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!

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!

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!