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How You Can Go Beyond 85% of Other Exhibitors

Is it You or Me?

Why is it that so many of us, our industry and our clients alike, keep doing things the way we have always done?

Everyone knows by now that there is a new sheriff in town and she is called Measurement. Some of us like her, but the vast majority dread her. Not because we don’t agree with what she says, but we simply don’t know HOW to meet her demands. We lack tools, processes and above all – THE RIGHT MINDSET.

So here are a few thoughts about what you can do and where to start—and more importantly, HOW. It might surprise you, but it starts with YOU.

To rethink your entire setup, you need to ask one question: What real value do you bring to the customer? Let me try to elaborate…

What to do?

For a number of years now myself and a group of very dedicated colleagues have conducted seminars under the headline, How To Be Successful with Exhibitions, Events, Road Shows, etc. We had to rethink our business strategies after 2008 and quickly decided that sharing information and being open and transparent could take everybody involved to the next level—attendees, customers, businesses, markets, and us.

Having welcomed more than 1,600 people to the seminars so far, we have learned that their route to success is very complex and we were surprised to see that up to 85 % of the participating companies DID NOT have a professional approach in their face-to-face marketing activities.

From the client’s perspective, we are heavily involved in the logistical aspects of marketing activities. By examining how the business and the projects were coordinated and executed, we saw an opportunity for both parties to improve.


We created a mode of learning that provides an example for how everyone can improve. Through what we call the THINK model, putting 4 words (think, design, execute, measure) into a “wheel” and activating it by operative words (involvement, retention and relevance), we believe that we have the foundation for creating and improving a systematic and documented approach to become measurably successful when meeting face-to-face with customers.

The THINK Model was our first major change and enabled us to rethink the before, during and after of a trade show and face-to-face marketing.

All modesty aside, we wanted to both revolutionize and evolutionize how everything is done in this business area. We wanted to take away all the “old” rules and conventions and create a new paradigm. Was that really necessary? Well, most of us are still in business, so perhaps not right now! But what about 5 years from now? How will the landscape look and what demands will our customers throw at us? Should we be able to guarantee commercial success for our clients when they exhibit with trade show displays in the future? Your answer is as good as mine…

What problems do we want to solve?

Firstly, we want the players in the market so stop doing what they usually do. When we ask our clients why they participate in an exhibition, 80-90% STILL say it’s because that’s what they have always done. When we ask what their trade show objectives are and how they measure their results, they look like question marks.

We want people to do much better. We want them to do more than “just” designing and executing. We want them to add thinking and measuring. We hoped that by introducing and implementing the THINK model their jobs would be much more successful and rewarding. We are looking at an industry spending billions of dollars to set up meetings trade show exhibits all over the world to meet with customers face-to-face. With that kind of money at stake, doing this wrong results in a huge loss. We want to make absolutely sure that, by using a very simple tool, everything is in place to become successful instead.

So, did we succeed? I would have to say yes, but you have to be very patient. It takes time to break the habits. It takes time to force a new mindset upon oneself AND trust that it will take you to a better place. We still have a full house at our seminars and by the way, we changed them as well. Now we host BOOT(H)CAMPS with the subtitle, HIGHLY Focused Seminars. The beauty of this is that we get new clients, we change mindsets, and we stay focused.

THINK about how you need to change your approaches. THINK about how to qualify in understanding your clients’ businesses. And THINK differently.

Evolving Role of Exhibit Marketers: free white paper

As objectives and standards change, roles need to change for staffers and exhibitors alike. The Evolving Role of Exhibit Marketers focuses on the new issues exhibitors face and what is now part of their job, so that they can stay successful. Click here to request for your free copy.

About the Author

Jakob Dyrbye is owner and creative director at Faust Dyrbye in Denmark and has over 20 years of experience in the exhibition industry. Jakob is a frequent public speaker, introducing thought-provoking ideas in order for us to change our mindset and our habits as he is a true believer in shifting our industry's focus from logistics to value creation and measurement. As Jakob says, "We need to understand that mastering Face to Face Marketing means that besides building the stage on which our clients shine, we must understand our clients' business, their needs, their clients' needs, and especially what's going on during their show, not just before and after."

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