Creativity and Innovation Aren’t One and the Same in the Trade Show Arena

March 22, 2015

Eddie Newquist

Eddie Newquist- Eddie Newquist is Chief Creative Officer at GES. He’s an award-winning creative executive, designer, filmmaker and inventor with three patents and counting! He’s best known for his work on some of the world’s most successful entertainment franchises including Harry Potter, Cars, The Terminator and Jurassic Park.

The words “creative” and “innovative” are often used interchangeably in the business world, from startups and established corporations to even trade shows. But are these two adjectives really as similar as they seem?

Because live events strive for innovation and creativity, many make the mistake of thinking these goals are one and the same. Although using tech creatively can increase engagement, using an innovative product doesn’t necessarily make you an innovator.

As Ted Levitt, late marketing professor at Harvard Business School and former Harvard Business Review editor, put it, people often fail to “distinguish between the relatively easy process of being creative in the abstract and the infinitely more difficult process of being innovationist in the concrete.”

Carmine Gallo, author of “The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success,” points out in his book that Jobs believed that innovation hinges on creativity, and that creativity was the act of connecting things.

Working with talented creative individuals will allow you and your company to unleash a wealth of new ideas, concepts, and visions. But don’t mistake a great idea for getting things done. A blue-sky idea might be exciting on its own, but it does not compare to launching a product or experience that will change a company or industry.

The Business Case for Innovation

One of the key places that creativity and innovation coexist is in the trade show and events business, where your company has one goal: to show a very specific market why your company is the best. You’re pitted against a roomful of competitors while your prospects surf the floor seeking innovative products and services. This is your chance to show the industry that you are not only creative in your approach, but that you also have real innovations that will make a difference.

Your instinct might tell you to do something crazy to stand out, but is that authentic? It would be more beneficial to flex your creative muscles and show your customers — rather than tell them — that you are different because your innovative new offering is the best solution.

A trade show is a great way to showcase your company’s creativity. With a great idea and an experienced partner, you can truly send a message using color, light, sound, shapes, textures and interactive experiences.

But if you want your trade show or event to be innovative, you have to dedicate more time to ensure that you are not just sharing a new concept, but that you are delivering a unique and potentially revolutionary solution, product, or event experience.

Standards for Innovation

Getting things done is a lot harder than having ideas. It takes the right partner with the right attitude and capabilities to ensure your success, both creatively as well as logistically.

When you start viewing your event or trade show as a platform to showcase your creativity and innovation, you’ll be miles ahead of the competition. Go into your next event strategy session with the motive to prove not only why your company wins against the competition, but also how. Determine what truly differentiates you, and then use that to drive your strategy, your concept, and your execution.

Consider Adobe Photoshop, for example. You’re not going to dive into this program unless you have a creative purpose. Once you’re in, you have access to a plethora of tools — tools that aren’t inherently creative or innovative, but depending on how you use them, they might allow you to be both.

Some companies believe they’re being innovative just by incorporating the latest technology into their live events. But just like having an iPhone doesn’t make you innovative, neither does simply inserting current technology into your experience.

Innovation makes your product or service offering special, but you have to use creativity to highlight this to your potential customers. 

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