By Tammy Milbury
Simple words to say but difficult to execute on – “Think Outside the Box”. That’s what I was asked to do for The Greater Halifax Partnerships booth at The Supplier Development Reverse Trade Show that took place on Tuesday, October 16, 2012.
The Supplier Reverse Trade Show is an event that is jointly put on by The Greater Halifax Partnership, The Province of Nova Scotia and The Government of Canada. It is where business owners meet with the decision makers of over 30 government organizations that purchase goods for their departments on a regular basis. The event also hosts presentations where business can learn about different organizations that can assist their business through different stages of growth and development. Picture the event like a one-stop-shop for all you need to know, and who you need to know, to get involved in the procurement process. The total cost to businesses attending… FREE
The Greater Halifax Partnership works with businesses to connect them with other businesses, government programs and talent. We are not in the business of major procurement projects. When coming up with an idea for our booth I had to bear in mind these two facts. I didn’t want to have us confuse the folks coming by into thinking we had a big budget to purchase goods and services. When our team talked about the event last year we noted that over 400 businesses attended last year’s event. That information was what put the idea into motion.
After brainstorming several ideas with the SmartBusiness team, we landed on hiring visual artist Marguerite Drescher of Brave Space to graphically map out what businesses were attending the event, what services they offered, and what services they were looking for. At 1 p.m. we started with two blank boards. By the end of the day we had engaged with over 80 organizations that broke down into 27 categories of offerings and eight categories of needs.
The feedback we received was very positive. Menna Riley, President of Parlour Room Events, had this to say:
“My colleague and I found our way over to the colorful and interactive trade show booth incepted by the Greater Halifax Partnership. Not only was it a breath of fresh air in the otherwise conservative trade show booth display department, but it achieved a high level of engagement from the show’s attendees. Kudos to the Partnership team for thinking outside the box on this unique and successful initiative. Did I mention, it worked? I got a call the next day with regard to one of the posts I put up on the board!”
As a follow-up we have sent out a summary of the visual map to participants who were interested in receiving it.
Overall, it was a great day where we had the opportunity to meet with many great businesses that have operations in the region. I guess that is the payoff of creating an outside-the-box tradeshow booth. Thank you to everyone who dropped by and participated. We could not have done it without you!
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Author: Tammy Milbury
As Account Executive with the SmartBusiness program, Tammy is responsible for meeting with employers in Greater Halifax to discuss the challenges, needs and opportunities facing their business. Using the information from these visits, Tammy determines resources and partnerships to help businesses in the region succeed and prosper.