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Trade Shows / 10.31.19 / By Chase Howells

The Show Hall Pumpkin Patch

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Like many American families, my young family has the tradition of spending one day in early fall at the pumpkin patch. For us, that has been a farm just a little ways outside of town that transforms itself for about six weeks a year to a pumpkin picking family fun zone. My son is reaching the age where he is really starting to enjoy the experience and my new daughter got her first taste of the farm. Off the farm though, this is traditionally a very busy time of year for the trade show industry. So naturally, my mind has merged these fall customs and has illustrated the similarities in the experience of the pumpkin patch with that of a trade show.

Now I must admit that though I’ve been to a few pumpkin patches in my life (maybe more?), my memory only allows me to recall the farm which we’ve been going to the last several years, so forgive if your pumpkin patch experience is far greater (or lesser) than what I describe. Let’s dive into some of the similarities I have observed and what we can learn to apply to our trade show campaigns.

Getting You There

It seems that a pumpkin patch increasingly must offer more and more than pumpkins to be a draw. This year “our” pumpkin patch added a number of attractions like a corn maze, petting zoo, pony rides, a hay castle and a corn pit to the normal hay ride on the tractor and pumpkin search. With pumpkins becoming somewhat of a commodity being sold at every grocery store, the draw had to be more than just the harvest, and it works well enough to be able to get us back at least once a year if not more.

The main draw of a trade show is efficiency. Offering more potential buyers and sellers to each other in a single space at a specified time. Allowing for a number of meetings in a day or two as opposed to one with direct selling. But like the pumpkin patch, to ensure an enticing turnout a trade show organizer must offer more than just any old show hall. A city like Vegas captures many events because the city offers a number of added attractions like shows, fancy restaurants, games and other amusements. This allows for easy ways to entertain clients, internal teams, spouses and families. It can mitigate the strain of business travel and add allure. Afterall, would you rather entertain your client at a five star restaurant on the strip or at the Applebee’s down the street from their rural manufacturing plant?

Standing Out

Despite the thrills and frills added, our goal at the pumpkin patch is still first and foremost to GET PUMPKINS. So after playing around we go row by row to locate and pluck the perfect pumpkins to purchase.

The show may share a bulk of the responsibility for getting both the exhibitors and attendees to come together, but once they’re there it is the exhibitor’s job to bring attendees to their space. An attendee will be awed by the equivalent of the award winning pumpkin, but likely they have their eyes set on something more specific. We always recommend strategizing ahead of show to get on an attendee’s radar so you are on their list of must-see exhibitors. Couple this with being a nice aesthetically pleasing pumpkin, a booth that entices the passerby to stop and make them a consideration.

My family never makes it down all the rows of pumpkins and realistically we don’t see more than a small percentage of the available options. Likewise someone attending a trade show won’t be able to talk to every exhibitor, they’ll get one they need and go. Be sure to not just be one of the many pumpkins stuck on the vine, but stand out.

Go Home Happy

Whether attending a trade show or pumpkin patch I set out with a plan in mind and make sure I accomplish my goals while there. As long as I get done what I came for, I can leave fulfilled until the next show comes or pumpkin is needed. As an exhibitor (or a pumpkin) don’t forget that is the broad psyche of an attendee. Just being there exhibiting isn’t enough, unlike the pumpkins you have the opportunity to engage in advance and differentiate your booth within the rows. If you want more information about how to do that, or if you just want to share a piece of pumpkin pie, contact us!