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The Trade Show Dating Game

datinggameBecause Valentine’s Day was just last weekend, I thought this topic was perfect. I heard a lot of people planning what they were going to do for the big day, wanting to make sure that everything went perfectly. Then I came to this conclusion: Valentine’s Day is not so different from a trade show. A trade show gives you time to strengthen the bond with existing clients, or sweep that long-coveted prospect off their feet. Even if you hate Valentine’s Day, let me at least humor you with these parallels. Unfortunately, we’ll see where some marketers fall short in the planning process.

The Reservation

Just like Valentine’s Day, trade shows happen on specific dates. Reserving your space in advance will definitely help you be at your best, because you’ll have options, the ability to plan in advance, and a sure spot at the event—all things you need to be successful. Too many times I talk to exhibitors who are left with very few spaces to choose from because they are late in the game. If you wait that long to book a table at your ideal restaurant for Valentine’s Day, you can bet nothing will be available, or even worse, you’ll be eating a makeshift table right in front of the swinging doors to the kitchen.

Flowers, chocolates, a day at the spa, or an overnight trip may be a part of your Valentine’s Day plans as well, but they have to be prepared. Trade shows also require planning and you need to think ahead to book all your show services, necessary materials, staff, labor, technology, and more for the event.

Dressing the Part

If you’ve got a hot date, you’ll have to make sure your new outfit is properly pressed and that you have the right shoes and accessories. This is the same for a trade show. You need to think of dressing up your booth properly. Too often I see outdated, damaged, or poorly fitting graphics on an exhibit. Looks are important because this is the image your brand will be associated with.  It will also be the first impression you will make on visitors at the show.

The Date

Once you’re finally at the show you need to make sure you will be at your best. Be ready to engage with attendees and qualify them properly. Make sure to also pay attention to them by asking them the proper questions and by letting them lead the conversation when necessary. Please remember that your exhibit space is not the place to eat or to look through your emails. Go through your emails on Valentine’s Day dinner and then let me know how that worked out for you.

The After Event

Now that the show is over don’t wait until the next event to follow up or keep in touch with clients and prospects. After all that planning and making sure the event was at its best, that would be like waiting until next Valentine’s Day to let your significant other know that you care, appreciate and love them.

You don’t need to buy your visitors chocolate to be successful at a trade show but make sure to plan in advance and have all your details covered long before the show. Marketers usually have their plate full, and you can’t rely on help from Cupid to plan. So remove the stress, plan ahead, and you will have a long and successful relationship with your trade show program.

betterboothstaffingTo help you increase the skills and perspectives of individual booth staffers, and to to prepare the manager for what’s ahead, read the Better Booth Staffing for Greater Trade Show Results book. Click here for your free copy.


About the Author

Sebastien Robillard joined Skyline Entourage in Montreal, Quebec, as an exhibit consultant in 2009 after spending 15 years establishing international business and marketing strategies for companies. He brings experience in the trade show industry through being both an exhibitor and attendee in tradeshows of different industries worldwide. This dual perspective gives him greater insight helping his clients with their Montreal trade show displays.

One response to “The Trade Show Dating Game

  1. This is a one cool analogy between trade show preparation and dating. Very helpful and entertaining at the same time.

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