Avoid the temptation to try to do everything!

With the good fortune of my having talented, creative children —a major Washington DC award-winning theater director daughter, and a major Atlanta award-winning musician/composer son— comes the awareness that business trade shows are theatre!

If you’re participating in one trade show, or hundreds, and don’t treat each as if you were hosting a world premier theatre opening, you’re wasting your time, money, and energy.

Opening a play requires precise planning . . . from tickets, ushers, programs, music, costumes,
advertising, promotion, sound, lighting, props, backdrops, script development, auditions, rehearsals, and knowing ahead of time how the actors and actresses will “come across” to their audiences.

How do you as a company representatives “come across” to trade show visitors? Do you hold rehearsals?

To be truly productive in a trade show setting, avoid the temptation to try to do everything. It can be no more effective than actors and actresses trying to double up as ushers, ticket-takers, advertisers, lighting and sound technicians.

Trade show participation can sell products and services OR gain industry exposure and build goodwill OR inform and educate OR recruit employees OR establish contacts and build a mailing list . . . but never (really, never!) target more than one purpose. It simply won’t work!

Remember that theatre audiences and trade show audiences are both filled with critics who can make or break your presentation in just a matter of hours. It’s also important to keep in mind that the vast majority of trade show attendees are “tire-kickers” and “window shoppers” who are there to gather information (and goodies) and compare the offerings. Depending on your single purpose, being able to sort out prospects from suspects can be critical to your success.

What’s the best way to prepare? Go to other trade shows — any trade shows! And be a detective. Figure out which booths and exhibits are doing best and why, and which are not. Take notes. Then go home and rehearse your presenters to stay with the game plan and focus on the single goal of collecting business cards, OR making sales, OR making impressions, OR . . .

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