Socks & Sleeves

Event and Exhibition Marketing

We love a bit of workplace banter. In the "bells & whistles" marketing department we must accept that we are an easy target; I mean, all we do is design brochures and mugs all day, right?

You may be surprised to hear, but there is a side of marketing that is rarely seen by the rest of the team, the side where everything goes wrong last minute and we can either roll our sleeves up or rock back and forth in the fetal position in a dark cupboard.

I have hundreds of examples that portray the less glamorous side of marketing life but the ones that spring to mind first involve exhibitions. Exhibition attendance is a minefield for curveballs, and they usually come at us at lightspeed well beyond midnight.

I remember being new to aerospace, still in awe of all the amazing products and huge competitors and fellow exhibitors. I remember being extremely excited for my first major exhibition in the industry. Working alongside the marketing guru and chief of sleeve rolling, Ruth Williams, we had planned and executed all of our pre-event tasks meticulously. The last thing on the checklist was the stand construction; a large and ambitious build that was as colorful and appealing as it was fit for purpose. Ruth and I were present for the build, watching our stand builders getting stuck in, waiting in the wings with boxes of collateral to populate the stand with. Which is when disaster poked in its unwelcome face. The frame that was put in place to allow fitment of an Airbus A320 interior section was built incorrectly and none of the aircraft panels would fit; which cascaded into a plethora of 'best left unmentioned' issues. This area was our main attraction and housed our main product. We put forth ideas for rectifying the issue but the stand builders were too preoccupied with the rest of the stand and some of them had clocked off.

So, there we were, a few hours from the delegates arriving, with a half-built stand and an empty main attraction room. Socks got pulled and sleeves were rolled and we struggled on to sunrise, fiddling with aircraft interior panels, overhead lights, aircraft seating and wiring looms. When all of this was completed, we still had to do the one job we turned up to do; unpack and place all the “brochures and mugs”. When the delegates arrived we were operating on the strength of the coffee alone. But the stand looked fantastic and our main attraction was ready for our wonderful sales crew to utilise. Of course, to them, it appeared as though everything had gone swimmingly! If you are thinking about a career in marketing, just be ready to pull your socks up and roll the sleeves on occasion, especially during exhibitions! Often times, we are the last line of defence for first impressions and we all know how important they are.

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Thinking about a career in marketing? Not sure what to expect? Sometimes it's not just bells, whistles, mugs & posters. There are many occasions when we have to pull up the socks, roll the sleeves and get stuck in.