We’re all guilty of being too focussed on the big prize and the exhibition industry is no different.

In exhibitor terms I think this is at the expense of the small guys.

The small guys in this instance are the 6sqm exhibitors with shell scheme stands and questionable graphics/content.

It always seems to be the big guys that get the service, the help and the assistance.

I don’t think that’s right.

And here’s a boxing example of why you shouldn’t always look to the big hitters for exhibition success.

Certain dates stick with you and last week I was reminded that it was the tenth anniversary of the 19 February 2005.

That date resonates with me as it marks the contest for the undisputed World middleweight boxing title between the bombastic American champion Bernard Hopkins and enigmatic European challenger, Howard Eastman.

At that time, I was 28, I had hair and I had lucked out.

I was part of the management team whose boss had secured the rights to one of the biggest ever fights featuring a British Boxer.

It took place in front of a packed 21,000 crowd at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles and was broadcast live to more than 60 countries.

It was a dream come true to work on an event like this but it was 100% hard graft.

It took more than nine months of lobbying and monotonous paperwork to nail the event down and I have since worked out that the core team who made the fight happen clocked more than 450,000 minutes to deliver sporting action which ultimately lasted 36 minutes.

The event was epic. The atmosphere was unreal and the crowd was pure A-list headed up by Jack Nicholson sat at ringside.

The fight on the other hand was dire. We knew beforehand that our guy, Eastman, only had a punchers chance of winning. He was just too slow and too predictable for the wily American who went onto a points win.

We were disappointed and whilst it was a huge fight, we already had one eye on the future.

And that’s the key to this blog.

On that same bill we had managed to secure a fight for an unknown British fighter to give him some big fight experience.

To prepare, he had spent two months prior sparring in America and by the time we arrived in LA two weeks before the fight he was not in a good place.

He had a niggling injuries and just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to fight.

As a management team we had failed him. We didn’t spend enough time on him as we all focussed on the headline fight.

We spent a week talking about the mistakes we made with this boxer and we made the best decision ever. It was decided to pull him from the event. He wasn’t ready.

Looking back, it was the smartest move.

Fast forward ten years and last year that unknown boxer sold out an 80,000 crowd at Wembley Stadium in the biggest fight in post-war British history.

In the intervening ten years Carl Froch has far exceeded expectations as an acclaimed multiple word champion, a ferocious competitor and a fantastically rich sporting athlete.

His earnings for TV companies, venues and sponsors have easily entered into £100m+ region.

Great story but how does that link with shell scheme exhibiting?

Well, just goes to show that that the shell scheme exhibitors of today need help, service, and support if they are to turn into the cornerstone exhibiting power brokers of tomorrow…

Eventually we did the right thing with Froch by paying him the attention and service he deserved and it paid multi million pound dividends.

One eye on the future and all that…


Image thanks to Pasi Taavitsainen – cheers!

Jim heads up Exhibitor Smarts, which is a newly created specialist agency working alongside organisers and suppliers to ensure that exhibitors engage, grow and return.

If you want anymore information about the type of work Exhibitor Smarts does you can visit our website at

For exhibiting tips and chats follow Exhibitor Smarts on twitter: @exhibitorsmarts

Image thanks to Pasi Taavitsainen – cheers!

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