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Industry Headcount Is Growing, Says Wurm

Mark Travers

EventsInAmerica.com spoke with Jim Wurm, Executive Director, Exhibit & Event Marketers Association (E2MA) at the IAEE Expo! Expo! in Los Angeles.

EIA: What is the value that E2MA brings to the tradeshow industry?

Jim Wurm: Our primary goal is to provide education, studies, survey data, and best practice solutions that support and promote participation in exhibits and events. Our mission is to grow business by growing the exhibit and event marketing industry. It starts with our commitment to the exhibitor. Exhibitors struggle – based on studies we’ve done with senior marketers – to measure outcomes from the show and to control their costs. The good news is that senior marketers see exhibits and events as the #1 lead-generation tool for their companies. But they are not experts in utilizing this medium – in fact they struggle to do that. So we’ve developed tools, methods and educational programs to assist them. In particular, we co-market an event forecasting and measurement tool that teaches brand marketers how to take events from their too-often current status as an intense logistical exercise to a fully-formed marketing channel that optimizes customer engagement and facilitates measurable business development outcomes.

How many members do you have in your organization?

All of our memberships are corporate memberships and we are right at 450 corporate members at present.

Do you see business for the industry as a whole trending up for 2015 or staying about the same as 2014?

Definitely trending upward. We finally have come out of a long slow period based on the recession that hit in 2008. One of the other promising things I’m noticing, too, is that businesses are adding to headcount. As business activity started to recover in 2010, 11, 12 – but mostly 2012 and 2013 – many companies didn’t add to headcount, which stifled further growth. Professionals in this industry were getting spread pretty thin and were maxed out in their jobs. Having maxed-out, tired employees doesn’t make for a good foundation for business growth. I notice now that business leaders are feeling more bullish about business in general and they’re adding to headcount. This improves the value proposition for companies at shows, both from the supplier side and the exhibitor side. I see this in reports from CEIR, from studies we do ourselves, and in just anecdotal evidence in talking to our members.

So, speaking of members, what are they talking about?

One thing is, they’d like to have more clearly defined, standardized best practices at tradeshows. No one likes surprises, particularly our industry customers, the exhibitors. Of the many challenges exhibitors face, there is nothing more frustrating than having to keep up with the variables that exist in our marketing medium. The rules for participation can vary, based on the city you’re in, the venue you’re in, and the time of year. It makes it pretty challenging from a planning and budgeting standpoint. So the more we can help exhibitors by creating standardized processes, by breaking down the silos that tend to exist in our industry among the various stakeholders, and by creating a better understanding among these groups, the more we’ll be able to lay the foundation for greater opportunity and a brighter future for all. When we accomplish that, we’ll grow this industry even more rapidly than it’s growing right now.

And finally from our readers’ perspective, what do you want them to know about E2MA?

E2MA is the voice of the customer of our industry. We monitor the challenges, successes, and opportunities of exhibit and event marketers, so that we can engage with all industry stakeholders to find new ways to improve the value proposition for our customers. Because when we do that, we all win.

Contact:

You can reach Jim Wurm at 541.317.8768 or jimwurm@e2ma.org. For more information, visit www.e2ma.org.

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