Seven Questions You May Have Wanted to Ask
But didn’t know where to get the answers
by Jenna Bodenmann, MC² Marketing Manager
The exhibit and event industry is dynamic and constantly changing. Yet many challenges industry professionals face are seemingly eternal and universal.Here are the most common questions exhibit/event professionals ask and advice from some industry experts.
With the limited amount of time I have with exhibit visitors, what’s the best way for me to connect with my trade show audience?
When you’re at any event, you need to make the most of your target audience’s time — and your own. This requires understanding your target audience and their key goals, which, in turn, will help you select the right type of face-to-face meeting. So, where do you begin?
First, identify and rank your target audience. Then, consider and define all your meeting goals. Next, evaluate the different types of face-to-face meetings to determine which is right for your target audience. If you do all these things, you can make the most of every face-to-face meeting and your marketing dollars investment.
— Scott Williams, executive management, MC²
How can I do a site inspection that delivers all the information I need?
When it comes to participating in or holding an event at an unfamiliar venue, a site inspection isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. But before you hit the road for your look-see, you have some preparation to do. A site inspection master checklist is a great place to start.
Include in this document questions you want to ask the facility’s management and what items to look for during your site inspection. RANK these items, say A/B/C, in relevance to your event so you don’t lose track of what is critical to the success of your program. Then, RATE each facility as you visit. After seeing two or three, they all start to blend together. It should then be easy for you to evaluate your RESULTS and determine which facility best suits the needs of your event. So, if you RANK, RATE and then evaluate your RESULTS, the site inspections will give you the backup to feel confident in your selection decision.
— Janet DiFabio Good, CTSM, senior account executive, MC²
I’m clueless when it comes to graphics. What should I keep in mind when updating my exhibit or buying a new one?
The most important thing to realize is what exhibit graphics are meant to do and what they’re NOT meant to do. What makes a trade show environment so unique is the opportunity for face-to-face interactions between your company and show attendees. The graphics should be simple and compelling enough to help facilitate those interactions, but never attempt to communicate so much information that they REPLACE the interaction between your staff and attendees. Too much text or information will only guarantee that attendees won’t read them.
Of course, there are many basic things about graphic design and production that are essential to understanding and facilitating the process, but talking with your designer about what he or she needs is a good place to start. Understanding your audience and developing simple, appropriate messaging that is consistent with your brand and marketing efforts are also important. Finally, make sure to consider the budgetary impact of your decisions. Graphics that will be changed more frequently should be smaller and less expensive. The larger, more expensive graphic elements should be reserved for more permanent messaging or branding.
— Brian Baker, design director, MC²
As a woman, I find it difficult to walk the line between assertive and pushy. How can I become a more successful, respected leader?
As an exhibit or event professional, you deal with vendors, internal clients, upper management and, perhaps, a staff of your own on a daily basis. And while you’re responsible for your company’s success at events, you often don’t control budgets or make big-picture decisions. The keys to your personal and professional success?
- Credibility — your expertise and commitment.
- Personal presence — your style and delivery.
- Leadership skills — your traits and behaviors.
- Communication skills — clear, effective, practical application.
- The design for your future — how you build on experiences.
- Your personal mission statement — your game plan for realizing your values, goals and purpose.
Combined, these can help build your influence and effectiveness while demonstrating your overall competence, expertise and personal style.
— Ellen De Rosa, SPHR, corporate director of human resources, MC²
How can I create real buzz about my company?
The most successful efforts require a multipronged approach. The first step involves planning your show objectives, brand experience, your attendees’ interactive journey and how you’ll work with all your partner vendors to ensure an exciting, seamless presentation. Then, build on your brand messaging and image by coordinating them for all show activities. Also, find unique, timely methods to generate excitement for new product introductions. And to get that target audience to your booth, create interest with the right mix of traditional and social media.
— Philip Lauzon, creative director, MC² Southwest
When it comes time for me to update my exhibit, I always find myself butting heads with the people who control the money. Is there some way for us to communicate better?
You could try begging or bullying. Or you could admit defeat and just accept whatever budgetary constraints they place on you. But both these options are self-defeating.
If you want to get more funding for your projects, learn how to reach a common ground with the people in the procurement department, try to understand their position and help them understand yours, and demonstrate the value of intangibles such as leadership, creative solutions and industry experience.
You may never be “best buds” with the money people, but you can build bridges that lead to better relationships, mutual respect and the funding you need.
— Shana Carr, division president, MC²Southwest
After years of waiting, I finally have the go-ahead to secure a new exhibit. How can I be sure an exhibit house will work with me, on budget and on time?
Signing a contract with a company to build your new exhibit should never end your participation in its creation. Why? Without your input and guidance, the finished product may be very different from what you’d envisioned. Yet, at the same time, micromanaging the project can delay its completion and produce a less-than-acceptable exhibit. What should your role be in the process?
- Recognize the value of your involvement; you’re the guiding force.
- Get to know the exhibit house’s team members and their roles in your project.
- Establish the important timeline milestones, and make sure everyone’s aware of them.
- Work with the design team to ensure they understand what you are trying to accomplish with the new exhibit property.
- Maintain clear, frequent communication.
By playing your part, you can make sure your new exhibit gets done on time, within your budget, and achieves your goals and objectives.
— Gary Levitt, senior vice president, MC²