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Does Your Trade Show Program Suffer From A.D.D.?

Mike Thimmesch

Mike is director of industry relations for Skyline Exhibits, designer and builder of custom modular exhibits and portable displays.
October 26, 2013

Nervous that perhaps your trade show program suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder? Well, it’s certainly possible.
 
Usually it’s sales and marketing people like us who manage our companies’ trade shows, and we’re notorious for having more than a touch of A.D.D. Marketing people need that endless curiosity that sparks creative marketing ideas, and sales people are known for doing whatever it takes to get the sale – and then going on to the next sale before all the details are nailed down on the first one.
 
However, A.D.D creates a distinct downside to your trade show effectiveness, in many aspects of your trade show program.  Let’s look at some of the symptoms:
 
Show Selection:With A.D.D., your team rushes to add shows to the company show schedule, without a consistent process to evaluate and prioritize new shows.  Plus, extra shows strain your limited resources to do well the shows you already committed to.
 
Booth Staffers:Most companies prefer to use their sales people as booth staffers.  That works well when your sales people are focused and motivated to achieve ambitious personal goals for qualified lead counts. But an A.D.D. staffer that gets antsy after just 30 seconds of not talking to an attendee is going to start talking to another booth staffer, and let potential booth visitors walk right on by.
 
Exhibit Design:The enemy of brand consistency?  An A.D.D.- trade show exhibit design approach that changes messages, colors, images, and style, show after show.  After several years of that, you have created brand confusion with your target audience, and you may even have a fleet of exhibit assets that don’t match each other, let alone your other marketing assets such as your website, ads, and brochures.
 
Budget:When you are too busy zigging and zagging in your A.D.D. world, little things like deadlines go sailing past under the radar.  Unfortunately, those missed deadlines ring up surprisingly higher fees on show services, shipping, hotel, and airfare.
 
Promotions:When A.D.D. trade show marketers wait until the last minute, they run out of time to do pre-show or at-show promotions, which require weeks, even months to ideate, plan, source, and deliver.  And without doing promotions, exhibitors get fewer visitors to their booth, reducing their program’s results and ROI.
 
Lead Management:When your trade show program is ruled by A.D.D., your team can’t stay focused long enough to finish the show, by getting the leads fulfilled and assigned to sales.  So all your investment and effort may sit in a small pile on the end of someone’s desk, while potential customers are turned off by your lack of follow-through.
 
Lower ROI, higher costs, missed leads and sales, and a tarnished brand. Those are some very real and significant outcomes when your trade show program suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder.
 
So, what’s the cure?  Make sure there is a strong, detail-oriented person on your team who is well-versed in the marketing strategy and tactics of trade show success, while also driven to follow up on the myriad of details necessary to pull it off.  And respect their pleas to make a commitment and make a decision when they say time is running out!

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