Peckham’s finest, Del Boy and Rodney Trotter, are not exactly business role models in anyone’s book and certainly eyebrows would be raised if you name-dropped them alongside the usual ‘experts’ people cite like Goden et al.

But that’s what I am going to do, so bear with me.

Last week, I traipsed around a middling tradeshow in North London. It was pretty much standard fare from the exhibitor community at the show. Uniformed shell scheme, rubbish graphics, grey suits and lazy attempts at engagement. As I say, standard fare.

To some degree the exhibition organiser has lucked out because the visitor base is strong and from my observations and research, it has zero competition. That means the exhibitors have only that show in the UK – for now.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not taking a swipe at all the exhibitors. In a hall of about 150 exhibitors – seven were doing it right. I am sure the others were well meaning and eager but if I am being honest with you they were hopeless.

I left the tradeshow buoyed by the throng of visitors but depressed by the blandness of the exhibitors many of whom would have been on management courses and no doubt reading the latest best-selling business book of the month.

Pondering on what I had just witnessed I headed south of the river for a lunch meeting with another exhibition organiser. They are wedged between three stations and I always opt for London Bridge when I visit them.

I choose London Bridge because it means I have to cut through the mighty Borough Market and all it entails.

The difference in the ability of the traders to out-perform the exhibiting professionals always leaves me shaking my head.

  • The presentation
  • The vocal advertising
  • The demonstrations
  • The confidence
  • The personality
  • The sampling
  • And most importantly the experience and service

All of this in addition to the smells, the cooking and the conversations.

It really puts the Goden-reading suits to shame.

Let’s get it right. In principle, there’s not much difference between an exhibition and a market, in fact markets are the forefathers of exhibitions as we know them today.

And as always, lazy people will cry ‘it was a food market, that’s easier to get people enthused than a tradeshow.’

Really? I’m not buying that line. That’s just lazy.

If you really can’t make the jump from the lessons of Borough Market to modern day tradeshows then you need to open your eyes and get your head out of whichever business book you are reading.

All you need is more common sense, a little experience, a big dollop of personality and a couple of lesson from the barrow boys.

So next time you are looking to mix up your exhibiting presence you could do a lot worse than see what your local Del Boy and Rodney Trotter are doing.

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