5 "E's" of Trade Shows

Posted by Exhibitor Source on May 21, 2019 10:45:00 AM
Exhibitor Source

Go Beyond Selling Products or Services  

Facing the trade show season can be daunting for the experienced and first-timers alike, because the whole of trade shows are just such a large undertaking and incredibly detailed. Not only do you have to pick the best events that are the best fit for your product or service, but you also have to attend to the myriad details involved in actually pulling it all off. One thing to keep in mind to keep from getting overwhelmed is to remember that trade shows are not really about your product, your service, your booth, your giveaways. Sure, that matters.  A LOT.  Still, what’s MOST important in the trade show world is {drumroll, please}. . . the PEOPLE. You already knew that, but it bears saying.  The connection between your company’s booth staff and your booth’s visitors is primary in every interaction. As you begin to think about how to connect with your attendees, remember the 5 Es of the trade show world. The 5 Es are based on research found in “It’s Not Your Father’s or Mother’s Trade Show Anymore – Engage with Caution,” an article hosted by CEIR Industry Insights Series.

EDUCATIONAL:  It might or might not surprise you to know that booth staff sometimes arrive at an event unprepared, untrained, and uneducated about what they are about to face. As obvious as it sounds, educating booth staff should be job one as trade show season progresses. Don’t assume your staff know everything about your company – its goals, vision, processes, product details. Don’t assume they know how to handle clients’ questions and problems. Assume that you are going to need to educate and motivate them to be your best asset.  Consider organizing a staff training session. Not only will this put your mind at ease, but it will probably put your staff’s minds at ease, as well. As much as you don’t want them to be in the dark, they don’t want to be there, either. In the training session, you can cover the company’s goals for the trade show – perhaps you have a lead quota or a quota for the number of visitors entertained. You can address some FAQs about your product, service, or brand and maybe even role play to put staffers at ease answering questions. It’s also a good idea to assign staff roles at this meeting. That way, each person knows their exact job to be done and who to point a visitor to if a different need arises. Once booth staffers are educated, they’ll be ready to learn how to engage with the particular market attending the show.

ENLIST:  Probably the most critical aspect of working with people is knowing how to engage with them. Today, millennials are making up an increasingly large slice of the job market pie and have unique needs when it comes to engagement and connection. Accordingly, they require a unique engagement strategy, and your staff needs to be versed in it. First, it’s important to realize the massive opportunity a trade show presents – it puts you face to face with your potential customers all at once. Second, that massive audience has a need and your job is to show the audience that your company is there to HELP them solve THEIR problem (not just to fill that need with its service or product). Third, every company at the show has the same goal. So, the first step for you is to attract attendees to your booth. Experiential games are the perfect way to do that – especially with millennials. Millennials want experiences and fun and engagement and technology! They don’t want a keychain. They don’t necessarily want data. If you can connect with millennials using a new, cool, techy game that bridges the gap toward you and your company, you can begin building a rapport with them.


EMPATHIZE:  Once you’ve made an initial connection with potentials by catching their attention and drawing them in, the next natural step is empathy. Empathy is a deeper connection. It reaches deeper than engagement can. While engagement casts a wide net to draw people in, empathy recognizes that everyone is different and needs individual attention. Empathy attempts to connect on a personal level. This requires asking thoughtful questions and really listening to the attendees. The old, old adage, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care,” has never been more true than in 2019. Millennials want to know that they are cared about, thought about, listened to; they have to trust the people they are dealing with. If they don’t trust you, they won’t trust your company or product. One way to empathize with your audience is to discover what they care about and get on the same page with them. Many millennials are concerned with the environment and with social justice. Is there a way your brand aligns with these concerns? Can you make that clear to your audience? Perhaps there are other concerns your audience has that you can address. By finding out what is important to your potentials in an initial conversation, you can gain a deeper understanding of your market. This will always be an important skill, as learning and growing with the changing needs of your customer base is just smart business sense.

ENTICE:  Before the show, during the show and after the show we all need to do a good job of enticing our target audience to engage with us.  Traffic to our exhibit space increases dramatically when we invite prospects and set appointments in advance of the show.  We can also pick up additional leads when we have a great exhibit that catches attention, combined with a motivated booth staff. After the event we need to entice our prospects to engage with us again after the show via a multitude of social media postings, direct emails on a “one to one” basis, campaign emails, personal phone calls, and reach out with direct mail follow up for the most qualified of your audience.  The result is dramatically higher lead count and an increased brand presence in the marketplace.

EXPAND: This year it’s millennials; next year it might be something different. The cliché, “Nothing is constant but change,” is a cliché for a reason – it’s true. And just as change is constant, so must your willingness to adapt along with it be. As times change and generational preferences emerge, your company will have to brainstorm new strategies to relate to new trade show attendees. While baby boomers might stick with a company they’ve used for decades, Gen Xers want the best deal. While Gen Xers bargain hunt and want big ticket items, millennials want  a personal connection and cool “stuff.” It’s always changing and it always will be. This change isn’t something to resist – it’s something to embrace. It’s the stuff of humanity. Every consumer comes with their personal likes, dislikes, quirks, and features, and it’s the companies’ job to meet them where they are.

If you’re in the trade show business, you’re in the people business. It’s in your best interest (and your company’s best interest and your customers’ best interest) to get on board with being a true people-person. Learning and abiding by the 5 Es is the best way to really know your customers and clients and relate to their needs. Once you connect with a need or problem they have, it’s easy to intuitively know how to solve it. The world is quickly changing, but one thing remains the same: we all want to know people and be known by people. We all need the human connection.


Mueller Video Bar

This article was inspired by "The 4 E's of Trade Shows" by Jenn Hempel and first appeared at

Topics: Nashville trade show displays, Nashville trade show exhibits, Nashville trade show installation, marketing, trade show marketing, Blog, trade shows, sales leads, F2F, face to face marketing, B2B, client relationships, booth staffing, experiential marketing, trade show promotions, trade show product displays, booth lighting

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