Exhibiting in Green Events Does Not Guarantee Green

Everyone is trying to grab some green these days.

Publishers have special “green editions” annually and even monthly. Fox and NBC sold green to advertisers when they went green for a whole week to celebrate Earth Day. Radio stations are selling green companies sponsorships of their eco public service announcements. These lists are endless and they range from green niche advertising to mainstream traditional media screaming green.

As a consumer show producer I am concerned about the use, and abuse, of my industry in marketing green. I know a quality consumer show is one of the most productive investments of marketing dollars – especially for green products, services and businesses.

Consumer shows, like home shows and wedding shows are ideal for face-to-face story telling which facilitates the sale of complicated products where consumers have questions. Events like consumer shows are ideal for environmental story telling and forging goodwill with a receptive and targeted community of consumers.

Here’s the rub: I’m hearing more and more stories about green companies signing up for an event only to find out that they were sold a bill of goods. Big promises and a waste of time. No substantial media buy, no professionalism, no attendance or not the right attendance.

I have seen this over and over in the Home & Garden Show industry for the past 20 years. Shows produced by inexperienced, underfunded people who think putting on a show would be fun. It astonishes me that so many people think producing a consumer event is easy, highly profitable and a part-time gig. They jump into show business and take everyone’s money only to end up making excuses about why the show did not work.

And it’s not just exhibitors who are disappointed. The attendees are left wondering why they wasted the time coming. Sadly, the next time a good show comes around they stay home.

Now with all the excitement about ‘going green’, it’s happening again.

Green shows are popping up everywhere and most are being produced by people with little or no experience. Exhibitors are signing up with the hope of building their business and wind up spending resources that they desperately need. All it takes is a few questions to discern if a consumer event is a fairly sound investment which should result in instant sales, jobs, leads and business contacts.

Here are key questions to ask and research:

What experience does the producer have in producing similar events?

Get specific information about their position in the 周年晚宴 production company such as, Did they manage the show or simply work as a salesperson?

Is this their core business or just a side business? You are hiring this producer to deliver based on his past record of success in event production.

Ask if they belong to any dues paying industry associations that raise the level of professionalism of producers: Home & Garden Show Executives International, National Association of Consumer Shows, and the Society of Independent Show Organizers. Have they held board positions at professional show organizations or trade associations? Being a member is not the same as being actively involved as an industry leader on the board.

Who else has signed up for the current show? Call them. Ask for a list of past exhibitors, and call them. Find out what these exhibitors were told and what their past experience has been in this particular show.

What media campaign are they planning? How many TV stations, radio stations etc are they buying? Successful events take major media buys.

Ask for a discount on your space. No professional producer ever discounts their exhibit space unless the purchased space is large. Discounting exhibit space is a sure sign of desperation by a producer, and a serious red flag that the show will cheap out on the advertising in the end.
Lastly, are they local? In the genre of green consumer shows, “being local” matters more because “buying local” is such a large component to being sustainable. Independent local producers can better serve the local community.
Here is what I would not ask:

Are they running the show in a sustainable manner? While this may show they are walking the walk, it does not have anything to do with whether they can produce a successful event. Don’t get me wrong, the production should be investing and working toward a net zero waste event and using best practices in their daily operations. But you are looking to make a business investment that has the potential to bring a year’s worth of foot traffic in just a few days. Even the best intended most passionate producer cannot get do-over’s on a three-day event!

How many exhibitors are they expecting? How many people are they expecting? Nine times out of ten you are going to get an inflated figure. When we launched the Better Living Show in 2008, many exhibitors passed because my partner and I said we expected 10,000 people based on all of our experience launching new events in this market. We thought we would do more but wanted to over deliver. In the end we attracted over 20,000.

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