How we got the most out of a Defence Industry conference.
As Glyde Metal are first time participants, there was some anticipation in the lead up to Pacific 2019, held last month at Sydney’s ICC on Darling Harbour. Maritime presented new opportunities and with the heavyweights of government all represented, we were eager to identify the most attractive opportunities. With international companies, primes, state governments, CDIC and ADA exhibiting this biennial event, forward planning paid big dividends.
Tip 1 – Do your reconnaissance. Pre-plan before the conference.
The ICC is in a great location on Darling Harbour with easy access to the CBD and surrounds. A survey visit the day before PAC19 opened provided a valuable insight into location and easy access to this event.
One of the keys to our expo attendance success was to study the event floor plan in the weeks leading up to the event – it was comprehensive and detailed, showing the quality of exhibitors at PAC19. Names jumped off the page -Department of Defence, Lockheed Martin, Victorian State Government, BAE Systems, Defence SA, SAAB, Naval Group and many more.
Pacific 2019 Floorplan
It provided a great insight into which organisations to zero-in on and their proximity to each other on the trade floor. Forget trying to work this out once you’re there – the size of the venue, plus the sheer overload of information and stimulation will have you walking around aimlessly and feeling overwhelmed before you’ve even had lunch on day one. Even with the best of planning, you still won’t get a chance to see everything, so prioritising who you’re going to see is of paramount importance.
Tip 2 – Lock-in your targets. Book your appointments beforehand.
By booking ahead we secured a place at the expo event, CDIC’s Global Opportunities for SMEs which was one of the hottest tickets at PAC19. By the time the expo had kicked off it was already too late to get into this event.
We arranged several meetings in advance and planned each day to a tight schedule. The vital tool for our success on this front? The simple but effective technology of the Exhibitor Directory. It was a great resource to trawl through that listed every exhibitor and their location on the floor.
Each exhibitor in the directory was hyperlinked to a dedicated information page containing a brief description, contact information PLUS the all-important Meeting Request button.
This took you to a separate contact page that enabled you to enter your details (name, number and email plus a long message window) so you could provide vital details to your target. Importantly, exhibitors could access our details such as our website. The good exhibitors will do their reconnaissance too, a win-win for both parties as you can get right down to business.
It may sound so simple but that one Meeting Request button for each of our targets was the game-changer, it set-up our entire expo experience for success.
Again, the main takeaway – book your key meetings and appointments before you’ve even leave home, you won’t regret this move.
Tip 3 – Form your alliances. Go into battle together.
As a member of The Australian Defence Alliance (ADA-VIC), we were able to rely on their expertise with valuable pre-event assistance,including a list of CDIC events at PAC19
As we spoke about in Tip 2, we booked into these events a few weeks out and avoided disappointment, as they were oversubscribed and virtually inaccessible if you happened to attend on the day.
The ADA also invited its members to register for introductions with overseas exhibitors and delegates. We were fortunate enough to arrange via the ADA meetings with Ameris and Groupe Fiva (part of the French delegation) -after researching the list these seemed good prospects for Glyde Metal. Reconnaissance done and targets locked-in.
These meetings were amongst the best with these overseas companies being very welcoming and responsive to meeting with Australian SMEs, given the extra time, effort and expense they’ve typically spent getting to PAC19. After a meeting with Jean-Marie and Remy from Lacroix , we were presented with a large hard copy book of the Lacroix 200-year company history, a special gift gratefully received and now a proud centerpiece of our board room at Glyde HQ.
Tip 4 – Intelligence gathering. Go to those all-important events.
For us, the Australian Government’s Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) was our go-to for information and events. Our CDIC advisor, Stephen Harvey, met with us prior to attending PAC19 and provided great support and assistance by way of experience from previous Pacific Expositions, giving us solid insights on what we could expect.
The CDIC had a large stand and held some of the best meeting events that we experienced over the three days of PAC19. The CDIC Small Business Connect Lunch held on Day One was terrific with presentations from senior PSMs and Dwayne Kirk, Manager of Business Advisory Services.
A highlight of PAC19 for Glyde Metal was on Day Two during the CDIC Global Opportunities for SMEs meeting where all primes were represented and accessible – BAE, Thales, Rheinmetall, Leidos, Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin were all in the room. Each prime posted on boards the capability they were seeking from SMEs and suppliers – this was an amazing opportunity to present our capability.
Tip 5 – Your best weapon is your Information. Have it locked and loaded.
Again, an obvious strategy but totally under-utilised by many. For us, the following two were the stand-outs we employed:
1. Have your Quad Chart printed and don’t leave that reverse side blank – we highlighted our latest news page summaries from our website. We arrived in Sydney with 20 of these and returned home with none. The best $30 investment you’ll make all year.
2. Have a tablet with you at all times with your website or streaming video presentation ready to go – we relied on both and were able to demonstrate on the spot to defence prospects our latest laser technology and production capability. Forget a laptop, or even a smart-phone – the tablet screen-size will do your company great service.
Tip 6 – Choose your battles. The PAC19 Summary.
Each day of this event was busy with pre-arranged and pre-planned meetings with businesses and organisations that could assist Glyde Metal with its desire to expand upon existing defence industry business and exposure to new defence opportunities.
With a little bit of due diligence and early planning and reconnaissance, we made full use of the three days of PAC19 by pre-preparing who, and what, we were going to see and had surprisingly little time to browse the aisles and stands of the remaining exhibitors present.
Follow the 6 Tips above and your Expo and Conference experience will totally improve, plus you’ll have avoided the dreaded FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) by seeing the exhibitors and prospects you absolutely want, and need, to see.