Congrats. You're at the show, map in hand, and ready to go. Now put
your planning into action.
Give Yourself Time. "If it's a three- or four-day show,
don't just jet in for a couple of meetings and jet out," says John
Daniels, worldwide marketing manager for Texas Instruments' digital
camera solutions group. "Turn off the PDA, the cell, and the
Blackberry, and really try to be there at the show. Don't just make
a run around the exhibit hall 45 minutes before you head to the
Put Your Best Booth Forward. Orlando Rodrigues, who attends
about 20 shows a year as vice president of marketing for I-Flow
Corporation, maker of a post-surgical pain relief device, believes
it's important to establish clear rules and responsibilities for
team members working a show. "Be sure everyone takes their booth
time seriously," he says. "You don't want people eating or chewing
gum when they're on duty. And if they're supposed to start work at
7 a.m. or 8 a.m., they shouldn't be out partying until 4 in the
Don't Just Talk, Listen. The hundreds of people trooping
past your exhibits each day can serve as extra eyes and ears,
according to Kodak's Erin Foster. "We want our people to sell our
solution, but they're also responsible for getting information,"
Foster says. "Everyone has questions to ask. 'What really interests
you out there? Who's got the breakthrough technology?' "
See, Borrow, Improve. Cold Stone's Kevin Donnelan urges
showgoers to bring an open mind for gathering new ideas. "Get out
there on the floor and see who's doing it right," he counsels. "See
what you like, tweak it, and make it your own. That's especially
important with giveaway items. You want people saying, 'Hey, where
did you get that?' "
Be a Clever Card Carrier. "It's great to hand out your card,
but you need to do more," says Mark McClennan of Schwartz
Communications. "Put your booth number on the front. And when you
get someone's card, write a key message on the back: 'He liked the
scalability,' or 'Time to market resonated.' That becomes another
selling tool for the salespeople back home."
Debrief Daily. "As soon as the hall closes each day, we do a
team huddle," Foster says. "We want to know what people heard that
day." And on the flight home, says CES' Cole, do a trip report -
even if the company doesn't require it. "Don't trust your memory.
Write those notes. If you talk to 50 to 100 people over three or
four days, it can get very confusing."