David vs. Goliath – Effective smaller Exhibit environments

Have you ever been to a show and been in a 20’ in-line booth across the aisle from “Gargantuan Company” sporting the most visually striking and appealing Exhibit Environment?  You have 3 sales people and they have a staff of 20. One of the most dominant Centers in NBA history, Wilt Chamberlain, famously said nobody roots for Goliath and he was right. We like our dynasties but we love the little engine that could.  So here’s a quick primer on how your smaller footprint Exhibit activation can be a David to the Goliaths with their mega booths.


I have been there….and we had the right blend of magic.  We had lines of attendees waiting to talk to us that intruded into our Goliath neighbors’ property line.  We were ecstatic, needless to say, Goliath wasn’t.  On Day 2, when it was pretty much the same, they came to chat with us and we complied with trying to keep people out of their booth space.  They were mean, nasty and semi- aggressive in their tone with us.  With the request being completely reasonable, we ignored the defeated Giants bad attitude, complied and went on to a have a fantastic exhibiting experience and a whole bunch of laughter and high fives after the show concluded..  


Have you had a similar experience with different results?  Did Goliath kick your butt at a trade show? With a “rematch” expected at your next industry convention this fall, the question of whether you can find the magic is relevant. Underdogs will never have the most Twitter followers or pace a league in jersey sales, but they will always be the reason why sports matter most. This is true of new companies entering industries as well as for smaller established firms.  Your industry colleagues, buyers and wholesalers alike root for the new product, the innovative technology or the new paradigm for doing business to succeed.  We celebrate champions as deities but we identify with the underdogs because we know what it’s like to be parishioners.


There’s a reason why when attendees and buyers are scanning the Exhibitor list, they politely glance at small upstarts in small booths.  When Fortune 500 Company is listed ….. They’re awestruck. We may not root for Goliath but we don’t expect David to win either. So when he or she does, it gives us hope that perhaps against all odds, we can overcome the obstacles that are stacked against us in our own business lives as well. If that glimmer of hope didn’t exist, it’s doubtful sports would hold such a prominent place in society.


So how did we do it?  So simple, yet so complex.  We had a great new totally innovative and industry disrupting product.  The price points were well researched and offered a less costly alternative that was a green recyclable product manufactured from repurposed elements that was also recyclable after use.  We had a great Exhibit that highlighted our product with large format illuminated visuals that were stopping people in the aisles. You could see, touch and feel it.  We had ample Social Media marketing support but no pre- show press releases marketing or PR.   The Disneyesque giant booth next to us had all the big budget design elements, advance sales teams, marketing, setting appointments, inside covers ads in the Conference program, sponsorship  and even had artists creating art pieces in the booth as entertainment.  We spent nickels like they were man- hole covers, kept our budget tight and had success beyond our wildest dreams. 


Here’s a tip …never believe that for various reasons, you never should have been at the Trade show to begin with.  If you don’t believe you have the right product and price points and it’s something the industry will want…then how can you expect to have potential buyers believe in your product?  It’s not always about our favorite team or fairy-tale endings.  Sometimes in experiential activations, showing heart (and that’s a part of our professional life), is what’s it’s all about !!


Building the environment of these improbable wins on the show floor is attainable.  Belief in the impossible is what really separates success vs. failure more than physical resources or financial constraints, gifts or a turn of good fortune.  If your Exhibit House is telling you why you need to spend more money, get a larger footprint, and dramatically increase your budget to be successful on the show floor…you’re working with the wrong type of people. 


You don’t need the pedigree to believe you can beat the Big Guys.  Use your SM platforms, emails, industry friends, media and colleagues to spread the word.  Find a positive optimistic design team that will find a way to give you the ride of a Bentley for the price of a car real people drive.    


At Las Vegas Expo Complete Show Services, we want to strip away the mystique of extraordinary exhibiting.   You have almost everything you need at your disposal; Social media content, video content, Marketing & PR action, advertising copy and a budget.  What you do need is the right collaborative partner who can listen, create and fabricate your exhibit environment. It’s the dance within the dance and on the show floor when it all comes together, it’s a beautiful thing to behold.


I did leave one element out.  Me and my 2 other booth mates on that show are completely engaging, dynamic, fun and funny people…and that helped too.  Are you struggling to find a way to compete on the show floor against the Goliaths?  Give me a call or send me an email….Because we know what it’s like to be David. 

Mitch Isaacs, mitch@lvexpo.com,  VP Marketing , Las Vegas Expo Complete Show Services,


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