We Think How The Client Thinks, Says Creator’s Will Farmer

Mark Travers of EventsInAmerica.com (EIA) spoke with Will Farmer, Vice President, Client Services, of Creatacor at the recent ExhibitorLive Show in Las Vegas.Tell us about Creatacor. What does the company do?

Will Farmer: Creatacor is a full-service exhibit house. We design, build and manage programs for our clients – any aspect of event marketing or face-to-face. It could be a tradeshow, which is where our company started, but we’re doing a lot of event work now, too, handling a variety of programs for our clients. We can manage an entire program and use the materials to the best of their ability. Our goal is to get the best ROI on a client’s exhibit and event properties.

EIA: So when you say ‘the best ROI,’ how do you measure that?

Will Farmer: You have to work really closely with clients and their sales teams. ROI is measured in a variety of ways. For instance, we look at how many leads and touches we’re getting, how many people are coming by the exhibit, how many are getting involved in an interactive display, who’s tweeting or posting about it on social media, how many are playing a particular game or are watching that game being played – and more. One of the challenges in our industry is trying to prove that face-to-Mark Traversface marketing events are worthwhile. We know they are.

EIA: Is there a way to tie leads and touches into actual revenue?

Will Farmer: We think so. The challenge is getting the marketing department and sales department working together. For example, we attend the Exhibitor show each year and track the leads generated in our CRM system. This way we can monitor prospects that become clients and the revenue generated over time. As we continue to revise our strategy, we see increased results. In terms of touches, it is more related to creating positive experiences with the brand rather than linking directly to revenue.

EIA: The tradeshow and events industry is rapidly changing. How do you keep abreast of all those changes?

Will Farmer: We think we’re changing with the market. We look at the whole program. It’s not just tradeshows in one area, events in a different area – now it’s about how we can get all the pieces to work together to get the best value for the materials and the best return on the investment. We’re seeing growth this year. The industry is bouncing back. More people are attending. We’re getting a lot more inquiries. The economy is better and that’s helping us in the industry, in general, and with our own business, in particular.

EIA: What new trends in the industry do your clients need to know about?

Will Farmer: On the tradeshow side, a lot of it is the exhibit technology, with the fabrics, the lighter weights and trying to get more out of the drayage dollar so you can get greater impact and easier set ups. Then there are the interactive displays that are more engaging for your customers. The essence of marketing doesn’t change. You need to connect with your customers. It becomes more sophisticated – in a fun way – as we get those customers to interact, engage and learn more about the product.

EIA: Social seems to be all the rage today. Is Creatacor integrating social into its programs?

Will Farmer: Yes. We have many business-to-business clients and we use social in that environment, but we’re seeing a lot more of the social aspect on the consumer side. One of our clients is Lego and we know that they want to get their items Tweeted and on Facebook, so we’re integrating those social media platforms more into the activities we’re doing. A lot of the interactive now, after you play a game, a lot of it is related to posting it on Facebook, posting it on Twitter, and saying “this is what I’ve done” or “this is what my score is” or “this is what I learned today.”

EIA: What do you want people to know about Creatacor?

Will Farmer: We came from the exhibitor side. The company was originally part of GE and was spun off in 1988. So we’ve always had that culture of being the ‘client’ – we think how the client thinks. That mindset has been part of our culture from the beginning. When we talk with prospects, we talk about partnering with them; we want to be an extension of their staff. So for those clients with whom we work together especially well, that’s how we do it.

Noelle Feist of MINDBODY recently won an award. She spoke with us about how important it was for her company to partner with us, to make us part of her team and to work together on her company’s goals. That’s a big part of what Creatacor does. It’s looking at marketing in a different way. It’s not ‘just’ a tradeshow program. It’s not ‘just’ an event. The marketing departments can’t be segregated. We have to look at the overall program and how can we get the events, the user groups, the tradeshows to work together in order to get the most out of our face-to-face dollars. That’s what we’ve been concentrating on and it’s been working well with our clients.

EIA: Tell us about your office.

Will Farmer: We’re headquartered in Clifton Park in upstate New York. We have about 50 employees in our home office, but we also have account managers in Phoenix, AZ; Madison, WI; Lake Mary, Florida; and New York City. And we recently expanded our production facility to 90,000sf, adding 50% more capacity. It’s an exciting time for us. I think Creatacor is very well poised to help many companies grow.

Contact: You can reach Will Farmer, Vice President, Client Services, Creatacor at [email protected] or (518) 664-8750 x202. For more information on the company, visit www.creatacor.com.