Home > Business, Examples, Optima, Products > The Band is all Packed and Gone

The Band is all Packed and Gone

AuthorExhibitorLive 2015 is now in our rear view mirror. I am struggling to add the Live part to the name, but I guess that’s because I have been going to the show simply known as Exhibitor for 20 sumpin’ years. I am not afraid to say – I am glad it’s over. I am glad to have left Las Vegas, but I am sincerely appreciative of the time spent stuck indoors for nearly four days. My baseline assessment is that the number of Exhibitors was the same, the number of attendees was the same, and to have a successful show, those numbers are actually not relevant in any meaningful way. However, opportunities found – well that does matter and our strategy for the show was geared around opportunity. Discovery and the number of opportunities that were unearthed was phenomenal. I just finished going through documenting all the projects or ongoing pieces of business that I or my team encountered and all I can say is wow! There’s a lot of action in the industry right now – more than what we observed in 2014 and 2013.

It seems that most years, the show revolves around one question presented to me and presented to anyone else who is exhibiting: “What is new?”. I think most go to tradeshows with the idea of looking for what is new and what is brand spanking new as of 3.2.15! New is freshly created and anything with a born-on date of March. And lets say 2014 is not new…in fact, it’s actually old or yesterday’s news. Well, to be honest and in my assessment, there was not a list of 100 things that were new – maybe really only 11 – yep 11 new things to be observed across the entire 1.6 million square feet of Mandalay Bay that were making their “client debut”. Don’t get me wrong…I am not saying this was a bad show and was, in fact, far from it. This show was amazing. What I am questioning is the concept of what is NEW right now and how are we able to keep track of every fresh offering.

I am convinced that many companies (ours included) were demonstrating second looks or refreshed looks at core items that have been shown before. For example, there were two items that we showed that got friggin’ great responses and generated some real buzz but, to me, they were not new. First, our custom Aviator hanging sign. We have been making our own tension fabric hanging signs since 2011 but I still had no less than 10 conversations about our hanging sign. The color on the inside generated numerous discussions about color control and how did we get the “paintbrush” colors to be so vibrant and did we make the structure?? So, I could step back and say that nothing new occurred here but that wouldn’t be true. The way I see it, new to me and new to the person who stopped by our booth and inquired for that first time are completely separate perspectives. I could have said – that ole sign? – nothing new there – nope nothing new at all – just one really cool organic shape with fantastic fit and finish and stunning color. The point is that, to the viewer, the sign and concept that Optima manufactured custom tension fabric signs, was brand new and a major discovery. In one case, we are bidding on a project that is well north of 100K simply based on the fact that our sign was new. Panoramic was a brand new “Visual experience” and we could print on carpet. To me nothing new here but to a specific customer and to an end-user – very new, very cool, and very much in need of exploration. So we are playing Lewis and Clark and working on a seriously new project.

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Maybe what I am processing in my mind is that we all want to see and experience NEW, but as marketers and sales professionals, new is in the eye of the beholder. Have your ears open and game-face on. Don’t only educate attendees on your product and services but make sure you don’t burst their bubble and kill the thrill of “new.” I could have devalued the situation but the look in the dude’s eyes was great – he had a lightbulb flash-like moment and I was cool with that.

One other thing that was not new (but I took a new approach) was our VIP reception at The Four Seasons. I know we had a larger-than-expected attendance because I saw the bill yesterday. But it dawned on me a few days before the show that, in Optima’s ongoing drive to make the reception a low key networking event, we have never stopped to thank customers and industry buds for their attendance. Wow, what a silly mistake on my part. So, like most sales knuckleheads, I arranged for a podium and mic, made three notes, and got up and started speaking. With all sincerity…thank you to all who have come to one of our receptions or all 23 of them over the years we have held such events. 23 years – how cool is that? And in the front row was Jim Hoffmann – co-founder of Optima and brains behind a reception to simply say “thanks for the business.”

So, summing up the show – thank you to each and everyone of you for attending, for your business and I look forward to seeing you there in 2016. I do not know what will be new, but I look forward to seeing you on the show floor and at our 24th VIP reception. Good times!

About the Author

Dave Brown is the Vice President of Sales at Optima™.
He has been in the Trade Show industry since the early 90s.

  1. March 13, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Great write up, Thank you.

  2. March 13, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Really appreciate your article and all the comments. We have seen many changes, good and bad, in trade shows over the years. Keep up the good work.

  3. March 13, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks Dave for some good reminders. Not new reminders, but good ones.

  4. March 13, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    That is a good point, Dave. Everyone wants to know what’s new. Maybe the response should be, “Well….have you seen our [insert name of one of the products on display]?” Maybe they saw it online……seeing it in person can be new and exciting for them, especially with the vivid colors Optima is able to achieve these days. Share a story. Tell them how some of your customers are using the product, or what they tell you they like about the product.

  5. Rick Overway
    March 13, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Dave, Great reception by a very fine group of people. Optima is first class!

  6. melmwhite
    March 13, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Not just products… companies get the “Are you new?” Yes, Classic flies a bit under the radar, like Optima, but I’m always surprised when someone says, “Is this your first time at EXHIBITOR? I haven’t seen you before.” (Sigh. Only 21 consecutive years).

    Thanks for the summary Dave and for being a terrific neighbor at EXHIBITORLive (if I can change, so can you.).

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