Prospecting for Exhibitors – Are You Just Dialing for Dollars?

ExpoChat Archive available as PDF download here: expochat-41812

When #ExpoChat regular Scott Lee (@slee_CTSMCMECMP) suggested the topic of how shows prospect for exhibitors I have to admit I had something completely different in mind than he had. I was thinking we would be exploring new ways to prospect for exhibitors. But after e-mailing back and forth with Scott I discovered many shows are not ready to come up with new ideas. They need to address the basics.

Scott shared with me some of his frustrations when getting cold calls from shows that want him to consider exhibiting. He says, “The sales pitch is generally the same…their expo draws in qualified buyers, all the leading companies have signed on, it’s the largest industry event, and so on.” What is really sad is they often have no idea who Scott’s company is or anything about his target market. They probably rented a list and just started dialing for dollars. But wait…it gets worse. When Scott starts asking questions, questions he should be asking, they rarely have an answer. Here are just a few of these “tough” questions Scott is asking:

1. What is the official name, date and location of the event?
2. What are the show hours? Total exhibit hours for face-to-face interaction?
3. Do the show dates coincide with another major event, locally, regionally, and nationally?
4. How long has the show been running?
5. Is this a local, regional, national or international show?
6. How narrow / broad are the markets being served in this show?
7. What is special / unique about the show that differentiates it from competing industry shows? (Canned response will be looked upon in a negative action)
8. What trends have emerged from the last two to five shows? (Have you seen an increase in more companies exhibiting a certain product or in a certain category? Have you seen a shift in the audience focus?)
9. What is the show attendance & net paid square footage figures for the last two to five years?
10. Are exhibit personnel, press, spouses and other non-buyers included in the attendance figures?
11. If so, what percentage do they represent?
12. Is the attendance figures independently verified by a third party? If not, then why?
13. Is there anything that is attributed to growth or decline of this show?
14. What educational programs are offered?
15. When are the educational programs held?
16. Does the educational programs conflict with show hours?
17. Are the programs held in the same area as the exhibit hall?
18. Are exhibitors allowed to attend the educational programs at no charge?
19. What opportunities are there for exhibitors to be included in the education programming?
20. What is show management’s OBJECTIVES for the show? List measurable objectives, strategies, & tactics)
21. What visitor demographic information is available? (Be able to prove your numbers)
22. What percentage of visitors is from overseas?
23. What industry segments do the exhibitors represent?
24. What is the current exhibitor listing for this show?
25. How many of these companies are industry leaders? (List w/ the industry they represent)
26. What is the size of booth space for these industry leaders?
27. What after – hour’s events are organized so those exhibitors can meet attendees?
28. What on – site facilities are there for exhibitors?
29. Is there an on – site pressroom and how is it run?
30. What transportation is available to the show site from the host hotels?

Once I was able to pick my jaw up off the ground…shocked at the fact most if not all of these questions could not be answered by the exhibit sales rep I quickly realized this was such a different topic from what I had in mind. This is why I love #expochat. It gives me a reality check and it enlightens as to the reality of the exhibitor.

On Wednesday April 18th we’ll be discussion both how to do a better job at exhibit sales and some new ideas!

About Traci Browne

Trade Show Consultant and Freelance Writer
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