Paint Your Own Reality

Setup day for your big event is quickly approaching. Do you have one or more stories to tell your potential clients? With proper planning, your space can reflect your branding message while functioning as home base during your event activities. How are you going to decorate your new pad?

You’ll want to perform a dry run before the actual setup. If you’re expecting large numbers of show visitors, perhaps you’ll want to arrange your displays to direct traffic. Will you demonstrate your product or service? Display space for inventory and sales material is an obvious requirement but what about creature comforts? Do you have tables and chairs for staff or waiting visitors? Will you keep water and snacks on hand? You’ll appreciate an extra pair of shoes for yourself.

Don’t underestimate the value of décor. Walls can provide separation from the neighboring booths and help minimize visual distractions. Table cloths add a polished finish and provide storage for boxes and supplies.

How will you capture client details? A business card scanner is efficient but a raffle or giveaways could help acquire contact info more easily while enhancing the client experience. Revenue collection might be better off in a more private area. None of us appreciates someone looking over our shoulder when we pull out our wallet.

Before you finalize your space, step back and scrutinize the area from all angles. Use a critical eye and keep an open mind.

Ask for opinions!

I welcome you to connect and reach out on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, BNIConnect or for virtual coffee or tea at Have an amazing and profitable day!

Rock Paper Scissors

Event real estate can be priced like Monopoly® properties. How can you land on the right location? Is there a perfect spot? Do you want to be on the end of the row near the entrance? Does the corner booth see more traffic? You’ll need to weigh the investment against the opportunity.

Volunteering for my local chamber helped me get a great location. Unassigned, contiguous space gave extra storage for supplies and a kind of backroom area for private conversations and breaks.

Try setting up next to a friend or complementary business partner and use the combined space to maximize visual impact for both businesses. I witnessed two exhibitors build walls using their product that funneled show traffic from one booth to the other.

No show can promise that your ICA will make an appearance although a larger show with high traffic might increase your odds. You could market to that segment prior to the show and pre-book appointments for interested parties. Perhaps you might provide an incentive for passers-by such as free snacks or cold water on a hot day.

Festival type events might offer indoor exhibit space as well as outdoor spots. Outside can present sensory overload for an attendee. The aisles become a sea of blue and white tents with lots of distractions. Perhaps you have unique signage with larger fonts or a branded tent? Indoor events like bridal shows can be challenging for conversations. Check the Farmer’s Almanac for weather forecasts and Community Calendars for multiple events on the same days.

How large should your booth be? Remember your smile and positive attitude take up no space at all.

Get to work!

Boardwalk or Baltic?

Before you settle on an event, beware of costs over and above the booth fee. Do you need electricity and wi-fi or carpet? What the heck is drayage? Does the union handle installation and setup? Is lead retrieval available? Is it an additional charge?

A little creativity might stretch your budget to make that “Shining Star Event” possible. Does the event organizer offer any volunteer opportunities? Can you work the golf outing? Help with registration? Apply for a presentation opportunity? Conduct market research during the event? Share a booth with a strategic partner?

Before you take on an additional role around the event, you’ll want to find out if there will be any shout out to your brand or booth. Is a free sponsorship just that? Will you recoup your investment for multiple display locations? You’ve done a great job helping in the kid’s activity area, how will your new contacts find you when you’re back at your booth? Were the parents inspired to book services? Perhaps your efforts would be better focused on your own space.

Did you decide to share a space with a colleague because the price was right? Not all venues lay out perfectly for 10’X10’ or 10’X20’ spaces. Can your display accommodate one of the building’s structural support columns? Fire doors or walls can create odd shaped spaces that might be perfect for a sole proprietor.

Ask questions!

Champagne on a Beer Budget

Unless your budget is unlimited, your finances play a pivotal role in your choices when you’re researching your first major show. If money isn’t a concern for you, go ahead and skip the rest of this post but if you’ve ever redirected your lunch money to cover expenses, let’s talk.

Have you got a specific event in mind? Is it a Shining Star Event? What, do you ask, is a “Shining Star Event?” Does this event offer unlimited touch points? Will the event keep you in front of your ICA? Are there pre and post show marketing opportunities? Will your efforts and talents showcase your best advantages?

How can you maximize your exposure at an event? Sponsorship, seminar attendance, supplying raffle prizes or silent auction gifts are all possibilities to maximize your exposure and networking opportunities.

Manage your brand’s identity. If this show can be considered your “grand opening”, you want to be identified as the preferred brand. What is your point of differentiation? Currently, a friend is working in the solar industry. He distinguishes himself as a solar “educator” rather than a solar “salesperson.” People remember the engagement.

When the big day arrives, arrive early and stay late. Bring enough staff to allow for shifts, breaks, workshop attendance, market research and peer visits.

Make it count!

Only Cinderella Found The Perfect Fit on the First Try

How will you know if an event will be the right place at the right time with the right opportunities and the right attendees? Can those attendees be converted to clients and future testimonials?

For B2B or H2H (human 2 human), conferences offer opportunities for connection, engagement, referrals and revenue. Good connections can result in year over year residual revenue.

Larger festivals or musical events (20K+ attendees) such as The Big E, Oktoberfests and Renaissance Fairs attract guests who are ready to engage (B2C or H2H). Experiential marketing generates on the spot revenue with post show potential.

Before you invest, note all deadlines for ordering exhibit extras or hidden costs and ask questions! An event organizer should be able to provide a schedule, exhibitor rules, insurance requirements, stats for previous shows. How many prior sponsors and exhibitors are returning? Planned media partners? Will Wi-Fi be provided? Any special requirements? Read all written or online information before signing up, volunteering or considering attendance.

If you are simply exploring future options, attend with a colleague or a strategic alliance. You can share observations and compare impressions.

A Failure to Plan Is a Plan to Fail

Prior to committing to an event, list your goals and objectives.

  • Who is your ideal client avatar (ICA)?
  • What are their issues? What solutions can you offer?
  • How much are you willing to spend for one ICA?
  • Do you have the time and energy to commit? What impression do you want to leave?


Immediately following the event, put aside time for a thorough post mortem.

  • Return on Objectives
    • Event Revenue including but not limited to books, products, services
    • Email contact list
    • New referral partners and strategic alliances
    • New client follow up-Are they ready to commit?
  • Return on Opportunities
    • Save the dates
    • Future event registration
    • Engage with new contacts

Be clear and honest when determining your Return on Investment (ROI) for a show. Did you move the needle?

Are You An Adult Trick or Treater?

Are You An Adult Trick or Treater?

My first show was FREE, but the price was far from right. An invitation to display was extended by a new client as a thank you for a job well done.

I quickly learned why this girl from da Bronx who loves to learn and explore must always ask lots of questions and do lots of research before selecting events. I made a lot of mistakes before, during and after my first two display opportunities. Oy vey – the lessons I learned. My best decisions were table location and footwear.

Clarity of goal and purpose is essential. Whether you’re seeking out a new office location, food shopping for a dinner party, or contracting for a table at a show, clarify your objectives.

Discover ten lessons I’ve learned the hard way. With the right tools, techniques and recipes, you’ll be ready to delight your guests at your next conference, expo or trade show. We’ll start with our ingredients list first…