Keeping it Fresh

How many times have you heard the phrase, “the one constant is change?”  Probably more than you care to, but thank goodness it is true.  Imagine if we lived in a world where nothing changed . . . wouldn’t be much fun, would it?  Change is what keeps things interesting, it defines progress, and it keeps us on our toes.  And in the world of events – of trade shows like the NAB Show – it is both a raison d’etre, and a requirement.  Trade shows exist to help busy industry executives stay on top of change.  They also must change and evolve themselves or risk losing their relevance.

At NAB, we live constantly with a healthy dose of paranoia; understanding that if we (the event) stand still we risk becoming irrelevant.  For us, then, there are three words that really matter – fresh, relevant and productive.  It is these three principles that drive our planning and frame our goals every year for the NAB Show.  It is these three principles that have helped drive the value and sustained success of the show over time. 

Above all, “fresh,” tops the list.  When the typical visitor to a trade show is asked why they attend a particular event, an overwhelming majority cite “see what’s new (i.e. new products or trends)” as their top rationale.  This is not a surprise.  People gather at major events to ensure they are plugged into the latest and greatest in a particular industry.  Shows serve this purpose well, not only by bringing people together but by providing a unique (live) showcase for new products and services; but “new” is relative and if the show doesn’t offer enough in the way of truly new ideas (spurred by conference programs), new products (spotlighted by exhibitors) or new something (contacts, business), it is too easy to scratch them from the schedule.  It is our job – and yours, as a key participant in the show – to ensure this doesn’t happen. 

To get to “fresh” each year, we both have to make sure we make it a clear priority.  For our part, we look at how we can generate new interest and new dialogue through the conference programs we build around the expo.  We look at the expo itself and what elements or special features we might be able to build in that will not just be new but that will add value for both visitors and exhibitors.  These take the form of pavilions, special displays and the like.  We look at adding or changing events, services, theme… virtually every feature of the show, to create a “new” event each year.  It really is important.

Exhibit Fresh

All that effort generally gets us to a good starting point, but we can only go so far – to really make the event fresh we need you and your fellow exhibitors to bring something to the party . . . and that means something that is (ideally) genuinely new, fresh and exciting.  The NAB Show has always been the premier launching pad for new products; we have that going for us, yet the more that is new the more value there is for the buyer – the show attendee.  You will increase your chances of success dramatically — and the show overall will be more likely to succeed — if you have a strong story to tell about what you have that is new, different or never-before-seen.  All the better if you can apply that same “fresh” thinking to how you exhibit as well – make your display great, make it fresh and exciting.  The good news is that the NAB Show has built a very loyal audience base; roughly two-thirds of the show’s attendees from one year to the next have attended multiple shows, many over a very long period of time.  The bad news there is that they are that much tougher to impress.  If they see you looking the same from one year to the next they may assume you really have nothing new to show or say.  So we need to keep it new, and you need to keep it new.

Help Us Help You

Now here is a critical point to close: to really do this well, the more we can do these things in concert the better. It is a given, for all the reasons stated, that the script must be rewritten every year but to make it a truly outstanding script we should write it together. To do that, we need to share information. The more you share with us, the more we can share in our marketing.  Make sure you complete the listings information for the web site, and use those opportunities to trumpet what you have that is new. And if you happen to be doing something really exciting (i.e. bringing a celebrity, featuring a mindblowing demo), reach out to us to let us know – there may be a way we can work with you to drive additional exposure (maybe even at no additional cost). Perhaps that will spur a new program idea we could work on together. Don’t stop there though. We want to know from your perspective what you see as the key trends driving the business overall. We can use your input on what we should be focusing on in our programs and what we should be spotlighting on the exhibit floor, to keep it all fresh. We would love to hear your ideas.

A note about the other two core organizing principles for us – relevant and productive. Relevant refers to keeping the show focused on the right things; on the trends and technologies that actually matter; that are defining the future direction of the industry. This gets reflected, again, in our conference content, the way the show floor is laid out and how the entire event is presented and marketed.  Productive refers to ensuring we do all we can to provide the tools and lay the groundwork for you to get maximum value out of the show. It means working to ensure that the right buyers meet the right sellers and that everyone walks away with something of value. With both of these principles, we would again encourage you to work with us. What more can we do – together — to ensure the show is fresh, relevant and productive? Call or email your sales rep or exhibit services team; or anyone you know on our side. We welcome the opportunity to talk, and in return we can share with you our plans.  Enough of that and we end up with a pretty good script.