Mike Thimmesch wrote from Skyline:
1. You won’t succeed at trade shows if you just show up. A trade show first-timer may think that because they’ve paid a couple of grand to rent a 10 x 10 space for a few days, they automatically will reap the whirlwind of leads and sales from the show’s attendees. If only. Surprise: you’ve actually only paid for access to this great audience of buyers. Now you have to do your part, such as train your staffers, create a promotion that attracts qualified prospects, and design your trade show display to entice the right visitors to your booth.
2. Trade shows are not as glamorous as they looked from the outside. To the uninitiated, this is what trade show marketing looks like from the outside: Flying around the country to sunny or metropolitan locations, staying in top-tier hotels and meals on the company dime, and access to top-level company execs. But seen from the inside, trade shows are not so glamorous. Trade shows themselves are very hard work with a lot of stressful moments before, during, and after exhibit hours. There are so many details to master, and so many vendors you are depending on. You can sweat more during exhibit set-up than a month of work outs. And while travel can be exciting, it gets old fast when you are repeatedly away from home and your family.
3. Inertia determined much of your company’s show schedule. In the many years before you were handed the reins to your company’s trade show marketing, your company cobbled together quite a list of shows. But are they all still worth it? Were some trade shows chosen because your target market was there, or because your competitors were? Has your client base evolved away from the demographics of some of the shows you exhibit at? Have some shows eroded their attendee base by not reinvesting in strong marketing and educational content? Are there new vertical markets that you have yet to find good shows to market to? It’s up to you to break the inertia — and create some new momentum.
4. Trade show labor is way more expensive than you think, and sometimes it’s even worth it. It’s an eye-opener to find out how much you will pay someone else to set up your booth, hook up your lights, or rig that hanging sign, especially if it’s on a weekend, or God forbid, on a Sunday. The union rules in most venues require that you pay labor a wage that adds up in a hurry, even if they don’t. You can minimize labor costs by getting easier to set up trade show displays, trying to schedule your set up for straight-time labor, and by lining up dependable contractors. I’ve found some Exhibitor Appointed Contractors are worth it, as they work hard to earn your business, show after show.