In my role of supervising the world’s largest poultry show – the International Poultry Expo – I find that the pace of technological change is logarithmic and the changes inherent in today’s marketplace are amazing. I find myself having to react to social networks, virtual trade shows, smart phone apps, and a plethora of new technological opportunities to interact with people in the industry.

Walking down the aisles of recent International Poultry Expos, I have been reminded of the excitement I experienced in the early 1970s as a graduate student at my first show. However, as my generation has taken over the management reins of industry, we have not been as open to bringing young managers and potential leaders to experience trade shows. This is not unusual, and many industries and trade shows are experiencing the same dynamic.

Face time being left out  

In the process, the younger generation is communicating through other modes that incorporate the “new” technologies. While tweeting and texting might be an instantaneous means of staying connected, many young managers are not getting the opportunity to see the value of face-to-face sales and marketing. One might tie into a video conference, but nothing beats the ability to sit down with your suppliers and colleagues in person. Face-to-face allows the participant to get feedback from subtle body language and a means of determining genuine response to dialogue.

Upcoming managers have different values  

The challenge management has today is adapting marketing strategies to the values of the upcoming managers.
The Center for Exhibition Research recently published “Power of Exhibitions in the 21st Century: Identify, Discover and Embrace Change for the Point of View of Young Professionals.” In this monograph, the authors offer the following insight to trade show organizers, but it can be applied across the board to all forms of marketing:


  • Boomers (ages 40 to 60) are the career-driven generation and define themselves by their work, by their “contribution.”
  • GenX (ages 28 to 39) came of age with workaholic, absentee parents and do not want to become workaholics whose work hours intrude into their personal lives, especially time with their children.
  • Millennials (ages 18 to 27) are going to be a driven generation in the workplace, passionate about the contributions they make to life on earth through their careers.

Companies that succeed in competitive markets are those that can adapt quickly to the needs of their respective clients. This means getting a good handle on the thought processes that may have generational differences and nuances.

Well-rounded strategies, managers  

No matter the generation, marketing strategies need to offer a blend of communication opportunities. Print advertising, web advertising, direct mail, web site development, and social networking all play important roles in expanding our respective markets. However, whether it is a corporate event, sales call, or a trade show, nothing is more effective than meeting your client in person.

The 2011 International Poultry Expo (IPE) is adapting to the changing needs of the industry, and we are bullish on focusing on the needs of both the top executives and the next generation of leaders coming through the ranks. Our College Student Career Program has been on-going for more than 40 years, and many of the leaders in the industry today got their early exposure to the poultry industry through this program. Last year, 261 college students attended the show through the efforts of U.S. Poultry & Egg Association and our Harold E. Ford Foundation.

Invest in your young professionals  

I urge poultry industry managers to extend their reach into their respective organizations to bring their promising young people to the IPE, which will be held January 26-28. Take advantage of this excellent opportunity to expand training for the rising young managers in your company, and the next generation of poultry industry leaders.