Magazine article Marketing

AEO MASTERCLASS INTRO: Learning from the Exhibition Experts - in the First of Five Pages on AEO's Masterclass, Experts Advise on How to Go about Setting Up a Successful Exhibition

Magazine article Marketing

AEO MASTERCLASS INTRO: Learning from the Exhibition Experts - in the First of Five Pages on AEO's Masterclass, Experts Advise on How to Go about Setting Up a Successful Exhibition

Article excerpt

Last year the Association of Exhibition Organisers (AEO) recruited a panel of five exhibition industry leaders to come together as a team of consultants and teach a masterclass.

On the panel were Austen Hawkins, deputy director of the AEO, Simon Burton, managing director of Exposure Communications, Chris Hughes, managing director of Brand Events, Tim O'Kennedy, founding partner of Circus and Tim Pyne, creative director of Work.

The masterclass itself involved directing three companies on how they could make their presence at an exhibition more successful by maximising PR and marketing opportunities, truly exploring the brand and communicating it through design. The three companies were Warehouse, exhibiting at Clothes Show Live; home furnishing design firm Frevd, exhibiting at TopDrawer; and AGA Foodservices Europe, exhibiting at Hotelympia.

The panel advised each exhibitor on its stand design, branding, marketing and PR before, during and after the event. Two of the firms, Warehouse and Frevd, took up the advice and gave feedback on how it worked. But one of the exhibitors, AGA Foodservices Europe, was unconvinced about some of the ideas it was given and was unable to instigate the idea it did like because it sustained a pounds 40,000 budget cut in December.

Here we present some of the panel's thoughts on the processes involved, and on the following pages we take an in-depth look at the experiences of all three companies and what they learned.

DESIGN

Tim Pyne, creative director, Work

In terms of the stand, the goats are distinguished from the sheep by the strength of ideas inherent in the design.

There is an acid test that we use when assessing design ideas - you should be able to describe the stand over the phone in 20 seconds. If the idea isn't strong enough for this, it won't stand out in an exhibition. Think of all your favourite ads; the same rule applies.

Let's imagine I have a bakery client who wants to get a message across that it is the biggest baguette manufacturer outside France. Suppose I suggest making the stand out of 30,000 baguettes; the number that is made each day. That idea takes about three seconds to describe. 'Wow,' says the client, 'I'm off to the pub to tell my mates.' Alternatively, I could recommend commissioning a video of baguettes being made at the factory to run on ten huge LCD flat screens hanging from the trusses, and suggest installing computer keyboards that visitors can use to obtain sandwich recipes.

'Can I see a visual?' asks the client. Next you are looking at a sexy computer visualisation of a stand with curvy walls, millions of spotlights and acres of video monitors on shiny plinths. Ask yourself where the big idea is. If there is no big idea, you'll end up with an invisible stand.

The crucial thing about the big idea is that it has to be appropriate to the message the exhibitor is putting across. Just getting noticed isn't enough. How often do you see someone who has rented a 30-foot high inflatable ostrich to put on their machine tools stand and think they look a bit daft?

Ask the designers to remove your logo from the stand and put someone else's there instead. It shouldn't work, because your message will be different.

And finally, humour sells. The ideal stand is one where people smile when they see it, because it incorporates a clever idea that says about the exhibitor exactly what it wants it to say. How many of those have you seen recently?

MARKETING AND PR

Simon Burton, managing director, Exposure Communications

More than half of all exhibitors do nothing to promote their presence at a show. …

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