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No More Tradeshow Ghost Towns

Dan'l Mackey Almy

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Dan'l Mackey Almy

The What If Game

Ghost towns are wonderful, if in fact you are a ghost. But if you are a company or association that has invested a significant amount of resources on your Fresh Summit experience, a ghost town is not what you hope to experience on the last day of the expo.

To be clear – I believe that events are what you make of them. If you arrive at Fresh Summit with your team properly prepared with objectives (quantitative and qualitative) and a strategy for meeting those objectives, poor traffic on 1 of the 3 expo days should not prevent you from achieving results that make your investment worthwhile. So this post is NOT about what PMA could’ve done to keep exhausted attendees, members and buyers in Orlando another full day, because we know they’ve tried lots of strategies.

It’s about how we have an opportunity as an industry to look beyond our walls or supply chain to consumers. There was a lot of talk about growing the consumer connection at this year’s show, but reaching the consumer is not a simple move from point A to point B – it’s a journey that requires continuous nurturing. One of the steps along the way is to target those who are influencing our consumers’ knowledge and opinions about the trends and innovations that we so proudly put on display each year.

What if… next year’s 3rd day of Fresh Summit was about inviting select groups of “influencers” (and yes, they happen to be local consumers themselves) to attend an expo tour so that this one time a year, they have the chance to really be immersed in our innovations without the distraction of competing retail items, enjoy the flavor of our products, engage with the growers and suppliers, provide one-on-one feedback and share their experiences with our products?

What if… this effort was organized so that industry volunteers would host or lead these small groups of influencers and allow them to participate in a guided tour through the show floor on the last day?

Think about the mutual benefit of having, let’s say, 200 or so influencers divided into small groups and becoming involved in the excitement that we experience each time we come to Fresh Summit. Why shouldn’t they see firsthand the beauty that our industry represents?

So who are the influencers? Well, without much thinking (we are still dragging a bit from Fresh Summit) we came up with these:

So What?: Increasing the consumption of fresh produce does not happen overnight, but we know viral marketing can have a huge impact in one short day. Let’s think beyond our traditional strategies of telling our story and even beyond our most current viral marketing efforts. Let’s carve out an opportunity to engage and educate in person, and purposely affect consumers who are also in a position of influence so that they can talk, write, tweet, blog, and Facebook their experience with those in their network. I believe if we make this effort to connect – one market at a time – we will see a difference in how our products are perceived, purchased and consumed.

To the PMA Convention Planning Committee, Board and Staff:
I am volunteering my company’s time, talent and reach to brainstorm, sketch and bring this “what if…” to life. My cell: 214.507.8780.

Dan’l

Posted by: The Entertainer (Dan’l Mackey Almy)

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19 Comments »

  1. You are right on target withthis idea. Please do it! We need people to talk to on day three!

    Comment by Lorri Koster — October 21, 2010 @ 8:36 am

  2. Your’e brilliant Dan’l! I hope the folks at PMA are reading this post, so we can start organizing the 3rd day of next year’s PMA Atlanta!

    Comment by Karen Caplan — October 21, 2010 @ 8:41 am

  3. I like it! Great idea. Happy to help in any way.

    Comment by Michelle Story — October 21, 2010 @ 8:48 am

  4. Great idea Dan’l!!!!

    Comment by John Shelford — October 21, 2010 @ 8:52 am

  5. Wonderful idea, Dan’l! PMA – hope you are listening and reach out to your member companines as many would be willing to help and support this idea to bring it to fruition!

    Comment by Nichole — October 21, 2010 @ 8:55 am

  6. Eureka – You’ve got it!! A very creative idea Dan’l for making that connection between exhibitors and the consumer. Great way to put an end to the “Third Day Blues” of PMA !
    We’re long overdue for making more productive use of the dreaded 3rd day.

    Comment by Steve Travis — October 21, 2010 @ 9:06 am

  7. Great Ideas Dan’l – I actually spoke with Dan Henderson from PMA Monday and suggested that they consider having students from a culinary school etc be invited to come through on Monday for just those reasons that you have stated. We have to be there anyway so someone needs to receive some value from it.

    Comment by Mikelea Kelley — October 21, 2010 @ 9:10 am

  8. Let me know if I can help in any way.

    Comment by Mikelea Kelley — October 21, 2010 @ 9:11 am

  9. This is the spark that can lead to a movement. The first step of making influencers informed and interested. Tell me how I can be a part of bringing this to life.

    Comment by Bobby Patton — October 21, 2010 @ 9:13 am

  10. I’m in!

    Comment by Vinnie Rope-A-Dope Lopes — October 21, 2010 @ 1:11 pm

  11. Coincidently “day 3 traffic” at Fresh Summit was a topic at our company PMA show feedback meeting today. Count Ocean Mist Farms in for supporting the execution of your PMA approved ideas.

    Comment by Kori Tuggle — October 21, 2010 @ 2:17 pm

  12. Thanks for an out-of-the-box concept. Yes, PMA is listening and we’ll investigate.

    Thanks to everyone who made 2010 such a success — including all the DMA team who put their heart and soul into the FIT programs — and thanks for sharing ideas and energy on ways to make 2011 even better.

    Comment by Bryan Silbermann — October 21, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

  13. Interesting idea, it is always a wealth of knowledge when we ask people outside our industry to give us their feedback on our products, services and ideas. This would certainly add more value to being an exhibitor at PMA Fresh Summit.

    Comment by Ricardo Crisantes — October 21, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

  14. Karen speaks for all of us. . .a great idea and actually, easy to implement,

    Comment by frieda rapoport caplan — October 21, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

  15. Yes! this would be fantastic. let’s engage with our ultimate customer, the consumer. What better way to get feedback on products, marketing ideas, issues facing the industry etc. We used to also open the last day up to local retail produce and store managers, what happened with this program?…..Bravo!

    Comment by Tonya Antle — October 22, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

  16. Wow- what an amazing response you have generated. You have obviously made an impact with this great idea. Let’s hope it translates into change for the 2011 convention. I would hate to see this great idea not acted upon by PMA. At the same time, let’s hope they see the value to its members and does not try to sell as another sponsorship opportunity.

    Comment by cindy jewell — October 25, 2010 @ 8:25 am

  17. To all commenting here and to those that have called and emailed – thank you for your feedback. As I have told many of you, we do not feel this idea is all that new or original. The “dead day” issue has been around for a while, but the connection for DMA came when we realized while working to solve or help with this dilemma we could also be working toward a “connecting the fresh story” to consumers and influencers. I honestly do not feel this is a Fresh Summit only strategy or effort. It’s bigger than that. It’s a companion strategy to many other efforts we have in place at events or efforts guided to consumers – food bank donations at events, Salad Bar in every School, PBH, etc. If we can leave competitive posturing out of this effort – we can make a HUGE impact as a unified industry of FRESH!

    Comment by Dan'l Mackey Almy — October 25, 2010 @ 9:09 am

  18. Dan’l, thank you from everyone that sits in a booth on the last day of any trade show, bored to tears. In light of all of the negative publicity that our industry battles every day the opportunity to tell our story and reach out to the media and influencers is an idea that has been too long coming particulary by capitalizing on an event where we are all in one place. I would be more than happy to help your idea become an action.

    Comment by Stephanie Hilton — October 25, 2010 @ 10:18 am

  19. We came all the way from Oregon for this show and commented how there should be more “consumer” interaction tied into the event – I came from the sporting goods business and we used to invite everyone from coaches to aerobic instructors to visit the last day – very effective! Also, the larger booths have all those great chefs who prepare foods on the first two days – what a treat it would be to teach the public more creative and nutritious ways to use fresh produce – especially to entice kids to eat more! As a packaging company, we also would welcome the opportunity to help the public better understand the merits of both paper and plastic/poly, and encourage them to recycle ALL packaging properly – another issue where our industry could be a leader in educating the public!

    Comment by Kellee Harris — October 25, 2010 @ 11:42 am

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