Demo stage at the ICUEE conference in Louisville, Kentucky
As I have recently relocated to Louisville, I had the opportunity to attend the International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE) in Louisville, Kentucky this past week. First, a big thanks to Gorilla for sending me. ICUEE is one of the biggest and coolest trade shows in construction, and I recommend it to anyone in the construction industry.

In addition to speaking with a few folks about industrial b2b marketing, I saw the unveiling of innovative equipment, startup launches and fascinating demos (rubber tires do conduct electricity, and stay far away from any downed wires, trust me). The learnings I’ll share from ICUEE fall into two categories, one, where construction is headed, and two, my observations of the most successful trade show booths.

1. Everything that can be automated will be automated

Many of the innovations unveiled at ICUEE would automate elements of the construction process. Whether through “smart” utility vehicles that come with advanced on-board software, remotely controlled and operated cranes for Tilt-Up concrete or automated trench shoring machines that eliminate manual digging — jobs of the future will require less labor. The job site will feature more trained operators and machinery, and projects will take less time.

2. Everything will be mapped, logged and put into a database

Assessing a job site and locating important features can slow down a project, while keeping track of the information can be inefficient and expensive. ICUEE saw the unveiling of software and database platforms that will make it easier to map every element of a job site and provide cheaper and faster information access. As much as we’re in the information age already, there will soon be even more data available in easy-to-use, on-demand platforms. In fact, one of our clients is leading the charge here with quality control documentation software that streamlines projects.

Safety demonstration at ICUEE 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky

3. Every job should get safer

Each year, workers die and sustain injuries from preventable job-site accidents. It’s one of the biggest problems in the construction industry, so I find the possibilities of new technology particularly encouraging. Much of the equipment unveiled at the exposition would keep workers further away from harm and make jobs less dangerous.

4. Everyone thinks magic is cool — except maybe your neighbors

Switching gears, ICUEE was big enough to have intense booth competition. I’m talking massive utility vehicles suspended in mid-air, uniformed models, plus every kind of shiny light and gadget. How do you grab attention if you don’t have the budget for a massive floor space or heavy machinery for your booth? Bring a magician. Two small booths had magic and regularly drew an oversized audience. It was borderline shocking to see the promotion audiences would give them. One negative, their neighbors did seem a bit exasperated after seeing so many people at the magic demos, but even they seemed to appreciate the magic tricks.

5. Everyone listens to the loudest speaker

I’m not saying you should yell at people going by your booth or blare music louder than your trade show allows. But there’s nothing wrong with using a microphone. Somehow, the sound of a person speaking into a mic, whether it’s handheld or a headset, attracts a crowd. I saw it time and again at ICUEE.

Tradeshow booth at ICUEE 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky

Why should a marketing agency send someone to a construction exposition?

For one, ICUEE presented an opportunity to meet people in our target audience, interact with them and share a bit about industrial b2b marketing. Two, Gorilla 76 isn’t your typical marketing agency. For many of our clients, we plan and execute the majority of marketing initiatives, functioning as an integral part of their companies. Our clients, many of which are in the construction industry, depend heavily on our ability to understand their businesses and create accurate, technical content. We interview key players in our client companies, read industry publications and attend events like ICUEE to learn their businesses and industries. It’s all part of our effort to help our clients generate construction leads through inbound marketing.