Posts Tagged ‘Andy’

  • Lest We Forget: remembering the ‘trade’ in trade show – Andy McCourt’s ReVerb

    As ANZAC Day brings the phrase ‘Lest We Forget’ to the lips of Australians and New Zealanders everywhere this week, Andy McCourt takes the time to also remember and rediscover the ‘trade’ that lies at the heart of ‘trade show’.

    In this solemn week when we remember our twin nations’ finest from past and present conflicts and pause for a reality check on how lucky we are to be free and here in ANZ, it might also be a good time to think about next month in Melbourne, where from 21st to 25th May, a sizeable chunk of our industry will gather, as they have done about every four years since the early 1950s, to look at and, perhaps, buy the latest technologies that produce print and packaging media.

    It is also an opportunity for both extroversion and introspection – the National Print Awards providing the former and, perhaps, quiet reflection on who we are, what we do and where we fit into today’s media landscape.

    One thing that cannot be denied – and is the driving economic force – is that PacPrint is first and foremost a trade show. Exhibitors rent floorspace and present fabulous stands bristling with their technologies that print, convert and embellish paper, board, plastics and metals into appealing products. The hope of every exhibitor is to meet with existing and new customers and do business with them; either at the show itself or shortly afterwards.

    Before and after – this year’s PacPrint DM collateral.

    Without exhibitors, there is no PacPrint and without the revenue generated by PacPrint to GAMAA and the PIAA – the co-owners – there are no GAMAA scholarships or other worthy philanthropic activities. The PIAA would find it very difficult to sustain its current size without the revenue from PacPrint.

    Trade shows are in trouble worldwide, with the exception of places like China, Thailand and India. The national shows of France, Italy and Spain are all but finished. Ipex, the vibrant UK show that introduced digital printing, is suffering from the withdrawal of major exhibitors such as HP, Canon, Xerox, Heidelberg, Agfa, Komori, KBA, Print City and others. Maybe they will come back in; the brave Ipex team is not giving up, but the London show is only ten months away. Even drupa might struggle to fill all 19 halls in 2016 with Heidelberg’s new austerity policy and manroland now split into two companies.

    But, at least here in ANZ, we have a show and a very good looking one too with only Heidelberg being the major non-participant. So, it was with incredulous eyes that I opened my ‘Invitation to PacPrint’ in this week’s mail. Why? Following what I thought was a snappy new visitor attraction campaign with some great lines such as ‘Think Print’ and ‘Print provokes response’ and ads showing scenes from last PacPrint; the area devoted to the Exhibition itself on the all-important invitation is one-sixteenth of the direct mail shot.

    Not only this, but it came in a polybag with an addressed cover sheet, with no personalisation. Cover sheet? What about the hottest print technology today – variable data printing, data mining and use of customer’s name in the copy?

    Furthermore, on this eight-page A6 invitation, there is not a single four-colour image of either past PacPrint scenes or even a press of any kind! Are we ashamed of our technology? The only photo of equipment is that of a Mac Laptop as a door prize. The only other four-colour image on the piece is of a bloke reading a comic. Would the Boat Show invitation not have a picture of a boat, or a Car Show an image of a flash set of wheels?

    Don’t forget the purpose

    Before and after – the trade show marketing collateral from 1996.


    Folks, this is a TRADE SHOW. People go there to see and buy kit, software, consumables, or at least think about it. Exhibitors expect this. The copy devoted to the Exhibition starts “At the heart of PacPrint is Australia’s premier trade exhibition…etc” Great! So why isn’t it at the heart of the invitation?

    Forums, workshops and other experiential initiatives are great but they can only ever take a few dozen people at a time and they do not generate direct revenue for exhibitors. It should be PacPrint the Exhibition first, and any other events subservient to the main game – the trade show.

    As the Good Book says ‘don’t hide your light under a bushel’ meaning if you have something wonderful to share, get out there and share it. Downplaying the commercial and technology side of PacPrint is not helping anyone.

    Some of the kit on show is mind-bogglingly fantastic and offers a roadmap into better things for aware printers. Fortunately, the trade magazines and exhibitors themselves are doing a terrific job of bringing punters in, but to me the official invitation is a damp squib and symptomatic of the low self-esteem that is permeating our industry.

    We need to be ‘out there’ more. Print is good, print is essential, print is civilization itself, print saves the free world. PacPrint proudly puts print technology on display and by golly; we expect to sell some of it!

    And before anyone takes me to task as being a dinosaur, unaware of modern trends in media and how things like Social Media will save the printing industry, here’s an encouraging summary from US Internet expert Bill Crosby:

    • There are very few people making money in Social Media, period.
    • The ones that are making money are those ‘Celebrity Edutainers’ that came from other disciplines like Internet Marketing whereby they have built and understand the extensive backend work that is required to build trust with people.
    • Most people that call themselves Social Media Experts are probably broke. Make sure you ask the simple question from above if you are planning on hiring someone to help you with your business.
    • And if you want to achieve the Celebrity Edutainer status, get to work at it.

    You could say the same for Facebook, Instagram and Google+. By all means use these to promote your business and even integrate print campaigns into online ideas but our core product is print. Lest we forget.