Chris Zaccaria

Trade Show Do’s and Don’ts: The Proper Application of the Cookie

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It’s that time of the year again! Unfortunately, I’m not talking about the holidays. It’s budget season… So with that said, we should probably spend some time reflecting on the successes and failures of this past year’s events. In many cases, we need to take a step back from the budget and ask why we are attending the show in the first place. When you decide to spend money on promotions, food, and entertainment you need to consider how it will attract people and who it might attract. We have to be careful about spending money for the sake of getting people to come to the booth. For example, food is appealing to almost everyone, but we don’t want everyone at our booth. We want the right people. The purpose of your booth is to develop business and promote your brand. Spend your budget in a way that is consistent with this, not in a way that will attract the most people. This will be the first article in a series of blogs around trade show do’s and don’ts, specifically pertaining to unnecessary expenditures.

I’m a foodie, so let’s talk food. This might not be the first thing you think of when talking about do’s and don’ts, but it was on my mind this morning while staring at the plate of holiday cookies in my kitchen. I reflected back to a trade show where one booth had a warm cookie bar. This is probably not the best idea. In-fact, it was a complete disaster. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good fudge brownie or chocolate chip cookie. But caramel marshmallow swirl ones in all of their sticky, gooey warm goodness…well do I have to explain what happens next? People WILL eat them if they are there. If the exhibit had been for a bakery, I’d say “sure, keep the cookies!” But it wasn’t… My advice: If you are in need of a sweet fix, call me. I know a few awesome bakeries around, however the exhibit hall didn’t make this list.

In one of my own personal experiences, I attended a show where one of the exhibitors was featuring a coffee lounge. The barista (they hired a professional one) was stirring up some awesome lattes. Again, not the right place for this. I don’t know about you, but I get frustrated enough when I’m a paying customer, standing in line at local coffee shop. We’ve all been here, right? Listening to the person in front of you spell their name five times as the barista scribbles it out on a cup. Then we finally get to the order…the “double chai mocha frappe whatever.” Just when you think the painful wait is over, tack on 10 minutes because they forgot to make it with soy milk. Now imagine this, but make it free and stick it in your exhibit. Not so great, right?

Lessons learned: Food can be a great way to pull people in to a booth and start a conversation. But remember, too much glam will just distract people from any conversation you hope to engage in. If you’re too “bare bones” then they may not have any incentive to stop by. Let’s try regular coffee, not a barista made latte. Maybe brownie pops, not caramel marshmallow double fudge ripple cookies. Let’s focus on bringing people in to talk to them. Remember, just because you have the budget, doesn’t mean you have to spend it. Maybe invest in a better booth location, or newer technology for your leads (but we can save that for the next article). It’s about making the smarter decisions and finding that ideal balance between glam and efficiency.

Until next time! Happy holidays to all and a very healthy and happy new year. See you in 2016 and let’s make it the best expo year yet!

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