A few words about B2B trade shows / 12th October 2016

by Sonny Cutting

We’re bringing the principles of gamification to the B2B trade show for the first time. Every one of our events is themed around a popular, universal game, to break the ice, to get people talking quicker, and to encourage every delegate to bring their real self to our events. Because the real you is more authentic and more likely to close a sale.

What’s wrong with B2B?
When one business sells its products or services to another, we call that transaction and relationship “business to business” or B2B.

But labelling an interaction between two individuals B2B ignores the fundamental dynamic that led the transaction to happen in the first place: human contact. One of the leading thinkers in the field of corporate storytelling, Bryan Kramer, goes as far as to argue that B2B is the wrong phrase altogether and that it should be renamed H2H for human to human. See here.

B2B’s younger, funkier cousin is B2C or business to consumer. The fun, wacky world of consumer product marketing. With B2C, anything goes. But traditionally B2B brings with it a dull, dry, and dusty straitjacket. B2B: licensed to bore.

This is nowhere more apparent than in that hardy perennial of B2B marketing, the regional B2B trade show. In theory, trade shows should be a chance for those dynamic individuals who’ve created the businesses that keep other businesses moving to meet their customers and share their passion. With very few exceptions, however, most elements of the traditional B2B trade show seem to be deliberately structured to perpetuate the myth that B2B is boring.

Consider how formal and corporate they are – suits and ties; court shoes and posh frocks.
Consider how long and serious everyone’s faces are.
Consider how you’re forced to walk around in a particular direction of sequence, as if you’re at IKEA.
Consider how little is done to break the ice, to foster and create enjoyment for the delegates.
Consider how bad the WiFi usually is.
Consider how exhibitors wait at their stands for delegates to bless them with a visit.
Consider how beige and carb-heavy the food is – guaranteed to give you post-lunch dip and to make heads nod in the early afternoon. What speakers often call “the graveyard shift”.
And consider how tired you usually feel at end of a day-long event, whether you’re exhibiting or attending as a delegate.

How can we make B2B trade shows better?
But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Network Xpress – or Net XP to our friends – is on a mission to change British B2B trade shows.

We want to make them fun, engaging, enjoyable and memorable.

So we’re doing away with formal attire – leave your suits at the dry cleaners and save your ties for your cousin’s wedding.

We’ve had a Monopoly theme. Our next event is themed around a casino – poker and roulette. And we’d love to get companies talking about themselves using Scrabble.

We provide superfast WiFi, great coffee, and an uplifting, low-carb lunch.

A B2B trade show should capture the spirit of school trips day. Remember them? Like school, only more fun and often a much better way to learn. A B2B trade show should be like work, only more fun and a better way to make direct and personal contact with your next set of customers.

So say hello to Net XP, the innovative, enjoyable, effective alternative to business networking, proud hosts of Sussex’s best B2B trade show … that doesn’t think it’s a B2B trade show.

Article written by Sam Knowles of Insight Agents
Closing Keynote Speaker for Net XP Sussex 2017.