Do You Suffer from this Dangerous Exhibitor Disorder?

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Photo: stock.xchng/LotusHead

Photo: stock.xchng/LotusHead

There’s a disorder that nearly every exhibitor suffers from at one point or another. It begins slowly, but can grow to a dangerous level.

It’s called “Center of the Universe Syndrome,” (COTUS) and it can develop due to event planning stress, lack of education, or just plain laziness. It manifests as either arrogance or indifference, with exhibitors relying too much on outside circumstances (show management, booth location, etc.) to drive traffic to their booth instead of being proactive. Left unchecked, it can reach disastrous proportions and cause complete failure at the show.

Guess what? Attendees aren’t coming to the show just to see you! When you let COTUS cloud your judgment, you limit your ability to effectively connect with attendees. Sure, you might make a few connections, but not nearly as many as you could by exhibiting without the disorder.

So how do you overcome COTUS? Begin by taking steps long before the show to make your booth attractive to attendees, both in appearance and with the activities going on there throughout show hours. Have a reason for attendees to not only enter your space, but also spend time there learning about your products and services and the solutions you can provide for them. Make your booth an oasis on the show floor, not a cookie-cutter replica of a dozen other booths.

Likewise, these attraction tools can’t be mere eye candy or flash & sizzle. They need to go beyond being simple attention-getters and actually generate interest from qualified prospects. In fact, having a high-profile celebrity guest or a drawing for an uber-cool gadget may generate lots of traffic, but is still just a manifestation of COTUS — it reinforces the belief that your booth is popular, but doesn’t ultimately result in new business.

Instead, a much better option to gain attention is to demonstrate your own product or showcase something related to the service you provide. What is your target audience looking for? What do they struggle the most with? If you demonstrate solutions, they’ll be naturally drawn to your booth to learn more. Instead of filling your booth with outsourced “pretty faces,” have research & development staff, technical experts, and other people who can answer the meaty questions. Trust me, your hottest prospects will appreciate that much more!

If you need help overcoming this disorder, join us in the Exhibit Marketers Café for our Strategy of the Month calls in February on “The Attractor Factor” & “What Attendees Want,” where we’ll be sharing lots of tips to make your booth more attractive in all the right ways.

How have you battled and overcome COTUS in your exhibit marketing? Please post your experiences in the comments below.

© 2002-2014 Marlys K. Arnold (from the January 2014 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.

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