I’ve been helping folks look good at trade shows since 1989! Over the years, our ShaBang Exhibits team has gathered and shared a lot of information dealing with what we like to call “Boothology”. I don’t think you’ll find this term in Webster’s dictionary. Without a doubt, there are specific rules to follow; there's a science to the task of booth staffing that will determine the success of your show. Boothology is the practice of good booth staffing, preparation, training and selling skills.
First, and foremost, it’s important to understand that 56% of a prospect's impression about your company's exhibit is based upon the booth personnel's attitude and behavior! Translate that into the dollars your company has invested in the total show budget, and it is a stark reminder of how important Boothology effects the bottom line!
Depending on your situation, that fact should scare or encourage you! What's important to realize is that it is your own company's employees that make or break a show. You can do a great job of preparation, a targeted pre-show promotion, and design a fabulous exhibit — but the attendees will most remember your booth personnel and how they represented themselves and your company.
Booth staffer training is all too often overlooked, yet you need to invest in this training in order to truly reap the rewards of trade show marketing. Staffers need to know your goals and objectives specific to each show, they need to feel like part of a team and that their efforts are important and appreciated. They need to understand that today's trade shows are serious busi¬ness opportunities -- not a vacation or party time!
The following guidelines will help you get the most out of your booth staff:
PROPER BOOTH TRAINING BEGINS BEFORE THE SHOW STARTS:
1. Conduct at least two pre-show meetings — one a few weeks before the show, and one on-site in the booth. You will need to go over show objectives, plan lead collection, answer any "what if" questions and do role playing, formalize the work schedule and coordinate all booth personnel.
2. Make sure your staffers are in the physical condition necessary for the long hours and sometimes several days of standing and talking. Staffers should get plenty of sleep the two to three days prior to the show.
3. Wear comfortable shoes and have the proper attire. We recommend ditching the stuffy coat and tie look, and dressing all staffers in similar "business casual" attire. Matching shirts, blouses or sweaters convey professionalism and a sense of team unity, yet make the staffers look less intimidating and more approachable to attendees. Having a team look also lets the attendee know who's part of the company and who is another visitor.
4. Have a plan for the number of staffers needed (you should have two people for every 10' of space), and devise a schedule that provides 10 to 20 minute breaks at least every three hours. Drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated and your breath fresh. Have a positive attitude and enthusiasm -- be prepared to work!
NEXT… Booth Staffer Etiquette
PS Large and small companies are finding the Shabang Exhibits website a good resource for information in planning a successful trade show. Check out the Trade Show Tips at: www.shabangexhibits.com/industry-links/show_tips.asp