Here’s the thing.

I appreciate art but beyond knowing a handful of different art movements such as cubism, modernism and romantism I’m pretty much flying blind.

The reason I bring up the subject of art is that recently I was stumped in a meeting with a company that is struggling to get exhibitions right.

The head honcho basically described his experiences of exhibitions as a nightmare scene of Bilderbuchart.

Now I’m too old to style out words that I don’t know so I had to ask.

Bilderbuchart is a picture book which has large format pictures of incredibly detailed scenes with humans, animals and things with a multitude of activity taking place – I was still lost.

So he went simple on me and gave an example of Bilderbuchart as Where’s Wally?

Ah, got it.

He went onto explain “As an exhibitor I get thrown a whole load of stuff about content, seminars, sponsorship, new event tech and I really don’t care about it.

“All I want to know is Where’s Wally?

“Wally is my target that will keep my pipeline filled up for the next 12 months.“

It got a bit David Brent – but sometimes that’s good.

The problem with exhibitions at the moment is we can forget the main purpose at the expense of all the popular movements and trends.

So let’s get back to the main purpose of connecting buyers and sellers. It’s that simple and just to be clear it doesn’t necessarily have to be a sales/lead generation focus at the event.

This particular business felt that they were getting no support in finding their target audience on the show floor from this particular organiser – an Exhibitor Smarts project which is now addressing that issue.

I think there are a number of reasons behind this common problem but the most obvious would probably be a level of legacy of how exhibitions and their components have always been undertaken.

An example would be the visitor badge.

First name, surname, job title, company name, barcode and yawn.

How much of that is useful? Aside from the barcode I would argue very little in the real world.

Any exhibition has a number of different visitor profiles and every one of their exhibitors has target profiles within that. How about different colour-coded visitor badges (with just barcodes) based on their profile?

The briefing would be really easy ‘Guys, if you see orange, yellow or blue – you need to talk to them.’

The colours could indicate anything you like but I would probably suggest that it doesn’t indicate ‘active budget’ as they would probably get their legs broken by 200 rugby-tackling exhibitors.


Just a thought to help exhibitors find Wally.


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 Jim heads up Exhibitor Smarts, which is a specialist exhibitor agency working alongside organisers and suppliers to maximise exhibitor revenue.

If you want more information about the Exhibitor Smarts please visit our website at

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

Image thanks to Wikimedia – Cheers guys

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