Thursday, September 14, 2017

Fight of the Century

Tradeshow versus Digital is going to be a slugfest, says event-industry consultant Francis Friedman in his new, 287-page book, The Modern Digital Tradeshow.

Nimble contender Digital could handily clobber the out-of-shape champion.

Digital has already driven Tradeshow from marketing's "center stage" onto a "specialized side stage," Friedman says; and, unless the latter regains its magic, Digital could win by a knockout.

Friedman prescribes a rigorous, three-legged regimen to help Tradeshow get back in trim:
  • Redefinition. The tradeshow industry's "analog" business model is passé. "Our industry must change from its static 'show' industry self-concept," Friedman says. "We must view our future as a branded content and experience provider, and integral omni-channel member of a target community." Unless the industry rediscovers a purpose—its raison d'être—it will be excluded from the b-to-b marketers' club.

  • Transformation. Organizers need to embrace event tech—now. There's simply no more time to debate the topic. "The tradeshow industry must now play catch-up to the changing digital marketing landscape through a fundamental shift in its historical business model and product configurations," Friedman says. Event tech that "animates" events and enables exhibitors to verify ROI will matter most—gizmos like VR, AR, AI, beacons, bots, holograms, and drones.

  • Rebranding. The event industry needs to discover and express a new and dynamic "personality," or its transformation into a digital player will go unnoticed. "In the current tradeshow organizer model, 'the show' is inanimate, occupying a specific date and time on the calendar of its marketplace and unable to 'act.'" Friedman says. "'The show' per se has no arms or legs, no voice and no ability to act or interact with its market. 'The show' is just booths on a tradeshow floor at a given time and in each place."
Friedman for years—via keynotes, articles, books and white papers—has been prepping tradeshow organizers for the coming match. With The Modern Digital Tradeshowhe's provided the playbook they need to go the distance.

NOTE: The Modern Digital Tradeshow is available free on the author's website.
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