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:   You 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.             
Gordon:   You have been a prolific contributor to trade show education. Can you describe your contributions?

  For decades I have been fascinated at what real exhibitors are doing to succeed in the surprisingly complex world of trade shows.
I have sought to find out what works best, what issues matter most to them, and to provide guidance to improve their performance.
 And then, to find a creative and surprising way to frame the insights so that exhibitors will pay attention and make positive changes.
 Fortunately, I’ve been able to share ideas and insights via many methods.  Most of my efforts were while I was at Skyline Exhibits,
where I produced 11 white papers and 8 books, wrote over 200 blog posts, wrote and hosted over 100 webinars, and many live

I’ve continued trade show education since starting Thimmesch Marketing two years ago, providing similar content for my trade show
vendor clients. I’ve already written another 90+ blog posts, two webinars, a white paper and an e-book. I continue to learn and share
new insights.

Gordon:    Please share with our readers with overview of Thimmesch Marketing
  I help companies that appeal to exhibitors to generate leads via content marketing, seminars, database building, and websites.
I also help B2B marketers to improve their trade show and content marketing programs.  Some days I am sitting in a quiet room
writing  a couple of blog posts, others I am facilitating a lively workshop on exhibiting trends with dozens of trade show marketers. 
Gordon:   What, in your opinion, are the primary challenges in Exhibit and Tradeshow marketing?
Mike:   Finding enough time for true strategic marketing planning and execution, not just spinning the plates on logistics. Creating marketing
 campaigns that get more of the right people to visit the booth.  Getting qualified leads quickly to their sales force with enough information
 that the sales team is motivated to follow up. Measuring results in a way that both justifies their trade show participation, plus provides
 insights into how to improve it.  I could list more about exhibit design and booth staffing, but those seem to consistently be the most pressing
Gordon:   Please share with our readers are your insights in lead generation.

  Lead generation is job number one for B2B marketers, because it drives sales and growth. Because buyers are finding more product and
vendor information easier via Google searches and social media, it’s forcing marketers to get involved earlier in the buying process than
before. That need to be seen online everywhere, with materials that genuinely help buyers in their buying process, has increased the need f
or content marketing. Quality content gets read, shared, and downloaded, which indicates to Google that a website’s content is worth pushing
higher in the search results, which drives huge ROI from leads that convert to sales.  

Social Media is actually just one prominent way for marketers to get their content in the hands of buyers, and LinkedIn is currently the king
for B2B marketers. Email and webinars are working well, too.  Databases are valuable, and they go out of date faster than most companies c
 an maintain them.

And because it’s getting harder to get access to buyers, trade shows continue to provide great value, even in an increasingly digital world.
 Exhibitors are adapting by integrating technology into their trade show programs, from digital content splashed on larger and larger screens,
to more digital lead management systems.

Overall, the bar is higher in generating leads, so it takes consistently high-quality effort over time to make it work.

Gordon:   How has technology changed the exhibit industry in the past 30 years?

  The trade show of today looks very different than the trade show of 30 years ago.  The shift to fabric graphics was made possible by the
increased printing capacity of  printers, letting exhibitors shiftfrom 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

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


Work to learn both the logistics side and the marketing side of trade shows.  Trade shows take a hugeamount 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