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Back in 1936, when Dale Carnegie published his famous How to Win Friends and Influence People, he shared a list of six ways to make people like you:
- Be genuinely interested in them.
- Remember the importance of a person’s name.
- Be a good listener.
- Talk about the other person’s interests.
- Make the other person feel important.
It’s no surprise that the same points hold true nearly 100 years later! But perhaps you’ve never considered how those principles apply regarding trade shows, especially when it comes to the relationship between you and your show managers. How often do you even have a conversation with them outside of the time when you’re booking space for an upcoming show? Yes, good show managers will reach out to their exhibitors on a regular basis, but let’s face it: some are just flat out too overwhelmed to stay in contact with everyone. But if you make the effort to reach out and get to know them on a first-name basis, they’re much more likely to think of you if an opportunity comes along.
So what can you do to build the relationship and stay on their radar (in a good way)?
- Study the materials provided by the show. This includes the prospectus, which is not just a tool for selling you the space. Many shows have an extensive prospectus that outlines attendee demographics, including their geographic locations, job titles, buying power, and more. If you delve into that, you’ll gain some real insights into who your audience will be at the show. It’s also important to read your Exhibitor Manual. (I know … I can hear you groaning!) While this collection of documents may seem as exciting as reading the unabridged dictionary, there are a wealth of money-saving details in there! Pay special attention to the show’s rules & regulations, deadlines, and move-in information, then abide by them. If you discover anything that doesn’t make sense to you or causes you concern, contact your show manager. But a word of caution: if you do have questions, consult your Exhibitor Manual first. Bothering them with questions you could have easily answered yourself won’t score you any points!
- Communicate goals to show management. They really do want to see you be successful! So let them know why you’re exhibiting and let them guide you to opportunities that align with those goals. For example, if you plan to introduce a new product, they can get you featured in the New Products Showcase. Or if you have an in-house expert on a current hot topic your industry is buzzing about, perhaps they will offer you a slot on the speaking schedule.
- Make the most of the promotional opportunities and tools available. As a small exhibitor, I learned this one early on. I wanted to know how to maximize my participation at the show, and I discovered many opportunities to do that: attendee lists, sponsorships, inserting items in the registration bags, etc. I often gained access to low-cost (or even free) tools that other exhibitors didn’t have any idea existed, just because I asked!
The bottom line is to reach out to show management and get to know who’s who — both your sales person, the onsite staff (also note where the show office will be located), and the PR/marketing people. Practice the principles laid out by Carnegie, as well as the three points above, and you’ll discover your success will increase — because every successful show is the result of a team effort.
Want to know more about how to team up with show management? It’s our featured Strategy of the Month for April in the Exhibit Marketers Café! You’ll learn more ideas to take advantage of opportunities offered by show management, as well as tips for maximizing sponsorships.
© 2013 Marlys K. Arnold (from the March 2013 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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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.