Tradeshow and Exhibit Thoughtleaders
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Marc Goldberg's Articles

Best Practices in Exhibit Marketing 


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What are best practices? They are strategies, plans, and tactics that are executed in a way to create a benchmark for others to emulate.   Sometimes it is the selection process of staff or an approach to preshow promotion that attracts the “right” audience or a strategy to focus on existing customers to increase share of customer.  It might be the work of an individual or the entire staff working a show.  It might be behind the scenes or upfront in the execution of the event.  Let’s look at a few that stand out. 

Kerry Ingredients – This world player in the food ingredients market attends the International Food Technology show every summer.  In the past they have focused on the 37,000 attendees providing them with tastings of new products.  In the past, their 50x80 exhibit was designed to have four tasting stations.  After reviewing their performance at the IFT, they decided that their audience focus was better served on targeted existing customers and the press.  They didn’t want to forgo serving the attendees at large, but wanted to cull out those that were casual “food hounds” Vs interested prospects.  Through an interdepartmental, cross functional strategy session, they decided to target 20 existing customers, invite them to private tastings to increase their share of customer.  In adopting this strategy they had to find a way to address the audience at large.  They converted their 50x80 into a exhibit with half a double-deck. (this was acquired from an exhibitor who was moving away from a two story presentation.)  By doing so, they added semi-private conferencing and converted some of the floor space to private tasting rooms.  In addition they built into the front of the exhibit on each side of the entrance arch two “Kerry-Out” stations for casual tasters.  This reduced the traffic inside the exhibit.  The tasting stations, included a new acquisition, were flanked by plasma screen graphics.  The entire exhibit had a beat that was orchestrated through a video of client products with background music with a beat.

The change in focus generated the following results: 

MCI WorldCom Conferencing – They attend a variety of vertical events focused on the conferencing market.  One of those shows is NIRI (National Investor Relations Institute). This 750 member organization attends this highly social event to network with suppliers to this specialized industry and other members.  In 1999, they attracted 83 qualified leads for sales of conferencing products by commencing an innovative preshow promotion program.  This year they enhanced the preshow promotion program – Mission Possible.  The three part promotion started with an invitation to each of the Institute members to play the Mission Possible game by solving three clues that would spell out the theme of WorldCom’s exhibit.  They were invited to visit the website for the first clue, the second clue came on a business card sized CD and the third came in a recorded telephone call. Each time the attendee interacted with the website to get the next clue they provided additional information for Worldcom’s staff to learn about their conferencing needs.  This year resulted in almost double the qualified leads. 

PRG  - This leader in the lighting, production, exhibit and events industry annually attend LDI.  PRG felt they could get more from their trade show program.  Their first action was to get the principals from their business units to look at their exhibiting as a whole rather than as individual units. They did this with the help of Mim Goldberg, Marketech through an exhibit market planning workshop.  As a result of this planning, PRG’s executives found the potential that their exhibit program could return.  Each group selected a team to create an exhibit marketing plan for their unit that would conglomerated into a PRG exhibit marketing plan.  As a subtask, the team selected a trade show team for each unit that would be trained to learn the skills that were needed to achieve their potential results.  The training was conducted in two parts – exhibit market training and working an open house.  The third part of the integrated program was an “on-the-set” audit at Global Shop and Show Biz.   A post show review was conducted with the staff to evaluate the day and then a report of observations and recommendations were transmitted to PRG management.  What did PRG learn? (1) Not to dismiss attendees without determining if they are qualified. (2)  Reminders what works and what doesn’t. (3) How to network to create relationships at hospitalities that can result into business. (4) How to cross-sell between the diff 

© 2012 by Marc Goldberg