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Trade Show Essay Research Paper Trade Shows

Trade Show Essay, Research Paper Trade Shows: Making Yours A Success Trade shows, done right, can be the crown jewel of your marketing mix. Here’s how to make trade shows pay off for your company.

Trade Show Essay, Research Paper

Trade Shows: Making Yours A Success

Trade shows, done right, can be the crown jewel of your marketing mix. Here’s how to make trade shows pay off for your company.

+ Set quantitative goals for each show at which you exhibit: There s an old saying that goes, We don t know where we re headed, but we re getting there fast. If you don t have established goals for your trade show how many customers you want to prospect, how many deals you want to close and with whom, and a dance card filled with appointments in advance of the show you aren t maximizing your staff s time. This extra preparation can mean the difference between an uncertain return on your investment and a healthy one.

+ Use trade shows to test market new products: Sometimes, instead of putting together an expensive market research study, consider bringing product prototypes and demonstrations to show in a private space of your booth, or in a hotel suite. This can save time and money and give you qualitative data you might otherwise miss.

+ Gather competitive intelligence: You don t even need a booth to gather tremendous competitive intelligence at a show. Give yourself and your staff time to walk the floor and attend the product demos of all of your competitors, then put together a report for management after the show encapsulating your findings.

+ Don t choose a show for its location: Sure, we d all like to attend the convention in Hawaii. But sometimes the show in the less desirable location is the one that will produce the most serious buyers. Make sure the trade show organizer shows you the demographic data from past events to get a feel for the type of attendee.

+ First-time events are risky: It can be costly to exhibit at a show that has no track record. If a new show is in or near your hometown or a major office, the costs can be mitigated to a degree. But sometimes it pays to wait until the show has a track record before jumping in.

How to Use Promotions Effectively at Your Trade Show

Is it necessary to offer promotional items at my trade show booth?

Part of the excitement in going to a trade show is coming home with interesting giveaways. Since being at a trade show means being close to your prospective customers, it s important that you offer unique items they will remember you by.

Aside from giving the trade show go-ers the gift they ve come to expect, promotional items can work some other wonders for you as well:

+ Drive traffic to your booth. You can draw a huge crowd in front of your booth (as well as connect with lots of prospects) just by having an interesting gift. Everyone will want to know what s going on and who you are. While they wait in line, you ll have the perfect opportunity to explain your services and collect leads to follow-up on after the show. When people are in other locations of the convention center and see your name on a bag or a cool item, they ll seek you out.

+ Leave behind a good feeling about your company. While any gift is appreciated, a special one can create a connection between what you do and your prospect s needs.

What are the best items to give out?

Be creative! Try to pick a gift that will not only incite your prospects curiosity but also tie in with your business. For example, a beauty website or fashion magazine might give out a lip-gloss or a compact. An investment bank might think about a translucent calculator.

Pens, while they may seem like a naturally inexpensive choice, are an effective way to establish your brand. Experts say that pens have a high pass-along value and can actually promote your company up to 8 times longer than any other giveaway. Once given to a prospect, the pen will be used at work, could be lent to a colleague, or left behind in an office. As a result, your company name will travel and inspire brand recognition.

How much should I spend on promotional items for the show?

This is largely dependent on your budget. Your best bet is to spend between $1 and $5 per person.

Also, note that it is acceptable to buy two different sets of giveaways to distinguish between good leads and serious prospects:

If someone approaches you with an interest in learning about your business, consider them a good lead. The best you can do to make an impression (aside from a winning sales pitch) is to give them a little something to remember your name. By spending between $1 and $5 per person, you can find products with enough flare to draw a crowd without breaking the bank. There are a number of unique items which, when used in combination, can make an influential giveaway package.

A serious lead is someone who not only has established a need for the resources you offer but also is able to influence purchase decisions. For these prospects, you may want to spend between $7 and $10 per person on incentives. Offer the gift with some discretion and point out that these are not for everyone, just special people you look forward to working with. By letting them know that you highly value their prospective business, the $10 you spend will surely pay you back.

Reaching Buyers At The Trade Show

By Alyson Hendrickson Wentz, CAS

Attendees walking onto a trade show floor are greeted with a multitude of sights and sounds. Banners, posters, video screens, music, sound effects, product demonstrations, models, magicians, clowns, mimes, robots and many other marketing ploys vie for their attention. It’s no wonder that the average show attendee goes into sensory overload after only a few hours on the floor. As a trade show exhibitor, your mission is to develop a promotion that will attract qualified buyers to your booth before they become overwhelmed by the promotional strategies of your competitors.

The most effective way to cut through the clutter of competing trade show promotions is to market to prospective buyers before they get to the show. Ideas for successful pre-show promotions are outlined in the article, Pre-Trade Show Marketing: Get Them Before They Get There. But, if you choose not to run a pre-show promotion, there are still many effective at-show marketing strategies that you can use.

At the show you can still target buyers before they reach the show floor. Find out where your prospects will be staying during the show, and then send targeted flyers or imprinted products to their hotel rooms. At a Comdex show in Las Vegas, Microsoft arranged for a silk-screened pillowcase to be put on the pillows in every hotel room in the city. When show attendees (and other visitors) pulled back their bed covers at night they saw the Microsoft logo and booth number imprinted on their pillows.

Another at-show promotion that utilized hotel rooms as the point of delivery was a campaign by IntelliData (Springfield, VA) at the Retail Delivery trade show. The company had one-page floor plans of the show delivered to its prospects’ rooms. Prospects who brought the floor plan to IntelliData’s booth at the show received a complimentary pair of boxer shorts as a gift.

“Any advertising specialty item should reflect the quality of your product and the good reputation of your firm,” says Jay Conrad Levinson in Guerilla Trade Show Selling. “There is a subconscious discounting of who you are when a prospect has to throw away something you’ve given them.” Therefore, it is ineffective, and a waste of money, to purchase thousands of cheap promotional items to be handed out indiscriminately, or to be left out on a table for attendees to scoop into their bags by the handful.

“If you decide to use premiums, select something meaningful and useful to your customer or prospect, and then use it as a parting gift,” Levinson says. “Insist on making your giveaway work hard to get you sales.” Some examples of hard-working premiums are those that are presented after the prospect has completed a survey/questionnaire, sat through a presentation or set up a sales appointment.

To thank computer programmers for completing a demonstration of a new product at a computer trade show, Integrated Chipware (Reston, VA) presented them with an imprinted juggling set. The programmers were first invited to the booth through the distribution of invitation buttons imprinted with the message “I’ve Seen the Future in Real Time.” Those who visited the booth and completed the demonstration received the juggling sets. The juggling sets were chosen as the appropriate gifts because stress- and boredom-relieving toys are favorites of computer programmers. To further reinforce the promotion, booth staffers wore custom-imprinted shirts, ties and earrings that echoed the shapes and colors of the juggling set.

According to Guerilla Trade Show Selling, the best premiums/promotional help your prospects/clients get their job done faster. “Information premiums have the highest perceived value and the lowest relative reproduction costs,” Levinson says. Examples of information premiums are reprints of articles, special reports, audio and videotapes, computer software and books related to your field. “Such premiums self-select your prime prospects, because they are of little use to the general public,” he adds.

If you choose to use an “information premium” as your trade-show gift, add further value to it by including an appropriate promotional product. Clip together articles or reports with a giant imprinted paper clip. Present a book with an engraved metal or embossed leather bookmark inside, or include an imprinted highlighter that the recipient can use to mark important passages. Audio and videotapes can be placed inside an imprinted tote bag or portfolio. Computer discs can be given out in imprinted CD cases. Whatever product you choose, it’s important that it complement the “information premium.”

The next best premium, according to Levinson, is a specialized tool that would appeal to a specific group of recipients. For example, a fertilizer company might want to give out an imprinted plastic slide rule to landscapers who need to calculate application rates for fertilizer. Another example is a hotel or restaurant exhibitor giving out imprinted wine selection books to meeting planners

When choosing an appropriate trade show premium, the exhibitor also wants to consider his objectives at the show. Some companies use incentives only if they have a new product release or a new product application to promote, and then the incentive is closely tied to the product. Other companies might use premium gifts to tie in with particular benefits or features of their products or services that they want to sell. A heating and air conditioning company in North Carolina wanted to impress on trade show attendees the savings they would recognize by buying the company’s products. Booth staff at the show distributed imprinted money clips to reinforce the savings connection.

Along with giving out an appropriate promotional item, trade show exhibitors need to make the most of other opportunities to reach show attendees. One such opportunity is the design of your booth and the copy and graphics that are displayed on and in it. “Your graphics must show what you do,” Levinson says. “They must be clear and compelling. They must be colorful and attractive, and they must sell.” Read the article Branding Your Trade Show Booth for more ideas on effective booth promotion.

Your booth staffers can also serve as promotional vehicles for your company. Dress them in golf shirts, denim shirts or oxford shirts embroidered with your corporate logo. The shirts will present a professional and unified image of your company to show-goers, while also simplifying your employees’ show wardrobes. Attendees will appreciate being able to separate booth staff from the crowd when they need to ask a question, or place an order. The logoed shirts will also serve to promote your company when booth staffers are outside of the booth — on a lunch break, etc. Have some extra shirts on hand, so that you can present them as gifts to customers who might ask for one. You can also build in a follow-up opportunity by promising the client you’ll send them a shirt after the show.

Another item to keep on hand is a high-quality pen. Levinson suggests keeping a supply of high-end pens in your exhibit to present to clients when they need to complete an order. “When they offer it back to you, respond with, ‘I believe that’s yours.’ They’ll say, ‘No, you just gave it to me.’ And you’ll respond, ‘Yes. That’s right.’ They will put it in their pocket with a smile and remember you every time they use it,” Levinson says. Don’t pass up the chance to have a subtle logo imprinted on the pen, or perhaps simply your company’s web address engraved on the pen cap.

Remember to ask the recipient how they’re enjoying the pen or whatever show gift your gave them when you follow up with them after the show. If they mention any problem that they’re having — the pen stopped writing, the imprint wore off the juggling set, etc. — apologize and promise to send them a new gift. Then send it out right away with a note thanking them again for stopping by your booth. Other ideas for effective follow-up promotions are discussed in Post-Trade Show Follow Up — Turning Leads Into Sales.

Alyson Hendrickson Wentz, CAS, is a freelance writer specializing in articles about marketing with promotional products. She spent six years on the editorial staff of The Counselor magazine, the preeminent publication for the promotional products industry, and earned the Certified Advertising Specialist (CAS) designation from the Promotional Products Association International.

Turning Leads into Sales after the Trade Show

By Alyson Hendrickson Wentz, CAS

Imagine planning a huge party and sparing no expense to do it right. You’ve hired the best caterer in town. Bought out the most elegant florist. Sent engraved invitations to all of your friends and colleagues. And then on the day of the party, after you’ve spent months planning it, you change your mind and call the whole thing off. You wouldn’t do that, right? Of course not. But, that’s just what some exhibitors are doing when they spend months of planning (and thousands of dollars) to make a splash at a trade show, and then don’t follow up with the prospects that they went to the show to meet. They’ve wasted their time and money. They might as well have stayed home.

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reports that 80 percent of exhibitors make no attempts to follow up on their leads from trade shows. In a study conducted by the University of Massachusetts Center for Marketing Communications, 43 percent of prospective buyers reported receiving materials that they had requested at a trade show after they had already made a buying decision. Another 18 percent said that they never received the materials that they had requested. “Unfortunately, the longer you wait, the less likely you are to close,” says Jay Conrad Levinson in Guerilla Trade Show Selling.

There are three components to effective trade show marketing — pre-show, at-show and post-show. Without the post-show component, the marketing strategy is not complete and often the sale is not made. Therefore, developing a creative and effective post-show promotion is just as important as, or even more important than, your pre- and at-show promotions.

According one a government-funded study, when service is perceived to be immediate, 95 percent of customers will do business with you again. So, follow up right away. “Just as you scheduled time before the show for planning and preparation, reserve time immediately after the show to manage your new leads,” Levinson says. “It’s your company’s responsibility to keep the promises that your exhibit staff made to visitors. Send visitors what you promised, when you promised. Call them. Visit them. Don’t ignore them! Follow up your hot leads within two to three days, and tend to the rest within a week.”

A tough timeline to meet? Not if you plan ahead. Before leaving for the show, make up the sales literature packages that will be sent out when you return, or have them made up while you’re at the show. You can also have several form letters prepared that can be customized with the pertinent client name and information when you return from the show. Make sure that all of the letters are signed, and write a longhand note on the envelope — “Here’s the information you requested.” You’ll also want to choose an attention-getting promotional product to include with your follow-up literature. It should follow the same theme or idea that your pre- and at-show promotional items did, and it should tie in with your products and/or services. Another study by CEIR indicated that the triple gift approach to trade show promotion resulted in the greatest increase in awareness of the exhibitor’s identity, product or service. It also resulted in a 70-precent increase in preference for the exhibiting company compared to no gift.

In the article Reaching Buyers At The Trade Show, we discussed a North Carolina heating and air conditioning company that gave out imprinted money clips at a trade show to tie in with the idea that its services would save the prospects money. After the show, the company followed up on qualified prospects by sending them a dollar bill encased in Lucite to further drive home the savings angle. The program had a 15-percent success rate.

Along with including a promotional product, another way to make sure your follow-up package gets opened is to make the package something special. Send your literature and promotional item by Federal Express, UPS Red, Airborne or Express Mail. Better yet, send it in unique packaging, such as a tube, a wooden crate, a Chinese food container, a bottle, etc. Custom packaging gets your package noticed and opened.

“One guerrilla sent a box with a picture of a large aspirin tablet and the caption, ‘Headache Relief Kit.’ Inside were three different types of pain relievers and the requested brochures,” Levinson says. “When this box arrived with all the other FedEx envelopes, it was opened first. When the follow-up call came, 100 percent of the prospects remembered getting the box, and 94 percent asked for a salesperson to call.” That’s quite a response rate, but an imprinted first-aid kit or some other themed promotional item would have added even more punch.

Another way to follow-up with a client, particularly if they’re local, is to stop by in person with the requested literature and a follow-up gift. In the article “Pre-Trade Show Marketing: Get Them Before They Get There,” we gave an example of successful pre-show promotion that utilized a pre-show mailing of a portfolio to draw attendees to the exhibitor’s booth where they could pick up a personalized name plate to attach to the portfolio. This program had a built-in follow-up component, because the exhibitor had an “in” for calling those prospects who did not come to the booth. Following the show the exhibitor’s salespeople could call those attendees who had not picked up their name plates and offer to stop by with them, or mail them out with some product literature. “Instead of having something called a ‘cold call,’ it was ‘warm call,’” says Margit Weisgal, president of Sextant Communications and author of Show & Sell, a book on trade show marketing. “No one is going to say ‘No, I don’t want to see you.’ So, it becomes very beneficial for a company.”

Instead of just one post-show mailing, Levinson suggests that you “serialize your mailings.” While you’re still at the show you can have a post card, letter, fax or e-mail sent out to the prospects thanking them for stopping by the booth and informing them that your information packet will arrive soon. All of this can be set in motion before leaving for the show, so that someone in the office can access the client/prospect database and send out the mailings.

After sending the information packet and a well-chosen promotional item, follow up with a phone call to make sure that the prospect received the package, and to see what else they might need to make a buying decision. If appropriate, try to set up a time for a meeting. The meeting would be another opportunity to present the prospect with a promotional gift as a thank you for their time.

If the prospect doesn t agree to a meeting, or if a meeting isn’t your objective, follow up your call with another mailing, fax or e-mail. “If you featured a show special, send a sequence of offers with escalating urgency,” Levinson suggests. “Guerrillas know that most business is won because the competition gave up.” Don’t give up. Keep these prospects on your mailing list by sending them your specials, media releases, articles, case studies, newsletters, brochures, samples, trade show invitations, holiday card and, of course, promotional items. “Sending lots of stuff on a regular basis is better than sending a work of art once,” says Mac McIntosh, a consultant on managing leads.

“Two good reasons to exhibit at trade shows are to build that customer base and to keep current customers loyal for life,” Levinson says. “If a customer requests information, materials, or a catalog, and you fail to respond, the customer will assume you don’t really care about the business and will switch vendors. They may assume that you conduct all your business in such a shoddy fashion. That’s why guerrillas must manage their leads.”

Follow-up is the most crucial part of the trade show marketing equation. True trade show success is not measured by the number of catalogs handed out or the number of business cards collected. It’s the sales generated from the leads made at the trade show that make your participation in the show successful. Pre-show planning and organization is the key to immediate and successful post-show follow up. So, find the appropriate sales literature, promotional products and packaging that will turn those hot show leads into profitable sales and lifelong clients.

Alyson Hendrickson Wentz, CAS, is a freelance writer specializing in articles about marketing with promotional products. She spent six years on the editorial staff of The Counselor magazine, the preeminent publication for the promotional products industry, and earned the Certified Advertising Specialist (CAS) designation from the Promotional Products Association International.

Pre-Trade Show Marketing: Get Them Before They Get There

by Alyson Hendrickson Wentz, CAS

Some tradeshow exhibitors seem to think that if they have the biggest booth, the wackiest events and piles of promotional giveaways that they’ll draw crowds of buyers to their exhibit. Well, they might draw crowds, but they won’t necessarily be qualified buyers. “I’m not interested in a crowded booth,” says Steve Miller, president of The Adventure of Trade Shows, in his book Over 66 Tips & Tricks To Supercharge Your Trade Show Promotions. “I don’t want everybody in my booth I want the right people in my booth.” And, so should you.

To make sure that you draw the right people to your booth, you need to start promoting long before the show even opens. The most effective tradeshow promotion, according to studies done by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) and the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), are two-part promotions — one part before the show and one part at the show.

“What you want to do is have a target audience,” says Margit Weisgal, president of Sextant Communications, and author of the trade show promotion book Show & Sell. “It can be culled from the pre-registration list, your existing client or customer list. You want to target those people.” Once you’ve chosen the target audience to reach before the show, send them a mailing that will draw them to your booth. Remember, though, the product needs to tie in with the theme of the mailing, which should be consistent with the theme of your at-show promotion.

One pre-trade show promotion that carried a consistent message through to the trade show floor was created by GTE Telephone Operations — “Innovations Alexander (Graham Bell) Never Dreamed Of.” The theme pointed out the new technical developments in products and services at GTE. All of the ad copy, pre-show mailings and at-show displays was stressed the “multifaceted” nature of GTE communication products and services. This concept was driven home through the unique gift that GTE prospects and clients received when they visited the booth — a GTE-logoed Dragonfly, a kaleidoscope-type device that used a multifaceted lens to multiply whatever image the viewer was looking at.

“Promise them a gift, and draw those people into the booth,” Weisgal says. “You can only see a certain number of people at a show. Rather than assume that the right people are going to come down the aisle, stop in your booth and say ‘hi, I want to buy from you,’ give them a business reason to come by the booth. That way you reach the people that you’re targeting, that you’re interested in speaking with and qualifying.” The objective of any pre-show mailing should be to get the prospect into your booth for a qualifying dialogue. Just getting them there, without getting the opportunity to talk to them, doesn’t accomplish your goal.

An effective pre-show promotional mailing technique that Weisgal referred to was to send the targeted audience part of a gift, and then promise them the other part if they stop by your booth at the show. One company sent an imprinted calculator case to its target audience prior to a major tradeshow, and then gave the recipients the actual calculator when they came to the company’s booth. Another idea might be to send out an egg timer to a select group of show attendees along with a card asking for a few minutes of their time at the show. On the card you could also indicate that if they give you some time during the show, you’ll be happy to present them with a elegant timepiece (clock or watch) after they meet with you. Again, it’s important to make sure that the idea of time and the related products fit the consistent marketing message your company is imparting.

Another idea for a pre-show mailing came from Miller’s 66 Tips & Tricks. He suggested sending your targeted audience a pocket planner that they can use to schedule appointments while at the show. Send the planner out four to six weeks before the show. “Be sneaky and fill in one of the time slots for a visit to your booth; they’ll get a kick out of it and be there at the appointed time. If they can’t make the appointment, they’ll usually call to arrange another time,” Miller says. Although Miller didn’t mention it in his book, to get the most brand awareness from the recipient you should have the planner imprinted with your company name and logo. If you want it to be a subtle reminder you can have the logo printed inside the cover of the planner.

Miller had another good idea for reaching your customers and prospects prior to the show — offer to handle their pre-registration. It’s a nice service to offer as it saves them the hassle of filling out forms and making phone calls. You can arrange for all the badges and materials to be sent to your company, and then send them out to your customers and prospects with an invitation to visit your booth while at the show. Include a neck tote imprinted with your company logo in the package, and your targets will be sure to stop by your booth to thank you for the helpful service, and the useful gift.

You might also want to consider presenting your targeted prospects with a personalized gift when they stop by your booth. One PPAI case study showed a 63 percent response from a pre-show mailing where recipients received a portfolio, imprinted with a message inviting the recipient to stop by the sender’s booth to receive a personalized nameplate for the portfolio. By showing up to get their nameplate, the recipients could cover up the sender’s promotional copy with the plate and have a presentable, functional portfolio to use.

Besides sending traditional promotional items in pre-show mailings, Weisgal suggests sending something that will add even more spark and excitement to your promotion. Use creative packaging for your pre-show mailings, such as tubes that look like sticks of dynamite, plastic wine bottles, Chinese food containers and more. Inside of these unusual mailing containers put something fun that the recipients can use in an interactive way once they reach your booth. Weisgal’s personal favorite is pieces to a jigsaw puzzle that the recipient brings to the booth to fit into a puzzle that is set up there. If the recipient’s piece fits he or she wins a prize. Make sure the prize is a promotional item imprinted with your company name, and make sure that it fits the theme of your promotion.

Other interactive ways to draw qualified attendees to your booth include contests, drawings and games, such as basket shooting, golf ball putting, etc. Invite targeted attendees to take part in these activities before the show by sending them appropriately themed products — logoed golf accessories, mini basketball keytags, tickets for the drawing attached to an imprinted magnet they can keep. You could also put together your own game based on the products or services that you have to offer. Invite prospects and clients to participate in a Jeopardy-style game where they answer questions about your products/services to win imprinted merchandise. Limit booth overcrowding by pre-qualifying attendees before inviting them to join in the games. By making the activities more exclusive you cut out unqualified buyers and make the qualified ones more likely to participate next year.

Whether you choose interactive booth activities, unusual mailing packages or halves of gifts, pre-show promotions are the most effective way to draw the right attendees to your booth. Plan a pre-show promotion that’s right for your company and its show objectives, and carry that same promotion through your entire trade show marketing campaign. Just make sure that you reach your target audience with your message before they reach the trade show floor.

For more ideas on tradeshow marketing, Margit Weisgal of Sextant Communications can be reached at #301-871-6523. Steve Miller of The Adventure of Trade Shows can be contacted at #253-874-9665.

Alyson Hendrickson Wentz, CAS, is a freelance writer specializing in articles about marketing with promotional products. She spent six years on the editorial staff of The Counselor magazine, the preeminent publication for the promotional products industry, and earned the Certified Advertising Specialist (CAS) designation from the Promotional Products Association International.

What Message are You Sending at Your Booth?

Recently, at two separate seminars, I heard the same information presented — the results of a research study into how people are perceived. Applying it to trade show exhibiting was simple because of other data I already possessed.

Fact: You have four seconds to attract someone to your booth. In the past, this information was applied to the booth set-up, its graphics, its design and layout. But is there more to it than that? Most definitely, yes.

We all make snap judgments. Our minds are computers which take in information, process it thoroughly based on experience, and spew it out before we even realize it. The most common way in which you become aware of this phenomenon is when you walk into a new situation involving new people and immediately decide that you like a person (without saying a word). Or, conversely, you decide that you dislike someone (and don’t know why).

Our judgments are made up of perceptions. And lots of different things contribute to those perceptions. In a trade show booth, you have four seconds to grab someone’s attention. And if, in those micro-moments, you are perceived in a negative fashion, then both you and your company will lose. In those four seconds, your booth message is transmitted. Your staff’s attitude, demonstrated by how they look, stand and act, is evaluated. How do you appear? Are you making the most positive statement possible?

The latest research into how people are viewed breaks down as follows: 55 percent is based on how you look; 38 percent on the tone of your voice; and only 7 percent by what you actually say. In other words, just by your appearance alone, you can turn someone off so completely that changing that attitude is an uphill battle. If your tone of voice is pedantic, holier-than-thou or superior, your words will never get through. Since the smallest part of the perception is your choice of words, if the rest of your message is inconsistent with what you say, you will not be believed.

Another question to ask is, “What subliminal message am I sending?” Behavior today is dictated by current values. If the picture you present reflects outdated values, your company is perceived as also being outdated. Actions and behaviors that 20 years ago were acceptable are now looked down on and simply not tolerated. The most obvious example is smoking. You can’t anymore. Not on planes, not in smoke- free buildings, not with clients, not any place where you are being judged. And especially not when you are prospecting for new business.

This all goes back to consistency of presentation — from your letterhead to your logo, from your advertising to the people you choose to represent your company. Ask yourself if each segment of the whole contributes to a cohesive picture of how you want to be perceived.

There are solutions to making a good impression, or at least not making a bad one. These solutions lie in the visual area, the one that accounts for 55 percent of an opinion. Start by taking a good look at how you appear. Next time you have a show, get someone people don’t know to take candid photographs at different times of the day. What do you see? Are people slouching? Sitting? Smoking? Eating? Talking with each other? Do they have their backs to the aisle? Are they standing with their arms across their chests (I’m barring the door), or maybe reading the newspaper or doing paperwork?

One easy way to deal with different clothing styles (and they do vary according to what part of the country you’re in) is to put the staff in a uniform. Dealing with some of the other behaviors is not so easy. The greatest fear of the majority of the population is change. We really are more comfortable with the status quo. Anthony Robbins says that a person changes only when the pain of staying the same is so great that the person must change. In real life, for instance, if you see your company going bankrupt unless you change — you change.

Another way to look at it is client turnover. One of the adages of sales is that you lose 10 percent of your clients each year due to moves, changed responsibilities, death or attrition. They must be replaced and (hopefully) added to so that your business grows. Often, those new clients and prospects are younger with different values, perspectives, skills and attitudes. You, as a salesperson, have to adapt. And adapting means changing.

Here’s one solution — There has to be a person in charge in the booth. Someone who can walk up to the exhibit staff and say, “Stop talking to each other. You can do that at dinner,” or “Do your paperwork some other time,” or “What you are doing is not acceptable for the image we want to present to our customers and prospects.”

Here’s another solution — Schedule a pre-show meeting with all the exhibit staff. Have a list ready for each person that describes what can and cannot be done in the booth. Read it aloud. Have each person sign their copy saying they agree to abide by these rules and return it to you. This way, when their actions are inappropriate, you have something to fall back on.

The last solution is very difficult — Do not let people who refuse to conform to required behavior be on the staff for the next show. When you have a limited staff, or the show is for customers and prospects of specific salespeople, it is hard to exclude them. And, in addition, they have to be made aware that this is, in effect, a punishment.

No matter what solution you use, you, as the exhibit manager or coordinator, must have the authority and responsibility to demand a certain type of behavior and take action if your requests are disregarded. Otherwise, you might as well not bother because then your problem is not the staff but the management’s perception of trade shows. With the current fiscal problems, each aspect of sales and marketing must pull its own weight in generating income. And trade shows are still the cheapest way to reach a large, targeted segment of your buying population.

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