Exhibitor Education Manifesto


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In this manifesto, exhibit marketing strategist Marlys Arnold explains what exhibitor education is (and isn’t) and why it matters. Learn the answers to these key questions and more:
- Why is exhibitor education necessary?
- Who needs to be educated?
- Who benefits from education?
- What should be included in training (and what shouldn’t)?
- What type of education is available?
- When should education take place?
- How can you join the revolution?
Feel free to share this with team members, show organizers, fellow exhibitors, industry vendors, or anyone you feel could benefit from being better educated.

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Exhibitor Education Manifesto

  1. 1. Why 1% Isn’tNearly Enough!AKA “The Exhibitor Education Manifesto”by Marlys Arnold, ImageSpecialistPresented by ExhibitMarketersCafe.comTaking a stand on exactly what exhibitor education is (and isn’t) ... plus why it matters
  2. 2. Whatsparked thismanifesto?The Center for Exhibition Industry Research(CEIR) issued a report on “How the Exhibit Dollar isSpent” which stated that when the $24 billion used for U.S. tradeshow marketing is broken down, staff training comes in dead last ata measly 1%! When you stop and think about it, the per-person average works out to almost nothing.So I created a podcast/blog entry on "The Importance of ExhibitorEducation" and it sparked a firestorm of controversy online! SinceI’ve spent more than a decade focused on teaching exhibitors howto improve, it seemed a logical next step to create a ‘manifesto’ onexactly what exhibitor education is (and isn’t) plus why it matters.Manifesto = a declaration of beliefs, motives, and intentions; forward-thinking andinspires readers to change; may be used to launch a revolutionRead or listen to the original post that started it all at:http://www.tradeshowinsights.com/2012/08/the-importance-of-exhibitor-education/© 2013 Marlys Arnold | ExhibitMarketersCafe.com | Page 1Tweet this!
  3. 3. Whyis educationnecessary?© 2013 Marlys Arnold | ExhibitMarketersCafe.com | Page 2If companies are willing to spend thousands tohave an exhibit, why wouldn’t they want their staff to beeducated on how to get the best return on that investment? It’s aknown fact that better educated exhibitors are more effective andsuccessful. A different CEIR study states that they’re 68% more effective,*in fact. So why do so few exhibitors invest in this key piece?It’s likely for one of three reasons:• They’ve had a fair amount of success in the past, so feel they don’tneed any training• It’s not as obvious as buying a display, shipping it to the show, andhaving carpet in the booth• They don’t know where to go to find the educationTweet this!“Because sending untrained staff is like handing the car keys to your teenagerwho’s never had a driving lesson!”Marlys ArnoldSpeaker, Author, ConsultantExhibit Marketers Café* CEIR Power of Exhibitions II
  4. 4. Whoneeds to beeducated?© 2013 Marlys Arnold | ExhibitMarketersCafe.com | Page 3Different audiences, different needs:Entrepreneurs/Small businesses(exhibit occasionally)Need a start-to-finish education on how todesign for maximum impact, as well astechniques for gathering & managing leadsCorporate exhibitmanagers (“beenthere, done that”)Need fresh perspectives on pre-showpromotion, effective booth design, attractingattendees, and streamlining the entire processBooth staff(including salespeople)Need to know how to properly engage &qualify attendees, booth etiquette, what makesa lead qualified, how to deal with members ofthe media, and more“Just because a salesperson is great in the field doesnt mean theyre good in atrade show environment … trust me, Ive heard from dozens of exhibit managersacross the country who are beyond frustrated with the behavior of salespeople intheir booth!” ~ Marlys ArnoldRead or listen to the post, “The Challenge of Using Salespeople as Booth Staff” at:http://www.tradeshowinsights.com/2012/01/the-challenge-of-using-salespeople-as-booth-staff/
  5. 5. Whobenefits fromeducation?© 2013 Marlys Arnold | ExhibitMarketersCafe.com | Page 4“My original comment about turning teens loose [with the keys]without a [single] driving lesson was a comparison to having staffersin the booth who are uneducated on the finer points of how toeffectively work a trade show and maximize results. Not sure why thisis all causing so much controversy ...” ~ Marlys Arnold• Booth staff does a better job and feels more satisfied• Attendees have a positive experience at the show andfeel it was worth their time to attend• Exhibit manager has a happier, more productive teamand comes off looking good to superiors• Show organizers have successful exhibitors whohappily sign up for next year’s show, often taking a largerspace and even becoming a sponsor• Industry vendors and show venues discover thatbetter educated exhibitors see the value in the variousservices offered to them at shows
  6. 6. Whatshould be includedin the training?© 2013 Marlys Arnold | ExhibitMarketersCafe.com | Page 5• Show goals, strategy & logistics• Orientation to booth features (various stations/product demonstrations/in-booth attractions/etc.)• How to define & properly qualify a lead• Communication skills/conversation starters• Interacting with attendee personalities (engage/qualify/disengage; handling difficult attendees/objections)• Booth staff etiquette/behavior• Working together as a team to achieve goals• Lead retrieval system/lead management/follow-up“Its often easy to focus exclusively on the display, but that would be amistake. Successful exhibitors understand that trade show marketing is aspecialized form of marketing. Too often, we learn by trial and error in thisbusiness, when learning from an expert would save thousands of dollars inexpenses, countless hours in time, and hundreds (if not millions) of dollars inlost sales. I can think of no other marketing where the expression, ‘pennywise and pound foolish’ is more appropriate. Work with an exhibitprofessional ... until you become an exhibit professional.”Mel WhiteVice President of Marketing/Business DevelopmentClassic Exhibits
  7. 7. Whatdoesn’t it include?© 2013 Marlys Arnold | ExhibitMarketersCafe.com | Page 6• It’s not sales training (your sales team should alreadybe good at their job)• It’s not product knowledge (although a quickoverview of the products being showcased can’t hurt)• It’s not general company information and howyou compare to the competition (again, your team shouldalready have a clear understanding of this)“Knowledge is power. In my past experience on the show organizer side,exhibitors who took advantage of industry education became clientsmore strategically focused on business outcomes rather than pipe &drape color. In my current experience on the supplier side, exhibitorsinvolved in industry education realize the importance of partnering withtheir organizers for increased positive results and the need to stayrelevant and unique in an increasingly competitive environment.”John Mikstay, CEM, CSR-PManager, Events AuditBPA Worldwide
  8. 8. Wherecan I turnfor education?© 2013 Marlys Arnold | ExhibitMarketersCafe.com | Page 7Many exhibitors have exhibited for 10 or 15years (sometimes longer) and never had any type oftraining – other than watching other exhibitors, which isn’t theright kind! Even if they believe in the importance ofeducation, they might not know where to find it. Let’s faceit – there’s no shortage of information (both online and off) aboutexhibit marketing, but much of it never goes beyond the surface, andnearly all of it stops short of providing the tools needed totake action. But there are places where quality exhibitor educationis provided. Read on to learn more ...Tweet this!Based on industry surveys, 85% of a visitor’s overall first impression isbased on the booth staffer, and that staffer also accounts for 80% oftheir final decision whether or not to do business with that companyFor exhibitor training programs focused on sales lead generation, 52%report a leads increase in excess of 10% (CEIR report G-103)So why wouldn’t you want to send a well-trained staff?
  9. 9. Whattype of educationis available?© 2013 Marlys Arnold | ExhibitMarketersCafe.com | Page 8Education comes in many forms & places:• Articles in industry magazines & online (including blogs)• Industry association conferences & local chapter events• Social network industry forums• Classes & webinars hosted by associations, magazines, tradeshow organizers & professional exhibit trainers• Online exhibitor education communities, such as theExhibit Marketers CaféCheck out the Exhibit Marketers Café and request an “Extra Shot of Exhibit Success” with audio tips from experts – free in your inbox!“Exhibit Marketing is not something taught in most college marketingprograms today. It is imperative that employees who have been taskedwith planning and executing their company’s exhibit acquire educationelsewhere in order to avoid the pitfalls and learn the tricks of the trade.Time and money can be saved by taking advantage of the experiences ofthose who came before you.”Siobhan ConnellanSr. Manager, Exhibitor OperationsExperient
  10. 10. Whenshould educationtake place?© 2013 Marlys Arnold | ExhibitMarketersCafe.com | Page 9It’s an ongoing process:• In the weeks and months leading up to the show (how toattract and engage attendees, what is acceptable behavior in thebooth, etc.)• During the actual event (conduct a daily debrief with teamto motivate and make midcourse corrections as needed)• After the show has ended (do a post-event recap andevaluation of what worked and what needs to be improved fornext time)“Your exhibit and your staff ARE the face of your company on the show floor.Professional-looking displays and professional-looking staffers present yourbrand as a professional brand. Never have first impressions been so critical asthey are on the show floor. Often times attendees may never even interface withyour staff at a show, but they do see your exhibit and staff as they walk by.That impression is as important as the one they get if they shake your hand andhave a conversation with you ... sometimes even more important.”Kevin CartyVice President of SalesClassic Exhibits
  11. 11. Whois Marlys & whya manifesto?© 2013 Marlys Arnold | ExhibitMarketersCafe.com | Page 10“I stand firm in my position that exhibitor education is a criticalcomponent of exhibit marketing. While you may have been fortunate tohave a great exhibiting team at your company, not every exhibitor is sofortunate. In a perfect trade show world, everyone would be a natural inthe booth environment, but that’s often far from reality. That’s whyeducation should be an important part of every exhibit budget … becausean educated exhibitor is always a more successful one.” ~ Marlys ArnoldAs an exhibit marketing strategist, I’ve not only been anexhibitor, but also organizer of several expos and events. This uniqueperspective of the industry allows me to share insights with both beginning andexperienced exhibitors, and I’ve provided exhibitor training for events ranging fromlocal consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S.I’m the host of the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, author ofBuild a Better Trade Show Image and the ExhibitorEdSuccess System, and founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café.I’m totally amazed at how my original blog post stirred up such ahornet’s nest online! I expected most people would agree thathaving an educated staff in the booth was a positive thing. Thefact remains that selling on the show floor is very different from any othermethod and as such it requires a different set of skills and education. Because it’sbecome such a controversial issue, I decided a manifesto was needed.
  12. 12. Howcan I jointhe revolution?© 2013 Marlys Arnold | ExhibitMarketersCafe.com | Page 11• Subscribe to trade show industry publications• Follow the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast• Join industry associations• Participate in online industry forums• Encourage show organizers to provide classes &webinars led by professional exhibit trainers• Join an online exhibitor education community, such as theExhibit Marketers Café• Continue the discussion with Marlys“Now there are even fewer excuses for exhibitors to not be bettereducated.” ~ Marlys Arnold@ImageSpecialist @ImageSpecialist @MarlysArnold
  13. 13. Howcan I sharethis manifesto?© 2013 Marlys Arnold | ExhibitMarketersCafe.com | Page 12Download via SlideShare or ExhibitMarketersCafe.com/manifestoComment at ExhibitMarketersCafe.com/manifestoShare via or your favorite social media toolCover image from Digital Juice; chalkboard frame from stock.xchng/jaylopezThanks to the industry experts who shared their thoughts on the importance ofexhibitor education. Feel free to connect with them via social media or the included links.This work is copyrighted by Marlys Arnold, but licensedunder the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License. You are granted theright to print this manifesto and to distribute itelectronically (via e-mail, your website, or social media),but you may not alter it in any way, and you may notcharge for it.
  14. 14. Exhibitors+ EducationSuccess & ROIPresented by ExhibitMarketersCafe.comPass it on!