Laurie Pennacchi, CEO of ExpoMarketing Group LLC, recently sat down with us to discuss several interesting issues. Just some of these topics include innovating in a highly competitive industry, personal inspiration, the state of entrepreneurship, effective marketing techniques and her company’s growth.

If there is anyone who could be considered an authority on such wide-ranging subjects, it’s Ms. Pennacchi. In her current role as CEO of ExpoMarketing, she has helped the company grow into one of the premier trade show services firm in the country. ExpoMarketing specializes in customized exhibit rentals, trade show booth design, trade show support, graphic design and much more. In such a dynamic and fast-changing industry, Ms. Pennacchi and her company require quick thinking, the ability to respond to fluid customer and trade show demands, and an innate sense about what makes individual companies unique. After all, ExpoMarketing’s business model aids individual firms, startups and other enterprises stand out in a sea of like-minded organizations. Ms. Pennacchi has led ExpoMarketing since 1991. The company is a platinum certified Women’s Business Enterprises (WBENC), and the Tustin-based exhibit design firm includes a 35,000 square foot staging and inventory warehouse.

Keep reading to discover keen business insights, competitive advantages in the marketing industry, why referral networks rule and other valuable information from Ms. Pennacchi.

Who has been your greatest inspiration?

Kathy Ireland.  She is the ultimate woman entrepreneur who has built an amazing empire.  Her focus on making women successful should be an inspiration to all of us.  As a licensing partner with her company we have had the opportunity to spend time with Kathy and have found her to be a warm and caring person who is also a smart businesswoman.

What piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to become an entrepreneur?

Have a detailed short term and long term plan in place for your business, but always be flexible and have a backup plan for those obstacles that every business faces.  It is easy to get derailed if you lose a major customer, the economy goes into a serious downturn or you have issues with a product.  Anticipating that these situations can happen to anyone in business and having a plan to face them will make you stronger and more successful.

Where do you see your business in 10 years?

I see the business continuing to grow year after year.  In ten years I fully expect us to be one of the most prominent women-owned business in the country.

How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

ExpoMarketing has been built primarily from our referral network.  We pride ourselves on keeping our clients for many years and they have always given us glowing recommendations and referrals to other companies.  While we utilize a variety of marketing methods to generate new business leads, our referral network has been the most effective source of lead generation with the highest close ratio.

What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?

Most of our failures have come from having the wrong personnel in place for the job required of them. Our business is very much a team-based operation and all team members need to be working seamlessly together at all times.

How does your company provide innovation within your industry?

ExpoMarketing was a pioneer in renting exhibits in the days when it was a given that booths were a purchase to be capitalized over five years.  Today rental exhibits are extremely popular and recognized as a cost-effective solution.  We continue to provide innovation to our industry by offering unique, high quality exhibits that are affordable and that stand out from the standard rentals from our competitors.  We are always on the lookout for new trends in our industry and we constantly introduce new designs and materials to our clients.  We listen to their wishes and requirements and we don’t try to rent them the booth that is most convenient or profitable for us.

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