Meet the Experts - The Exhibitor

Meet the Experts – Trade Show training with Mikael Jansson

Hello Mikael, welcome to The Exhibitor! Tell us a little about you and your professional journey.

I started working in the trade show business 1986, when I as a just graduated student started my company. We was lucky and after just a couple of year we were working with the most of the biggest trade shows in Sweden as an analysis company. I also become a board member of Scandinavian Trade Fair Council and as the Swedish representative in different international trade show organizations. 1990 my company started to help exhibitors to develop with help of analysis and training. In our training sessions we help the exhibitors to understand the visitors’ need based on the results from the more than 1 million visitor interviews we have conducted since we started. 2004 I wrote the book The Exhibition Guru. Today we work as an analysis-partner with a majority of the Swedish Top 50-trade shows and with a broad range of the largest Swedish exhibitors.
Discussing trade shows has become my life.

How early should companies start preparing their exhibition?

The simple answer is much earlier than they think.
For a real big show 18-12 months before. For a smaller show 6-12 months before.
An early start means both well prepared personal an lower costs (ordering the right service from the organizer in proper time)


Who should be at the booth?

Of course it depends on the goals and the target groups.
What kind of questions will the visitors have? Today the key to success is to understand the visitors. In which way could we, as an exhibitor, create meetings that really have importance and change things. For example visitors that regularly meet salespersons probably would like to meet other persons at a trade show, technicians, product experts, C-levels…


What are the key elements for a successful pre-show training?

Start with the visitors and help the exhibitor to understand them.
Then do the rest by the book. Inform the staff at least seven times in seven different ways. Let them be a part of the trade show planning. Let them sell the trade show goals to their colleagues. Talk continually about the upcoming show to keep attention focused on it – mention it at every meeting… “now there are only 300 hours left before the show opens.”

Be sure that all of the staff knows about:

  • The objectives
  • What will be presented
  • How many demos will be done
  • Who will give any presentations
  • What kind of follow-up will be done
  • Dress codes
  • Behavior
  • The thought about the booth
  • Who is responsible for what at the booth


You are the author of “The Exhibition Guru”

I wrote the book in 2004. At that time the most of the trade show literature in Scandinavia was quite boring, stuffed with long check-lists. I tried to make it a little bit different, a lot more inspiration and focused on”How could we use trade shows in the best way?” With the answer of that question all the planning-details become so much easier. The book was a success and have been translated into several different languages and sold in more than 35 000 copies.

Have you read the “Trade Show Chronicles“?

Yes, I have read it and I think is the typical experience for a lot of exhibitors. I recommend all to read it.


What data do you recommend businesses to track for their trade show success?

As much facts as possible about the visitors and why they are coming to the show.
Also all possible data concerning their own performing. For instance:

  • Invited people that come to the show
  • Invited people that come to the booth
  • Total no of target group visitors that visited the show
  • Total no of target group visitors that visited the booth
  • Visitors in the booth that have talked with the personnel
  • The results of the visits

How do you calculate ROI?

The results of appearing at a show are completely measurable but you need to set quantifiable goals before the show.
We use an evaluation model consisting of two parts:

  1. Fulfillment of objectives (ROI)
  2. Ways to improve the ROI

Our principle for calculating ROI is simple: it is possible to assign a value to everything you achieve by exhibiting at a show. Even if you do not yet have the actual revenue from the contacts, you can put a value on the contacts, educational work, articles, activities, and other goals that you estimate you will achieve at the sow. To get your ROI, you the divide the value of your show appearance by how much it cost. This is the simple way, than you can make it a lot more sophisticated.

What do you advise companies to do to insure proper return on investment?

Don’t get lost in the details. Keep sight of the big picture. Train and motivate your personnel (skills, motivation and energy) and combine with other marketing activities. Turn the visitors into your brand ambassadors and help them to spread your message through social media. Be relevant and – Have fun!


Any additional tips for our readers?

I would like to quote Samuel Beckett; “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

Mikael JanssonMikael Jansson is the CEO and owner of Fairlink. Fairlink is Scandinavia's largest analysis and training company for the trade show and event business.
Meet the Experts – Trade Show training with Mikael Jansson
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