Magazine article Marketing

The Show with Byte

Magazine article Marketing

The Show with Byte

Article excerpt

It's an exhibition built around just one basic product, yet it attracts 40,000 people a year. Sue Bryant takes a stroll through Emap Computing's Apple Expo and finds that the key to its success is making an exhibition that's more than just show

Exhibitions have to undergo constant change to keep up with the markets they represent. The dynamic field of information technology is no exception and show organisers have to be totally immersed in the industry.

Emap Computing bought Apple Expo in 1990, when it was little more than a small, straightforward exhibition occupying 2500[m.sup.2] of space. Over the past four years, the show has expanded to 7500[m.sup.2] and the audience has grown from 14,000 to 40,000. The unusual thing about this show is that it revolves around just one basic product, the Apple Macintosh. Every other exhibitor simply adds value to the product in the form of software, peripherals and advice.

This year the show added another 7000 visitors -- and this in a context where some of the big, successful shows of the 80s, such as Which Computer?, have gone. The business is "moving away from the monoliths to successful specialist shows like Apple Expo and, dare I say it, Windows," says Apple Computer's corporate relations manager Russell Brady. "The important thing, though, is that these specialist shows do not lose their focus."

The key to success, says Emap Computing director, Neil Wood, has been making Apple Expo more than a show. He uses the analogy of a magazine: if the exhibition stands are the ads in the publication, all the added features are the editorial. "There's no point in simply putting on a large venue with stands," he says. "You've got to 'editorialise' a show, create an educational event.

"For example, this year we had an applications area, a kind of plug-in-and-play zone where people could go for independent advice. We had a Pre-press Forum for the first time in an area of 400[m.sup.2], which took people through the eight stages of desktop publishing. Two live projects were demonstrated to them from desktop to press: a worldwide advertising campaign in full-colour and a 12-page Creative Review supplement. This gave them a chance to get the expert view. It was good because they could go and talk to experts in a non-selling environment."

An extensive seminar programme ran to 70 different events, all free to those attending. There was an Adobe photo shop (Photoshop is a popular Macintosh application) and separate areas for people with particular scientific interests. "We had a Mac-University feature with hands-on training," continues Wood. "They could sit for two hours in front of a Mac and learn about the different types of software. That's why people go along to a show -- to learn more about the industry -- and in this case, the whole market was there under one roof."

As Wood points out, a show must continue to evolve. "Next year, there will be a high-level conference at Olympia II before the show, with key speakers in the field," he says. "We'll be targeting the higher end, the big users, and looking at bigger issues such as networking and connectivity, and Apple's long-term strategy."

In the beginning, none of this diversity was really addressed, in this exhibition or any other. …

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