What is the Key Strategy of Champions?

Graphic: © Digital Juice

This coming weekend, two teams will meet to determine America’s football champion. And while each team brings different specialties and strengths to the field, there’s one thing that’s certain: all the players have spent countless hours perfecting their skills.

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There are numerous sayings that focus on the importance of training in the world of sports: “Practice makes perfect” (that one may be a bit ambitious), “You get out of it what you put into it” (more accurate), and “Confidence comes with repetition.”

That last one is perhaps the most relevant lesson that exhibit marketers can learn from athletes, particularly when it comes to booth staffing skills.

No coach in his right mind would send a player into the “Big Game” who had never spent an hour on the practice field. In fact, true superstars and elite performers likely spend up to 10,000 hours honing their skills, at least according to a theory Malcolm Gladwell proposed in his book, Outliers: The Story of Success.

“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good,” Gladwell said. “It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

It takes time and focused effort to master any skill. Now of course I’m not saying that an exhibit staff needs to spend 10,000 hours preparing for a show, but neither should they be left to figure things out as they go, either.

Think about it … athletes, musicians, and other high-level professionals hire coaches, private trainers, and other experts to get them past what they don’t know or can’t fix by themselves. They focus on the skills and techniques they need to make them more effective. And they also do rehearsals and dry runs to work the kinks out.

In the same way, exhibit staff (especially novices) need someone to guide them through what they don’t know or understand. Applying ‘Common Sense Theory’ — where it’s assumed that “everyone knows the basics of how to work a booth” — just doesn’t work.

And like a fan in the stands who “thinks” he or she knows everything and could play a better game, a booth staff that has merely been going to shows for years but was never trained properly in the first place isn’t going to become champions either. In fact, they may be doing even more harm than good.

So what do booth staff champs-in-training need to work on? Things like how to engage, qualify and disengage attendees. Understanding what makes a qualified lead (and what doesn’t). Reviewing in-booth etiquette issues like no eating or talking on cell phones while on duty, and so much more.

For a more in-depth look at what exhibitor education is and why it matters, check out the Exhibitor Education Manifesto I wrote a few years ago. You’ll find a PDF copy you can download for free online at ExhibitMarketersCafe.com/manifesto. (It only takes about 10 minutes to read.)

Author Nathan Jamail wrote in The Sales Professionals Playbook that “most sales professionals practice less than 0.5 percent of the time.” I’d venture to guess that’s a pretty accurate description of most exhibit marketers as well. But as we’ve seen, that’s not exactly the way to achieve success.

And if you or your exhibit team is looking for the coaching, training and skills needed to be more effective in your booth, check out the variety of tools available in the Exhibit Marketers Café or contact me to schedule your customized training.

© 2017 Marlys K. Arnold  (from the January 2017 TradeShowTips Online. To receive tips like this in your inbox every month, please take a moment to fill out this request.)

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Marlys Arnold

With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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