For exhibit and event professionals  

Dilemma: How do I get management to pay attention — and a few bucks?

August 1, 2011 By Editor

I’m running my company’s entire exhibit program, and somehow, I’m handling it. But I know with some help and a bit more money, we could surpass competitors in our area. How can I get management to see the benefit of an expanded program?

— Lora, Trade Show Manager

Expansion takes gumption

Simply walking into your manager’s or VP’s office and saying, “I need money” won’t get you anywhere. You’re going to have to prove why the funds you want are necessary.

To do this, our readers suggest you:

• Turn to the past to plan for the future.
• Use the competition to your advantage.
• Take the bull by the horns.

Turn to the past to plan for the future

You know how you’ve been doing at shows and how much better you could do with additional resources. Now, it’s up to you to convey what you know.

Deborah R. Herr, marketing consultant, Deborah Herr Marketing, describes how to do this.

“Prove it! Show them the numbers. Do a chart that shows the past couple of years’ results, and then plot the future at two to three different spend levels. Make your presentation look and sound professional.”

Use the competition to your advantage

When you meet with upper management, don’t rely on hypotheticals to justify how extra money could deliver better results. Point out what’s leading to the success of others.

A senior trade show/event specialist believes your competitors are the best examples of what you could accomplish.

“What ROI have you garnered so far? Show what your competitors are currently doing and the potential impact of having a similar program.”

Take the bull by the horns

A trade show director found making some changes on her own first and then doing additional research was the way to go.

“I selected a trade show vendor that  not only helps me maintain our equipment and get it to and from shows, but has an employee who can assist me with placing orders for show services, etc. I also did some homework and found out I could actually save my company money by ordering new equipment, which costs less to maintain and ship and provides us with a fresh look complementing our branding program. Thus, the capital expense was approved.”


  • Compare trade show developed prospects with the current cost and time of sales to show management that exhibiting at the right trade shows can increase overall selling efficiency by reducing sales time and cost especially if field sales calls are employed. Promote trade shows as a direct sales promotional tool in direct support of the selling function within your company.
    Read: http://www.tradeshowconsultants.com/articles/Are%20Trade%20Shows%20on%20the%20Sales%20or%20Marketing%20Side%20of%20the%20Aisle.pdf

  • Lora should ask friends in the industry about their exhibit program budgets to get an idea of what kind of an increase would be reasonable. If she can’t get the info from anyone she knows, she should do some online research to see if she can find the numbers she needs. Before she speaks to anyone in management, she should make sure she’s asking for an increase in funds that she can justify, based on an “industry average” and what she hopes to accomplish.

    That said, if you were Lora, what would you do?

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