Reflections on Exhibitions Day 2017

Whenever I get overwhelmed with work or frustrated that I can’t make things happen as quickly as I want (sound familiar?), I pause and ask myself if there’s something I’d rather be doing for a living. Is there an industry that’s more interesting? That touches more people? That affords a better opportunity to effect positive change? The answer, for me, is always “no.” I love this business; I love the chance to connect people in meaningful ways. I love how we can create a space in time for people to collaborate on building experiences, ideas, and memories that last long after that physical space has disappeared.

On June 6-7, we mark Exhibitions Day in Washington, D.C. It’s a chance to advocate for our industry — to make sure that our government representatives understand the huge contribution we make in terms of jobs, local commerce, and the economy at large. (You can find out all about it here.) And consider this — the events we produce spur innovation and healthy competition by showcasing the most innovative thinking in every business sector. In every corner of the world. This naturally creates a platform for international commerce — which means that smart marketers are paying attention to what we do.

Consider the plight of today’s chief marketing officers. They are trying to compete for consumer attention in a marketplace that is in a constant state of flux. Moreover, technology is making it easier for consumers to tune out traditional marketing channels. The ability to engage face-to-face with consumers in an immersive experience is certainly appealing. And that’s an opportunity for those of us who operate in the brand experience channel.

Freeman recently commissioned research to help us better understand how marketers around the world feel about these challenges and opportunities. You can read about our findings here.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Two-thirds of the surveyed marketers agree that brand experience is an effective way to reach their organization’s goals.
  • By and large, marketers felt that brand experience is great for building loyalty.
  • One in three CMOs expect to set aside 21 percent to 50 percent of their budgets for brand experience.

The research also shows that North American marketers lag behind their Asian counterparts in growing brand experience budgets and focusing resources on a more strategic approach to personalized technology. The irony here is that the same technology that helps audiences tune out advertising can help them engage audiences in a more immersive and personal way. From data that helps us fine-tune the experience, to tools that create a platform for collaborative participation (e.g., gamification and second-screen technology), the digital revolution can help us reinvent the world of brand experience. As an industry, we need to be more intentional about promoting the amazing tools and services we can offer.

Not everyone can or should travel to Washington, D.C. to help promote Exhibitions Day. But as proud professionals who make a living in this industry, we can all do our part to raise awareness for what we’ve accomplished, and raise the bar for what we can achieve together. Share a story about why you’re passionate about our industry — or call our attention to something you’ve recently seen that is worth celebrating. Don’t forget to use the #ExhibitionsDay hashtag.

And remember — increasingly, marketers are relying on brand experiences to create connections that resonate deeply with their audiences. There’s never been a more exciting or important time to do what we do. The work can be challenging, but I can’t imagine doing anything more worthwhile.

CTA callout: For more on what global marketers are saying about the importance of brand experience, how it impacts their audiences, and more, download Brand Experience: A New Era in Marketing.