Tradeshow and Exhibit Thoughtleaders
"The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge
and the dissemination of truth."

John F. Kennedy

Meet our Thoughtleaders: An Interview with
Michael Thim
mesch by Gordon Nary

Return to Mike's Webpage
Thoughtleaders Main Page

Gordon:     I understand that your studied French Literature  at  the Université de la Méditerranée. Who is
                   your favorite French writer

Mike:         André Dumas.  He wrote The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Man in the Iron Mask,
with great characters, language, and flair.

Gordon:    Isn't it unusual for a French scholar to have an interest in and a talent in marketing?

Mike:        It would be, except to call me a French scholar is stretching it a bit.  I also majored at college in            
                 Humanities, and actually started as a Physics major.  My studies taught me how to be creative,
                 to write and analyze well, all excellent skills for a marketer. 

Gordon:   What initially attracted you to join the exhibit industry?

Mike:        Skyline would hire me!  I came to Skyline in 1988, a time when it was great to get any entry-level
                professional job. But beyond that, they had an innovative product line, born of a culture that wanted to
                change the world for the better.

Gordon:   Why did you choose Skyline to launch your exhibit management career?

Mike:        I started with Skyline as a copywriter, and during the first week of work I proofread a 750-page book
                 on exhibit marketing Skyline was producing and selling. What a crash course!  So it was more the other
                 way around, that the exhibit management world choose me.             

   You have been at Skyline for more than 25 years which is somewhat unusual in the exhibit
                 profession.  What has been the most rewarding elements of your career at Skyline to date?

Mike:        Having such long-term relationships.  Seeing both the company and the people grow.  And being able to
                 contribute to that growth.

Gordon:   For those of our readers who may not be acquainted with the Skyline WindScape®, would you
                 give us an overview of the project?

Mike:        WindScape® is the most ambitious and innovative new display technology Skyline launched in decades. 
                 It solves exhibitors’  main  problems better than anything before it, because it solves their problems in
                 a new way.  Rather than use structure made  of metal or plastic to create an exhibit shape, it uses
                 sealed air frames.  So WindScape sets up faster, packs smaller, weighs less, and thus makes it easier
                 for exhibitors to go to trade shows.

Gordon:    How has technology changed the exhibit industry in the past 25 years?

Mike:         The trade show of today looks very different than the trade show of 25 years ago.  The shift to fabric
                  graphics was made possible by the increased printing capacity of  printers, letting exhibitors shift
                  from walls of carpet and laminate to walls of branded mural graphics. Google made it easier for   
                  shoppers to find product  information, so now attendees go to trade shows better informed, looking
                  to better know the company behind the product, or to  see the product demonstrated. 
Social media,
                  rather than compete with trade shows, has made trade shows the centerpiece of many companies’
                  engagement strategy, and social media has helped turn attendees into their brand ambassadors.
                  The shift from lead retrieval machines to Smartphone and tablet-based apps has changed lead 
                  taking at shows.  The iPad and other tablet computers have given booth staffers  an amazing tool
                  to make one-on-one interactive  presentations.  As monitors
have become bigger and cheaper,
                  exhibitors are using video more to capture attention and make  presentations.  And the lower
                  prices of LED lighting has given exhibitors new freedom to create brighter, more intriguing space

Gordon:    What advance in marketing technology do you anticipate in the next ten years?

Mike:         I wish I knew!  I would expect continued innovation in digital graphics to create more interactivity,
                  flexibility in messaging, and  impact.

Gordon:    Lead generation is central to marketing proficiency. What are some of the technical resources
                  that your recommend to your colleagues and customers to improve lead generation

Mike:        That is a big question and could be answered in so many ways.  Know or learn search engine
                 marketing.  Know your database  system.  Learn not just social media, but also content marketing. Be
                 really good at market research to understand your buyers  and non-buyers – surveys are great for that.
                 For trade shows, learn how to use lead retrieval apps to qualify leads in the booth, and to better provide
                 complete attendee info to your sales force after the show.

Gordon:     What has been your most rewarding experience at Skyline?

Mike:          Our last dealer meeting.  We presented several new marketing programs and they were met with great

Gordon:     What advice would you give to students interested in the exhibit industry?

Mike:         Work to learn both the logistics side and the marketing side of trade shows.  Trade shows take a huge
                  amount of time to pull off well, so only do as many shows as you can truly succeed at.  Find a mentor
                  who knows the ropes, but also be willing to experiment with new things, because trade shows continue
                  to evolve so what used to work may not, and new solutions are appearing all the time.

Gordon:    Thank you for a great interview. You may recall that when talked several months ago, I told you
                   that if the producers of  the sci-fi film Skyline had given the lead role of Jarrod
to you of instead
                   of Eric Balfour, the film would have tripled its gross earnings.


Michael Thimmesch is the Director of Customer Engagement for Skyline Exhibits