Small Business Builder: Trade Show Tips II

ByABC News
August 14, 2001, 2:58 PM

Aug. 15 -- When you host a trade show or conference display, you're in full public view. From start to finish, from floor to ceiling, everything about your trade-show participation must support the company's other marketing efforts and project a consistent image.

Does the public perceive your business as "creative"? Then your presence should ooze creativity. Are you viewed as "stuffy" and you'd rather not be? By all means get hip as part of a concerted company-wide strategy. If your theme is "rodeo chic" and the rest of the company is strutting uptown, the clash of panache can be fatal to your image.

Preparation for these events can be daunting, but it is essential. And once you create an all-purpose master plan, you can adapt and personalize it for each event.

Strategies for each step in the 12-part trade-show success cycle planning, preparing, making advance contact, staffing, setting up, attracting people to your display, making a good impression, entertaining waiting prospects, making friends, making sales, cleaning up, and following up could fill a book.

Below are suggestions for arranging your display and entertaining visitors, two of the steps, though the word "steps" is a bit misleading. "Ingredients" better describes how preparations and activities mingle and overlap. Thus, "arranging" and "entertaining" can attract visitors, make friends, and even lead to making sales.

As you decide how to arrange your space and entertain your guests, consider the three Es:

Equilibrium. Everything colors, activities, mood, style should harmonize with your image.

Execution. It might be clever, but can you actually have a live elephant in your booth? Who will sit next to it on the plane? Will there be suitable washrooms Men, Women, Pachyderms? Consult the host facility regarding logistics such as electrical outlets, ceiling clearance, setup assistance, noise limitations, and so forth.

Exposure. Are you covered if Jumbo steps on someone's Rolex or pet ferret? Read the fine print in your contract, consult a lawyer, do what you must to protect yourself if a visitor falls off a chair or trips on an electrical cord.