A Couple of Frequently Ignored Trade Show Rules

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Ignore These Trade Show Rules At Your Peril And Improve Results When You Next Staff An Exhibit Booth

As someone who attends a great number of shows, there seems to be a few rules that get ignored more ofter than they are followed.  Here are a few that appear to be ignored by almost everyone.

Inconsistent Booth Personnel Training

I am always surprised by the number of booth personnel that stumble over the “what-do-you do” question (the basic elevator pitch) or didn’t know how to talk about their product’s benefits. You can almost always tell if you are speaking with a sales person (or other customer facing employee) who deals with these questions all of the time versus others that are more “headquarters types.” There is no excuse for this lack of preparation by the booth personnel – its why you are at the show.

Also, a tip for international exhibitors where the booth personnel may not be comfortable with English.  There are frequent examples (especially at larger trade shows) where the booth personnel from non English-speaking countries don’t understand enough English to converse with attendees. They simply scan the attendee’s badge and move on. Again, the reason you are at a live event is to interact with attendees.  If you can not staff your booth appropriately, then perhaps live trade shows are not the best marketing tool for you to use.

The Booth Is Not A Luggage Room

‘Get-away day’ (the last day of the show) is always a problem for booth managers. Many booths have limited storage for things like sales literature and give-aways. There is rarely room for the booth personnel’s luggage. No matter how many times people are told not to bring their luggage to the booth, they do it anyway. Exhibit managers must be tough on this. Booths are not checkrooms. The number of booths that I saw with luggage piled all over the place was astonishing. Not only does the booth look messy, it leaves the impression that the most important thing to you is not your prospects and customers – it’s getting out of the exhibit hall as fast as you can.

Eating In The Booth

When I manage a trade show, the rule is simple – don’t bring food into the booth.  During the trade show happy hour, I like to nibble on some hors d’oeuvres and have a beer in the booth like everyone else.  However, it simply sets you up for your booth looking like a college dorm room after a party.  What inevitably happens is that a show attendee walks up while your are enjoying your nosh and asks a question.  You put down your food and move over to a demo station and voila – you have a mess.  Its bad enough that attendees can’t seem to find the garbage cans placed around the exhibit hall and use your booth as a trash can.  What do they think this is – a Las Vegas casino?!

The booth manager should schedule time for booth dwellers to eat, take a coffee/water break or enjoy the show hospitality.  Keep the food out of your booth!

There were many more examples of lack of attention to details detracts from your companies first impression. Booths so cluttered you can’t enter. Signage so low on a panel that the people in the booth blocked it or you can’t read it without stooping over. Vendors who don’t complete the forms so that their company/product description isn’t in the show guide (someone missed a deadline!). Booth dwellers talking to each other and not the attendees.

The success of your trade show program depends on taking care of a large number of details – from logistics to signage, from freebies to booth personnel training, from pre-show promotion to post-show follow-up. Trade shows are hard work for both the exhibitor and the attendee. The best way to maximize the results of your trade show program is to remember that shows are also hard work for the attendees. They are spending time and money to learn how they can solve their problems and help their company move forward. Exhibitors that help the attendees get what they want out of attending a show also help themselves!

Rick Gimbel
VP of Marketing | TechMarketeers

Well, after a B.S. in mathematics I went on to gain my M.S. in Computer Science from Purdue and began my 30-year career as a software engineer. I transitioned into marketing fairly early in my career and have held numerous VP of Marketing positions. Along the way I have worked in hardware, software and even supercomputing organizations (Adtron, JD Edwards, Sequent), from startups (Flashline & Apollo) to Fortune 500 companies such as Motorola, Digital Equipment, and Control Data.

I have also spent time with other specialist marketing firms such as Neodata, a database marketing and fulfillment company where I fine-tuned my understanding in 1-1 marketing and the use of analytics in all campaigns.

I currently serve as the VP of Marketing for TechMarketeers, specialists in hi-tech marketing.

Rick Gimbel

About Rick Gimbel

VP of Marketing | TechMarketeers Well, after a B.S. in mathematics I went on to gain my M.S. in Computer Science from Purdue and began my 30-year career as a software engineer. I transitioned into marketing fairly early in my career and have held numerous VP of Marketing positions. Along the way I have worked in hardware, software and even supercomputing organizations (Adtron, JD Edwards, Sequent), from startups (Flashline & Apollo) to Fortune 500 companies such as Motorola, Digital Equipment, and Control Data. I have also spent time with other specialist marketing firms such as Neodata, a database marketing and fulfillment company where I fine-tuned my understanding in 1-1 marketing and the use of analytics in all campaigns. I currently serve as the VP of Marketing for TechMarketeers, specialists in hi-tech marketing.

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