Having attended this show for many years (since 2000) I’m still left in awe at the level of commitment from all the manufacturers in the fire industry. (Or any industry come to that, wherever you sell your products, you will recognise the same features, benefits and advantages that I’m describing here!). The level of spend is huge with some outstanding booths (an American term, in Europe we call them stands), great design and some fantastic innovation.
The Halo thermal Imaging Camera has been a tremendous success at the show. Having a unique product, hands free thermal imaging, certainly helps the cause; it creates interest and a buzz around the stand. You come here hoping that the work, commitment, heart, money, detail, has not been in vane, but you never know...
The opening day comes, you think abut the design of the stand, what have you done right, what could you have done better, what do your competitors look like, are you giving the right message, does it reflect the brand, it’s all out of your hands right now, are visitors going to come onto your stand, will they like the product – so many insecurities! And this from someone who has been exhibiting since 1986, I can assure the younger Sales/Marketing Directors, that it gets no easier, but yes, experience does help.
However, no need to worry, we’re straight into the groove, speaking with clients, distributors, agents, users, the whole range of people who touch your product and then, around two hours into the show, you know. It looks good, you’ve overcome the small detail you missed, the product looks great, you’ve had the first compliment on the design, users love the product and appreciate the work you’ve put into it. Distributors and agents want to be included in your success and want to help you promote the product. You can relax in the knowledge that what you have worried about over the past few months is now looking pretty cool.
Soon it’s 3pm in the afternoon and you’ve just looked at your watch, realised that you haven’t visited the toilet, not had lunch but managed to consume most of the sweets intended for the visitors to the stand. Oh, and your feet and calves are beginning to ache. Such is the life of the sales & marketing teams of companies the world over when we are exhibiting and promoting a new product.
We might moan, complain about not eating and not being able to visit the toilet, but we would not have it any other way. This is what we live for. This is what we work for. We like to win, we like to know we have a great product to sell and we like to talk to customers who appreciate our products. Our job is to convince them that we are the company they should trust, we could overcome the issue they are facing in their daily roles; we have the solution they have been looking for!
We then head out, back to the hotel, meet immediately at the bar and discuss the days events over a beer. It could be a new client, an existing one, a competitor or the actual product we all discuss, but it’s a ritual, something that we have to do. The older, wiser(!) ones amongst us recount exhibitions from years ago, products that worked or failed when we were demonstrating, letting the younger ones know that it was very different then and none of the digital media that we have now surrounding the show. They don’t realise that they are collecting their own memories and will, at the next show, be soon recounting their own anecdotes.