How to Create Memorable Experiences Now

Virtual Lunch 9.15.20

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of The Experience Economy by Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore. So you can imagine how delighted I was when Jim agreed to be a guest on our weekly Virtual Lunch!

So listen in as he shares insights on how to:

  • Prepare for the next phase of the Experience Economy
  • Design a multisensory environment in virtual events
  • Inspire more engaging conversations
  • Create an experience even when selling services or other intangibles
  • … plus one simple (low-tech) thing that will help you stand out

Here are links to some of the items mentioned in the interview:

(Note: Some links on this page are affiliate links, which means if you click on them and choose to purchase I may receive a small commission or other compensation. You will not pay more for buying a product through these links. I’m disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations regarding endorsements.)

About Jim Gilmore:

Jim Gilmore
Jim Gilmore

As co-author of The Experience Economy, Jim Gilmore literally wrote the book on experience design, customer experience management, and experiential marketing. Now published in eighteen languages, it continues to find new readers as companies find their goods and services commoditized and customers are increasingly spending their time and money on experiences — memorable events that engage them in an inherently personal way.

He is an Assistant Professor in the Innovation and Design department in the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, and is also an adjunct lecturer at the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia, where he teaches a course on the Experience Economy.

Before co-founding Strategic Horizons LLP with Joe Pine in 1996, he was head of CSC Consulting’s Process Innovation practice. He is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and an alumnus of Procter & Gamble. In addition to The Experience Economy, he co-wrote Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want, and his latest book is Look: A Practical Guide for Improving Your Observational Skills.

[00:00:00.440] - Marlys Arnold

You're listening to the Trade Show Insights podcast, Season 15, Episode 14. I'm your host and exhibit marketing strategist, Marlys Arnold, bringing you tools to improve your exhibit results. On today's episode, another rebroadcast of our Virtual Lunch in the Exhibit Marketers Cafe.

[00:00:33.540] - Marlys Arnold

We've got Jim Gilmore, author of The Experience Economy, talking about ways to create experiences now.

[00:01:02.630] - Marlys Arnold

I actually was first introduced to the experience economy 20 years ago, when a good friend of mine came to me – she works at a museum – and she said, "I have been reading this great book and I think it would be really relevant for you in the trade show industry. It's called The Experience Economy."

[00:01:22.560] - Marlys Arnold

And so anyway, she recommended that I go take a look at it. So I read it and I really I was so impressed. It was like it was so much the things I was already thinking about, you know, multisensory marketing, and using themes, and engagement techniques. And, you know, it was like somebody just took all that and put it into such a great logical format. And I was so impressed.

[00:01:51.410] - Marlys Arnold

And so then when I was working on my book, Build a Better Trade Show Image, I connected with Jim and Joe and got permission – Jim Gilmore and Joe Pine – and got permission to use some quotes from their book in my book. So since then, I've recommended the book to thousands of exhibitors across the country at my exhibitor workshops and webinars.

[00:02:17.090] - Marlys Arnold

And then also when I did my second book, Exhibit Design That Works, I actually included a whole section on multisensory marketing.

[00:02:24.830] - Marlys Arnold

I mean, that's how important I think this is.

[00:02:27.860] - Marlys Arnold

And so anyway, today I'm very excited to have Jim Gilmore here. And so Jim is probably well known to a lot of you. He's been an instructor at Exhibitor Live for many years. He's also a professor at Case Western Reserve University. And he also lectures at the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia. In addition to Experience Economy, which also came out last year with the 20th edition of the book, or the 20th anniversary, I should say.

[00:03:04.280] - Marlys Arnold

He's also the author of Authenticity: What Customers Really Want, again with Joe Pine. And his latest book – which I haven't seen this one yet – is, Look: A Practical Guide for Improving Your Observational Skills.

[00:03:18.260] - Marlys Arnold

So welcome to the Virtual Lunch today.

[00:03:22.980] - Jim Gilmore

All right, thank you for having me and thank you for being such a proponent of experiences, and I'm always honored and flattered when people are able to use the book and promote the book. And you, like everybody else tuning in here, I like I often like to say is that you all do what I merely write about.

[00:03:43.570] - Jim Gilmore

So, you know, you're the folks on the ground that actually make the stuff happen. So I appreciate it and I appreciate the industry very much. It's in business-to-business, trade shows are the core experience, long established vitally important, and they're needed. So anyway, glad to be with you.

[00:04:02.330] - Marlys Arnold

Well, thanks, Jim. It's so good to have you here. And I know you've got a wealth of ideas. And I right now we're in such a weird position because, you know, we're trying to be experiential, but it's much more challenging and, you know, and then moving forward, we are going to still have some challenges.

[00:04:20.000] - Marlys Arnold

So do you think ... has customer behavior forever changed or is this something that we're going to just ride it out and then it'll be more like what we're used to? All right, I know that's the 64 million dollar question!

[00:04:35.150] - Jim Gilmore

Exactly. For those who will remember the rigged game show. At least I heard that from my father growing up. You know, I don't feign to have any inside scoop on what's going to emerge from this. Obviously, like everybody, I've been thinking about what are the implications of all this, first thinking about all the folks who have been immediately affected, lost their jobs and so forth.

[00:05:04.560] - Jim Gilmore

I will offer this that I like to call this the corona crisis. I think it is indeed a crisis. That's the term my co-author Joe Pine and I have decided to coin – we didn't coin but we use – it's out there.

[00:05:18.930] - Jim Gilmore

And you know the way I've been thinking about this is, what's next, you know, is it going to be back to normal, a new normal, things will never be the same? This changes everything – that might vary by industry, that might vary by company. And I think what I'm encouraging is difficult as it might be, is don't just think about what's next, but what's next-next. Don't just think post corona crisis, but post-post corona crisis and let me frame it also this way.

[00:05:49.530] - Jim Gilmore

I do teach at Case Western – I just got done from two morning management classes with my undergraduates. I'm talking about paradigms, interestingly enough. You know, it's Peter and Peter Drucker influences how he structured that course greatly, Peter Drucker is fond of saying all innovation comes from recognizing discontinuities. There's some change afoot in technology and process, technology and demographics and attitudes. And clearly, your question is what will we have any change in behavior and attitudes? And I like to say that what we're going through right now is not a discontinuity.

[00:06:25.730] - Jim Gilmore

It's actually one giant disruption from which a multiplicity of discontinuities may may emerge. So to me, it's like my book on Look, it's to be watchful, to be be looking for first, identify all the different sets of behaviors that are happening not just in this industry, but but throughout culture, and then ascertaining determining how much that's going to be sustained, endured. How much will people like say like too much of that and go back? Will we see hybrid models?

[00:06:55.510] - Jim Gilmore

And I think it's too hard to tell. And I think individual behavior, we're all participants in this. I will say this. The two points I will make, the Experience Economy has been most adversely affected by this. Travel's the most important – travel and tourism, most important part of the Experience Economy – which is the most important part of the economy. Clearly, hotels, airlines, conventions, meetings have been decimated by all this. To me, it's proof of what we talked about.

[00:07:25.880] - Jim Gilmore

We said, look ...

[00:07:26.920] - Marlys Arnold


[00:07:27.470] - Jim Gilmore

We said a prosperous economy is necessary to have a prosperous economy. And until those sectors come back, we will not see a robust economy again. And as we pursue bringing back more experiences, the bar will be raised. The newly released hard copy that you held up, the white cover has a brand new preface. That Joe and I worked real hard – has some really good new thinking in there, I do believe. And one of the things we said in the new preface is that every business has the same number one competitor. And that's the smartphone now, I will add to that that there's a second competitor, perhaps is the kissing cousin of the the smartphone and that's staying at home. So the bar will be raised unless they don't physically or stay at home at your company. The bar will be raised in terms of what it will take for people to deem it worthwhile to go elsewhere versus staying put. So we now have two large forces at play.

[00:08:37.130] - Jim Gilmore

With the smartphone, if you're not engaging people in the moment with a tap of the screen or the swipe of the screen, you could be gone elsewhere, right? That's why it's competitive. And now, if if what you say about if your your experiences to attract and entice people are not compelling, they may not go.

[00:08:57.240] - Jim Gilmore

And I think that we may have to shift our focus to a lot of the pre- you know, it's a whole separate experience to talk about attracting and attract and and enticing that we may, in fact, that we may have taken for granted.

[00:09:10.840] - Marlys Arnold


[00:09:11.380] - Jim Gilmore

People go every year, they go every year. And we may have to not just design for during the event, but have to be a lot more aggressive, frankly, and thinking robustly about all that up front.

[00:09:23.380] - Jim Gilmore

My friends at Maritz Travel take the attracting phase of experience and they they divide it to announcing, and then after you register, anticipating, break it down to multiple stages that they realize that front end is vitally important in normal times and now it's so.

[00:09:42.630] - Marlys Arnold

Well, and a good example of that, actually, I'm signed up for a conference on Thursday this week. And just yesterday I got my event kit delivered ...

[00:09:51.440] - Jim Gilmore


[00:09:53.050] - Marlys Arnold

Yeah, physical event kit was delivered and, you know, good-sized box. And so I opened the box. It's all wrapped in black tissue with a note on top that says, "No peeking. We're going to open this together as part of the experience on Thursday."

[00:10:08.120] - Marlys Arnold

So I'm being a good girl and I didn't open it. But it's like it's actually it's heightened that anticipation. I'm like, how long is it now until we can open it?

[00:10:16.240] - Jim Gilmore

Right. And those things cannot be given. It's best if it's tied back into later in the event. By the way, it's the same with the giveaways.

[00:10:26.940] - Jim Gilmore

We have the trade show, all the tchotchkes and souvenirs. I mean, we write in the book about mix in memorabilia. It's better to actually use a physical thing during the experience and attach your memory to it so everything will do its best if it's used during that. I was a surprise guest that a friend who was doing a keynote at a at a conference was college admissions conference. I said, I'll help you out if you're going to zoom the thing I said I'll be ...

[00:10:51.660] - Jim Gilmore

When you talk about the Experience Economy, let me be a surprise guest. So I came in and they told me it's like they made their conference virtual and it was it was going to be in Chicago. They mailed everybody a tin, a huge tin of Garrett's popcorn and said, make sure you're eating the popcorn.

[00:11:06.690] - Marlys Arnold

Oh, clever!

[00:11:08.500] - Jim Gilmore

Right. So I'm sure some people kept the tin because this is the the tin I ate from when I was at the you know, and so you definitely the physical. We need to augment the virtual with the physical, but but doing it's not enough. You have to think very intelligently about how you can take the things you mail and integrate them into the event itself. Probably always been the case. But again, now it's especially true.

[00:11:32.610] - Marlys Arnold

Well, it'll be interesting to see how they implement all of these and augment all of the items in the kit. And and on one side, it kind of puts a little more pressure. It's like, you know, after all this anticipation, if what's in the kit isn't that impressive, then it kind of defeats the whole purpose. But if it's done very well ... I've got another one coming up, another conference coming up later in the month that's also doing a kit.

[00:11:56.220] - Marlys Arnold

And they have really hyped the kit. I mean, it's like, you know, because it's an optional thing or, no, I guess it wasn't an optional thing. It was like you couldn't you couldn't do the conference without buying the kit as well. And so, you know, it's like, wow, this must be really impressive because it's like forty-nine dollars just for the kit.

[00:12:15.990] - Jim Gilmore

Yeah, I mean, there's a lot there's a lot there to work with. The physical augmenting the virtual is necessary and I think is a challenge. You got to, like all of this, you have to, you have to do it well.

[00:12:29.070] - Marlys Arnold

Yes. Yes. Well so what other examples have you seen? You know, since we are in the ... kind of the Experience Economy is a little bit in limbo because we miss the full multisensory experience with the taste and smell and touch, but by augmenting it in some of these ways, what else have you seen done for virtual?

[00:12:53.430] - Jim Gilmore

Well, like with these kits, we talk about the multisense – a sense of taste and touch can be evoked, right. To use your physical and your audio cues to create a sense. You ask yourself, if we were serving food, what kind of food would it be and sort of sort of bring that that feel to things as part of part of theming, part of harmonizing cues. Right now, what I've been focused on my personal work because I teach is – Zoom is our platform – is just I'm doing, what's nice about teaching, I do a lot of experimentation on basically how to conduct that time differently. I mean, I have not only Zoome fatigue, I've got Zoom's scheduling fatigue and keeping track of all this stuff.

[00:13:36.880] - Jim Gilmore

And then if you use like teams or meeting whatever Microsoft is called, the emails don't even tell you what time it is. It just gives you the link like it's like so I got to look at a separate email to figure out what it's like. So when people do participate, it's like the foreword chapter to the book.

[00:13:53.700] - Jim Gilmore

You've got it. I think it's not just educational. It's the same thing when you're face to face. It needs to be entertaining the whole people. And it's inherently a sense of escape, aesthetic. I've been fascinated with backgrounds like there is the like carefully crafted, like where you place like like I do. There's the of course, the the bookshelf version, which is, I think, virtue signalling. I sometimes do that for my office. There's the there's the I don't I don't care what it is, you know, their forehead, literally my my students, they're so used to being on laptops and streaming, they really don't care where it's at. There's the the all white. Right, which I also think is virtually signalling, I'm above all this, so I think your background is opportunity to think about theming.

[00:14:43.330] - Jim Gilmore

I had students give a presentation on their own initiative. They they had to design a hotel for the Dollar Tree and make them as their design project, design a hotel for major brands. They all wore green, had green backgrounds, not green screen. They did green. So backgrounds. Props, yes.

[00:15:02.050] - Jim Gilmore

Little story. If you ask my kids who their favorite teacher was at the Ratner School K through 8 sort of Montessori school, they all go Mr. P. And I don't even know Mr. P's name, he's Mr. P to parents as well. Why? Why do you like Mr. P.? Oh, he's funny. So he uses humor to keep them attentive, right, versus when my son went to high school and I had the first parent teacher conference with his algebra teacher, within 60 seconds, I'm like, no wonder he's not learning. You're boring.

[00:15:36.430] - Marlys Arnold


[00:15:37.140] - Jim Gilmore

Right. So here's my latest character I brought to the classroom today, and I had all the students upon entering the class. They, like, help me name him, you know, go into that. I got to work on my ... like I was inspired by a student that came into class from the side like this. Right.

[00:15:53.870] - Jim Gilmore

Again, not every organization is going to take it. I'm not saying to be gimmicky. I have a reason for it. I bought these little finger puppets rock-scissor-paper because later I in the class I used rock-scissor-paper as a as a most simple loop. One bit started on the circle. There's an architectural theory of boxes of paper. So again, it has to be tied to your content if you, if you can. And I'm going to be talking about props later in the class.

[00:16:22.960] - Jim Gilmore

So yes. Those entertainment I think don't don't don't dismiss it. Here's the bigger biggest thing I miss about this medium is there's no collective laughter. Because one voice, the speaker dominates the audio and I so, so miss it. And last week it hit me and this is a this is this attests to the value of physical space. Last week, it dawned on me because I was like, OK, any questions from the class – nothing? And really, I've lost the ability to use my bodily movement to move towards a person, to connect with a person, stand at the back of a room and face the way they are, to use where you place yourself in the space as a mechanism, by the way that's probably something, having learned that in this space, to take that in the physical space of a trade show.

[00:17:13.340] - Marlys Arnold


[00:17:14.330] - Jim Gilmore

So there will be some lessons learned like, oh, we should be doing doing that all the time. I told you this when we talked earlier. I've had ideas for trade shows that like I voiced umpteen years, I've been the show doesn't happen and now people will do, is like it took this.

[00:17:29.960] - Marlys Arnold


[00:17:30.820] - Jim Gilmore

Realize things we should been doing all along. Like I've always thought you've got a booth, you've got seven manufacturing plants. Why don't we have the ability to pipe in all plant managers? If a question comes up, they don't have to all be in the in the the booth. So that might happen just like in health care. It took this to realize there should be zero waiting rooms.

[00:17:52.320] - Jim Gilmore

Why, when people are sick, we have them go in a commons area, it's like we have the the mathematics to do appointment scheduling precisely enough and whisk people off to waiting rooms and design space to not put sick people with with other sick people.

[00:18:08.490] - Jim Gilmore

And hopefully somebody is using this time to say, ah, you know, why don't we do that all the time? And this is, people are gonna lose their jobs. Some businesses are going to some people in the space are going to go out of business. But if you work hard and use this time to survive and to innovate, there's going to be an opportunity to to to create some great new experiences that do blend appropriately.

[00:18:33.110] - Marlys Arnold


[00:18:33.560] - Jim Gilmore

The mixture of both technologies, both.

[00:18:35.280] - Marlys Arnold

Well, and on that, I've seen some of the virtual expos that have done a good job, like you said, of bringing in people that wouldn't otherwise be in the booth, that were able to either answer questions or give tours of the plant, you know, so they can actually see the facility behind the scenes or interact with, you know, somebody from R&D or something that would never be in the booth on the show floor.

[00:18:57.360] - Jim Gilmore

Exactly. That's that's exactly right. Or like a case, it dawned on me like I'm never going to have, like, joint office hours in the physical realm with the professor in the in the theater department. You know, I talk about work as theater.

[00:19:10.390] - Marlys Arnold


[00:19:11.010] - Marlys Arnold

But virtually, I can be like, hey, why don't we hang out? We don't have office hours in the same room together and students could could join in the conversation. That's never happened before.

[00:19:19.620] - Marlys Arnold

Oh, yeah.

[00:19:20.760] - Jim Gilmore

But, you know, getting people to break break their rule. I'm doing this for office hours. I stole from Impractical Jokers, like one of the few shows I used to watch live. Besides Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, is that that they ran out of episodes, so they started to have virtual dinner party together. I had my first virtual dinner party office hours, maximum seven people, because eight's the ideal dinner party. And for an hour we're going to bring our meal and show what we have.

[00:19:50.910] - Jim Gilmore

And, you know, I think one of the best human experiences is, is to is to convene over food.

[00:19:57.530] - Marlys Arnold


[00:19:58.600] - Jim Gilmore

Go have dinners. Can be can be thought differently in this medium for you. Don't just go meet with the people you know before and sit at the same table with people you know before, we can now actually randomly put people at tables. And by the way, we could change that by course.

[00:20:14.050] - Marlys Arnold


[00:20:14.460] - Jim Gilmore

And it's a lot more cumbersome in the physical realm, but we have a multi course meal. OK, scramble, scramble, scramble.

[00:20:21.990] - Marlys Arnold

And there are some some conferences and trade shows that have done some very innovative, virtual happy hours that I've seen. But again, it takes that whole thing, like you said, they've got to think outside of let's just take the physical and do this. It's like, no, you have to innovate and reengineer.

[00:20:40.020] - Jim Gilmore

Excellent point, Marlys. When I was with CSC Consulting, which is the firm that invented reengineering for those who have been around long enough to remember simultaneous rethinking of business process and technology, the argument before IT departments bastardized and turned into downsizing. The notion was to use the disruptive attributes of technology to design something new. And it was based on the notion that for decades all the investment in technology had been used to automate current. You're exactly right. You can't just transfer your current practice.

[00:21:14.460] - Jim Gilmore

You have to look at the inherent properties of this medium and say, what can I do that I wasn't able to do before? And that's that's the thing. And then in the very process simultaneously say, well, some of those practices, can I transfer to the physical realm to make the physical realm more attractive? And if you had greater mix of people involved, more random distribution of people.

[00:21:39.150] - Jim Gilmore

You know, the best way to navigate a trade show or a conference, if you have multiple people from the same company, is you know, you divide and conquer. You go to these sessions, you go to these sessions right there. No, if you're the sole representative from your company, you don't have that. Where's the up front, we'll build your cohort, where's the upfront diagnostic of what you're interested in, what are you shopping for? OK. Again, we can use this medium to do that kind of thing and maybe that kind of thing, stay and maybe you meet together in a room before you go and compare notes because you've answered some questions. You've teamed up. And so you plan your joint thing when you go. It's those kinds of things I hope emerge from this that we end up actually enhancing the physical realm.

[00:22:24.120] - Jim Gilmore

If it's just this, goodness gracious, that's like we all turn into Silicon Valley moles and our cubicles with no windows. I just can't live in that world.

[00:22:32.730] - Marlys Arnold

Right, right. Well, and Rama – Jim, you may not realize – Rama is from Lev Promotions, which is a promotional products company. And so she says, producing the kits have been keeping her busy the last few months. It's been such fun finding ways to tie in what's in the box to the themes, messaging and goals of the meeting. And that is so I mean, because I know that's what you stress in your books and what I've always stressed to all my exhibitor clients. It's got to it's got to make sense! You can't just throw something in a box and call it good.

[00:23:06.170] - Jim Gilmore

I mean, think about kits not just from but while you travel, you know, if people are driving, you send them one kit for stuff that, you know, for in the car. If they're flying, send them stuff that it's like Mike Vance, who founded Disney University for Walt Disney, has this thing called Kitchen of the Mind. He used to have all these a little little container full of things that he would use to, like, decorate his seat in the airline: suction cups on the window of a family picture and all this kind of stuff.

[00:23:35.120] - Jim Gilmore

And the flight crew would look at him like, why would you do that? And he would go like, why are you not doing that? Right. So you'll send some things to, you know, to use on the plane, if not just the safety things, but other things as well. And post-event don't neglect the afterwards, you know, leaving events. My friend Greg, at Maritz Travel – or Global Events I should say – I talked about for many conferences and trade shows, the the final experience is your hotel bill.

[00:24:09.230] - Jim Gilmore

And if you read anything about peak moments or Carnahan's like the final moment, it's a horrible way to send people. What are some what are some farewell rituals that can be introduced and again, experiment in this medium, even in your meetings, but use your means to experiment as a laboratory for different kinds of group group dynamics?

[00:24:29.300] - Marlys Arnold

Well, and Rama says it's what we call Strategic Memorability™.

[00:24:32.480] - Jim Gilmore

Very good. Very good.

[00:24:33.740] - Marlys Arnold

I love that.

[00:24:34.640] - Jim Gilmore

The TM on there ... is it Rama? Rama, use an EM for Experience Mark. It's not recognized by Congress. I've talked to lawyers about it. But there is, of course, TM for a physical good, SM for sales mark for services, use EM. It's not protected. It would require legislation. I've often thought this is an industry that ought to contact your congress person and lobby for the recognition of this officially of the EM mark. But our tagline is, is EM'd. I've got a few people practicing it. Sidebar, sidebar, sidebar.

[00:25:14.180] - Marlys Arnold

But that's very clever, though, because it's true, I mean, an experience is it's something they ....

[00:25:22.510] - Jim Gilmore

TM is the physical good. Again, it's a holdover, right?

[00:25:25.530] - Marlys Arnold

So she says they are in the process of getting it officially registered.

[00:25:31.420] - Jim Gilmore

That's your R. But TM and SM and EM is not registered. So you might as well have EM because it's just as protected as SM or TM. Until you get that R.

[00:25:39.120] - Marlys Arnold

Until you get the R. That's a good point. That's a good point. Well, on the subject of of the difference between goods and services and experiences, one question I get from exhibitors a lot is how do I make it experiential when I'm selling a non-tangible something like a service? And so we always have it always involves another whole level of brainstorming to come up with a way, and sometimes it's not that hard for me to see, but for them. So what advice do you give to somebody who is not selling something that's obviously experiential?

[00:26:11.720] - Jim Gilmore

Goods are tangible, services are intangible, experiences are memorable. So it's inherently difficult to demo a service. You have to do a simulation or role play. But even with a good, recognize it's the using of a good that is the experience. I get my Yeti mug, it's it's the drinking experience or the the keeping warm. It's the so similarly, if you got a service you can think about the using of the service and think about this way. What you need to demonstrate, time is the currency of experiences.

[00:26:45.410] - Jim Gilmore

Services are what you do. Time is the experience of the time that your customers, your clients have with you. So you need to think about literally designing the time as a way to to demonstrate the nature of your services, so that could be role play, simulations, analogies, mockups. I've often thought, why aren't there more scale models in exhibits, literally just scale and small representation of the sort of pictures of things dimensionally? By the way, this is a medium to do that kind of experimentation.

[00:27:18.280] - Jim Gilmore

Here's what here's how I have a magician friend who's got two cameras face on and then from the top so you can see his table magic. I've got a client that's installed multicamera. I've got someone's mobile camera. So the multi camera angle and a scale model. Right? And maybe you build that scale model something you actually can, because I've often thought, why are we not in a physical space and looking at the scale model together, again, that you could depict the different steps along the the process of the service?

[00:27:50.760] - Jim Gilmore

I've always thought we should have more miniaturization happening in trade show booths. Always thought that.

[00:27:56.460] - Marlys Arnold

Well, then, of course, now there's the virtual reality aspect too, where you can actually go into your model and walk around kind of thing.

[00:28:05.010] - Jim Gilmore

I've always thought the virtual reality on that, that if you do it really well and you have to do it well, then people will be just satisfied just in it. I mean, it's to like use it to point to the other is like I'm actually more fascinated with augmented reality.

[00:28:19.380] - Marlys Arnold


[00:28:19.820] - Jim Gilmore

Much more fascinating. And I've done augmented reality. A case with just a a cadaver. It's amazing. They can they can highlight, you can see just the nervous system. Just the skeletal system. Just the muscle system. It's a it's amazing. Yet you can still see everybody while you're doing it. So I'm much more fascinated with that. But you're still aware of the physical presence and augmented reality versus virtual, you're gone. You could be anywhere.

[00:28:47.010] - Marlys Arnold

Right. Well, that's true and they have very different purposes. So, again, it goes back to what are you trying to accomplish? Which one is going to be the better tool? But there's so much there's so many resources and so many tools available that really, you know, people don't have excuses anymore. I mean, 20 years ago when you wrote the book, the first time, you know, it just there weren't all of the wonderful resources that people have now to actually bring these experiences to life in the way that we can.

[00:29:13.160] - Jim Gilmore

I do I differ with my co-author a little bit. Joe Pine wrote a book called Infinite Possibilities, sort of technological. I did not participate because I'm very critical of big, big data, big tech. And I wrote the preface to that book and I basically challenged all organizations in that preface to ask themselves is is is what you're doing promoting people to spend more time before a screen or less? Because I am definitely an advocate of spending less time on the screen.

[00:29:44.150] - Jim Gilmore

And that's a this is a value judgment, but that's a point of view. But but as designers, I am I enjoy and spend most of my time trying to enhance the physical realm. The digital realm is winning. Silicon Valley's winning. But if you if you read books about the inner workings of Google, Facebook, I mean, quite frankly, I that mindset, that heavily engineered algorithm mindset. Here's a book I recommend, World Without Mind. You get to the last chapter and the author calls for a paper revolution. If you don't want Google to see your information, use paper. And kick it, kick it old school.

[00:30:30.550] - Jim Gilmore

The more people do an email, a physical thing, I tell my students know you prepare a thoughtful, thoughtful letter in an enclosure to an executive looking for a job. Nobody does that. You'll stand out.

[00:30:42.320] - Marlys Arnold

Well. And I know – this was several years ago, but when my husband Alan applied for a job, he actually he interviewed and then he sent a physical thank you note and he got hired and it was on his boss's bulletin board. She said this was such a rare thing to actually get a physical thank you note.

[00:30:59.300] - Jim Gilmore

It's your nostalgia point. Yes, in Authenticity we talked about polarity and age of things increasingly being automated and digitized, handwritten becomes authentic.

[00:31:08.470] - Marlys Arnold


[00:31:09.080] - Jim Gilmore

An email. Thank you very much. It is great to see you. Like, yeah, fine. Fine. Doesn't even get opened, my friend. That says thank you all good. They said, they said thank you. I don't got time for this, I gotta move on. But a handwritten note a thoughtfully. I mean it's just so that's such a nice nice touch to, to do. You'd be surprised. Those things, those things add up.

[00:31:28.580] - Marlys Arnold

Yeah it really is true. I think it's what it's going to take going forward for, for trade shows and for everything is a balance of, you know, we've learned now all of these potentials in the digital realm, but we need to figure out how to combine that with the physical realm going forward.

[00:31:44.820] - Jim Gilmore

You started this by asking about sales before I did a tangent on a tangent, on a tangent, as I want to do. But recognize, I think when it comes to sales, step one is be human. We might be getting past that, but early on, nobody wanted to be sold to. There was no point, right, no one's buying. I mean, just reach out to your friends and empathize. What do you think we ought to do. I mean, be helpful.

[00:32:08.270] - Jim Gilmore

I mean, again, Drucker – purpose of business is to create a customer, spend time with your customers, understanding needs. And truly, I actually think if you do marketing well, don't have to sell as much they're presold, if you will. I also think if you have great experiences, you don't have to market. But now that that's been stripped away, those experiential opportunities, we do have to resort to marketing. And sales. By the way, I have a high regard for sales professionals, I tell my students to get a sales job out of school because the number one thing you'll do is you come away a more confident person.

[00:32:42.020] - Jim Gilmore

Because the more rejected, the better presenter you'll be. And these kids have lived a life of not being rejected. They're good at everything. They got a trophy for every event.

[00:32:52.940] - Marlys Arnold


[00:32:53.620] - Jim Gilmore

You're a loser. You lost.

[00:32:58.100] - Marlys Arnold

Well, on the subject of connecting, Jim, how other than your I know your website – Alan's going to put up – is Strategic Horizons. What what's the best way for people to reach out to you? LinkedIn?

[00:33:09.690] - Jim Gilmore

I have LinkedIn, but until recently I accepted all invitations from LinkedIn indiscriminantly unless they were from Nigeria and and did nothing more based on a marketing firm who put it on the back of their business card. I look forward to ignoring you on LinkedIn. I dabble now. You know, you send it to info@strategichorizons and it'll get forwarded on to me. If I could pitch a little bit of, you know, if you go to Amazon, not just to get the books, but for my Look book, there's a video posted of me being interviewed about Look, but also Jonathan Mann, who holds the world record for the most consecutive days of writing a song.

[00:33:52.730] - Jim Gilmore

Right. He did a music video on Look on my six looking glasses tool. Also, for something fun, go to Amazon, click on Gilmore author's page and you'll see that or I think the Look book itself as a page, but it's a fun, little catchy tune. You might find yourself humming a bit. So that's a nice little way. I hired Jonathan to do gigs. He came to our final Think About event, attended the whole thing, and then he wrote a theme song to capture the entire 20 years of the event.

[00:34:24.260] - Jim Gilmore

It was like with a chorus everybody could learn to sing. It was phenomenal.

[00:34:28.850] - Marlys Arnold

That is clever. That is very clever. Well, Jim, thank you so much for taking time out. I know you've had a busy day with classes all morning, so I thank you for taking time to join us here for virtual lunch. And we all hope to see you next year at Exhibiter Live in Vegas.

[00:34:45.560] - Jim Gilmore

One last thing as an advocate. Wear the mask because considerate of others – wear the mask.

[00:34:52.680] - Marlys Arnold

Yes, that's how we're going to get our Experience Economy back.

[00:34:56.030] - Jim Gilmore

And it's for others.

[00:35:03.560] - Marlys Arnold

You can find all the links mentioned during our interview in this episode's show notes at And if you'd like to join us for an upcoming weekly Virtual Lunch, you'll find information on that at

[00:35:30.200] - Marlys Arnold

If you enjoyed today's episode and would like more, you can subscribe to the podcast and automatically receive future episodes on your chosen device, simply search for Trade Show Insights in Apple, Spotify, Stitcher or virtually anywhere else that podcasts are found. Then click the subscribe button. Trade Show Insights is protected by the Creative Commons copyright license, you may feel free to share this recording with colleagues or embed it on your own blog as long as it's shared in its entirety and is not used for commercial purposes.

[00:36:04.970] - Marlys Arnold

To learn more, please see the link in the sidebar of the show notes at Well, that's it for this episode of Trade Show Insights. Be sure to check out our show notes and archives at You can also connect with me using the social media links or the contact page on the site.

[00:36:26.000] - Marlys Arnold

I'm Marlys Arnold. Thanks for listening and be sure to join us next time for more tools to improve your exhibit results.


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