense. Fighter contracts, helicopters, weapon systems. With two active wars and several hot spots around the world, this is an area of interest to many.

Our colleague and friend, Kimberly Williamson of Aviall, is at the Paris Air Show this month. When she has time, she will report to us "from the field" to keep us updated on this very important aerospace and aviation show.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Advising suppliers of awards

When it comes time to let your competing suppliers of a contract award, here is one request:

Call them. If you can't call them, send a polite e-mail. But, above all, don't just not contact them at all and make them hear about the "loss" from a third party. That's like hearing about a break up from someone other than the person breaking up with you.

Be polite. It's the only thing to do.

And, besides, if things don't go well, you might need to have a fall back plan with the rejected vendor.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Trade Show Bob Reports from IFT

Our colleague, "Trade Show Bob" Milam, reports from Anaheim and the International Food Technology Show:

"The Annual Meeting and Food Expo of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) was held June 7-9 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Despite the absence of four major "anchor" exhibitors (Kraft Food Ingredients, Kerry Ingredients, Wixon, and Tate & Lyle), and amid dire predictions of drastic attendance declines (made mostly by self-purported food industry "experts") most exhibitors experienced extremely positive results.

Attendance numbers were reported as follows:

  • Exhibitor badges were down sharply, due to the absence of several large exhibiting companies
  • Attendee badges (the buyers) were reported to be at 103% of 2008 levels (when the show was in New Orleans)
  • Expo only badges were up 125% from 2008.

No doubt some of this increase was due to the absent exhibitors "suitcasing" the show, however, the floor traffic remained strong and steady, even up through the final hour of the show.

Most exhibitors I spoke with fell into one of two categories ...

  1. The Eeyore's. These exhibitors were firmly convinced that they would not have a good show, and they worked hard to prove themselves right. One example in particular involved an exhibitor who complained about being placed too close to his direct competitor, who he claimed was "stealing" all his visitors. When I asked him why he didn't highlight his points of difference that makes his company/products unique, his response to me was "we have all the accounts we need". I wasn't able to be much help here.
  2. The Pleasantly Surprised. Many exhibitors are catching on to the new attendee paradigm emerging at the shows I've recently attended. Attending companies are indeed sending fewer people to the shows, but they're not sending less work or projects. The posse size shrinks, but the workload remains. This translates into attendees with agendas, and no time to waste. Exhibitors who recognize this, work to get on dance cards, quickly sift thru the crowd, find the "whales"and succinctly deliver their messages.

The buying plans are there. The business is there, but it requires a different mindset to find it and get it. Doing things the "same old way" or "knee jerk" bailing out of shows (which is different than leaving for well thought out business reasons) will cause many companies to win d up like GM. Personally, I'm hitching my star to the companies who are smart enough to think differently in these different times.

FYI, space at the 2010 IFT is already 95% sold out."

Thanks, Bob, for a clear report. Sounds like business is rebounding and recovering, at least in this industry.


Monday, June 8, 2009

The MRO Show

One of the more interesting and original ideas to come out of the MRO Show this year was this product display.

At first glance, this looks like a skid arrived at the booth and was overlooked and not unpacked. In reality, it did several things, according to Kim Williamson, trade show manager for Aviall.

Kim explained that it shows the range of product types as well as the uniformity of product packaging. As always, Aviall is the "box the parts come in."

This was a simple act that drew attention to the space and the products. It allowed for a number of products to be shown without taking up precious real estate (the booth was only a 20x20 or 20x30, most of the space dedicated to conference space).

It became a conversations tarter that got casual attendees to talk and veteran guests to open up (maybe with a "I didn't know you did that" query).

And, it had the bonus of already being mostly packed on the down.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Outbound shipments

It's usually the last thing on your mind, but you have to be clear thinking all the way to the end.

When you are packing up to leave the floor, be sure and have all of your boxes, crates, skids, bags and cartons accounted for and assigned to an outbound shipment.

Make sure that there is a bill of lading (BOL) for each outbound shipment (depending on the hall and the general contractor, this may also include FedEx and package deliveries).

In the case of the recent show we produced, there was a local shipment. Be sure and be clear to the I&D crew, your show house contact, the driver and anybody else who needs to know--where and when does this package/shipment have to be where it is promised to go.

Then, and only then, can you leave the show floor. It's always a good idea, if you can, to be on the floor from move-in to move-out, to be there from bare concrete to bare concrete.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Laying and labeling cable

At the recent NACStech show, my first task was laying cables for the in-booth network. While at first, this seems like an easy task, it can be complicated.

Trust me.

While I could just as easily had the cables lay down next to electrical cables, the CAT 5's were needed in specific places. Several rules are to be applied in this process:
  • Have a clear map of where cables are to go.
  • Label each cable on each end (1A, 2B, et al).
  • Run redundant cables in case of failure.
  • Tape the cable flat to the floor so that are flat under the pad.
  • Lay the pad directly over the cables. Notch if they are too bulky.
  • Be sure and pull all cables through the pad and carpet as it is cut.
  • Be sure and pass all cable ends through cabinet access holes.
If you do all of this beforehand, you are less likely to have to "fish" a cable after the carpet is laid or have a cable fail during the show.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Have you done this?

You go into the hall, head down, heading for the space, ready for set up.

Hmmm....can't find the booth number. Why is this booth a 20x20 and not the 20x30 I paid for? Let me find that floor manager and see why they eliminated my space!

Looking over the floor plan with the Freeman guy....what's the booth number? "I don't have any 20x30s!"

"Oh, what show are you looking for? NACStech? Next hall over."

Geezzz. Need to read the overhead signage, he said sheepishly.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cancelled or Postponed?

OK, which is it?

I recently posted that the the FMI-Marketechnics show scheduled for Dallas the first week of May 2009 had been cancelled. I was almost immediately corrected (and subsequently posted a correction) by someone that the show was postponed.

This week I read in Trade Show Week that the show has been cancelled.

OK, can someone out there tell me if the show is postponed (coming back at a rescheduled date) or cancelled (won't come around again until next year)?



Tuesday, May 5, 2009

On with the show: NACStech in Texas

The word from NACS (the National Association of Convenience Stores) is that their event in Texas will proceed.

After contacting show management on behalf of our client, Retalix, I learned that NACStech, set for May 18 to 21 at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas, will happen.

"At this time NACStech is moving forward as planned," said my contact at the association to me in an e-mail dated Friday, May 1. The FMI-Marketechnics Show, set to open this week in Dallas, was postponed by its organizers last week amid concerns for public health around large gatherings.

Given the NACStech show is much smaller in scale than the Marketechnics show, I am curious as to how these decisions were made.

Any comments out there?


At this time NACStech is moving forward as planned.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Then again,.....(more swine flu news)

The E-3 show seems to be pushing on despite the flu.

It's a case-by-case basis and should be judged by those who are local and can tell best what the local health situation is.


thanks to Joystiq

FMI Marketechnics Trade Show Postponed (correction)

This news just out: because of the swine flu outbreak in Texas, the FMI-Marketechnics trade show, scheduled for the Dallas Convention Center next week (May 6-8) has been postponed to a later date:


thanks to TradeShow Week, FMI

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Choosing appropriate giveaways

Choosing giveaways for used at trade shows is an art. Or, at the least, a well-developed skill.

At the recent MRO trade show in Grapevine, Texas, Aviall chose a couple of items that fit both the industry and the tone of the times.

Aviall is good at using branded items. With airlines cutting back on services, including offering pillows and blankets on most flights, the aviation parts supplier fashioned a branded airline pillow as a giveaway (in an ironic twist, most are Aviall customers). Packaged with the printed tag bearing the phrase, "The Aviall difference," the pillows are held back and offered only to selected guests.

Secondarily, a more mass giveaway was a hard-case luggage tag. Branded with the logo and phrase, the tag is a sliding unit that protects the ID included, making it a bit more high end.

The moral of this story is to know your audience and tailor a memorable giveaway for them to take home and use regularly (and see your name regularly). If they like it well enough, the may even send you a thank you, copy the idea or re-gift it.

Talk about giving a pillow legs.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Finding the right keynote speaker

At a recent conference I attended I was struck by something that we should all consider when planning an event:

Choose the right keynote speaker.

Now, I'm talking about the person who opens your event. The event I attended was a single-day event and build around a theme. However, after all the hype to attend, the opening guy lacked the energy or content to keep me around. I'd spent my $200, so I was going to stay. And I was collecting some great leads. But they didn't get me off on the right foot.

The closing speaker was great, however. She got me energized, moved around, used great visuals and was really excited about her topic and being with her audience.

Hmmmm. I feel a list coming on. If you need to choose a speaker for your conference, sales meeting or one of your people is speaking to a conference, remember these ideas:

  • Be energetic. People want to be involved and, if they are the opening speaker, charged up.
  • Move around. Does the speaker stand behind a podium (or need to)? Consider their speaking space and platform.
  • Use engaging visuals. Are the slides or videos stilted or dry?
  • Be on topic. Fit the theme and relate to the audience and the conference.

There are a number of other things to consider. Just don't forget your audience.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Collaboration Pays Off, Part II

The photos are in on the Australian Air Show from early March so we can now show off the real thing we discussed in an earlier entry.

To refresh your memory, the client, agency and the exhibit company got together and produced an exhibit that reflected the cohesive image, brand and messaging of all media presented by the company. The result is an exhibit that shares an image and brand values with print ads, collateral, internal communication and spoken messages.

This consistency is vitally important to maintaining your brand image as well as controlling the equity. Being consistent in front of all customer sets (internal, external, multiple channels) means that there is less explaining to do when it comes to values that the company embodies.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Report from the HIMSS show

Our colleague, Jeff Vanden Hoek of Imagecraft Exhibits, was in Chicago this past week at the HIMSS trade show. Jeff reported a few observations to us:

"Just wanted to give you my observations from HIMSS. Seems like the number of large exhibitors was down. However, there were a surprising amount of first-time exhibitors. My feeling is that there were many more smaller exhibits than in the past. There were also a large number of rental exhibits, both small booths and island exhibits. Again, direct-to-surface printing and fabric graphics were a large part of the exhibits I saw."

"The busiest booth appeared to be Microsoft's. They were showing off some very cool applications via their partners, through the use of the Microsoft Surface (touchscreen) application."

Thanks, Jeff. New trends in sizes, numbers and techniques are always good to hear about.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Trends from the 2009 Exhibitor Show

This just in....

The latest news from the 2009 Exhibitor's Show in Las Vegas as reported by my colleague, Jeff Vanden Hoek of Imagecraft Exhibits, reports that there are some notable trends in the exhibit world of which to take note.

"I did notice is that LED has taken over the lighting applications - thin is in. Several companies promoting super thin backlit graphics - probably 1/8" thick."

"Also, technology has made a huge push this year, vis a vis, animation, interactive games and presentations."

"It seems as though the lines between exhibits and private events have blurred considerably. A good thing, I think."

Thanks, Jeff. Great observations on a changing industry.


Friday, March 20, 2009

The coffee guy

At the American Wholesale Marketers Association's (AWMA) Real Deal Expo in Las Vegas, this innovated twist on an attention-getting device was sighted.

The exhibiting company was MeWantCaffeine and this guy wandered the aisles before show hours, tanking up exhibitors and early show walkers with hot coffee.

Really, that is a tank of coffee on his back. The gent was armed with cups and cream and sugar as well and made sure his contacts knew who he was and where to find his booth.

They did all of it right: gave their contacts what they wanted and needed at the early hour, had a consistent image, and armed their strolling soldier with the messages that met their show goals.

Nice tune, easy to dance to, I give it an 85.


Why worry about a booth?

Seen at the IWCE trade show in Las Vegas: the booth-less booth?

With all of this talk about saving money yet still have a strong marketing presence, here's an idea that seems to have resurfaced.

Motorola apparently just rolled in their 48-foot (or longer) tractor-trailer rig, dropped down the sides (and opened the doors) in their booth space at this show. this does the following:

  • Saves on additional freight. After all, the truck is the freight.
  • Saves on drayage. Well, I haven't seen the bill; wonder how GES charged for this?
  • Minimizes labor. Hire a spotter and some guys to roll out carpet.
  • While you do have the tremendous up-front cost to design and build out the trailer itself, this is just one more stop on its tour.

It's not entirely true that there wasn't a set of booth properties in the space. On the other side of this photo were some kiosks and banners. However, the bulk of the exhibit was this trailer.


Thursday, March 19, 2009


They can be a troublesome thing, but they add so much to an exhibit: lights.

An exhibit actually looks drab without a wash of lights. But this short entry is about something we all need to have: basic repair skills.

When I got to the part of the AWMA booth assembly for Retalix that involved installing the lights, I found myself having to make sure they all worked. Some of the lights came out of the box and had to be assembled so that they worked.

Wires had to make contact. Contacts had to be in place. Lamps couldn't be broken. And the "twist-ons" had to twist on the contact bar so that they came on.

These seem like little things, but in my case, it meant the difference between having 6 lamps instead of 12.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Collaboration pays off

Collaboration between your vendors--exhibit company and creative (ad) agency pays off with a consistent and dominant brand.

At the recent Australian Air show (March 10-15, 2009), Aviall again demonstrated the leadership of having their exhibit partners collaborate with their agency.

The booth was a shell scheme designed and outfitted by 2Heads of the UK and Dubai; the graphic design was directed by Zachry Associates of North Texas, USA.

In the concept you can see how the graphic look of the booth mimics and carries over the branding from other other media.

There is more to this story: the booth won "Best of Show" at the air show. Photos will show up in this space as soon as they are available.

for more examples of Aviall's brand and other media treatments, go to or


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ship dates

Don't forget that the beauty of trade shows is that they happen on a fixed date.

That means you need to honor and obey the Ship Date.

This is the day that all of your stuff--exhibit, collateral, giveaways and all other things that are destined for the show floor will be shipped out to the show site. A few things to remember about this shipment:

  • Try and make it one shipment: it will save money since you will only have one shipment going to the site (easier to track), thereby reducing drayage and handling costs.
  • It will all arrive at one time.
  • Only one carrier to worry about.
  • Make sure it arrives at the time designated (either to advance warehouse or your targeted date on the show floor).

Make sure that you don't forget anything.


Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Golf Show

I walked the North Texas Golf Show on Saturday. While this isn't IBS or CES, it is an example of trade show marketing in action. In addition to the few random observations I'll record here, I couldn't resist relating my friend Melinda's question when I mentioned I'd be walking the show:

"What does one do at a Golf Show? Watch the exhibits quietly and then clap politely for the vendors?"

Well, maybe, MG, but it was a lot of people gathered in one place to talk face to face about something they all had in common. The definition of trade show marketing.

At any rate, I was there because my friend from the NDCC, Kimberly Van Buren of Synthetic Grass Pros, was exhibiting.
Kimberly was doing all of the things that exhibitors of whatever size at whatever show, do and doing it right. She was gathering leads in a systematic way, she had and was taking advantage of a prime spot, her exhibit featured her product and services (but not in an overbearing way), and she had a consistent and memorable brand presentation.

Gathering leads. SGP was either collecting business cards or having contacts fill out a small card with their basic contact info. Kim and her staff were making notes as they collected leads (on the backs of cards) and qualifying and segregating leads as the day progressed. At the end of the show Kim and her team will go over all of the leads, add them to the data base and follow up accordingly.

Prime spot. They had a corner booth and engaged clients both in the aisle and in the booth.

Product was shown on the floor of the booth space (it is fake grass, after all) and in a passive video featured in the backwall of the exhibit. Visitors were offered brochures and giveways during or after an engagement conversation.

By clothing the staff in matching logo-bearing shirts and complimentary slacks and featuring the logo and brand colors prominently on the booth, in the video and on the literature, the SGP brand was visible and memorable.

Simple rules followed and the basic goal was met: qualified leads and a reasonable ROI.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sharpening the pencil

At this point in our business history, we are really all being asked to do more with less. We have to know when to draw the line, but it all about saving and not spending to excess in these tight time.

I had a client ask me, for example, if I had to charge for the middle day of a three-day show on-site because the $600 was valuable to them. When I explained to them that that was cheaper than sending me home from Vegas for one day, the got that being cheap is not the same as being cost effective or efficient.

However, most requests are reasonable. If you can save a few hundred pounds to reduce the CWT of material handling and freight, that translates to hundreds of dollars. Be sure to make the mke-buy on rentals versus shipping/drayage on everything from chairs and tables to carpet. Depending on the location, it might be worth a few hundred bucks.

Keep in mind, too, if your exhibit house is amenable to it, that a firm-fixed price for a show (or series of shows) will not only save you money, it will make your budget predictable. However, don't get greedy: your exhibit company has earned the right to make a profit over the life of your show program. If they go under on a few shows and over on others, that means they are really breaking even. Don't expect FFPs and actuals in the same show year--it really isn't fair to the supplier.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Why is it that most shows, large or small, are being held in Las Vegas these days?

I'll be off to Vegas in a couple of weeks for the AWMA--a wholesaler's show--at the Las Vegas Hilton. Right after that show the next week is GlobalShop and the Exhibitor's Show. Earlier this year, Home Builder's (IBS), Surfaces, National Grocers and the huge CES show all opened and called Vegas home for a few days. Some are there every year, others rotate in annually or every two years, but always seem to make it to Sin City.

Why is this? Well, accessibility of one: direct flights from just about anywhere. Cabs are plentiful as are rental cars and free parking.

Weather, particularly in January--where would you rather be in the Dead of Winter--heating the floor so tape will stick in Chicago or in a place where you might just go to the pool when your shift is finished?

Labor? Well, there are labor limits, but the pool is large and well trained.

Entertainment? Absolutely! Gaming, music, shows, natural wonders all close by.

Food? Lots to choose from and in a broad area.

Whatever the reason, commerce is alive and well in Vegas. Chances are you have at least one show there this year.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Finding remote work places

When you are on the road, we all have to find the right place to light and work at times. Do you all have favorites?

Starbucks is a natural. So is Kinko's (or is it FedEx Kinko's or FedEx Office?). Here is a list of my favorite places to stop between tasks at a show and work on my laptop or return calls:

  • Starbucks, across from Mosconi Center in San Francisco.
  • Kinko's on Paradise Road, Las Vegas (has a Starbucks attached)
  • The sports bar in the Gaylord Opryland.
  • The Kinko's inside the Orange County (Orlando) CC.
  • Cadillac Ranch, West End, Dallas.
  • Coffee Shop/bar in the Chicago Hyatt-McCormick lobby.
  • The food court in the basement of Javits Center, New York City.

There are probably criteria for why you choose these places:
  • Proximity to where you are stationed
  • Wi-Fi service
  • What they serve
  • Quiet or atmosphere
  • Meeting space

While it isn't always fun to be on the road, finding a short-term, workable temp offices is a haven for your time away.


Monday, February 2, 2009


While it may seem like a pain, getting, managing and controlling badges for a show is really a critical and important task (duh!).

All of your staffers need credentials. You need to remember things from this list as you prepare for and hit the show floor:

  • Know the allotment given you by the promoter of the show. At the NACStech show, it's 2 badges per 10x10; so our 20x30 yields 12 badges. Beyond that, there is a charge.
  • Know how to get the badges assigned. On line? By fax to the organizer? And have a complete, correct list.
  • Make sure you are the one who can make changes and are the assigned administrator. That is, if you are the one going to the show. Otherwise, you need to designate someone who is at the show to do this.
  • Get your badges to your staffers in advance, if at all possible.
  • Treat your exec's badges like gold. Hand them to them in person, if at all possible.
  • Take all of your allotment. Assign names to every badge, even if you won't use them all.
  • Keep track of all badges. If someone leaves the show early, snag their badge and use it to get in a late comer or guest.
  • Be sure and not forget your media and other support vendors.


Extending the brand, part II

Here's an update on the Aviall trade show booth branding exercise.

The latest is the addition of a formerly blank booth backwall being treated with a new graphic. This tone-on-tone vinyl image reinforces the Aviall "box" image and graphic look.

This image is used in trade adverting, on the website, in collateral material, on smaller exhibits and on their company trucks.

Aviall, to its suppliers and end users, is know as the "box the parts come in." As we have discussed before, this multi-billion dollar unit of The Boeing Company does not manufacture anything. Rather they warehouse and distribute parts to airlines, manufacturers and repair depots around the globe. The box is really their image and their logo is simple and very recognizeable in the various industries they serve.

To put this image into perspective, this is the back wall of a metric 20x20 conference room that sits on a 30x30 space. Here are some images from last year's show.

This is the front of the same booth (shown here in Houston) that will be used in Anaheim in 2009.

Note the blank back wall which will now feature the graphic shown above.

The best thing you can do for your brand is to use it across the spectrum of your marketing program and consistently.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009


It's one of the forgotten things of exhibits--crating and exhibit packaging.

This topic comes up as I work with a client who is making an addition to her exhibit. However, when the add is done, the panels the graphic is being put on to may not fit into the original crate. To top it all off, the crate the panels came out of is not holding up all that well and needs repair.

Rule #1: investment in a good crate will prolong and protect your exhibit investment.

Let's say you pay $1,000 for a good quality exhibit crate, gusseted 3/4-inch plywood, custom fitted to the pieces going inside. You could pay that extra amount for the crates or save the amount and pad-wrap and skid ship your exhibit. What you save in the crate cost, you may pay in drayage (pad-wrapped skids may be charged for differently that crated freight in your material handling bills) and in on-going damage to the exhibit.

From personal experience, I've seen a custom exhibit last only three years when it was shipped as a pad-wrapped shipment; a second exhibit I used lasted 5 years (or longer) because it was crated.

Lesson Learned: proper crating, while expensive initially, could prolong the life of your exhibit.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Be polite

Just remember, words can wound.

A friend just related to me a story about how a client "tore them a new one." Just went off the deep end over a few details of things that didn't go right on a show.

Well, we all strive for perfection. However, in this world you need to be realistic about expectations and also about what is really necessary.

Tearing into someone and having a temper tantrum is just bad manners. Besides, before you blow up at your vendor/partner/TSM, remember these items:

  • Is the problem fatal and will it stop the show?
  • Is it costly beyond the budget?
  • Does anybody but you and the person you are cutting up notice?
  • Will it keep you from doing business?
  • Will it damage your or your company's reputation?
  • Can it be fixed before the show opens?

Just stop and think. Remember your manners and that your primary purpose on the show site it to make sure the show happens.

Lesson Learned: you attract more flies with honey.


Ask questions

The only dumb question is the unasked one.

Really, if you want to know something, ask.

Ask your exhibit house why they missed the deadline or when to expect the truck.

Ask your I&D rep about the details of their last bill.

Ask the graphics guy how they put together that mural for you.

Ask your boss if they like your program.

Ask yourself if there is anything you can do better.

Lesson Learned: Ask and ye shall receive.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Don't just do things to drive revenue

An open letter to exhibit service companies:

I heard a story today from one of your customers. They had a simple request to have some advice (verbal and/or written) given to them. And all you could do was try and manipulate the situation so that you could make a sale. Send your guy to do the installation was what you suggested.

Hmmm...could maybe you have found a way to make them feel good about the work that was being to done to their exhibit which you built? that could have paid dividends in the long run. But, no, you had to find a way to get them to pay cash for something that should be a good will effort that will pay off (bigger, usually) in the future.

OK, exhibit producers, designers, service providers: I realize that this is about making money. But do you want to make a little bit now or more over the long haul?

Lesson Learned: be polite to your clients, find the best solution for them and be sure and say thank you.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Preparing for a show

The other day I met with some friends who own a small business. And by small, I mean it is the two of them, a contract sales guy and their "1099" installation crew guys. In the landscaping business, they know they have to maximize what they do with their selling time.

And they take it seriously.

When I asked the question of "who are you targeting at the upcoming golf show?" they answered me with statistics. They had done an analysis of all of their sales in the first year by age of buyer, annual income, geographic location in the metro area, and cost of sale. They also segregated commercial customers from residential and could recount repeat customers.

Now, I realize this is basic stuff and academic to most of you out there. But I have in the past worked with and for Fortune 500 companies who could tell you less about their customers and who they were targeting at a given show.

So, armed with these data, they compared it to the demographics provided by the show organizer and set up a "profile" of who they want to reach at the show. Further, they reached into their data base and, combined with what the promoter is provided, are doing a targeted e-mail blast and direct-mail (postal) mailing. They will also track responses to these items when they collect leads in the booth and will do a post-show mailing and an analysis of the traffic. This will prepare them for next year's show.

Lesson Learned: even the smallest player can win big with the right data and approach.


Thursday, January 15, 2009


Risk. At times I don't understand the word or concept. Truth is, we all need to take more of it.

When it comes to your program, look for the new, the different, the innovative. Don't be afraid to do fewer shows better or leave a show that you go to "just because we've always gone."

Try a new graphic. Or use a different staffing strategy. Implement an effective lead gathering approach. Push back on management when they don't understand a concept and want to change it because it's "different."

Explore new markets. Heck, explore markets in this economy. Make nothing out of bounds.

Lesson Learned: if you haven't done it, consider it; once you've considered it, do it; once you've done it, evaluate it.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009


With the NRF show breaking today in New York City and the IBS show going in this week in Las Vegas, it is time to remember an important part of the in-and-out of a show:

Do you know where and who your driver is?

Make sure before you leave for your show and before you leave the show floor at the end, check in with your driver. You should have their cell phone number and be sure to ask whomever made the arrangements (exhibit house, van line, freight company, your traffic manager) to provide you with their numbers, name and when you are to expect them.

When you first arrive on site (or the day before), contact your driver so their ETA is clear. Meet them on the dock and supervise the load out. Work with the forklift driver and your driver to spot your freight around your booth space to maximize your set up. Work with the driver and the freight manager at the show site to ensure paperwork is correct and if you can get copies.

On the down, call your freight contact or driver the day before load out. Usually the driver is scheduled to show up at show site at the show close and remain to help with some packing and labeling of the shipment. Turn in the bill of lading (BOL) and keep a copy. The freight manager will ask (and they will on the BOL, too) if you have contacted your freight company. Get the crate count right and make sure all is secure.

Lesson Learned: you can't know too many people in the freight process.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Make a list, check it twice

I know, I know, Christmas is past and Santa's gig of checking on good little girls and boys is done. However, today I was reminded by a friend of the importance of correct (and checked) manifests.

Make sure what you want at the show in time for set up is shipped. And you have a list to prove it.

When your exhibit house (or whomever is packing and shipping your display) sends you a manifest to review--DO IT! The more eyes that look at something, the less chance you will have counter tops or the wrong graphics shipped to show site. And, if at all possible, visit the exhibit house and physically review the shipment.

In my reminder talk today, my friend told me of the wrong graphics being shipped--well, supposedly. The portable display has two sets of graphics and one frame. When the one shipped graphic set arrived on show site, the set up guy opened the box and saw a photo of the other set (the incorrect set) of graphics. He didn't check the contents of the container, but called and asked (and received) the second set in a counter-to-counter shipment. This needs to be looked at from two points of view: always check the actual contents (don't assume) and double check the shipment before it leaves the warehouse. Kudos, however, to the exhibit company for the quick response to save this show, regardless.

Lesson Learned: check, recheck and receive and recheck.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Carrying through on brand

We all preach brand and consistent image, but here's an example of carrying a theme through all media to make your image clear to your various audiences.

Aviall is the world's largest aviation parts supplier. They have a significant presence in trade media and utilize a large slate of trade shows, both international (Australian Air, Paris, Farnborough) and domestic (NBAA) and across verticals (HAI, MRO). So, needless to say, their brand is strong and recognizeable.

Through a series of ads and other strategic planning and positioning, Aviall has an identity as "the box the parts come in." Their value proposition is based on the service provided before and after the box arrives. These ads have appeared in numerous aviation industry publications as well as show dailies around the world.

The image is so important that in 2007, the company instituted an internal (intra-company) training program to involve all employees with the brand.

iDeliver introduced every employee in the company to the brand pillars and educated them on the value and position of the brand as it relates to them.
Fast forward to the trade show program. How to carry over the theme to the exhibits without either diluting or overexposing the brand. Several ideas were floated, but on the floor of the HAI show last year, several people associated with the account thought out loud about having the box be the hanging sign.

"What if," they said," the box were to hang over the booth? It would be direct and simple, but be iconic." So, the search was on for examples and costs.

At the NACS show in October, a sample sign was spotted.
The shape, size and position were all of what was sought. Now, how to traslate that to reality.

Freeman of St Paul handles a portion of the program and came up with some concepts. Based upon a typical hanging sign frame, the design was crafted by Zachry Associates, Aviall's agency, and, collaboratively, appeared in the design for the 2009 HAI show.

Here's an example of owning one's brand and embracing it realistically and without fanfare.

Lesson Learned: own your brand and take charge of it without being overbearing.


Thanks to Kim Williamson of Aviall; Gary Donatell of Freeman St Paul; and Jeff Warr, Danny Flanagan and Brian Stark of Zachry Associates.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Detroit Auto Show

The beat goes on with examples of why trade shows are important and the place to be:

The International Auto Show opens in Detroit today.

What with the US auto industry bailout being in the news and with technology being what it is--ever changing--what better place to be to either exhibit and market your products or be on the floor and in the hall to hear (and be a part of) the buzz.

Case in point: newspapers across the land today are featuring stories of the new models and events of the show. Well, the do it every year, but this year brings a new spin or slant: what are the participants doing to make it work for them. In the weekend editions of the Dallas Morning News have been stories of how the exhibitors are saving money by foregoing special rollouts and assembling their stands in part off site. The dealers are also being interviewed and, of course, the models making their debuts at the show are being featured.

The best quote so far from those stories has been this: Jim Smith, a Saturn dealer in Lewisville, Texas, is quoted as saying he is "keeping his eye on the Detroit auto show for clues about the future of the industry."

That alone should sum up the importance of an industry show to the industry members.

You should be able to translate Mr. Smith's approach and sentiments to your industry. If you're in the retail industry, tomorrow's opening of the NRF show in New York is most likely the focus of your business life right now. Same for the home builders with IBS just about to open. And let's not forget Shot Show for the hunting and outdoor recreation industry. Take a look and a listen even if you can't go and take the pulse of your world of business.

Lesson Learned: understand the place of trade shows in your industry and markets to be ahead of the curve.


Special thannks to the Dallas Morning News.