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Exhibition stand marketing through the ages: An interview with our head of department

Abteilungsleiter Messebau-Marketing bei der SYMA AG

A lot can happen in 23 years, and exhibition stand construction in particular has changed a lot in that time. But nothing is as fast-moving as marketing. From scanned slides and the classic tasks of a typographer in the pre-press processes to reels and live placements via QR code. One person at SYMA-SYSTEM AG has experienced this change particularly closely: Adrian Bischofberger, Head of Advertising for 15 years, talks in an interview about his biggest projects, the future in exhibition stand construction and his personal development.

The development of exhibition stand marketing at SYMA

I’m still a trained typographer, today this profession or this designation already no longer exists, my industry is just very fast-moving (laughs), and my learned profession is now called polygraph.”

Since 1 November 2000, “it feels like forever!”, Adrian has been responsible for our marketing. At the beginning still as an employee who was also responsible for the layout of our customer magazine “SYMA report” and was responsible for internal processes of pre-press, later as head of a team of 4. Until today, 23 years in total, he realises the technical catalogues for all profile systems and coordinates the market launch of new products. He knows the world of SYMA systems like no one else and maintains an overview despite constant product development. After all, his responsibility is the “Promotion of awareness, knowledge and image of SYMA-SYSTEM AG as well as the individual products and services among sales-promoting target groups.

At work in exhibition stand marketing through the ages.

Marketing challenge: Keeping your finger on the pulse

These target groups must always be reached where they like to be. In 2018, the print specialist faced entirely new challenges. For Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, more and more videos and story live reports now had to be generated from our beautiful projects, in addition to the classic photographs. Initially organised entirely by themselves, the importance of the online presence grew steadily, which is why they soon started working with a professional agency. As the guardian of the fonts and the corporate identity (CI), Adrian was able to remain true to his roots.

Big changes in exhibition stand marketing

“Then Corona came and EVERYTHING changed (again)!”

In 2020, people were familiar with the new tasks in exhibition stand marketing – but the worldwide pandemic changed everything again. The management of marketing was elevated to the group level and has since been managed from the location in Austria.

Actually, advertising or marketing has always been group-led or oriented, now finally we are living it. 😊”

Our appearance at EuroShop 2023, a major milestone, was optimally mastered by the marketing team and a new website could also be realised by the start of the fair. Such successful projects, which are mastered as a team, give reason to look positively into the future and to take the best possible lessons learned from these experiences with them.

Adrian Bischofberger and Richard Schuster as those responsible for exhibition marketing.

What does the future look like?

“The only constancy is change, as the saying goes. This is especially true in the trade fair and event industry. The possibilities of digitalisation open up new opportunities and challenges for our industry. I am very sure that tomorrow and the day after tomorrow there will still be a great need for live events that are rich in experience. People want to meet in person. Especially in times when this was only possible to a limited extent, people realised the importance of personal contact.”

So the changing times never stand still. In addition to the diverse topics of digitalisation, which include artificial intelligence and virtual reality, the future of our planet will also be of particular concern to us in trade fair marketing. Sustainability is the keyword that will constantly accompany us in the near future.

“For me, sustainability stands for future viability. In principle, SYMA was already born out of sustainability considerations in 1961. Our company founder wanted to revolutionise exhibition stand construction with a clever and reusable system. Even today, 62 years later, these themes accompany us every day.”

A proud look back at significant projects

Now I already have a few years of SYMA “under my belt”. You have experienced and seen a lot – and yet I can think of a few special highlights that I am particularly proud of.”

There were big tasks, such as the re-design of our complete CI 2017, in which Adrian was significantly involved, or interesting challenges, such as the design of graphic sails for Swissmem in Beijing. What all these projects have in common is the heart and soul that goes into them and the pride you feel when you know that your 15x5m creation will be seen by thousands of people in China – and that the logo you have designed will remain for many years to come, even after you yourself have moved on.

I also have particularly fond memories of the convivial Christmas dinners. In 2019, I organised the whole event and hosted a 1930s crime dinner with real actors who sensationally integrated the audience. That is something I will miss.”

Theme party as an example of trade fair marketing.

Farewell to a great period of life

Once again, a lot is changing in trade fair marketing at SYMA. After 23 years in the department, with all its changes, Adrian returns to his typography origins, swapping digital emojis for printed children’s books. What will he miss?

The friendships I have made here for life. Not all of them are there anymore, but some colleagues are still there with whom I started at SYMA. I will certainly continue to maintain these contacts, especially with the design team. These are friendships for life.”

On the roof of SYMA-AG in Kirchberg.

But also the great trust that could be earned after such a long time and with which then came responsibility for the big projects mentioned is something that Adrian first has to rebuild in the new job. But one thing is certain: “Once you’ve worked at SYMA in exhibition stand construction, you’re ready for whatever comes!

And that is exactly what Adrian is grateful for today. For everything he has learnt in his work in marketing, not only the stress resistance he has built up, but also for the leadership qualities he has been able to develop thanks to the trust placed in him. But especially for the team that has never let him down here and for which he has also always gladly given everything.

For example, the big orders where everyone then helped together in production.”

The hustle and bustle in front of a major project.

So it is with one laughing eye and one crying eye that we look back with this article not only on the major changes in exhibition stand marketing, but also on the personal experiences of Adrian Bischofberger, whom we are now saying goodbye to after a long time in a new phase of his professional life. With great gratitude for your tireless efforts – and for all the projects you have done so magnificently and through which we will think of you for a long time to come.