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Welcome back, class and my fellow tradeshow fiends. I am very excited about the serendipitous nature of this month’s column wherein which we are going to discuss the Rolls Royce event of all that is tradeshows and focus on its many facets and factors.


EXHIBITOR2013, the World Conference and Exhibition for Tradeshow and Corporate Event Marketers, is scheduled March 17-21 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. This exhibiting extravaganza targets the most qualified exhibitors, event-buyers and industry insiders.

For those who are considering or already scheduled to exhibit, here’s some food for thought. At the EXHIBITOR2013 show, the tables are turned on those who claim to know best in the biz. Tradeshow specialists are suddenly put to the test with a white-hot spotlight on their actual all-around “exhibiting” prowess.

Conference Overview
Now in its 25th year, stats for the EXHIBITOR2013 show are impressive. Descending from 50 states and 29 countries, there will be up to 6,000 industry peers/attendees on hand to peruse and scrutinize nearly 300 exhibitors in approximately 65,000-square feet of exhibiting space. Its curriculum offers more than 200 comprehensive sessions covering seven critical learning tracks taught by more than 145 certified industry experts. Also offering the only professional certification program with academic university affiliation, EXHIBITOR boasts more than 3,000 industry professionals enrolled in the Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM) program. 

Before the Show
Before any show – but especially this one where niche-industry competition is fierce – exhibitors thoroughly and precisely must define their key prospects. Once outlined, you can strategize the best pre-show marketing tactics to highlight your exhibit and booth location, products/services and at-show promotions. Options to consider include pre-show direct mailers or e-mail campaigns, social networking sites and social media that can generate pre-show connections and show-related dialogue, press releases and media events. It helps to schedule pre-show meetings as well as at-show meetings ahead of time. Microsites are becoming hugely effective and popular in this regard. For more, visit http://bit.ly/Y9y6mO

Award Opportunities
I have written much about this subject in the past, but it bears repeating. EXHIBITOR2013 has more than 10 categories from which to vie for awards. Awards and honors offer multiple benefits while providing third-party validation. Winners generally receive public recognition and accolades by way of show-concluding announcements as well as industry-related media exposure. For more information on how to leverage at-show award opportunities, visit http://bit.ly/13DzFtr 

Social Media
Tradeshow exhibitors increasingly are learning to take advantage of social media sites, such as Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook and others, to locate, identify and communicate with clients, vendors and prospects before, during and after a show. To utilize the social media effectively, it is essential to build a roster of fans and followers by reaching out and connecting with those in your industry.  Strategically timed posts should be relevant show-related “news.” Take advantage of this platform to publicize contests, presentation schedules and giveaways, and when it’s all over – show success. At Exhibitor2013, one of the show awards is voted on by Twitter followers and is named the “Tweeple’s Choice Awards.” To learn more, visit http://bit.ly/S3uDTn

Booth Staff
I like to call the booth staff of any event or tradeshow, a company’s D.F.I.s – Directors of First Impressions. The most ideal booth staffer is well-informed about your products and services, enthusiastic, well-dressed, well-postured, well-groomed and well-spoken. There is some basic common sense when it comes to booth staff behavior that I am always surprised how often is overlooked. Big no-no’s are chewing gum, eating and drinking at a booth; talking on or utilizing cell phones, chatting amongst the staffers; and sitting, slouching or leaning on display furnishings. Train your booth staff rigorously on how to identify a qualified lead, engagement, interaction and closing a deal. Offering staff incentives in the form of bonuses, gift cards and trips never hurts. Learn more at http://bit.ly/X7TrpQ

Networking
At EXHIBITOR2013, the networking events are known to be fun, festive and fabulous. Be sure to be armed with plenty of business cards and have your elevator speech prepared. While I encourage you to be engaging and business oriented – I also caution those who are overly serious and aggressive quickly can become outcasts. Common denominators, mutual acquaintances and friendly compliments always are excellent ice-breakers.

One of the EXHIBITOR show’s most famed traditions, the annual Exhibitor Party (http://bit.ly/Ydrhka) is in its 14th year and hosted by Willwork and Exhibit City News and is scheduled from 8:30 p.m. until late on March 19th at the Hard Rock Café on the Las Vegas Strip. There will be live entertainment, free transportation and an open bar for party ticket-holders. Tickets available through event sponsors. Other networking events include the ever-popular “Dinner With Strangers,” where attendees meet in the relaxed setting of a shared meal, in addition to orientation and the always well-attended welcome reception. Visit http://bit.ly/13DRjNK for more info.

Homework
Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to hobnob with the pros and to celebrate our industry. See ya there  . .  .

Linda Musgrove is founder and president of TradeShow Teacher, an award-winning tradeshow management and marketing firm. Linda, along with her team of specialists, focuses on assisting companies increase tradeshow ROI through a comprehensive results driven formula. As the author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Trade Shows,” published by Alpha Books/Penguin Publishing; Linda is a regular expert contributor to several industry publications and sites. Learn more at www.tsteacher.com and sign up for the FREE monthly Trade Show Tactics newsletter. Follow on Twitter at: twitter.com/tsteacher or e-mail: lmusgrove@tradeshowteacher.com.

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