getting a lot of attention today. Everyone is talking about branding. It
might be the “blurrr” factor. It might be that buyers have more choices
than ever before. It might be that more information is available to buyers
so that they can evaluate their choices. Whatever the phenomenon,
marketers are committing their resources to position their products and
services in the mind of their prospects and customers so that they have a
special place, resulting in competitive advantage. The management of
brand recognition is no longer focused in the print media or the
electronic media. It has moved to trade show medium in a big way. This
is principally due to the primary focus power of trade shows -
Marketing professionals are using the exhibit medium to position their
brands in the minds of buyers. They are also using shows in the
traditional ways of prospecting and closing sales, generating qualified
leads for sales, increasing name awareness, positioning and repositioning
the organization’s image, meeting with current customers and introducing
new products. In every one of the customer focused objectives, the
exhibit staff play a variety of roles.
range from exhibit staffer, competitive intelligence gatherer, hospitality
event participant, demonstrator to problem solver. The roll that is most
often overlooked is that of guardian of the brand.
publisher of Exhibitor Magazine, once commented at a preshow exhibitor
seminar that exhibiting is a 24 hour a day selling environment. It is
selling while working the exhibit, walking in the halls, participating in
seminars, eating in restaurants, walking down halls, riding elevators.
No matter what you are doing, when working a show, “you are on”. You
represent your organization. Now, more so than in the more conservative
business era, your company name is emblazoned on every shirt, jacket,
briefcases and hats.
organization’s brand exists in the mind of the buyer. The position in
which it resides is dependent on how prospects and customers perceive the
organization. When exhibiting, visitors see the organization, its values
and culture through the staff. They might receive an indication of the
brand through the exhibit design and booth activities, but they receive
the strongest indications of what type of organization they will be
dealing with through the staff. The staff are the “guardians of the
dissecting the dynamics of an exhibit’s performance, the staff plays a
Knowledge - the number one ingredient that creates a positive image in
the mind of the show attendees is to have staffers that are knowledgeable
about the company, its products and services. How well the staffer
conducts a demonstration – how they involve the attendees to understand
their needs and customize the demonstration to those needs communicate a
powerful message about the organization and thus the brand.
having staffers who display they want to be at the show, working the
event. They show it by the smile on their face, by using an engaging
opening statement and having the appearance of being open, warm, friendly
Communications - being aware that 55-60% of a staffers’ communications
is nonverbal is absolutely critical. Show attendees make a decision about
whether they will even stop at an exhibit by observing the staff’s
nonverbal communications. Holding a coffee clache, sitting down at the
back of the exhibit, talking on a cellular phone all demonstrate
disinterest in communicating with visitors.
“experience” – memorabilty is reinforced through the creation of an
experience. The bulk of that which we call experience is that which the
staff creates in generating rapport, establishing a dialog that is
customer focused, listening and responding with stories that create
images. The drama of the exhibit, the live presentations, the interactive
demonstrations are all important in the formula of creating an experience,
but without a staff that understands and executes their role, there is
nothing to provide lasting memory.
the brand - as a visitor sees the staffer, they see the organization. The
staff is the organization in the eye of the show’s visitor.
So what do we
need to do?
staff that are customer focused and like working the trade show events –
establish a criteria for selection – get management buy-in so that
availability is not the sole selection criteria.
– value the staff – make them feel important – communicate with them
regularly and not just do’s and don’ts. Make them part of the strategic
staff – they don’t work trade shows frequently enough to keep the tools
sharp – use all intranet, internet (e-mail, websites) preshow briefingdocuments, preshow
meetings or briefings, post show evaluations (meetings and surveys) .Make sure
the staff understands the organization’s brand strategy – what is the
organization doing to position the brand in the mind of show visitors?
What vehicles are being used? Show them examples of how the strategy is
Make sure they
understand the process of exhibiting – reaching out, reacting to, relating
and responding and recording visitor information.
customer focused exhibit – one whose design is focused on visitor needs
staff the tools they need to communicate the branding message(s) –
graphics, collateral, demonstrations.
© 2012 by Marc