Weekly Insights: What It Takes to Be a Leader

Graphic: Digital Juice

Graphic: Digital Juice

Nearly every Wednesday, I join in our industry’s weekly online Twitter discussion, known as ExpoChat. (I encourage you to check it out.) This week our topic was “What does Trade Shows 2.0 mean – and how can we help our exhibitors benefit from it?” Since the discussions tend to be filled with thought leaders, we always have a stimulating discussion with lots of innovative ideas proposed. (Click here to read this week’s transcript.) But the challenge comes after the idea generation ends.

Too few people are willing to dig in and do the hard work, especially if it contradicts “the way things have always been.” Sure, a lot of the time it comes back to the reality that the innovators are not necessarily those with the final say. Conservative, bottom-line thinkers who hold the power are often too afraid of losing money, attendees, reputation, or something else. Sure there’s a chance you might try a bold new idea and not have a smashing success. But you’ll never know what’s possible if you don’t explore some new options. To rephrase a famous saying: “Why do you keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results?”

It’s time for shows to step up and innovate in order to keep the exhibit industry relevant. Eric Schaumburg, founder of Eventr.io has written an article that challenges show organizers, proposing that “The Future of the Trade Show Industry is in Organizers’ Hands.” At the root of his seven principles is the concept that show organizers are in the unique position to influence change for all sides: exhibitors, attendees and suppliers.

Who will emerge as the industry leaders of the future? The ones who aren’t afraid to challenge the way things have always been.

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Marlys Arnold

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community. To request an “Extra Shot of Exhibit Success” go to www.ExhibitMarketersCafe.com.