The Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) roared to life last Tuesday and ended yesterday under the theme Harnessing Linkages for Industrial Development. Attending the event, albeit on the sidelines and without knowing how the conferences were progressing, I felt that while the numbers of exhibitors seemed to be fewer this year, the ZITF Company did well in putting up this grand show. Obviously, it could not be a walk in the park for them because unlike in other countries where such shows are held, the Zimbabwean one is unique in its setup. It is not only a business event, but a political or national event in which the government participates. The exhibition company has to comply with some government terms and conditions.
brand savvy with Stha Magida
ZITF Company has at times had to deal with exhibitors who do not follow the rules. I watched with great intrigue as the Zanu PF Hall was being put up when the show had already started. Without knowing the categories of exhibitors well, this particular exhibitor must surely fall in the special category of those that can do as they please, when they please. Another incident that happened in my full view was when the ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services stand setup fell and injured one of the ladies who were manning it. I was reliably informed by a friend at a nearby stand that the stand had been put up hurriedly when the show had begun. This again poses challenges for the exhibition company, fellow exhibitors and of course, the visitors who may be in the area.
Coupled with a bit of paranoia on my part, I stayed clear of any area set up with boards for the rest of my tour at the trade exhibition. It is my opinion that exhibitors who turn up late for the show should not be allowed to set up and they should forfeit their participation fees. Their actions not only destroy their brands, but those of others who exhibit in the same location with them, and that of the ZITF Company.
I was later joined in my tour by a fellow scribe and great friend who is as passionate about standards as I am. During our tour, he caught site of the Portraz stand that he felt was immaculately set up. He suggested that we go and take a closer look. The reception at the stand left me in awe of how a whole company can put up a great stand, but almost fail dismally in selecting the people who represent the brand. My friend’s greeting was met with an abrasive comment, which I suspect was because my friend used his vernacular language, which was a complete blackout for the people manning that stand.
When my friend, who was at the stand to compliment the stand design, asked the people in the stand, “Who are you guys?” The response he got was one of the most abrasive I have ever heard from anyone representing a brand at a trade showcase, The gentleman, who was much older than his colleagues, said to us: “Guys… be serious. Can’t you see what is written on our stand. Honestly, we cannot be answering such questions.” By this time I was really intrigued. I could not believe what we were hearing. My friend then told those people that he had gone there to say something to them but had decided to stay silent because of the reception. I asked for the rude gentleman’s name as he was wearing a reversed name tag but he would not give his name. What is my point here, one may ask? Well, it is to show the kind of people that we sometimes entrust with our brands. Brands are entrusted with careless people who have no idea as to the cost of putting up fine brands. These seemingly small things could have killed a brand whose stand design was great. Unfortunately, it is not our cold walls that build relationships. It is the people who make or break the brand. So we left the Portraz stand with a sick feeling.
The National University of Science and Technology stand made me proud to be one of the alumni of the institution. I thought it was designed so well and I watched as the staff engaged their visitors well. Their show was quite impressive. Another exhibitor that really deserves kudos is Cecil John Rhodes Primary School from Gweru. I was amazed at the quality of knowledge the pupils exhibited, which was a big surprise to me since it is a government school. Well done to the men and women who make that school great. You are outstanding in your efforts.
Till next week, keep reading and remain brand savvy.
Stha Magida is a qualified marketer by profession with experience spanning over fifteen years. She writes in her personal capacity and is contactable on firstname.lastname@example.org