MMS Visits an IMTS Exhibitor Workshop

Several MMS editors took part in last week’s event. One thing we learned: Preparing exhibitors for the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago next September is all about the attendees.


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Marketing guru Steve Miller exhorts IMTS exhibitors to give attendees a great show experience.

I was one of four editors from Modern Machine Shop to attend the day-long IMTS Exhibitor Workshop at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. The workshops began Jan. 20 and will run through Feb. 2 in six different locations around the country. 
The event is produced and presented by AMT—The Association For Manufacturing Technology, the organization that sponsors IMTS (Sept.10-15, 2012). The workshop is structured to help exhibitors get the most from their IMTS investment. The presentations gave me a valuable look at the behind-the-scenes activity and preparation required to make the show an essential industry event. Perhaps that is the main point of what I learned—that success of IMTS is measured by the degree to which industry attendees satisfy their need for new manufacturing technology.
Ultimately, this workshop is focused on the attendees. Each booth visit should be a positive transaction between visitor and exhibitor—whether it’s the sale of a new machine tool or simply the transfer of knowledge.
Exhibitors must plan carefully and train their booth personnel to make good use of attendees' time. For example, Steve Miller, a marketing consultant, stressed the importance of sales engineers and other company reps who can interact with visitors effectively by quickly matching their needs with products on display. If there is no match, leaving a positive impression and better understanding of the company's technology is still vitally important.
Other presentations discussed what attendees should be doing to enhance their IMTS experience. For example, most attendees will have a structured plan for navigating the show floor and a schedule of pre-arranged appointments at important booths. For this reason, pre-show marketing is critical for exhibitors so that their booths are included in these plans.
That brings up another key point: IMTS is truly an industry event. It has a significant impact on the entire industry, even though the 100,000-plus who visit Chicago are only a fraction of the manufacturing professionals working in North America and around the world. For this reason, MMS will devote its entire August issue to the new technology on display in Chicago, making that issue a virtual compendium of new machines and processes of value to readers—whether or not they can attend the show.
Of course, attending the show in person is the best IMTS experience, as reflected in AMT's theme for show promotion: "You have to be there."