No question about it: whether business to business or business to consumer, we’re faced with a plethora of choices. Decision making has become a difficult process—and when it comes to managing a significant budget item, there is pressure to make not only the “right” decision but one your company can live with.
The “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” is not awarded in the business-to-business environment. But let’s consider the fact that our personal purchases are more often than not influenced by Amazon reviews, our neighbors’ experience with a product, or comparative price shopping. There are times when we want to go to Walmart, Costco, or Target for a one-and-done shopping experience, and there are other times when visiting several smaller businesses gives us the solutions we are seeking.
There’s a new buyer mentality in town
The reason for examining the (our) buyer mentality is that no matter the environment—B-to-B or B-to-C, decisions are made by people, people charged with making a major purchase decision. Buyers across the board have changed. They are not so easily swayed by a sales pitch as they are by influencers. All of us are much more skeptical than we were twenty years ago, and we want to ensure that the companies we choose can deliver what they promise at the agreed-upon price. We want to work with partners who would earn a five-star rating on Amazon.
Exhibit buyers are no different. Their attitudes toward major purchases have been honed by personal experience and preference. There is a significant amount of money involved in choosing the best partner, and in all likelihood, job security is riding on the decision. Informal networks exist so that face-to-face marketers can talk to one another about potential choices, but in reality, one company’s preference could turn into another company’s nightmare. There are unique challenges to every partner relationship, and the reinforcement of corporate brand attributes often demand consistent capabilities in suppliers.
The answer: EDPA Certification
What the experiential industry needs is an apples-to-apples evaluation of capabilities, organizational structure, and commitment to sustainability. In other words, what the experiential industry needs is the EDPA Certification, a program that recognizes exhibit organizations on the basis of business integrity, capabilities, and operational practices. The EDPA Certification demands stringent standards for business practices in the experiential industry. This rigorous certification process is handled by iCompli, a third-party audit firm that reviews the application and verifies compliance.
Launched in early 2014, the EDPA Certification Program answered the questions and addressed the perplexities of corporate exhibit marketers who wanted more transparency and consistency during the RFP process. They asked for the promotion of transparency, consistent standards, reputable business practices, and an openness to new business models.
Better than Angie’s List
When your company earns the EDPA Certification, you stand out in a crowded field, often characterized by vendors who over-promise and under-deliver. One of the real weaknesses of the current RFP process is that because of so many demands on their time, exhibit marketers aren’t able to perform the level of due diligence necessary to limit the list of the most suitable respondents to a reasonable number.
When your company has been certified by EDPA, you are already identified as a partner committed to trust and transparency. Better than Angie’s List, EDPA Certification identifies the best companies in the industry. The EDPA Certification assures exhibit marketers that your company adheres to industry standards and can demonstrate ethical business practices, industry experience and participation, fiscal responsibility, and operational methodology.