Trade Show Exhibiting Management – Invest Your Time and Gain Acceptance

In a 1993 psychology paper and in his 2008 book, “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell claimed that it took roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Mr. Gladwell’s message – people aren’t born geniuses; they get there through effort – was seized upon by popular culture.

Gladwell contended that it’s “an extraordinarily consistent answer in an incredible number of fields… You need to have practiced, to have apprenticed, for 10,000 hours before you get good.”

His examples included:

• Bill Gates, who was able to start coding as a teen since he attended a progressive Seattle High School.

• The Beatles, who played eight-hour gigs in German clubs long before they invaded America.

Those opportunities to practice early and often – along with precocious talent – allowed them to respectively invent software and modern rock and roll.

Managing your corporation’s trade show exhibiting program successfully has a lot to do with how you as a manager and expert are perceived by your associates and whether or not they trust you.

Building that critical trust depends on how you approach your job as Corporate Trade Show Exhibits Manager and if you provide opportunities to either be supported or sometimes criticized by management for your efforts.

While it might not take you 10,000 hours to gain mastery, support and adulation from your peers in the field of managing trade show exhibiting; here are 10 ways to begin the process.

1. Considering yourself an expert in the field of trade show exhibiting, wear that title proudly and commit yourself to learning as much as you can about your craft.

2. Demonstrate your personal commitment to trade show exhibiting by pulling booth duty for the entire show and being available to answer questions, taking notes and being responsive to suggestions, comments and criticism.

3. Produce a pre-show briefing memo outlining goals, objectives, strategies and tactics of the show. Distribute it at least four weeks before the event to allow time for response and modifications.

4. Stage a pre-show briefing meeting the evening before the show that includes management, sales and marketing to review the exhibit presentation, product details, show goals and objectives.

5. Organize booth duty schedules that provide your booth team members time to rest, eat and review the competition on the show floor while adhering to the rules and regulations that come with being selected to represent the corporation at this important event.

6. Work the booth side by side with sales, marketing and management to share experiences. Note ideas and suggestions presented to improve and defend policies and procedures already established while taking charge of the entire function

7. Take notes of suggestions, comments and concerns to be responded to after the show.

8. Stage after-show daily reviews with key people to monitor how the exhibit is functioning while being flexible and ready to modify any activity the next day to improve the results.

9. Walk the show yourself and perhaps with your boss to review first your competition’s presentation and then other presentations that might influence your own future exhibit presentations.

10. Write and distribute a detailed post-show report documenting your experiences from working the booth, walking the floor, and as the total effort relates to the goals and objectives you helped establish for the show. In developing such an important document, you have opportunities to voice your own opinions on critical topics, suggest possible modifications for future improvements and, in essence, take charge of the overall management of the trade show exhibiting function.

Being considered the expert who mastered the title, duties and responsibilities of Corporate Trade Show Exhibits Manager will go a long way in transforming the tedium of being a reactionary tactical manager to a well-established master of a serious valued profession.

Reaching the title and respect that comes with being considered one who has mastered the art and science of exhibiting at trade shows can only improve compensation, status and cooperation when management is brought along to consider the enormous amount of time and money invested in exhibiting at trade shows.

Effective trade show exhibiting is a process that evolves over many shows and demands a manager who can build on past experiences to fine tune what worked while eliminating or modifying what didn’t. That process is what leads to mastering the field and your job as Trade Show Exhibits Manager.

Peter LoCascio

Creating a Trade Show Budget

Setting up a display at a trade show is expensive business. You have to rent the space, create a display, promote it, stock it, and staff it. Before you decide to get involved, take a serious look at the costs of all of these components.

Start planning well ahead. You already know this, right? Keep yourself as organized as possible right from the beginning — even before you book your space. You know how carefully today’s brides plan their weddings. Months, even years ahead, they start thinking about the church, the reception, the dresses, the flowers, the cake. And of course, the cost. Well, you’re the bride. Grab your planning book and start writing down everything you must do to get yourself ready for a successful trade show season — next year’s.

Even before you decide to go into a show or two you should have a hard look at the costs and expected returns. This is why you create a trade show budget. Whether you admit it or not, everything has a cost, and trade shows are no exception. Remember that your objective is to make sales, or at least generate opportunities to make sales. So you have to view your costs in that light. Everything should be done with an eye on its potential return.

The Trade Show Budget Preamble

The normal starting point for your campaign is the trade show budget. If you work from a budget you have an outside chance of keeping your costs under control. Of course there is a certain amount of hocus pocus involved in budgeting for things like trade show marketing — especially if you’ve never seriously done it before and have no track record to go on. Still, you should give it your best shot. This is not rocket science, and any research or analysis you do will be better than just “winging it”. Try using a “brainstorming” process similar to the following.

First, ask yourself some BIG questions:

Question 1. Do I really believe I can recover my costs within a short enough period of time to make it “profitable” (make more than it costs)?

Answer 1. Like most promotion and advertising, until you’ve done it, you have little idea how successful it will be. First you will have to summarize all the costs, and then try to figure out how many sales you’re likely to get from this sort of exposure.

Question 2. Do I have any idea which trade shows are more likely to be “profitable”.

Answer 2. There are trade show directories and reports that can tell you about industry-specific shows. Usually they will tell you the number of attendees, and hopefully something about their buying habits. Find the relevant directories, and figure out some method of choosing between shows.

Question 3. Are there obvious ways to enhance my “Conversion Rate” — the number of attendees who buy from me?

Answer 3. Yes, of course. Having an attractive, eye-catching display is a good start. Getting a good location on the floor will help. Setting up your booth properly will help you “process” the attendees more efficiently. Having a lead-gathering system will help you do more profitable follow up. Giving out memorable hand-outs will enhance your chances of being recognized later on. Training your booth staff could make an important difference.

Ask yourself a few more questions like this to get yourself in the right frame of mind. Then you’ll be ready to start preparing your trade show budget.

Let the Planning Begin – Selecting Appropriate Shows

Begin by assembling the following information (and anything else that seems relevant as you go along):

Find a trade show directory for your industry (online is the best source), or check out the major trade show venues or exhibition companies. They will put you on the right track very quickly.

Select the 10 most promising looking shows — based on your “gut feeling” about their potential for your campaign.

Make a chart and list the five or six most relevant bits of information for each of your most promising venues:

  • Location
  • Date
  • Number of attendees
  • Geographic area served
  • Target market (who will be attending)

Calculate Your Costs for Each Show

Now add some columns to your chart where you can list the costs that are specific to each show:

  • Booth space cost
  • Other space-related costs
  • Travel costs to and from the show
  • Additional things to rent or buy at the show (tables, power, etc.)
  • Accommodation costs for booth staff
  • Shipping costs for booth display(s) and materials
  • Vehicle rentals required

Campaign Costs – Materials used in a Number of Shows

Now think about the actual “sales process” and make a list of what you will need in order to have a successful trade show experience. These will usually be things that will be used for several shows, so think of them as “campaign costs” that will be amortized over a number shows:

  • Display booth design and production
  • Product literature
  • Hand outs
  • Staff training
  • Show promotion (free passes to clients, etc.)

If you estimate that your campaign costs will service 4 shows, then take these costs and add 25% of the total campaign costs to the cost of each show. That should give you a realistic estimate of the total cost of each show:

Cost to to Attend Show = Specific Show Costs + pro-rated Campaign Costs

Calculating Your Break Even Point

Now that you have a fairly clear idea of your costs, it should be possible to arrive at an accurate estimate of your Break Even Point for each show — the number of sales you have to make to cover your costs.

For instance, let’s say you calculate that your costs for Show A are $3,000 (including a pro-rated amount for the one-time costs such as the booth). And let’s say you can relatively easily calculate your “gross profit” on each sale (gross sale amount minus out-of-pocket). For example, in the case of the wedding photographer let’s say his gross profit margin is 50%, and the average sale is $1,000. That would give him a Gross Profit of $500 per sale.

In order to recover his $3,000 he will have to get 6 sales (6 x $500 Gross Profit on each sale.)

Factors Affecting Conversion Rate

What are his chances of getting 6 sales from a specific show?

Well that depends. If our photographer goes to a wedding show with 1000 warm and willing blushing-brides-to-be battering down the doors of the show, then perhaps 6 is a conservative estimate. However, if the show has only 200 attendees, it might be much more difficult to get 6 sales.

But that also depends. A smaller show may have fewer exhibitors (less competition), will have a more intimate feel about it, will give you more time with each prospective client. And, of course it will cost considerably less than a bigger show — so his break even sales point may be considerably less.

The same goes for much larger shows: more attendees (prospective sales), but higher costs, and much more (and more intense) competition. So the “conversion rate” (number of sales per 1000 attendees) will be lower. There will be more people, but they may be harder to sell.

Once you have a feeling for the idea of “conversion rate” you can start to see how other factors have an important bearing on it: the price of your service, the attractiveness of your presentation, the quality of your samples and handouts, and so on.

Every show and every product will have its “conversion rates”, and the only way you can establish the numbers for your own business is to research, experiment, and constantly “tweak” your presentation.

It certainly wouldn’t hurt to talk to friends and acquaintances who have trade show experience. Ask them about their own success rates. Ask them how many actual sales they get from a good show. Ask them which shows have been most successful for them, and how often they have broken even.

Putting it together…

The only way you can arrive at hard conclusions is by trying. That will allow you to establish a track record. If you think the numbers for a particular show almost add up, then take a stab. Go to a show or two, and when it is over do a careful analysis of your costs and returns. Then you can establish a reliable “Target Conversion Rate” — a number you can seriously shoot for and expect to reach — and then you’re in business. Preparing a trade show budget for next year will be a piece of cake.

And of course, once you do commit to a show or two, your focus has to immediately shift to hitting (and smashing through) that Target Conversion Rate. Design a better display, have more impressive samples and portfolio books, fine tune your product, get some memorable handouts, memorize your sales pitch, take voice lessons, get a hair cut…

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The concept of reality shows

Reality television is a television programming genre that displays usually unscripted overdramatic or hilarious situations, documents actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of trained actors, sometimes in a competition or other circumstances where a prize is awarded. Shows in the Reality TV are called as reality shows that are often produced as series. The people are either engaged in competition with each other or in an awkward situation or spied on in their daily lives. Reality TV is a buzzword of the day. Watching reality shows have become our favourite past time and a source of fun and enjoyment. It is a real program cast with real people not with actors.

Though the term reality television is chiefly used to categories shows that have arisen since the year 2000, the history of reality TV shows goes back farther than we can think. Television has been depicting the lives of people through dating shows, contests and pranks for a very long time. It has a great history which most people didn’t know considering modern reality television and its boom in popularity in recent years. The reality TV show started in the year 1948, Producer-host Allen Funt’s Candid Camera, in which unsuspecting people were drops into funny and unusual situations gets filmed with hidden cameras, was first aired in the year 1948. The show is seen as a prototype of reality television programming.

Different kind of reality shows

There are various types of reality shows that are running on TV. These shows broke the boredom of the traditional scripted shows and started showing the real-life situations. Reality shows cater to different age groups and tastes because of the availability of the wide range of themes. In many reality shows, participants are often placed in exotic locations or in abnormal situations. Some of the reality shows cover a person or a group of people improving their lives. They represent a modified and highly influenced form of reality to attract its viewers. Documentaries and nonfictional shows for example news and sports are not categorized under reality shows.

Some types of reality shows are as written below:

• Documentaries or Documentary Series

Out of all the subgenres of reality TV, the documentary subgenre is possibly the most general one. The core difference between documentaries and a documentary series is that while documentaries are every so often constrained to one episode, documentary series span a series in its entireness, following a series of arc-like scripted television. The subgenre would also cover most social experiment shows, where different kinds of interactions are observed just for the sake of a new experiment.

• Competition or Elimination

Reality programs that are based on a elimination or competition format are just about getting eliminated by the annoying housemate or having the best participant become the winner. They are all about winning something important overcoming your competitors. The competition may be among all the other participants, or against time/money.

• Makeover or Renovation

Same as the name itself says this type of shows either about Makeover of a person’s appearance or make a renovation of your old house.

• Dating

This one is the most significant subgenre of reality TV where the boy meets girl and the audience stick to know ‘will they or won’t they’ aspect of the story.

• Hidden Camera

Starting with Candid Camera, this is possibly the longest-running reality subgenre. It is all about capturing the reactions of innocent people placed in unexpected situations. This subgenre also covers shows which rely on amateur submitted content.

• Supernatural

The most common types of the show in this subgenre are programs that investigate paranormal occurrences. The subgenre also encompasses shows which focus on hunting down famous mythical creatures.

Travel or Aspirational

Since most audiences can’t afford to travel to the faraway lands for a vacation, many of us settle on enjoying these destinations through this type of travel shows where a person, couple or group goes to a trip and film all of their experiences for the viewers.

Besides all these shows celebrity talk shows or competitions like talent hunt, adventure, game shows or fear-based shows are also mentionable.

Reality Shows in India

The very first reality show of any kind on Indian TV was a quiz contest Titled- Bournvita Quiz Contest. It was hosted by the famous Derek O’Brien in the year 1972. But first, it featured a live show in various cities initially, then went on air as a radio show. In the year 1992, it became the first reality show to be featured on ZEE TV and Indian Television. Then came “Sansui Antakshari” in the year 1993 which was hosted by Annu Kapoor on ZEE TV and It became the first Indian singing reality show that ran till 2006. Came in different versions of Star One and SAB TV with the same host after 2006. ZEE TV made its name to bring about home-grown reality shows rather adapting international reality shows on Indian TV. Singing reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa came in the year 1995 hosted by the famous singer of Bollywood Sonu Nigam and the dancing reality show that changed the whole scenario of dancing shows Dance India Dance came in the year 2009.

Sony Entertainment Television launched India’s first dance reality show titled- Boogie Woogie it was created by Naved Jaffrey in the year 1996 and hosted and judged by Javed Jaffrey. It was as an immediate hit for the channel. In the year 2000, Star Plus aired “Kaun Banega Crorepati” with Amitabh Bachchan (an adaptation of “Who wants to become a millionaire”) which went on to become India’s favourite and most watched reality show. To give competition ZEE TV launched another game show titled- Sawal Dus Crore Ka and Sony TV launched Jeeto Chappar Phhad Ke but KBC’s popularity didn’t deter; making it the most successful reality show in Indian television. Sony India came up with Indian Idol in 2004 which was an adaptation to the popular international reality show “American Idol”. After its success with grown-ups, they came with kids participants in the show which helped the show to gain love by all.

The production team of Endemol India came up with popular reality show Big Brother’s Indian version of Bigg Boss and Fear Factor on Sony TV in 2006. It became India’s most popular international adapted show after KBC. It was moved to Colors TV making it India’s most watched Hindi Television due to its backing on Bigg Boss, Fear Factor competing with the likes of Star Plus and ZEE TV.

Next revolution reality shows in India came with an adaptation of other famous international shows like The Voice India and So You Think You Can Dance on &TV. These shows changed the concept of singing and dance shows on Indian Television. Other popular reality shows based on foreign shows are like MTV Roadies, India’s Got Talent etc.

The actual reality of reality shows

It’s generally accepted that reality TV is really kind of terrible. What was once considered innovative in the entertainment world, has devolved into unintentional comedies starring the most horrible and awkward people imaginable. Nowadays real is the last thing that strikes you about reality shows. Whether it is a dance show where lesser-known faces of telly world vie for the best dancer tag or the Bigg Boss’s house in which racial slurs and catfights are a part of the process to decide winners, much goes into presenting a reality show as real. There is a vast majority of reality television shows that are not 100 percent real, as there is a high degree of manipulation in order to achieve sustained audience attention.

Results are in reality shows mostly controlled by producers/directors. They want to keep audience believe it is random and unpredictable, to convey this most of the time some candidate is told what to do, how to do. They are even told to behave in certain ways. And in the end nobody will show you all things, things will get edited and aired show may be far from actual reality. Reality Television is a genre more of an exact description of the shows themselves. Producer’s fake shots and even re-stage dramatic moments that happened when the cameras weren’t rolling- pretty much everything is actually plotted and planned out like the normal scripted show. Most of the reality shows still hold a basic level of truth, however, portraying events that really did happen, even if they’re acted again for the cameras. These shows feature people living their lives and doing their jobs, even if a lot has been smoothed out of their day-to-day routine in order to edit out the boring bits.

Most of the talent hunt, singing, dancing even in shows based on general knowledge like “Kaun Banega Crorepati” participants has to go through a long struggle. Most of the time voting is absolutely rigged and the winner gets decided as per his or her capability of keeping TRP’s high. Most of the contestants of the reality shows, especially the winners, might get disappointed soon after their win, the attention shifts to the winner of the next season. The limelight being taken away from them doesn’t agree with many young people. Some contestants might get frustrated as they harbour false hopes that once they win the contest, their future is set for good.

Impact of reality shows on society

New boys & girls who are becoming reality TV celebrity stars does not succeed on talent but use melodrama to always remain in the news. One of the worst effects of their action is on teens who try to emulate their behaviour. All the stunts that are done on these TV shows under organized conditions are copied by the people in reality and resulting in death. Some of the shows where contestants participate to win prizes show them in poor light as they use meanness and greed to outdo each other. The negative traits can manifest themselves in the audiences and create behavioural problems. Liberal doses of abuses are hurled on the shows because the directors think that more and more people will watch them. It is a huge mistake because bad words are caught by teens and kids affecting their personality as well as behaviour. Although kids’ reality shows like Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Lil Champs, Sabse Bada Kalakaar, Junior Masterchef India and many other shows attract the audiences and gains good ratings, it is not advisable to put children under stressful situations in the early years of their lives! Small children have been forced to participate in reality shows, they have wrenched away from all normal activities and thrown into a single-minded devotion to lending their voices to these reality shows. They are compelled to shoot for long hours, sometimes in scorching hot non-air conditioned rooms. Even Parents also pressurise their children to excel on reality shows, small children become victims of a system that fosters and encourages unrealistic ambitions.

Some reality shows show participants taking extreme risks and putting themselves in bizarre or dangerous situations. Since younger children mostly learn through imitation, watching such programmes may put them at risk of physical injury. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology indicated that children who viewed high-risk TV programmes increased their self-reported risk-taking behaviour significantly more than children who were exposed to low-risk TV or watched less TV. Reality shows that are focussed on some people and their day-to-day lives are a big nuisance and parents need to draw a line when it comes to children watching such shows. They portray everything in an exaggerated manner which is not at all a reflection of real life. This should be made clear to our children. Reality talent shows, on the other hand, make parents feel that their own children are inadequate.

Prevention from the bad effects of reality shows

First, establish that watching reality shows is not a priority in the family. According to the age and understanding of your child, explain what your family belief systems and values are and that they do not match what is shown on reality TV. Help the child understand the impact such programmes can have and that real life is different from what is projected in a reality show. Have discussions about this in a friendly and non-threatening manner.