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The Big Boss: Friend or Foe Managing Your Company’s Trade Show Program

Big-BossSenior managers and business owners can enhance their ROI in trade show marketing by adhering to simple etiquette.  They need to stop inadvertently contributing to problems and truly take on a leadership role. Here are some “dos and don’ts” for executives to consider pre-show, at-show and post-show.  On behalf of your exhibit program managers, we thank you in advance!


Attend pre-show planning meetings.  Your presence alone will enhance the seriousness and potential benefit of a properly planned and run meeting.

Establish and communicate goals.  Consider using your brief ‘on-stage’ time at a pre-show meeting to help the staff understand how their performance at the upcoming event can impact and help the company. More than half of exhibiting firms fail to establish goals and of those that do, a significant portion fail to share the Executive-established goals with the booth staffers charged with achieving them.

Reinforce the lead management policy your company has put into place.  Approximately 80% of generated trade show leads are not followed up with after a trade show.

Use some facts and figures to stress importance of trade show marketing.  Whether you speak in terms of man-hours invested, percentage of the company’s marketing budget invested in events, budgeted dollar figure investment, number of expected prospects or clients who may attend or costs associated with new product(s) being revealed at a show….by a Big Boss sharing this info it puts the investment in a trade show into a different light for all involved.


Accept, understand and responsibly adhere to your role in the booth strategy.  Are you there to meet and greet?  To be “the closer?”  To selectively survey prospects for future project development?  To sincerely and enthusiastically thank existing clients?

Do no harm!  Don’t monopolize limited meeting space or casual furniture. Remember that space is at a premium so don’t be a big lug with no role and nothing to do but get in the way of the other staffers.

The appearance of being a booth staffer is crucial.  If you are spending your time on your cell phone, tablet or laptop instead of interacting with the prospects in front of you, don’t kid yourself. You can go ahead and hand that company polo back in.

Don’t undermine the booth leader.  Chances are someone has the responsibility of making the event a success for your company.  Keep in mind that disregarding directions from your leader has consequences. It’s possible to also damage your leader’s perception by your personal tardiness, attitude, sarcasm and lack of cooperation.

Be sure your agenda doesn’t conflict with any booth meetings or other related activities. Whether it is golfing with a client, a business meeting, or something else, your commitment is to your job first. Don’t miss meetings they have set for you with trade press, other vendors, industry notables and especially, don’t miss your turn as a booth staffer.

Pariticipate in the staff dinner.  Your presence means a lot to your team!


Participate in or contribute to the event’s re-cap summary.  Your unique perspective will be valuable for future planning.

Publicly thank those involved in executing a successful trade show event.

Privately provide constructive feedback.  Areas worthy of comment can be anything from staffing, logisitics, environmental design, product (or service) merchandising, booth strategy, effectiveness measurement, budgeting or reporting and recap methodology.


Make sure you’re staffing your booth with the right people for your business. Click here to get your complimentary Booth Staffing Guidebook today.


About the Author

Steve Hoffman, President of Skyline Exhibits & Design, Inc. has spent almost 30 years in the selling and marketing of marketing products. Following a successful career in the TV Program Syndication business, he joined The Holt Group/Skyline Displays as a Marketing Consultant, then moved into management, ultimately purchasing a portion of that company. He is the author of "The Reality of B.S. (Big Sales...That Is)." Steve is dedicated to helping his South Carolina trade show displays clients achieve their worldwide exhibit marketing goals while improving their efficiencies, too.

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