Change Is Coming
By John Delavan
Director of Marketing and Communication Services, PSDA
Editor-in-Chief, Print Solutions Magazine
Meaningful, substantive change takes time – which is why we didn't waste any.
On Wednesday, June 6, PSDA staff team members who worked onsite during the 2012 Print Solutions Conference & Expo in Baltimore convened almost immediately after it had concluded. As exhibitors disassembled their booths and convention center crew members rolled up carpeting below us, we sat in a small, cluttered second-floor room and discussed the event. What worked? What didn’t? How were we feeling about the events of the preceding few days?
We proclaimed how amazing the keynote presentations were...and how sad it was that so few people came to hear them. We noted that the educational sessions were very well received...but wished that more people had actually taken the time to attend them, too. And, of course, we deliberated at length about the Expo. Several exhibitors said they had great show experiences, did solid business and confirmed they would see us in Chicago in 2013; others were unhappy with the results for their companies. One exhibitor I had walked past earlier that day simply said, "This is awful." I know he wanted me to hear that comment – and I did.
Ultimately, we determined that we had staged a solid show, but that we needed to address several issues to ensure the 2013 event is not just worthwhile for manufacturers and distributors, but an indisputable slam-dunk success for all involved. How do we get more qualified participation on the Expo floor? How do we get more people to register for and take advantage of the education? How do we take PSDA's signature event from "This is awful." in 2012 to "This is awesome!" in 2013?
Regardless of whether you had a great show in Baltimore or not, I think we can all agree that constructive change is good for PSDA and the industry. We’re assessing the value we deliver for every PSDA program, and for this particular event the vital work is already well under way. The staff team's discussions that started on June 6 jump-started the process of "blowing up” the Print Solutions Conference & Expo and working toward a better 2013 event. And let me tell you – we've already pushed the detonator. We've reviewed post-event research, surveyed the industry landscape and conducted several focus groups with member manufacturers and distributors – all in an effort to ascertain what must be done to ensure your 2013 Expo experience is amazing.
Since June, we've been busily planning next year's event, and positive energy among the PSDA staff team is palpable. Supported by the Board of Directors, we are committed to delivering an extraordinary experience next year – a can't-miss show that delivers the power of partnership and enables you to grow your business. We will not settle for anything less.
Get ready because the changes we've been promising in our recent "teaser" ads really are coming. The event in Chicago next year will be quite different than the one in 2012 – for starters, it will have a new name, and it will take place over two days instead of three. And that's only the beginning.
During the next seven months, I’ll be keeping you informed via regular emails and updates on this web page (so bookmark it now – psda.org/2013). As editor-in-chief of Print Solutions, I know you're accustomed to reading messages from me in the magazine, so I hope you will respond and engage positively as you hear from me regularly about our evolving event plans for 2013.
In the interim – and in order for our ambitious plans to work – here are a few things PSDA needs from you:
- Mark your calendars now to attend. The event will be held May 8-9 (Wednesday and Thursday) at Navy Pier in Chicago.
- Be open to change. We're making this effort to ensure you leave our 2013 event knowing it was two days extraordinarily well spent. Like any endeavor of this magnitude, some things will end up working out spectacularly, and others might fall a bit flat. But we’re thinking and trying – and that’s infinitely better than doing nothing other than rolling out the same show each year, crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.
- Do your part. If you're a distributor, for starters, make sure to attend and invest in your business. (We had tons of registered no-shows in Baltimore. Where'd you go?!) Get on the floor and take advantage of the opportunity to network with manufacturers and collaborate to benefit your end users. We'll provide the forum for you to connect – but you have to attend to make to happen. If you're representing an exhibiting company, realize that simply showing up is not going to generate an optimal return on your investment. What will your booth look like? Does it need a "refresh?" What products and services are you going to showcase? What people will staff your booth, and what will their specific roles and responsibilities be onsite? What will you do BEFORE the show to market your participation in PSDA's annual event and get distributors to come to your booth? In future messages we'll share tips on how to maximize the ROI of your exhibiting experience.
One of the easiest things for people to do is NOT change – to sit back and let things happen to them. Since June 6, however, the PSDA staff team has been committed to making big changes to the 2013 event that will benefit you and your business. All of the changes we are making or considering making are designed specifically to bolster the ROI for attendees and exhibitors. I'm very psyched about all of this, and I hope you are, too! Stay tuned for more relevant information from me and other PSDA representatives in the coming weeks and months.
Change is coming. It's time. Be ready.