Exhibition time

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Not long ago you could divide your day into segments, each of which had its own distinct activity. Breakfasttime was for eating, and a cursory glance at the newspaper. Drivingtime was for, well, driving. Worktime was for working. And Mytime was for relaxing and watching television. Now, it’s all changed. The digital world has blurred the segments completely. Living in a 3G age means that you’re online and fully convergent at all times. You’re accessible, and you have access to everyone and everything from your smart phone. So, what does this mean for Exhibitiontime? What sort of a world should attendees enter, and what does Exhibitontime feel like?  The concept of an exhibition space conjures up a myriad of pre-determined predictions about what you’re about to experience. Big or small, exhibitions are the same over; unique spaces, where a brand experience is brought to life. Apart from the introduction of new technologies, the principle of exhibitions hasn’t changed much for decades. So, is Exhibitiontime more of the same? While the essential fabric of trade shows may remain, there needs to be a greater mindshift to embrace the fact that the way we communicate, engage and conduct business is fundamentally changing. The need for exhibitions to work harder in providing real business solutions in an ultra-efficient way means they must be recognised as more than a 3-dimensional brand icon. Exhibitiontime is less about changing the way exhibition spaces are experienced. It’s more about an internal corporate mindshift from seeing trade shows as a ‘construction’ and ‘man-the-stand’ job.  It’s a question of generating a longer-term relationship with your customers so that your exhibition strategy is an all-encompassing means of reaching, engaging and sustaining positive relations with the people that matter most to you. Exhibitiontime is about an integrated marketing approach where trade shows are fundamentally linked to your marketing, brand and sales channels. It means fully understanding the objectives of why you’re there, and what you’re trying to achieve. It means aligning your messages to the people you’re trying to reach and beginning the process of engagement long before they enter the trade show itself. It’s about making the best use of the limited time available to your customers, and keeping that conversation alive once they’ve left the branded shores of your stand. And finally, it’s about refreshing attitudes towards exhibitions and raising the profile and measurable value of the considerable investment of time and money. Remember how shopping used to be just about shopping? Well now, in most stores, it’s more of a personal experience; tasting, testing, trying and then using that voucher that they sent you in the post. How on earth did they know you were interested in green tea? Why can’t we make Exhibitiontime more of a tailored customer experience where you know who’s coming to your stand, when, why and what for? Where the connection isn’t lost with those customers, and where the value of their time at your exhibition, and beyond, is recorded, valued and assessed. Exhibitiontime is about creating a customised, sustained and integrated relationship journey where the exhibition stand is merely a step along the way and not the final destination. Laurence Croneen is founding director of Deeper Blue, a live communications agency established around the principle of sustained engagement: the means of creating longer-term value and deeper relationships with your key communities. He can be contacted via the editor.
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