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2013 Red Diamond Congress

The annual meeting of E2MA (Exhibit & Event Marketers Association) was held at McCormick Place from July 30-Aug. 1. A mixed audience of tradeshow and event industry experts attended to hear speakers and topics relating to the success of exhibit marketers.

A combination of previous associations TSEA and EACA, E2MA now encompasses a variety of the industry association segments including designers, builder, service contractors, venues, organizers and exhibit managers.

Jim Wurm, executive director, E2MA, kicked off the congress by introducing Liz Miller from the Chief Marketing Officer Council (CMO). Miller began her presentation by pointing out how Red Diamond rattlesnakes go back to the same rock each year. Do marketers do the same? Do we listen to each other?

From a recent CMO survey of its members, Miller commented that 66 percent say that exhibits and events are good and productive.

“People don’t buy space/exhibits; they are buying customer engagement experiences that turn brands into an experience,” said Miller. “Marketing experiences need to be measured for effectiveness to tie the marketing pieces together.

“Thirty-three percent do not trust the data provided by show organizers to attend their events. CMO’s are looking for data to support and/or make their decisions. Data is many times weak. Budgets are cut if measurement is weak.”

A majority of CMO Council members represent chief marketing officers and senior marketing staff from top world companies. E2MA is looking to get more strongly associated with the CMO organization and learn more about its members as well as the thoughts and desires of exhibit/event managers. This is not an easy task.

E2MA serves to unite an umbrella group of expo/event experts all under a big tent. Much can be learned from experiences that are outside of our own areas of expertise.
“In the past, our many industry associations dedicated to expo marketing have met as silo’s, individually as a group,” said Wurm. “We hope to create a forum for discussion that includes the views from all the stakeholders involved in tradeshow/event marketing.”

It should be noted that UFI is presently doing this, but under a different format. In the end, all the expo component groups provide a unique perspective that collectively contributes to successful exhibiting and events. E2MA has an added vision to attract CMO’s (Chief Marketing Officers) to attend and share their thoughts for successful shows and events with E2MA as a collective group.

E2MA will continue to manage the successful Certified Manager of Exhibits program for exhibit managers and industry specialists. This certification recognizes the value in higher level exhibit marketing knowledge for company exhibit manager and exhibit suppliers. International input needs to be included as well.

If E2MA can successfully attract a CMO level of member input, in addition to exhibit managers who are sometimes limited in their thinking and budgets, with added dialogue from multi levels of industry expertise globally, then the new organization will now nurture fresh ideas for growth and new tactics for exhibit/event marketing. The influences and wishes from CMO level participants around the world can drive to change our present methods and tactics for conducting tradeshow marketing. New tactics can be implemented on a moment’s notice when the CMO’s of our industry around the world envision and support new approaches and event tactics that cross the lines of present our rules of engagement. This team of players involved can make it happen- if they want to. I am certain that if E2MA is successful with their dream of gathering all players under a single tent, and create a think-tank of dialogue with “make it happen influencers,” they will more quickly create new ways of thinking to propel our industry beyond the status quo. Push on!

CMO is headquartered in San Jose, Calif., with global chapters in the seven regions of the world, consisting of 6,500 members who jointly control $350 billion in annual marketing expenditures.


Larry Kulchawik is a past president at EDPA and IFES.


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