GEEKED OUT ON GAME OF THRONES! WHAT WE LEARNT ABOUT TRADE SHOWS FROM WESTEROS!

If you’ve ever watched one of our videos or been on one of our workshops, you’ll have heard us openly admit we’re little exhibition geeks – we’d be out there on the show floor every day if we could be. However, when we’re not on the show floor, you can find us hotly debating whether Tyrion and Sansa really should have been the dream power couple and why did the person who never really wanted the power end up with it all (or was that just a smokescreen!).  Bear with me if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan as I promise you don’t need a degree in The Battle for the Iron Throne for this blog post to make sense, and more importantly to help you deliver a more effective trade show campaign!

We’re just back from visiting the Game of Thrones touring exhibition in Belfast (see, even in our time off we’re at an exhibition!) which celebrates all that is glorious about the Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons and Targaryens and it got us thinking (admittedly over a pint of Guinness). What was there about a consumer exhibition that we could learn to help exhibitors and organisers deliver better events – well here’s our 3 key outtakes from what was a brilliant trip!

 

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BUILD A COMMUNITY 

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘community marketing’ and it is perhaps more recognised in the on-line world than off, but it feels as though there’s a huge opportunity for community to make more of an impact in live events. Increasingly we’re told that people are looking for ‘belonging’ and to feel part of something as an antidote to the increasingly solitary past-time of screen staring. At the Game of Thrones exhibition that sense of community was hugely apparent, spending time with visitors who had similarly invested years in watching, reading and researching the latest plot twists. No-one felt uncomfortable wearing their favourite GoT t-shirt, everyone wanted to share their picture re-creating the famous Jon Snow pose with Longclaw (that’s a sword btw) and there was much respect for giving your fellow visitors the time and space to view the exhibits before it was your turn. It might only have been for an hour, but for that hour we were hanging out with the cool kids in our community (we were in for a good 2.5 hours!!).

As an exhibitor, think about how you create a community for visitors you want to attract to your stand. How can you help them feel as though they’re not on their own, that whatever business problem they’ve got, they’re just one of many. Creating a space where visitors can come to get expert advice and support from you as an exhibitor and other fellow visitors will help a buyer feel more invested in deciding to buy from you. But that sense of community has to extend beyond the life of the show, potentially through meet-ups or on-line groups but it needs to have a life beyond a 3 day exhibition.

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CREATE VARIETY 

We visited the exhibition with as a group of friends of different ages and with varying interests despite our common passion for the show. One friend is a particularly keen seamstresses so for her, getting up close and personal with intricate designs and needlework was the highlight of the whole event. For me, being able to take a picture of my own face and add it to the Hall of Faces (see below) was a highlight that keep me rooted to the spot for quite a while trying to get THE perfect look to mark my place in GoT history – but the washed out, slightly creepy images left others in our party cold (but did you spot Steve’s face in the group pic?). One wanted to stand and pose with every sword and dagger in the place, whilst another was just content to be up close and personal with anything that Jamie Lannister (hero / villian not quite sure?) had once touched.

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The moral of the story, even within the same community we’re attracted to and interested in different aspects of it.  We see everything through our own lens and context and might need something communicating in different styles or mediums to be appeal to our specific triggers.  From a trade show perspective, some visitors will still want to stand and read a brochure through first before deciding whether to have a conversation, some visitors will want you to tell them what you do, others will  want to watch a video of the key facts and benefits, some will want inviting before the show opens to plan their time most effectively.  Bottom line, we’re all different so right throughout your trade show execution think about the different ways you’re interacting, informing and communicating with visitors to appeal to different styles.

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FOLLOW UP WITH FEELING

And here’s where for me, it sort of went a bit wrong (although my credit card is definitely grateful).  We’d spent about a month looking forward to the trip, a couple of hours exploring the exhibition and I had already had the ‘YOLO’ chat with myself to say whatever the cost of souvenirs, they were a one off and it was worth it.  I was dreaming of a replica Longclaw to hang from the walls, personalised goblets bearing unique House crests, books or DVD’s with behind-the-scenes peeks at how they made the story come to life on screen.  But what we were greeted with in the shop was pretty much everything that has been on sale in various retailers since GoT started, some expensive but poor quality t-shirts or a dragon necklace at £3,300 (I was tempted). The shop was overwhelmingly disappointing – I spent a good 20 minutes circling and re-circling trying to find something different, unique or truly inspiring but all I came up with was the exhibition book with a few better quality photos in than I had on my phone. After all that, however good had been what came before, my final emotion on leaving was disappointment. It’s still hurting a bit almost 48 hours on.

And so for trade shows and exhibitions it’s a really simple message when it comes to follow up – just do it, and do it well.  Follow up shouldn’t be a hasty after-thought, given to the office intern to send out a few generic emails with a price list and Please Buy Now subject header. For the visitors who have real potential, make your follow up creative, relevant and timely – let them know how much you enjoyed the conversation, that you’re here to help and that you’re looking forward to engaging with them in the future. Don’t be the pencil with the broken lead or the scarf that was already fraying, be the Jon Snow of your follow up and keep coming back and trying to save the kingdom (well, your customer’s kingdom anyway!).

So a slightly less serious blog this week but after all, we are apparently in silly season and if you’re having to work in August let’s hope it’s a bit less frantic than the start and end of the year for we Exhibitionists! Hopefully even if you’re not a Game Of Thrones fan, you’ve been able to make sense of and get value from our observations of the other side of Exhibitions.

If you’re thinking about your Autumn trade show campaign and need some advice and support on how to execute like a pro, why not get in touch and see if we can help! In the meantime, here’s one of the members of our team wishing you a very happy summer because… Winter is Coming!

 

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