The secret to exhibit management success: treat every trade show like it’s your first

Category: Strategy

If you think back to the night before your first trade show, you probably remember feelings of anxiety, adrenaline and good, old-fashioned excitement. Your first trade show was a big deal – it was undoubtedly the first time you’ve participated in an event of that size in your entire career. Everything had to go perfectly and, as a result, you were physically and mentally ready for anything. You literally had to be in order to survive the experience. Every trade show after that probably paled in comparison to that first one, but therein lies the secret to exhibition management success. If you want to give the most impactful and highest quality presentations possible, you need to treat every trade show like it’s still the first one you’ve ever managed.

Think Back to Decisions Born Out of Necessity

The chances are high that you were unprepared to a certain degree when going into your first trade show. Maybe you didn’t have nearly as many fliers or pamphlets as you thought you would need. So, Instead of showing people a piece of paper that contained information about your company, you got out there and worked the crowd yourself, one-on-one.

This is the kind of can-do energy that you should take with you to every show. Being forced to talk to as many people as possible may have been inconvenient at the time, but it ultimately created a much more personal and organic way to generate leads throughout the event.

Think back to the types of decisions that you had to make during your first show that ultimately proved to be successful. Instead of just making sure that you’re prepared with the appropriate amount of materials next time, focus on creating that organic experience moving forward.

The Competition

During your first trade show, you probably looked around at other booths throughout the event and went “I really wish I had thought to do something like that.” It’s a line of reasoning that will never be more prevalent than it is at your first show, when you’re already filled with a feeling of anxiousness the moment you walk through the door.

But this is another one of the things that you need to take with you into the future – always allow yourself to be inspired by your competition. This is one of the major things that you lose as you participate in more and more events. It’s usually replaced by a feeling of confidence and while that is certainly good, allowing yourself to be inspired by the competition can also dramatically increase your desire to do better, work harder and think faster to make the best impression possible.

Holding Onto That Feeling

Many people believe that no trade show will ever be more exciting than their first. While this may be true, you should be doing whatever you can (or whatever you need to) to get back into the head space you were in the night before your first big event.

By holding onto that feeling and by treating every trade show like it’s your first, you regain that sense of wonder that naturally dwindles over time as you go from novice to true trade show pro. People walking up to your booth will be able to literally feel that you’re genuinely excited to be there and to be talking to them, which will more than pay for itself in the way of the increased leads that you’ll generate as a result.


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