'We Cross-Pollinate Ideas Better than Anyone Else in the Industry,' says MC2's Rob Murphy
EventsInAmerica.com (EIA) spoke with Rob Murphy, Chief Marketing Officer, of MC2 at the EXHIBITORLIVE show in Las Vegas.
EIA: MC2 is a big player in the display industry. What’s your focus?
Murphy: We represent Fortune 500 companies who are looking for national and international coverage. We tend to take on programs that are aggressive and require a lot of complex logistics. We’re really good at that.
And you’re growing.
Yes, we now have 13 locations worldwide. We have sales staff in 11 of those offices and exceptional design and creative teams in 5 of them. So we have corporate representation with sales, design, marketing, storage and fabrication throughout the United States and Europe. And we just recently opened an office in Dusseldorf, Germany for covering shows in Europe and the Far East.
What else is new at MC2?
In 2014, we introduced a new large-scale wall system called Thunderwall.(TM) It’s perfect for companies that need large, tall, heroic structures but don’t want to spend a lot of money for them. Thunderwall is an extrusion system but it’s exclusively designed to do very large graphics and blocking so companies can screen out the competition. It’s also a really good solution for companies with large spaces. In addition, we’re making improvements to our online project management system, enabling users to better control assets in the field.
Tell us about some of the changes you are seeing in business and how MC2 is responding to them.
As has been going on for the last number of years, our clients are reducing their headcount, not increasing it – and expecting more than ever before from their own in-house exhibit staff. So that requires companies like ours to back them up with more bodies and more support. Anything we can do to cut through the communication barriers that naturally exist between people and companies is welcomed. So our online project management system is just one example of how we’re responding to that. People can access our system at any time, make comments, blast their team so everyone knows what’s going on. It’s transparent for everyone who’s on the team and it’s impossible for someone on the team to not know what’s going on because of some failure on somebody’s part to not include them in an email. So if you’re one of the 15 people in the group, you’re getting everything that’s happening on that project. Our system is something we first developed 14 years ago and we’re always improving and making it more robust. And of course responding to what we’re hearing from our clients.
Pre-show planning is such an important exercise for any trade show exhibitor, no matter what their size.
As we say to all of our clients, you have to start at the end. If you don’t start at the end, you can’t target your program. What I mean by starting at the end is, what do you want to get from this show? And then work backwards and say, ‘How do I get people involved? How do I get them to know, to get educated, to try, to demonstrate?’ – whatever your objective might be.
You are then going to come up with metrics that might be something like, ‘We had 500 guests and 300 got a demonstration’ and X-number of demonstrations equals X-number in sales. Each client will have a different metric. But it takes work and intelligence up front. Unfortunately, people are usually so overwhelmed by getting the show set and managing all the tactical details that, a lot of times, it’s a last minute enterprise – of really knowing what the end objective is.
My point is, we’ll start at the goal – what are you looking to do at the show? – and then we’ll worry about the walls later on. To me the easiest part is putting up the exhibit. The hardest part is figuring out the strategy – what you’re looking to capture and how you are going to measure it. Everyone has a different sales model. It’s a challenge.
There are a number of companies that provide services similar to MC2. What makes your company different?
Three things, and the first is creative. The key component in winning new business is our creative approach. We dig deep into company culture, competitive analysis and define attainable goals before we start with design and strategy. When we have done our homework well, strategy springs forward and design follows suit. We have very creative minds at work who plan and execute fantastic experiences for our clients. Second, we’re a service company. There are a million-and-one details involved in putting on a big program and those details can’t be missed or ignored or minimized. We’re emphatic about service. There are a number of competitors of ours who do what we do very, very well. We’re not unique in that regard. But poor service is what makes people lose accounts and great service is what makes people win accounts. The third is our reach. We’re an international company. We’ve proven ourselves with an incredibly high retention rate of clients. We don’t lose clients very often, especially those who are program clients for us.
So what’s the business outlook for 2015?
We’re going to have a phenomenal year this year. Part of that is timing in that, this year, one of our biggest clients is having a major expo. Another client is doing a very large permanent installation. And we have two new clients who are aggressively coming onboard. So we’re going to see a big spike in revenue this year – probably 20% growth. A number of things are coming together to make this a very big year.
Is there anything we haven’t touched upon that you’d like our readers to know about?
Since we’re now in Dusseldorf, Germany, a number of clients are looking to move programs across the ocean. Brand consistency has always been a big issue for international companies. Unfortunately, when they’re splitting programs between European and domestic US vendors, these companies often get very different and unpleasant branding results. So we’re finding a number of our larger clients are interested in unifying their programs. Everything that we can do in the United States we can now do in Germany, so that’s been a phenomenal new turn of events for us.
What are one or two things you’d like the events community to know about MC2?
We’re a service-oriented, high-quality, experienced-in-multiple-markets kind of company. There are a number of competitors out there who are specialized in a vertical market. We’re not that company. We are very diverse. And I’m proud of that because we cross-pollinate ideas better than anyone else in this industry. People who come out of one industry learn from the other industries where we exhibit. So, as an example, we’ve been turning a few of our automotive clients on to some of the things we’re doing in consumer electronics – and have shared ideas with the electronics people that we’ve been developing in the automotive world or the pharma world. We share best practices.
One of the other things that MC2 is committed to is process improvement. We have a process where we engage clients, show over show, in what’s working, what’s not necessary, how to provide more efficiencies and how to do it all better, faster, cheaper. This is how we want our clients to feel: Every time they go out, they’ve just stepped up their game. They’ve just improved their process. They’ve just increased their ROI. They can see real, visible change!
Today, we have to show results, metrics and a plan for the next show that’s going to be better than the show we had today.
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