Monday, December 5, 2016

Face Up to the Fact: It's a Jungle Out There

I'm appalled by most tradeshows I visit.

While every other offline marketing medium has transformed itself in the past 40 years, shows have stagnated.

They hardly differ in the main from the very first ones I visited (working as a decorators' laborer) in the early '70s.

Indeed, those shows were better. Exhibitors used to unveil new products at them, and a large number displayed the products in pretty "hard wall" exhibits.

The next-level event has eluded most tradeshows,

Of course, organizers are quick to point out the medium doesn't need innovation. "Face-to-face" is all about faces, after all, and those haven't evolved much in 200,000 years.

That's like arguing the web is "all about electrons;" or direct mail, "all about stamps."

The real reason shows haven't improved lies in organizers' obsession with audiences.

"Most organizers are so focused on getting people into the venue that they have hardly skimmed the surface of understanding and influencing buyer behavior," says Stephane Doutriaux in a new white paper, The Smart Event.

Is that about to change?

Experience designers and event-tech suppliers insist it is, because the technology's costs have hit rock bottom.

I'm not so sure.

Technology doesn't deploy itself; it takes staff to oversee it. And audiences are as time-consuming to attract as they ever were, if not more so.

Time is the enemy.

But organizers need to face up to the fact: it's a jungle out there.

If you don't transform your show into a "smart event" now, you can bet a competitor will transform hers.

So get off your duff. Time's a-wasting.

When there's less of a cushion between you and failure, innovation becomes a necessity.
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