Do I need training before exhibiting at a trade show?
Some companies consider exhibiting at trade shows a major piece of their marketing strategy and participate in multiple events each year. Others consider trade shows are the icing on the marketing cake and attend one or few shows each year.
Some companies have an internal expert to manage every aspect of the event – booth & budget management, lead capture, follow-ups organization, and tracking. Others pick someone from either the marketing or the sales team to handle a specific event.
Some companies hire a contractor to handle everything, others would put an intern in charge of planning.
Whatever your profile, all companies exhibiting at trade shows have ONE thing in common – they need proper training.
Why do I need training?
If you participate in trade shows once in a blue moon, you may feel like training is unnecessary for you: why investing in knowledge and expertise you would rarely use?
Big mistake! Look at your trade show budget: how many percents of your annual marketing budget does it represent? Can you really take the risk to let this money (and time!) go to waste? You absolutely need proper training to get a positive return on investment – managing a booth, visitors and follow-ups requires specific skills and knowledge. Don’t underestimate the work to be done.
On the other hand, if you regularly participate in trade shows, you may feel like you are already an expert and there is nothing more for you to learn.
Big mistake, again! Think about athletes, Olympic champions for instance. They are the very best at what they do. How do they stay on top? With training.
Nothing is ever perfect, there is always something you could do better, something new to learn, a new method or tool to discover, a process to shortcut or improve, etc. Don’t underestimate the importance of proper training , even for experts.
“Continuous education and training keeps you fresh and up-to-date with the latest advancements in trade show exhibiting. Most importantly, it sets your resume/CV apart from all others when you’re looking to advance your career to the next level.“ says trade show expert Richard Erschik, from USA
Who needs training?
A trade show booth is seldom a one-man job. It usually involves multiple people and departments.
While you may be the “guy in charge”, there are certainly satellite people helping with different tasks: the CEO or business owner giving general direction and objectives, the marketing team managing the decoration, promotion, booth design, etc. The sales team that will attend the show, the product team that will prepare the samples and demos, the accounting team that will monitor your budget and record your expenses, even the interns who may be helping with data entry and follow-ups! Ultimately, everyone within your organization is directly or indirectly involved in your trade show participation .
So, who should receive a training?
In a perfect world, you should put everyone through training – the more they know and understand, the better they will work together.
“Training your team for an event is like buying them the gift they have been dreaming about. Master the event profile, polish business pitch fitted to the audience, evaluate team role plays. These should come sufficiently in advance so that the whole team could feel invested in the project.“ says trade show expert Laura Bazile, from UK
Realistically, there are three essential parts involved in training: before (preparation, planning, promotion – it directly concerns the marketing team), during (visitors greeting, lead qualification, prospect capture – it concerns your sales team) and after (follow-up and lead conversion, that concerns your sales team first, and your marketing team second).
You, as project manager, should know all these parts inside out. Others, based on their specific tasks, should be involved in different parts of the training.
What should my training be about?
As mentioned earlier, there are three sections in each trade show and different learning elements for each.
When training for the before section of a show, you focus on getting things right from the start. You learn how to make a budget and stick to it, you develop a complete checklist to efficiently plan everything, you learn about booth promotion, etc.
This part is essential: you should learn how to behave in a booth, how to greet visitors, how to qualify leads, how to lead the discussion, how and why you should end a discussion, how to capture the lead, etc.
“Training your exhibit staff to greet visitors quickly, provide visitor-focused information, add waiting visitors to on-going conversations, and to politely disengage from conversations will result in more qualified leads and more personal, customized, and memorable visitor experiences.“ says trade show expert Matthew Hill, from USA.
This section is too often overlooked, yet it is the final and necessary piece of the puzzle. If you forget this one it is like getting a customer, to sign a contract but never sending the invoice! Here you should learn how to manage an efficient follow-up, how to convert prospects into customers and how to track your results.
How to access proper training?
There are many ways to train yourself and your team!
Some are free, some have a price.
You can do some self-learning with all the information, articles, videos and tips you find online. The Exhibitor is a great source for your self-training!
can should also read the Trade Show Chronicles, especially if that is your first trade show, to get a clear picture of what is ahead of you.
Also, you may organize internal trainings – take the most experienced people within your organization to share their experience and knowledge with the rest of the team.
“Advanced exhibition centers and organizers arrange study courses to their beginner level and experienced exhibitor companies too. These courses are very popular and highly recommended indeed!“ says trade show expert Rauno Ramo, from Finland.
You could find free or affordable training arranged by the show organizer and simply attend.
Ultimately, if you have the budget, it may be worth investing a proper expert training or coaching. Leave us a message below and we will happily recommend one based on your location.
Are you now ready for your next show? Let’s get the training started!