Trade Show Chronicles – My Exhibition checklist (chapter 3)
This article belongs to the “Trade Show Chronicles” series. It tells the story of Andrew, young sales executive newly employed by a Hong Kong company that will attend his first trade show in a few months time. From understanding what exhibitions are all about to organizing the booth, recruiting promoters and following-up on leads, Andrew will live a complete adventure unique to the world of exhibitions.
It has been almost two weeks since I have been assigned this project and I still haven’t done much. There are five and half months left before the trade show and still a million things to organize. I have my next meeting with the boss and Karen tomorrow and I still haven’t picked a location for the booth. I don’t even know what is my true goal.
I decide that it is really time for me to call Charles again.
– “Hey Andrew! How are things on your side?”
– “Hello Charles. Look, I really need your help here. I have an important meeting tomorrow and I don’t even know what to do with this event yet!”
– “Have you defined your goal yet?”
– “Yes. My goal is brand awareness.”
– “Is this YOUR goal? Or is it something your marketing team told you?”
How can he possibly know that comes from Karen? I’m getting very frustrated but I decide to play along to see what he has in mind.
– “Well… As a sales I’m here to sell… So I would guess my goal should be to sell on the stall, but my boss told me it is very hard to sell at an exhibition… Please, give me some lead here!”
– “Your boss is right: selling on a trade show is very hard. Visitors come to learn things and meet new people. Few only are ready to buy. But I believe you have the answer already. As you said, you need to sell.”
That’s it! I understand now, all makes sense! I was wondering why I couldn’t find the last piece, what to do AFTER the event. It is now clear to me:
– “My goal is to find prospects so that I could sell AFTER the exhibition. I need to generate leads!”
– “Congratulations, you found your goal! To be more specific, you need to generate quality leads that will help you acquiring new customers, but we could focus on this later. What matters now is that you get the basics right. Do you have a checklist of things to prepare for the event?”
– “The marketing team is preparing it for me.”
– “That is great. But keep in mind: their goal and yours differ. When you follow the list, ask yourself at each step how it should be done in order for you to achieve your goal.”
– “Thank you very much Charles! Could I call you back later today to discuss this list?”
– “I won’t be available for the rest of the day. Start going through your checklist and identify key elements that will help you reach your target. Once that done, separate them into the three sections I mentioned earlier: before, during, after. Call me back next week, we’ll discuss then!”
– “But I would like to…”
Charles already hanged up. It seems I’m on my own for tomorrow’s meeting, and I’m not really comfortable about it. Good news is, Karen will soon provide me with a short list of what I need to do. That should certainly help me get it right.
Later this day, Karen pays me a visit with some documents. She’s got a very complicated excel file containing a long list of items.
– “Here you go! Simply follow that list step by step and everything will be fine!”
I start going through the trade show organization checklist*.
– “That many? I haven’t even started working on any of these points! And what is that? Electricity? Lighting? What am I, a craftsman now?”
– “Don’t be silly. You must define your needs for an electrician to install items on your booth for you.”
– “But… I have no idea about that!”
– “You will have to learn! Go through my list, make sure you don’t forget anything and you’ll be just fine. Come see me if you need help.”
She leaves before I have time to reply. Logistics? Carpets? Reports? Internet? Really? How am I supposed to do all that?
Ok, one step at a time! First, I have to find the right booth location, I have delayed this for too long! Among the pile of documents she left on my desk I find an interesting article* that explains how to pick the right place. Right section, large alley, open on two sides, close to a perks section… got it! All I have to do now is call the organizer and make sure this spot is still available!