CONEXPO-CON/AGG rolls around once every three years, tugging at the construction vests of all industry gurus to attend or exhibit. That’s why the prep for CONEXPO begins 12 to 18 months in advance. And naturally we were in the heart of it, helping our clients make a splash at the big event.
For me, the introduction to the magnitude of CONEXPO began last spring when I attended the AEM marketing conference. I could tell by the discussions this is not an average tradeshow. CONEXPO clearly would be no small undertaking for anyone attending or exhibiting. It was going to be huge.
When I was chosen to attend the show with the IRONCLAD team, my anxiety heightened. This would be my first tradeshow. Nothing like being tossed into it! I desperately packed my bag on Sunday, knowing forgetting something might be catastrophic. Press kits, sell sheets, the camera, spare batteries, computers, iPads, business cards… and 16 pairs of shoes.
Just as I had been warned, the show was huge. IRONCLAD clients were spread across each of the lots and halls, and walking definitely was not kept to a minimum. I saw everything from a sliding computer screen that showed X-ray images of what the “bones” of a machine looked like to a “Torque Challenge” where bulky men tried to prove their strength by pushing a handle connected to the bottom of a gigantic auger. The “Dancing Diggers,” a string quartet playing songs like “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Smooth Criminal,” performed while six loaders put on a show in the middle of a ring. And they didn’t just drive in circles. They lifted, lowered, balanced and essentially, well… danced. Very nicely done.
So what did I learn?
- Marketing is a more incredible industry than I ever realized. Big companies spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to not only make an appearance at the show, but to create a ruckus. Get attention. Build interest.
- For some, anything flies. From scantily clad women to simulators, from iPad giveaways to the good ol’ bowl of candy, and from magicians to photo booths and entire theaters, exhibitors try anything to draw traffic into their booth.
- Respect – and appreciate – your editors. Wow. Do they ever have long days, long walks, endless press conferences and countless booth visits.
- Vegas really isn’t that bad. Aside from the racy cards folks try to hand out – and they have interesting approaches to get you to bite, too – I saw little trash. On the contrary, actually. We dined with clients at a few nice restaurants that had wonderful entertainment aspects, as well. One evening, our group of five rode in high style in a limo back to our hotel!
- It is possible to leave Vegas without touching a slot machine… and still leave exhausted. In fact, the only gamble I made the entire time was trying to navigate around the show by myself. Which actually worked out… eventually.
Now, if you don’t mind, it’s time I start the prep for CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017.