Dear Marketing Managers, Vice Presidents, CFOs and anyone associated with hiring personnel to manage trade shows and marketing events,
I realize the importance of trade shows varies from company to company and organization to organization. For some, it is the lifeblood of their marketing program and the way they either gather prospects or spend quality time with existing customers. For others, it seems just to be a necessary evil where they “have to show up because everyone else does” or a last minute decision as to whether it is in the budget or not.
In either case, assigning the right type of person or persons to manage the program or event is just as important as deciding to participate. If your company or organization is just starting a program or looking to plug someone into an existing position, there are plenty of experienced and available exhibit managers out there. These are the seasoned veterans who have earned their stripes, know the ins and outs of every aspect of trade shows from travel to logistics, and can navigate through the sometimes daunting details (and even explain what exactly material handling is). They earned these stripes by doing it over and over and over. They have probably devoted time to further their value by earning a special designation like a CME or CMP.
Yes, a price tag comes with that level of experience. But after too many years working in the trade show and event world, I know these are true specialists. If your program is an important part of your marketing mix, they are worth every penny.
OK, so you aren’t GM or IBM. Maybe you are just starting out with a program or special event and don’t have it in the budget. You have to designate a current employee to manage your program, or keep your personnel costs to a minimum. I beg you, please choose your personnel wisely. There are essential skills to performing these tasks effectively and successfully.
I would like to recommend 3 important skills to identify:
1) Ability to take on new tasks and learn them quickly.
2) Adaptability to perform and make decisions in a changing environment.
3) Organization and attention to detail.
It should be noted that a sales or marketing background is not included. That type of experience is helpful, but not necessarily a requirement.
A person with this skill set, once they are guided through one or two shows, will become an important member of your team, allowing your sales and marketing folks to concentrate on bringing your products and services to market and getting them sold.
Trade show management mistakes can be very costly. What are your thoughts on the skills necessary to be an effective trade show manager? I welcome your input.