Big Show. Big Takeaways.

AAPEX/SEMA is a lot like Las Vegas, the city that hosts it. It’s a massive maze of sensory overload, you can’t see it all in a day, and when it’s over you try to remember what just happened.

Luckily, the four people we sent to AAPEX/SEMA have great memories and a keen sense of navigation and observation. While the two shows were focused on automotive innovation, the things they witnessed and experienced have definite applications to marketing and communications efforts across many other industries.
Here are some of their takeaways they remembered most.
Olivia Polsinelli, Account Director
One Big Thing: The Investment of Time and Travel Is Invaluable

My biggest takeaway from AAPEX 2019 was discovered while conversing with the team from our auto aftermarket client during the show. I learned firsthand just how much they each value the opportunity to be face-to-face with customers, prospects and trade media at the largest automotive aftermarket convention in North America.

The investment of time and travel from around the globe to be a part of the three-day conference offers something invaluable because they can harness the energy and enthusiasm from the show to increase their brand awareness, introduce new product innovation and strengthen both current and new customer relationships.
Jane Richards, Senior Account Executive
One Big Thing: It Is Crucial to Build Relationships

This year’s SEMA show brought in more than 160,000 people from 140 countries, packed into 1.2 million square feet of exhibit space. The show floor was jam-packed from open to close each day. The sheer volume of attendance was intense and made the show floor difficult to navigate. For exhibitors, this made it even more challenging for attendees to find their way to booths without getting distracted along the way. This is why exhibiting companies really need to work for attention. Booth size alone won’t guarantee a crowd; it’s about how creative your team can be when it comes to booth design, what’s on display or what’s being demoed, and truly how equipped your show floor team is at building relationships. While the larger crowds were gathered around booths for the demos and takeaways, they were also there to network with colleagues in the industry and like-minded people. With every large crowd gathered around a booth, there were enough company reps on the floor having 1:1, personalized conversations, which made all the difference.

Insight: Buyers were there to, of course, buy. They were there to see what’s new and trendy. But they, along with other exhibitors, media and guests of the show, were there to learn, network and be a part of the experience that is SEMA.
April Wonsick, VP, Director, Client Service
One Big Thing: Think Beyond the Trade Show Floor

With more than 2,400 exhibitors at SEMA filling all four halls plus the outdoor exhibits in the surrounding parking lots of the Las Vegas Convention Center, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of automotive industry week. In a sea of sensory overload, how do brands stand out in the crowd? One big thing I observed is that in-booth activations, hands-on demonstrations and influencer meet-and-greets, while a smart way to attract booth traffic, aren’t a differentiator at this show. Brands that succeeded at getting key audiences off the show floor saw the most return in one-on-one engagement. Customer dinners, private invitation-only parties and media breakfasts delivered unique opportunities to cut through the noise and share product news and brand updates in a more meaningful way. It’s one more way to connect with your customers and build a deeper relationship that can extend well beyond the show.
Celeste Conklin, Associate Director, Client Service
One Big Thing: Consistency Is Key

With trade shows being an important touchpoint for brands when engaging with key customers and potential buyers, this year’s SEMA and AAPEX shows did not disappoint for both exhibitors and attendees. Attendance was up, and there was no shortage of product innovations on display; it was a critical place for those important conversations that can impact business. As companies are looking to plan for 2020, one critical takeaway I gleaned from attending this year’s shows is the importance of consistency. It is now more important than ever that your customers and potential buyers have a seamless experience when engaging with your brand, regardless of the channel. No matter what entry point your customer or potential buyer chooses to enter your stream, ensuring that you are providing a consistent journey that serves their needs and pays off your brand promise is key. I saw several brands that did an excellent job with leveraging their influencer programs and having those industry thought leaders actually at their booths interacting and engaging with the customers. The same occurred for innovative product launches, with customers reading about it on their blogs and then being able to engage with the product during demos at the booth. Some brands even took advantage of product simulation in actual application settings. All of these interactions are consistent and lead our customers further down the journey—hopefully ones that lead to brand loyalty and impacting your bottom line.