I decided to pay a visit to the packaging fair, ProPak, held in Phu My Hung. After the arrival of the international convention centre, more conventions are available then ever.
It also gave me the chance to take the new bridge and road that links district 7 with district 2. A great motorbike ride indeed and I got sunburned arms to show as I didn’t mind the heat when I had the wind blowing in my face. I keep forgetting how strong the sun is here in Vietnam. No wonder the supermarket stock up on factor 120 suncream.
Back to the beginning, why attend a packaging event in the first place?
Simply because it interests me. Prior moving to Vietnam I used to work for Bagshawe Leahy in London. Bagshawe Leahy specialized in corporate identity work and packaging design. At the time I was working for them, I worked mainly on packaging design projects. In light of that, attending a convention on packaging makes perfect sense.
First impression, hats off to Du Pont Vietnam for setting the standard in good presentation design. Their booth was informative, well laid out and engaged the visitors. There were others that were good, but all in all, Du Pont is the one that I remember the best. Unfortunately, the majority of exhibitors did not reach that level. It is sad to see that even in 2010 there are companies that think conventions are a great way to hire girls to show off legs when displaying their products.
What did catch my attention was the use of corporate videos, especially informative ones. I believe we are all curious by nature, and I prefer to learn something new everyday. So to be able to get an easy to understand explanation on how things work, the various production processes on display became interesting and engaging. Compare that to the booth with the lone sales person more interested in checking emails on the laptop, hoping potential clients will drop by. Why would I engage with him? He is clearly occupied with catching up on his work, not really seeing this as a great opportunity to do some pr for his company. This is where the company fails on getting maximum return on investment. They have spent a large sum of money to be present at this fair, they have invested in getting some promotional material on the walls and some hand outs produced only to have a member of staff that is too focused on catching up with existing work and not having the time to promote the business.
It is a sharp contrast to the Du Pont experience where I was approached after perusing the booth’s information stands. Not immediately, but following similar retail practices where they let the customer walk around the aisles and get an overview before approaching. It is all about the timing. Not too fast and not too slow and then, engagement. This is where I meet your company, through your booth staffs and I form a first impression. Friendly greetings are always great and genuine smiles. It makes a world of difference, especially when the staffs present are knowledgeable and willing to share information even though they can clearly see that you are not a genuine buyer.
These days, it is not only about the instant sale and short term profit, it is about long term marketing. Do you want your company to be remembered and mentioned? Maybe the visitor to your stand is not your customer, but within the visitor’s network there are potential ones? Wouldn’t it be better to let your visitors do your networking for you? Du Pont is not a client of mine and they are not paying me to write about them, but I chose to do just so. As a single person blogging about them, I will probably not have much impact, but consider having more people blogging about your products and you can soon think about the famous Rice and Chess story.
Continue that thought and my neurons gave me: “Video killed the radio star”.
Those corporate videos engage spectators on a different level. Yes, you can have your big prints drawing attention, but booth space is expensive, and there is a limit to how many prints you can display. Slideshow can be an option, but video really shines by providing content to keep your visitors at your stand for longer. After passing too many stands that shared the same visual language either using stock photography or similar image styles/treatment (…and sadly pixelated images due to low resolution of source file), the “educational video with a science aspect” stopped me in my tracks. Here I could suddenly see how the whole process took place inside a plant, recycling bottles and removing their labels. Video was simply the best solution to get this process across. I watched it to the end.
Now that most dslr’s are coming with built in video, there is a change in the photography community. The ones embracing the change and running with video as well as stills and the ones that stick to what they know best, photography. Since the market has so many videographers available, will corporate videos be the next “gold rush”? Unlike stock photography, a corporate video has to take place at a physical location belong to the company. Putting together a corporate video mixing stock footage of various competitors will not earn you trust. In that respect, more commissioned work will be available.
Stock images can sometimes be good to use, but other times, especially when representing your business, you would probably wish you commissioned photography instead of experiencing something like this.