Rut Busters: Changing Your Trade Show Routine
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Article Title: Rut Busters: Changing Your Trade Show Routine
Author's Name: Susan Friedmann, CSP
Author's Email: info @ thetradeshowcoach.com
Author's Website: www.thetradeshowcoach.com
Word Count: 799
Rut Busters: Changing Your Trade Show Routine
By Susan A. Friedmann
Routine is comfortable. We like knowing what we're going to
do, when we're going to do it, and what we'll be wearing
while we do it. It's nice, safe and predictable. There are
no surprises, no unforeseen contingencies, no upsets.
There is also no growth, no excitement, and no spontaniety.
Routines can easily become ruts, especially at a trade show.
It's very easy to do, especially if you always go to the
same shows, display in the same location, use the same
graphics and literature, and go through the same sales
spiel. It might seem effective. It'll definitely be
It's also one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
Exhibiting is, by its very nature, is a constantly evolving
art. To be successful, you need to embrace what is new and
exciting. It requires pushing boundaries.
If you're comfortable, you're not trying hard enough.
Worse, you're running a very real risk: The risk of boring
trade show attendees with your booth.
People have a split second attention span. If you're not
presenting something new, exciting, and engaging, to draw
them in, most attendees are going to assume they already
know what you have to offer and pass you by. When attendees
walk right by your booth without giving it a second look,
that's the same as having sales dollars flying right out the
There are five easy steps to break out of a rut.
1) Realize the difference between branding and routine.
Doing the same exact thing the same exact way time after
time after time is NOT branding. Careful and intelligent
placement of logos, consistent use of color, and overall
design are all elements of branding. Look at McDonalds -
they have one of the strongest brands on the planet, yet
have changed looks, catch phrases, uniforms and menus over
Take a close look at your branding efforts. Are they
serving your marketing message, or are you simply repeating
2) Step outside your industry
Great ideas come from unexpected sources. I've gotten some
of my best exhibit ideas from the retail world, where they
carefully study the impact of color, music, and even
temperature upon shoppers. Examine what motivates people to
buy products that are very different from your own. What
makes someone buy a motorcycle? Yogurt? Sleeping bags?
Each of these items requires a different strategy, with many
complex elements. Perhaps some of these elements would work
well in your exhibit.
Remember, it's never a good idea to simply 'cut and paste'
elements from one advertising campaign onto your own.
Catchphrases, graphics, and imagery may be copyrighted or
proprietary. You want to expand your business, not enter
litigation! Instead, analyze what makes a particular
element work for you, and see how you can adapt it to meet
your own business needs.
3) Get a fresh set of eyes
Have someone who is in no way related to the trade show
industry or your company look at your exhibit. What do they
notice first? What impression do they get of your company?
What emotions do your graphics evoke? Record their
impressions and compare how they measure up to your
Many times we have looked at our own exhibits so many times
that we don't 'see' them anymore. This fresh set of eyes
will be viewing your booth the same way the attendees do -
with no foreknowledge or preconcieved notions of how the
exhibit is 'supposed' to look.
4) Change up your teams
Just because Fred, Ethel, Murray and Zane have ALWAYS been
your trade show team does not mean they always have to be.
Take a careful look at your staff. Who is personable and
professional, with excellent product knowledge, strong sales
skills, and enthusiasm? Send that person to the trade show.
Sending one new person to a show can create a new dynamic,
sending a whole new team guarantees you'll get anything but
a routine performance.
No matter who you send, make sure that all staff members are
trained. Old-hands need to refresh their skills and rookies
need to acquire them!
5) Call in wardrobe
Something as simple as changing clothes can totally alter a
booth staff's performance. If they've been wearing business
attire, consider switching to a more casual yet coordinated
look. Have the booth staff break out the suits and ties.
You'll be amazed how differently they carry themselves and
interact with attendees.
Uniforms and logo clothing are particularly appropriate for
some industries. For example, shippers world wide know UPS
by their distinctive brown attire. If this is the case with
your company, make sure that the uniform shows up at the
trade show. In addition to your booth staff, make sure the
uniform makes an appearance in graphics and literature to
reinforce the image association in attendee's minds.
Written by Susan A. Friedmann,CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake
Placid, NY, author: "Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies,"
working with companies to improve their meeting and event
success through coaching, consulting and training. For a
free copy of "10 Common Mistakes Exhibitors Make", e-mail:
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