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SEMA Wins 2010 Innovation Award From Trade Show Industry Leaders


SEMA was one of five companies honored with a 2010 Trade Show Executive (TSE) Innovation Award for building an exclusive social networking community for the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

Each year, the Innovation Awards recognize companies and organizations that have created products, procedures and other new ideas that have yielded new value for show managers, exhibitors, attendees and the exhibition industry as a whole. The awards are chosen by a panel of independent judges and are based on creativity, originality and the ability to improve the efficiency and productivity of trade shows.

SEMA developed a strategy that enabled it to bring SEMA Show exhibitors in closer contact with the customers of their customers, that is, car buffs that ultimately buy the products of the exhibitors. The plan was to develop a list of trend leaders who would be invited to the SEMA Show and then use social media to tell their fellow enthusiasts about their experiences.

SEMA executed the plan by: (1) Putting the word out on Facebook, Twitter, various enthusiast websites and its own SEMA Action Network, which drew 3,159 applicants in two weeks; (2) Selecting 863 applicants to fill out a pre-Show survey, which narrowed the pool down to 527 candidates who were confirmed to be opinion leaders; and (3) Facilitating hosted meetings between exhibitors and the opinion leaders to discuss exhibitor products.

The results were impressive. Facebook friends of the SEMA Show spiked from 2,000 to 6,200 in November, and the Show was a top-10 Twitter topic on November 4. At the same time, Show managers were able to tap into a new source of insight into the thinking and buying behavior of car enthusiasts. SEMA reported that the research resulted in many ground-breaking discoveries, including insights into vehicle ownership and modification, behavior changes due to gas prices and other buyer behavior.

“It is a pleasure to honor SEMA with TSE’s Innovation Award,” said Darlene Gudea, president of Trade Show Executive Media Group. “Social networking strategies are all the rage now. However, the judges commended SEMA for their novel idea of reaching end-users for research purposes and for SEMA’s precise execution of a very detailed and creative strategic plan,” she said.

The winners will receive a plaque, and select honorees will be invited to present details of their products at the Trade Show Executive Gold 100 Awards & Summit, September 22–24 at the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel, California. The 2011 Innovation Award winners will be announced June 1, 2011.