Welcome to ExhibiTALK. Learn exhibiting tips from the pros!

The team at Marketplace Events strives to take each show beyond exhibit space, banners and logos... We build experiences. ExhibiTALK is where the Marketplace Events team shares best practices and strategies to truly get the most out of your show experience.

We bring buyers and sellers together in environments that ensure opportunity and success for our customers. Online, in print or on the show floor, we connect businesses with the audiences they need to reach; and we want to make sure every connection is worthwhile.

Brand Awareness

A home show is a great way to reach your target audience.

Face to Face

Have meaningful interactions with potential customers.

Lead Generation

Find your future customers through surveys and contests.

Celebrity + Expert Appearances

Opportunites to present to a live audience.

Social Media

Connect with a fabulous home + garden community looking for new ideas.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Before the Show: Train Your Team

Your success at a home show is highly dependent on your overall team performance. You have put hours into designing your booth, creating a strategy, printing handouts... Now it is time to invest in your team. They are at the front of the line and representing you to potential customers. Explain to staff who are working the booth in detail what you hope to accomplish at the show and what you expect from each person. A kick-off meeting can inspire people and help them understand your expectations and goals before the show opens. Action ideas may include:
  • Determine the sales process - a team selling approach is best.
  • Share the content of your pre-show promotions so your team can reference them and react to booth visitors in a positive and knowledgeable manner.
  • Explain how the overall success of the show will be measured.
A common problem encountered by many exhibitors is sales team related. Many salespeople are focused on their own niche: one geographical location, product, or customer type. As a result, they may be reluctant to engage in conversations with prospects from outside their focus. It's best to implement a process for them to collect and pass along ALL leads from attendees. Make sure they are considering long term sales leads and not only orders closed during the event. These issues should be addressed and staff trained accordingly. Open lines of communication between your sales and marketing staff will help ensure the appropriate follow-up with all the leads you collect.

Hold daily morale-building and debriefing sessions where staff members can talk about accomplishments and concerns. Consider recognizing the most valuable team player of the day – someone who went above and beyond.  Offer individualized positive feedback so staff members know you appreciate their efforts. A simple “thank you” goes a long way.

Marketplace Events
US Shows  |  Canadian Shows

Visit HomeandGardenBlog.com for tips and trends!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Before the Show: Decide How Much Space You Will Need

Booth size depends upon your show budget, the product selection that you want to bring to the show, desired objectives, the available show space, and your number of staff. Keep in mind that the size of your booth will have a direct bearing on your final results at the home show. For example, if your major objective at a show is to generate new leads, the amount of actual leads you can generate will be affected by a limited space.
Ample space for shoppers and sales staff.
The physical exhibit (products and displays) generally occupy approximately thirty percent of your available space. In a ten-foot by ten-foot booth (100 square feet), your exhibit will cover approximately thirty square feet. That leaves only seventy square feet for exhibitors and attendees. The average person uses less than twenty-five square feet of personal space. If you have seventy square feet of space available for people, at less than twenty-five square feet per person, then approximately three people can fit into your booth, INCLUDING SALESPEOPLE! The rule of thumb is that no more than two salespeople should work each 100 square feet of space. With two salespeople in a 10' x 10' booth and one visitor it could still feel very crowded.

An over crowded booth can actually hinder your sales.
Avoid congestion! Your exhibit should be open and inviting to attendees, not cluttered and claustrophobic. Booth visitors tend to stay away from areas they perceive as crowded or confining. A booth visitor will take approximately three seconds to walk past a ten-foot by ten-foot booth. However, a visitor will take eight seconds to walk by a booth that is ten-feet by twenty-feet.

Perhaps the size and number of your products, your demonstration requirements, and/or your selling process has already dictated your booth size. Regardless, it is a good idea to mark off the space you are considering on the floor (in your warehouse, showroom, or living room) and try to actually fit your products, equipment, tables, chairs, etc., into this space. This procedure will act as a "dress rehearsal" for the show and will allow you the opportunity to visualize any potential problems with your display before you get on-site. You may realize that you need to reserve more space and that you can not possibly fit everything you planned in this display area. Needless to say, this is the best time to find out and make any adjustments.

Marketplace Events
US Shows  |  Canadian Shows

Visit HomeandGardenBlog.com for tips and trends!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Before the Show: Set Goals and Measure Success

In order to make the most of your participation in a home show produced by Marketplace Events, its best to have a marketing plan that includes pre-show, on-site, and post-show promotion.  It should be decided what you would like to accomplish during each stage of your campaign.  Create a list of specific goals and objectives and have them in mind before moving on to the execution of your plan.  By having a well defined list of goals and a plan to achieve them, you will be able to evaluate the effectiveness of your plan and will be able to adjust it if needed.  It is the foundation upon which you will measure your overall success.
The most common indicators of success are sales dollars and leads - these are the easiest to measure.  However, although more difficult to measure, other indicators of success should not be ignored.  For example, you may choose to use the show as a recruiting venue and tally the number of interviews you conduct.  In addition, you may use the show to showcase new products and trends by capturing your teams observations on how these are being recognized by the audience.  Either way, your analysis must be tailored to your specific company objectives.

With tight budgets, limited staff, and not enough hours in the day it can be hard to commit to taking part in a show.  After investing your valuable time and money, having good data to back up your success is priceless.  Plus, learning from your mistakes can assist you in making improvements, these lessons are considered to be "little treasures" by our marketing team.  Analyzing your goals and objectives will also help evaluate your long term strategy - there is a reason many companies complete their renewal contracts before the current show ends!  Securing the best booth space, and committing to a new plan a year out from the next event puts them on the path to success.

If you continue to take part simply because you do so every year, it may be time to look at your objectives.  First define your goals, then have specific indicators in regards to your success.  Below are a few examples:

Company awareness - Branding or PR Reach out to show management and let them know about your company and why it is media-worthy. Review the publicity generated in dollar value, readership, etc.
Introduce new product or service Instruct staff to interact with customers and meet daily to discuss public reactions. Consider non-traditional means such as a blog article or social media which can be measured by engagement and the number of viewers.
Generate leads Offer a show promotion or discount. Use a tablet to collect email addresses and decide the desired number you'd like to collect as your daily goal.
Hire new employees Advertise the position available and invite selected applicants to meet you at the event. Finding the right applicant = success.
Market research Consider sponsoring a contest where you include a few specific questions on the entry form. Success can be measured by the number of entries, optins, and answers.
Close sales Invite your current prospects to your booth for an in person meeting and measure success on the final contracted dollar amount of closed sales.
At the end of the show, if you have completed your goals you can summarize your overall success.  At the same time when you sign the renewal contract you will be ready to alter and adapt your plan toward success at future events.

Marketplace Events
US Shows  |  Canadian Shows

Visit HomeandGardenBlog.com for tips and trends!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Before the Show: Research and Plan

Achieving our goals often hinges on pre-Show planning. Those exhibitors that develop a thorough understanding of the Show and the opportunities it represents towards their organizational goals and resources will dramatically increase their chances for success. It is known that the single most common mistake exhibitors make is “just showing up” without properly preparing. Marketplace Events delivers buyers to the Show but it's up to you the exhibitor to attract them to your booth and interact with them.

Getting the right people into your booth is critical to your success. However, you also need to know what to do with them when they arrive. Take time to think through your goals, write them down, and make sure that everyone on your team understands them.

Speaking of time, the best time to start planning is as soon as you book your booth - or even better - well before you book! Our teams at Marketplace Events know what it feels like to have the show quickly approaching and not much time left to complete the task list. At this point it's time for an all-nighter. You can avoid having to stay up all night by creating a work back calendar with all your key dates marked out in advance. Working on your goals months away from the show can help ensure you meet them and experience the greatest amount of success. Trust us, you'll be light years ahead of the guy that just showed up.

Do you want Show attendees to see your new equipment demonstration? Meet a celebrity or your company VIP?  Try out your new product/service? Collect a premium? Leave behind a resume? Whatever the objective, make sure that it moves your business plan toward your final goal.

The next few weekly blog posts will be dedicated to "Before the Show" and offer tips and strategies on how to get the most out of your participation in a Marketplace Events home show through pre-show planning.

Some topics we'll cover are:
- Setting Goals and Measuring Success
- Deciding How Much Space You Will Need
- Training Your Team
- Developing an Effective Lead Card
- Learning the Marketing Opportunities

Remember the wise words of Benjamin Franklin, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

Marketplace Events

View our calendar of events:
USA   |   Canada

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thinking About Home Shows? Join Us for Breakfast!

Exhibit like an expert! Whether you're already booked in a Marketplace Events produced home show or still considering it, learn best practices from industry experts to create the greatest visual impact and attract more buyers to your booth. Discover innovative promotional opportunities to increase your exposure both before and during the show.

If you are thinking about taking part in a home show, join us for breakfast! Ideas, coffee, and smiles are all FREE!

Philadelphia Home Show – Thursday, October 24 | 10am – 12pm
    Continental breakfast will be served
    Pennsylvania Convention Center, Room 108
    RSVP by October 21st to Nicole McWilliams at 215-274-1948

Cleveland Home + Remodeling Expo – Tuesday, October 29 | 9:30am – 11:30am
    Continental breakfast will be served
    Cleveland Convention Center, Meeting Room 3
    RSVP by October 24th to Kelly Baugh at 440-248-5729 ext. 106

Oklahoma City Home  + Garden Show –Wednesday, October 30 | 9am – 11am
    Continental breakfast will be served
    State Fair Park
    RSVP by October 22 to Heather Newsom at 317-705-8719 ext. 11

Denver Home Show – Wednesday, November 6 | 9am – 11am
    Continental breakfast will be served
    Double Tree Denver Tech Center
    RSVP by October 28th to Justin Ainsworth at 801-456-7487

Additional exhibitor seminar information for 2014 home shows will be posted on ExhibiTALK when available. RSVP now as space is limited.

Friday, September 20, 2013

It's SHOW TIME! Time to Talk Show Etiquette

This week marks the start of the Marketplace Events fall home show season. With eight home shows happening between now and the end of October, it is a great time to focus on home show etiquette.

When you are assigned booth duty at any trade show remember that you are on display along with your company’s products. You are a selected representative of the company. You are on duty to meet, sell, educate, inform and service customers and prospects. You're not only selling your products - you're selling yourself.

The following are some simple rules of good salesmanship to follow when it’s your turn to man the booth:

  • It’s hard to talk to a customer when you are out of breath from rushing. Allow yourself about 15 minutes in the booth before you go on duty to become familiar with the surroundings
  • Realize that the show provides the unique opportunity to talk to a customer on your turf where you control the environment.
  • Invest in some comfortable shoes. Booth staff should be on their feet and ready to greet visitors, not sitting in the corner resting.
  • Visit with other company personnel after the show. Customers are reluctant to disturb a salesperson that is already engaged in a conversation.
  • Please do not bring any food into the booth during the show. Water is permitted – you will need to keep hydrated, as you’ll be talking to many different people!
  • If you cannot answer the questions, be prepared to refer customers to the proper source. If no one is available, get the customer’s name, address, and phone number and get back to him or her at a later date.
  • Don’t wait for a visitor to ask you a question. Greet people with a friendly smile and act interested in their needs.
  • Don’t “pounce” and frighten people away. A hard sell can often drive away the most interested buyers.
  • Let show attendees browse. When visitors enter your booth make them feel welcome. Let them know you are there to answer any questions.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • Keep the booth neat and clean. This includes placing personal belongings in a storage area or in the show’s checkroom.
  • Disappearing acts are great on stage, but you should always inform your fellow staff members when you leave the booth. Let them know when you will return and be prompt.
Good luck to all the exhibitors taking part in our fall home show season! Happy exhibiting and have a great show!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lead Cards. A Must.

Is your company's goal to schedule appointments and qualify buyers at our home show? The answer should be "yes" if you are in the business of remodeling, flooring, landscaping, roofing, gutters, etc...

Using lead cards while talking to your prospects is critical; you must get the important information right! We're not saying you have to use pen and paper, there are digital methods as well for iPads and tablets that will get the job done. You may find a standard lead card and pen is always good to have on hand for those moments when you run out of battery.  ;o)

Here's the great news, our show teams have lead cards for you - simply check out our websites under "Confirmed Exhibitors" and all you need to do is print!

Lead cards capture important info such as:
  • BEST time to call
  • BEST number to call
  • Timing of their project
  • Budget for their project
  • Interest level
  • Personal information -- Did you meet the family? Write down their names! Did they recently purchase their home? When? Are they going on vacation? Where?
The more you KNOW, the better you will do.

P.S. Do not put all home show leads in the same "pot" "bucket" "list"  ...All home shows are not created equal, trust me. Tracking leads from each show separately will allow you to qualify each home show by the type of leads collected; as well as calculate the ROI from the business generated at each show.

Sue Huff
Vice President, Sales
Marketplace Events

Friday, August 30, 2013

Boost Exposure at the Show with Internet Advertising Opportunities

It has never been easier to get more bang for your buck! All of the advertising (TV, radio, print, outdoor, and online) and PR campaigns that each show executes direct consumers to our home show websites. Once there, people are prompted to buy tickets online, subscribe to our email lists, and find out all the information about the upcoming show.

Companies taking part in our shows also utilize our websites to obtain pre-show information including exhibitor kits. In addition, our blog HomeandGardenBlog.com and Home and Garden Events Facebook community of 54k enthusiasts across North America now allow us to reach our audience year-round. These facts translate into a lot of qualified eyeballs – over 1.7 million eyeballs to be exact.

Any exhibitor taking part in a Marketplace Events produced home show is welcome to advertise their products and services to our targeted audience of potential buyers. The home show websites can promote your show specials and drive visitors to your booth or website.

Here are a few of the marketing opportunities available online:
  1. Banner Advertising – You ads appear on all pages of the home show website in rotation
  2. Email Blasts – Provide an image or text advertisement which can be included in a pre or post show email campaign. Our subscription lists are permission based and targeted by region with over 540k subscribers across all of North America.
  3. Lead Generation – Want to run a contest but are unable to host it? We will happily host your contest on our website and collect entries and subscribers for your company.
  4. Ticket Sponsor Package – Offer a ticket discount to our customers and have your logo included on our ticketing site, ticket confirmation, websites, and in all advertising. Includes lead generation and data collection.
  5. Sponsored Blog Post or Series – We are happy to run exhibitor spotlights on HomeandGardenBlog.com. Exhibitors can answer a few questions about their service or product and we will cross promote each post on all social media channels. Remember, we only want to bring useful and interesting content to our readers.
  6. Gift Guides – On special holidays we like to run gift guides on our Facebook page which promote new and unique products that are perfect for gift giving… if you have a product that is perfect for Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or Christmas let us know.
  7. Show Coupons – We’d love to create a page of show coupons for consumers to use at the event. If you have a show special – or want to extend your show special after the show closes – and are considering creating a coupon that is redeemable in your booth or in your store, the home show website is the perfect place to promote it.
If you have any questions about any of our digital marketing opportunities feel free to reach out to your sales consultant.

Friday, August 23, 2013

What Does Your Booth Say About Your Company?

When planning on exhibiting it is always best to familiarize yourself with the display and booth regulations of the show. Depending on your booth location you will need to think about walls, flooring, signage, as well as the overall design. For example, the National Home Show in Toronto requires all exhibitors to have hard walls and show management has the right to mask any unsightly areas at the expensive of the exhibitor. While at the Great Big Home + Garden Show in Cleveland exhibitors are provided with back and side pipe and drape. Remember, the rules and regulations are in place to make sure all exhibitors are held to the same high standards. After all, we all want to look good!

The overall presentation of your booth is extremely important, as potential new customers will be walking past it all day while shopping at the show. Care and attention to detail will not go unnoticed. Even if you have a great product to showcase you still need to devote some time and work on drawing people in.

Other common booth regulations are:

  • No handwritten signs
  • Signs must be one sided and not face into another exhibitor’s booth
  • Exhibit walls must be finished on both sides. No wires, frames, wood, etc. for your neighbor to see
  • Booths must have floor covering
  • Flooring must not be adhered directly to the floor and protection should be laid first
  • Tables must be skirted with floor length skirting (no plastic)
  • Personal effects, extra inventory, and stored items must be out of sight
What does your booth say about your company? Does it look like you only want to do the bare minimum or go above and beyond? Your booth is your main marketing tool while at the home show and it communicates what your company is about to the public. If it stands out as an impressive display potential customers will be impressed and more likely to buy from you.

To read the Exhibitor Rules and Regulations for the home shows you are taking part in simply visit the “For Confirmed Exhibitors” section on home show website and look for the "Exhibitor Kit" page. If show management determines a booth does not meet the guidelines, is inappropriate or unprofessional, the exhibitor will be asked to make the necessary changes to be in compliance with the rules at the exhibitor’s expense. If you have any questions regarding the design set up of your booth do not hesitate to call your sales consultant. We are always happy to help and can offer examples of past booth displays along with some solutions.

Marketplace Events

Monday, August 19, 2013

Toronto Exhibitors: Come celebrate with us!

Have you heard about our party yet?  Come beat the summer heat with us while celebrating the launch of the all new GTA Home Show taking place February 20-23, 2014 at the International Centre.  Enjoy appetizers and cocktails while getting the scoop on what we've got planned for all three of our upcoming home shows.  Tour the venue, meet the show team, and participate in some incredible giveaways.  

What's up for grabs?  You could walk away with the following...
  • A free show guide ad courtesy of Homes Publishing
  • An additional 100 sq ft booth space
  • A GES hardwall display 
  • A Wi-Fi single connection and...
  • A 1500 watt 120 volt electrical outlet from Showtech! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

All About Email – Following Up On Home Show Leads (Part Two)

The most important thing a customer gives you is their trust.  Before they become your client and any money changes hands, a certain level of trust must be established. Permission based marketing helps to develop a trust relationship between your business and its customers. It also improves your credibility as a business.

Quick Tips Before Using Your Show List
  1. If you have collected emails in a fish bowl each person should be sent a personal email before being added to a database. Always ask for permission to email first or you risk starting your relationship on the wrong foot.
  2. Collecting emails on a connected device with a valid opt-in box – excellent! Now follow up quickly before everyone forgets they signed up. The most optimal time is within one week of the show.
  3. Running a contest in order to get opt-ins is a great idea. Just make sure the rules and regulations are separate from the opt-in and that opt-in isn’t a requirement of entry.
  4. Include your company name in the opt-in line; then there can be no confusion from the customer about what they are subscribing too.
  5. Keep the message relevant. If you know a potential customer is interested in windows, it is best to not send them the email about a sale on doors.
Following these tips along with the other email best practices mentioned in part one will help you grow your database, and nurture customers after the home show ends. Remember you only have a few days while at the event to set your business up for future success. Goals to grow your database can easily be achieved during and after the show.

All About Email – The Importance of Permission (Part One)

Marketplace Events prides itself on being a permission based email marketer. Permission based email-marketing means we never send to consumers who have not requested our emails and we truly value their opt-in. We feel it is best to only speak to those willing to receive our message – they are the most receptive audience. In addition, this cuts down greatly on potential spam complaints to email service providers (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) which keeps our email lists healthy and effective. 

Subscriptions to our home show email database are collected through forms on our websites, onsite at the events, and contest opt-ins – and gathering permission has not had any ill effects on our 540k plus database. Our subscribers can opt-out at any time, and although we are always sad to see them go we know and respect it is their right to do so.

A Dozen Ways to Develop Trust Through Email
  1. Send emails to only those who requested to receive them.
  2. Allow subscribers to opt-out – it should take no longer than 10 days to remove a person from your list.
  3. Include your physical address on all emails.
  4. Never sell, rent, or share your list. Your customers subscribed to only your messages and to no one else.
  5. Never use a purchased or rented list.
  6. Respond to all email inquires quickly.
  7. Every contest entry form must have a separate opt-in. The opt-in should not be required when agreeing to the rules and regulations.
  8. The opt-in box must be easily visible and obvious for people to find.
  9. Cleaning your email data is important. Removing old addresses and bounced emails keeps your list healthy.
  10. Keep a black list. Quite the opposite of a little black book, these are people you never want to email. Always move anyone not wishing to receive your emails to this suppression file.
  11. Never use misleading subject lines. The subject should reflect the content of the email.
  12. Always use a familiar company name in the ‘from line’ in order for subscribers to recognize you as the sender.
These tips will not only help you keep a healthy database, they will work to keep your emails compliant with the law. For more information on the laws around email permission visit: Canada CASL and US CAN-SPAM Act.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Get to Know Your (Home Show) Neighbors

A home show can be more than just selling to the public. Exhibitors can nurture relationships with each other which often lead to business referrals and future sales. Marketplace Events encourages our exhibitors to foster long term friendships and partnerships with other companies participating in our events. Everyone can benefit from working together – making your booth more attractive, and generating additional promotional opportunities across the show floor.

We have noticed many companies often use our exhibitor-listing tool to reach out to one another before the event, and then go on to work together and create impressive displays. Using all the home core products available and the resources already existing at the show can also save on the costs of rentals from display companies.

Here are some examples of past exhibitor collaborations shared by Toronto Fall Home Show manager Tina Holmes:

  • Furniture companies have worked with media companies helping furnish their booth in exchange for an advertisement in the magazine or newspaper.
  • Flooring companies can provide discounts on flooring to furniture or kitchen and bath companies in exchange for signage in their booth. Many times the flooring may be used at multiple events.
  • Landscapers have often reached out to patio furniture companies, and BBQ suppliers to create garden and outdoor living displays.
  • Mural and wallpaper companies can work with furniture companies to create beautiful room displays for booths or feature areas.
  • Cross promotion can be included in show brochures or you can also work together to create a show brochure featuring each other’s products.
  • Spa & hot tub companies can find opportunities outside the event to feature products in show homes.
The end result is a more aesthetically pleasing booth or feature display, and a beautiful impressive show. There is also the added bonus that you will have created a great partner outside of the show who can refer clients and customers to your business. When a potential customer visits a booth and views your product unexpectedly they will ask where it can be purchased. A referral from another friendly business can be priceless leading to more potential sales and new future customers!

Looking for the exhibitor-listing feature on our websites? It can be found under “Exhibitors & Sponsors” – you may search by keyword or category to find companies of interest.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Who is Working in Your Booth?

There is no greater opportunity for face-to-face advertising than exhibiting at our shows. The qualified buyers come to you live and in person! Follow these quick tips when hiring and preparing your show staff and be sure to make the best first impression possible on the show floor.

Three quick tips:
  1. If you want the BEST sales people, you have to be there. A "set it and forget it" strategy does not make for a successful show experience. The best way to get the most out of your show investment is to monitor what is happening on the show floor. That means you need to be present in the booth on show days.
  2. Shows are not the place for sales training. When the doors open and the traffic appears at your booth your staff should be prepared and ready to go. Once customers are in your booth there is no time to spend reviewing products and services with booth staff.
  3. Engage. Yes! It is that simple.

Have a conversation
Ask questions
Agree on a next step

Put words in their mouths
Get mad

That's it! These are the keys to successful face-to-face marketing at our home shows. Talk to one of our sales consultants today to learn more about engaging with qualified buyers or call Sue directly at 440.248.5729 x 105.

Sue Huff
Vice President, Sales
Marketplace Events

In Cleveland?
Join us at the NEW Cleveland Convention Center for a reception on August 8th.  Please RSVP to Kelly Baugh by Monday, August 5th.


Friday, July 12, 2013

10 Exhibiting Tips to Ensure Your Success

Taking part in an experiential event can give you an edge over the competition. However, just signing the contract and showing up at the event isn’t always enough to get your company noticed. Also, great attendance doesn’t always equal a successful show – there are times when smaller numbers of highly qualified attendees can equate to more return on your investment. Ten serious buyers are more valuable than 1000 tire-kickers. 

The following 10 tips are ways to ensure you are successful at your next event.

1.    Don’t be a wallflower.
According to Google a wallflower is a person who has no one to dance with or who feels shy, awkward, or excluded at a party.  The show is your party! Get up and socialize with every potential customer who passes by your booth. This is the most active way to ensure show attendees hear about your products and services and will keep you top of mind when they are ready to purchase. SMILE, be happy, talk to everyone and be in your booth during the entire time the show is open.

2.    Know your target market.
We work to bring many people to our events within the home and garden demographic. Qualify potential customers who stop at your booth by asking a few simple questions. For example, if you are a renovation company it may be handy to know if they have just purchased a new home.

3.    Have a goal.
It might be a sales target you want to meet by the end of each day, or a promotion strategy you want to achieve. Make sure all staff working in your booth are trained and aware of your goals, this way everyone is working towards the same objective.

4.    Plan & set your budget early.
Start planning your participation as soon as you sign up rather than a month in advance. Align your budget with your goals and there will be no unwelcome surprises when it comes to costs for booth rental, travel, staffing, hotels, and marketing materials.

5.    Stay in touch with your sales representative.
Working on ideas for the show? Why not run them buy your exhibit sales representative, they may have worked on similar concepts in the past and are always happy to share their knowledge. Plus, if you are working on something amazing we love sharing fresh ideas with the media throughout our show promotion. If you have a story, let us help tell it.

6.    Read the exhibitor kit & submit the required forms.
Yes, this one is a necessary evil. Every event will have an exhibitor kit containing all the required documents needed to participate. Mandatory forms such as insurance keep you safe; and submitting your order forms for electrical, lighting, carpet, and signage early can ensure you have a well organized, stress free event. It also helps to save money as orders placed on site cost more.

7.    Promote yourself before the event.
Marketplace Events is partnered with media and PR agencies in all local markets. Yet it’s not enough to rely solely on our promotional efforts. Letting your own customers and prospects know you will be taking part in the event can help to drive more traffic to your booth. Remember to mention your participation in any of your regular newsletters, websites, and social media. Ask your sales rep to send you a show graphic for your website.

8.    Put your best foot forward.
Great booth design does not go unnoticed. On a crowded show floor you have a matter of seconds to capture someone’s attention. If your booth is all set and ready to go with great graphics your first impression is bound to be a good one.

9.    Follow up with your leads.
If you are collecting email address, business cards, or any other form of contact information have a plan to reach out to those people after the event. A simple one-time email to introduce yourself again and thank them for stopping by could lead to an amazing sale. Just make sure you also gather optins to your email list if you are going to send out an email campaign, we don’t want anyone to get in trouble with CAN-SPAM or CASL.   ;o)

10.    Have a post show meeting.
After each event review your strategies and goals and determine how you can improve next time. Having a conversation about what took place on the show floor can lead to improvements; be it to your booth design, handouts, or the location on the floor, all should be reviewed to help you exceed your expectations in the future.

Following these tips will definitely help your participation in any future event and set you apart from the competition. Remember, attendees rely on our shows for ideas, information, and inspiration when it comes to what's hot, new and now. Our exhibitors are our experts in the field and with the right presentation show attendees will be one step closer to making a purchase.

Interested in taking part in a home show? Find out more

Friday, July 5, 2013

Attention Exhibitors: Connect With Us!

Marketplace Events is dedicated to helping our exhibiting companies excel on social media. If you have a new product launching, sale or promotion to announce, or an in-store event coming up, we want to hear about it and would love to share the information with our community on Facebook & Twitter. Send us a post via any social channel or email AndreeB@MarketplaceEvents.com and we’ll be sure to schedule a shout out for your company in our social calendar.

There are many different channels available for you to connect with as an exhibitor at a Marketplace Events produced home show. On Facebook, our community of home and garden enthusiasts across North America is currently 44k strong; and locally every market is active on Twitter. There are also many additional online promotional options available via our websites and email campaigns; should you be looking for a more comprehensive social strategy feel free to contact your sales consultant.

Our social mantra is to share relevant content out to our audience. We know our exhibiting companies have excellent products and services making them valuable to our community. Great content is vital to us, and we love to feature exhibitors on our newly designed HomeandGardenBlog.com.

Ways to Connect...

Facebook   Facebook.com/HomeandGardenEvents

Pinterest   Pinterest.com/HomeShows

YouTube   YouTube.com/MarketplaceEvents

LinkedIn   LinkedIn.com/company/MarketplaceEvents

Local Twitter Markets
Birmingham @HomeShowsBHAM
Buffalo @BuffaloHomeShow
Central Florida @FloridaHomeShow
Cleveland @GreatBigShow
Denver @HomeShowDenver
Des Moines @HomeShowDM
Indianapolis @HomeShowIND
Jacksonville @TheJaxHomeShow
Minneapolis @HomeShowMPLS
Oklahoma @OKCHomeShow
Philadelphia @PhillyHomeShow
Salt Lake City @SLCHomeShow
Washington @DCHomeShows

Calgary @HomeShowsAB
Montreal @SalonHabitation
Ottawa @OttawaHomeShow
Toronto @HomeSHowsTO
Vancouver @VanHomeShows

Corporate @HomeShows

Looking to REV up your social? We also have a team of motorcycle enthusiasts in California working on all things AIMExpo! Connect with them on Facebook and Twitter to let them know about your products or to find out more on participating in the motorcycle industry's first combined trade, consumer and media event in North America.

We look forward to connecting with you and helping with your social marketing plans when taking part in our home shows!

Joanne Carry
Digital Marketing Director
Marketplace Events

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The 10 Things Show Organizers Don't Want You To Know

Last week I visited a consumer show (in major Midwest market – not a Marketplace Events property) with modest expectations.  I had been to this event many times prior, and I knew what to expect.  Or so I thought.  It took the whole of 60 seconds after entering - maybe less - for my mood to slide from disappointed to irritated to pissed.  In retrospect, even I was surprised by this reaction.

The fact that the show was a sprawling, unorganized, unadorned mess ignited the reaction; not what sustained it.  What put me over the edge as I walked the exhibit floor was the indisputable truth that these exhibitors didn't have a chance in hell to put their best foot forward in front of their prospects and customers - even if they wanted to - because the show organizer didn't care enough to live up to even the most basic (minimal, really) industry standards.

Now, let me be clear, I am not so na├»ve to not appreciate some minority of any given show’s exhibitors are just too lazy (or uniformed) to participate on a show floor in a professional, meaningful way.  That's human nature and something inherent to event production.  Any show organizer worth their salt accepts that dealing with poorly motivated or low-information exhibitors is part of the bargain.  Patience, persistence and persuasion are constants necessary to both “upping their game” and/or keeping them in line.

But what I saw last week wasn't caused by an assorted collection of lazy, sloppy exhibitors.  It was beyond their control. You could have put a Tiffany's or a Nordstrom’s or a Zappos on the show floor and it wouldn't have made the customer experience measurably better.

What I experienced last week was the fault of a lazy, sloppy, ambivalent show organizer.  Of course, this promoter was more than eager to take exhibitors' and attendees' money, but they had no intention of giving back much in exchange.  This attitude of indifference - the casualness by which they break promises to their customers - was an affront to everyone who walked into that hall (and our industry).

My epiphany: I walked that show floor and realized exhibitors need protection - an advocate - to raise their awareness against suffering through shows put on by these kind of show managers.  But it is rare for exhibitors to find much in the way of good advice, especially “on the inside”. 

In that spirit, I offer the following 10 warning signs to help exhibitors (hopefully prior to risking their precious time, marketing dollars and staff resources) avoid betting on a bad, lazy or indifferent show organizer:

In no particular order:

1.  People rarely change - neither do shows.  In 34 years in this business I can count on one hand the number of times (not including transfer of ownership) a bad show morphed into a good show the next time around.  Lesson: assuming you gave it your best try, if you were disappointed with a show this time, expect more of the same the next time.  It is what it is.

2.  Talk is cheap - follow the money.  For the vast majority of shows the lion's share of total revenue comes from exhibit space sales.  If sales are weak, chances are good that in the end expenses are going to be cut (it is the rare show promoter willing to take the long view and deficit spend). As an exhibitor, you are reliant on the promises of the show organizer.  The organizer won't spend what they don't have.  Huge media buy?  Fantastic feature on the show floor?  Celebrity appearance?  Probably only going to happen if they've sold a lot of space.  Just sayin.  See item #1 above.

3.  Most show organizers aren't built for customer service.  Well, to clarify, some are (and do a great job).  But by far most aren't.  If you happen to do business with the "arent's" you'd better not be shy.  The squeaky wheel most definitely gets the grease.  The quiet get, um, ignored.

4.  Deals = disappointment.  Sadly, most booth salespeople cut deals on price.  When salespeople cut deals it means they are afraid to lose a sale because they do not believe in the value of their show.  It’s no more complicated than that. Discounting comes at a horrendous price, however, as it undermines the integrity of the promoter and the matrix of relationships on a show floor.  Deals = rumors = misinformation = mistrust.  When you encounter a promoter that sticks to her price take that as a very good sign.  It means she is confident in the value they provide, so you can be confident the chances of a good show are much higher than usual. 

5.  Speaking of confidence, he who hesitates is… not that confident.  If the show promoter doesn't share their complete exhibitor list or floor plan when you request it, be wary.  It’s an immediate red flag. There is a very good chance there is something they don't want you to know.  Maybe sales are weak; maybe a big sponsor pulled out; maybe the promised feature isn't happening.  Organizers with a full floor plan and a robust exhibitor list are usually very happy to share this info.

6.  If the show promoter only communicates with you when they want your money, that tells you about their priorities.  See item #3 above.

7.  Ask about the attendee promotion budget and strategy.  When you buy exhibit space you are essentially buying attendance (either quality or quantity, and in some rare occasions, both). If you can't get details from the promoter about how they are driving attendance, that's another serious red flag.  In our fragmented media world, getting people’s attention is very hard work.  Lots of promoters don’t like hard work…

8.  Staff turnover.  Ask how long the show manager has been with the company; same for other staff.  Consistent high turnover of staff can mean many things, most usually not good for exhibitors.  When it comes to event production, stable relationships in the market being served reflect good things about the show organizer.

9.  No standards says "I don't care!" or “do as I say, not as I do”. Chances are good that if the show promoter doesn't establish and enforce standards for exhibiting (ie., no handmade signs, floors must be covered, no unmanned booths, etc.) you could end up next to or across from the exhibitor(s) from hell.  This can seriously detract from your brand and your return on investment despite your best efforts. It also says - clearly - the promoter is just not willing to put in the effort to keep their house (and show floor) in order and under control.

10.  Where they are says it all.  Once the doors open, where’s the show organizer’s staff: primarily on the show floor or primarily off the show floor in the show office?  Feet on the show floor say the event organizer is committed, confident, connected, engaged.  Off the show floor says the event organizer is less than committed, confident, connected and engaged.

Tom Baugh
CEO, Marketplace Events

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Let's Be Honest - This Isn't That Hard...

When I was in college (1978) I worked an exhibit booth in home shows in Cleveland and Buffalo.  I sold casual furniture.  I worked every day, every hour of those shows.  Went through a lot of Diet Coke and Tic-tacs. When the dust settled, I had earned enough to walk into a dealership and purchase my very first new car with cash money – a very powerful memory and surprisingly empowering realization of a goal I set in advance of doing the shows.

I recently came across a photo of me taken on the final day (I think the final hour of the final day) of the Cleveland show (see below).  Though it was decades ago, I still remember how dog-tired I was when that event ended.  Like an athlete that leaves “it all on the field” I knew I had worked it hard; extracted the most out of my opportunity.

My “training” in advance of these shows?  Not much.  I met the company owner during move in.  He explained the product, its features and benefits, and said: “Let’s be honest – this isn’t that hard.  Be courteous, keep yourself and the booth tidy, listen carefully, take good notes, and if somebody is interested in buying, don’t be shy.  After that, follow your instincts.”

That was it.  I wrote that down on an index card and kept it with me during the shows.  It resurfaced years later, an old bookmark.  Solid advice then, solid advice now.


Fast forward to 2013.  I’ve started my 3-month sojourn (see previous post) by visiting several shows over the past several weeks, and I can’t get beyond those words: “…this isn’t that hard…”

Last Saturday I was in Chantilly, Virginia, at one of our Marketplace Events home shows.  The show was packed and buzzing.  People were buying and selling, hundreds of exhibitors were exchanging information with prospects.  It was a terrific marketplace – exactly what we (the show organizer) promised to deliver and exactly what the exhibitor (the customer) had hoped for when they purchased exhibit space.

In the midst of this beehive, with people everywhere, I then encountered this:

The moment after I took this shot this gentleman looked at me.  Now, most people might be curious as to why someone takes their photo.  Not this fellow.  He looked at me phlegmatically enough from his perch with an amused look, as if to say, “Hey, I don’t know what you’re thinking taking that photo, but the truth is I don’t really care.”  He didn’t attempt to ask me why – he didn’t attempt to ask me anything.  It wasn’t that he was unpleasant, unkempt or unruly.  He was utterly ambivalent.

And that’s when it hit me.  Any discussion about what works or what doesn’t work on a show floor starts from the inside out.  Specifically, any discussion of what works and what doesn’t work on a show floor starts and ends with people’s attitudes inside the booth

Look at it this way.  An enthusiastic, engaged exhibitor at least has a chance to extract some minimal value even when they participate in a poorly organized and poorly attended event.  When this same exhibitor participates in a well-organized event they can make a killing in sales and/or lead generation.

However, a disinterested, disengaged exhibitor has zero chance to extract value in either circumstance described above.  

In the end, the most customer-centric show organizer can’t do much to assist an exhibitor who puts “boots on the ground” who don’t care.  Show management can educate and cajole and provide helpful tools, but in the end it’s entirely up to the exhibitor to get the most out of the prospects walking by.  Ultimately, if an exhibitor doesn’t want to engage, they don’t want to engage.  It’s as simple as that.

This is not a guess.  Marketplace Events has mountains of proprietary data that (sadly) confirms that less than 1/3 of exhibitors engage with prospects once the prospect enters their booth.  Said a different way, almost 70% of people who enter any given booth on any given show don’t get approached by anyone representing the exhibitor.  Think about that!  It’s horrible because it means we’ve got an astounding number of customers who are simply ignored.  Trust me on this - we’ve got thousands of hours of video that prove it.

I know how show organizers think.  In their heart-of-hearts they believe it is their duty to provide the raw material – qualified customers – which they hand over to their exhibitors to turn into customers.  Whether the exhibitor knows what to do with the raw material, well, most show managers think that’s not their problem.

But it is his or her problem – it’s everybody’sproblem.   The face-to-face medium works because of engagement and interaction, not in spite of it.  Any show manager worth their salt knows that.

Like the man said: “Let’s be honest – this isn’t that hard.” 

Except, of course, when we make it that way.  Hopefully the next several posts will help make things a bit easier…

Tom Baugh
CEO, Marketplace Events