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Showtime: The changing shape of print/sign industry exhibitions and why that’s good news for you the visitor

There was a time not long ago, when some within the large format printing/sign industry predicted the end of tradeshows as we know them, seemingly happy to consign their model to the past and assume a more modern, Internet-driven way of doing things.
Thankfully, these people were wrong – at least insofar as the fundamental demise of tradeshows. Where, perhaps by happenchance, they were right, is that the traditional format has indeed evolved – in a good way.

No longer merely a collection of printer manufacturers, and software/consumables providers lining-up to display their wares, in many cases large format printing/sign industry exhibitions are now full-on visual extravaganzas. The likes of FESPA and SGIA, for example, combine insightful keynote presentations and interactive debates, educational workshops and application areas, not forgetting the ‘core’ showcase of the latest print and sign technologies.

VI Brisbane 2018 shot
A shot of VI Brisbane 2018

As a provider to the large format printing/sign industry, tradeshows are vital to SAi, regardless of our wider marketing activities. Equally, for visitors – especially if you are contemplating the next investment to either grow your print/sign business or enhance efficiencies – there’s no substitute for direct face-to-face engagement with those you might eventually buy from. The ability to question product experts and salespeople, see live demonstrations and compare competing offerings within meters of each other, all contributes to a much easier decision-making process for any would-be buyer.
To successfully reach relevant visitor audiences, event organisers within the large format printing/sign industry have stepped up their engagement with the all-important trade media, harnessing a combination of printed and online communications to create buzz several months out from the event. This ensures visitors are in the know about key information (including cost-effective travel, hotel and restaurant options) and the wealth of activities taking place, to drive footfall and ensure the event’s success.
Granted, if you’re running a print or sign business, it’s not always easy to find time for you or your key staff to leave the office or production facility or justify the expense of visiting an exhibition that might be in another country.
However, I believe most print business or sign shop owners would acknowledge the importance of staying abreast of technology change and networking within our industry. Indeed, many exhibitors, including SAi, use tradeshows as the launch platform for new products and services, so as a visitor you can be among the first to discover new opportunities that drive revenue and enhance the efficiency of your operations.
In an age of low-cost airline travel, most of us would think nothing of booking a cheap weekend city break with our partners. For the same level of expense (and potentially less if it’s on home soil) visiting a major print/sign tradeshow to see the market’s latest products and technologies might unlock the key to taking your business and your service offering to the next level. In fact, why not take your partner and combine it with that city break.
By Michelle Johnson, Marketing Manager at SAi can be reached at