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What's the 4-1-1 on exhibiting?
The president of my company decided we need to start making more of a presence at trade shows to broaden our client base and find new prospects to buy our products. Guess who was picked to be the brand-new event manager? Me!
Of course, I was honored to be selected and excited by the challenge, but I've never done anything more with an event than helping out when needed. With no real training I am already in the process of choosing vendors, ordering services and making big commitments. I feel very exposed and sometimes confused by the options before me.
So, I would like ask your readers who may have been down this road, "What are a few things you wish someone whispered in your ear when you started out as an event manager?"
I'd appreciate any help I can get.
-- Susan K., Event Manager
You don't have to call 9-1-1 for help with your events
Susan, taking on something like preparing for an event is similar to a roller coaster ride -- exciting, a bit bumpy and more than a little scary -- especially if it's your first time. But luckily for you, our readers have some great advice they're happy to pass along.
What happens to those leads you worked so hard to get on the show floor? This white paper offers insights and helpful suggestions to nurture leads into the sales cycle.
This complimentary white paper from Hallman & Associates also includes links to two, no-charge e-books to help your marketing and sales.
Download complimentary white paper and e-books.
They suggest you:
- Get chummy with the people you need
- Get an education
- Get organized
Get chummy with the people you need
Right now, you might be feeling a bit like the last contestant on Survivor -- victorious (you did get the job you asked for) and all alone. But you're really not. And if you treat people well, you'll get the help you need.
An anonymous reader offers some sage advice on interpersonal relationships.
"NEVER anger the unions. Even if you're absolutely in the right, tread carefully. It will save you headaches in the long run. And remember four very powerful words: 'I need your help.'"
Get an education
From the outside, exhibiting looks like it's pretty simple. Just build a display, put it up, and wait for the crowds to form. But exhibiting can be a complex process.
A marketing event manager who was thrown into the deep end of the pool, so to speak, understands how confusing event preparation can be.
"I wish I'd known the costs associated with tradeshow management and the terminology. Drayage? What the heck is that? Of course, now I know, but it would have been nice to know before I received my first bill.
"Attend an EXHIBITOR show or TS2. The classes at these shows are informative, and the speakers are knowledgeable."
Every journey begins with a first step, blah, blah, blah. You know the story. But it's true. To do well at an event, you have to get yourself together before any planning, let alone execution, begins.
Francisco Velasquez, worldwide sales manager, Davis Instruments Corp. provides some areas for you to concentrate on.
"Focus on a couple of things: sales and marketing efforts, and logistics. Unless someone has already provided you with a specific goal and plan of action, schedule meetings and brainstorming sessions with sales and marketing to determine budgets, theme, literature copy and graphics, and pre- and post-show sales efforts/communications. Then, devise a methodology to determine return on investment.
"Next comes logistics. If you already have tradeshow booth equipment (displays etc.), develop a show log/checklist. Include such things as booth fee (paid or not), booth furniture (stools, chairs, tables), electrical, staff (how many and who), flights, hotel accommodations, group meals, transportation, shipping to and from show, and who does booth setup/takedown. With your checklist, you have a way to keep track of each important activity and whether it's completed."
Terrie Holahan, tradeshow/event planner at AtriCure, believes up-front work makes all the difference.
"Do a site visit to meet your vendors in person, and walk through your venue. Taking one day -- or even two -- to do these things months before the event can make a crucial difference.
"The first event I did, I simply showed up three hours before it started, thinking everything would be perfect. I was wrong. Our event location was challenging to find, and I had only a few hours to get signs made and track down people to help direct attendees to the right space. Now, site visits are an integral part of my planning process and save me headaches the day of the event."
Susan, it's OK to be nervous, even scared, as you start out on your new venture. But try to concentrate on the excitement that lies ahead. With some help, some education and some organization, you'll be feeling like an event vet in no time!