Big Idea: How to Create Buzz and New Business at a Trade ShowBy Burkey Belser and Elizabeth Sullivan
September 13, 2017
Usually, we celebrate our clients’ successes, but this month, we’re celebrating one of our own because we believe it will be instructive for you. Recently, we went to the annual meeting of the American Society of Association Executives in Toronto as an exhibitor. Despite having participated in shows just like this for 30 years, we’ve never flipped all the switches for a trade show, and shame on us. The return on investment for our efforts this year was off the charts. By the end of the show we had 197 business cards (relationships) and four RFPs after two days on our feet. Here’s how we did it.
You have only one goal.
We had been going ‘round and ‘round about our goals for the conference: get the messaging right, meet new people, create a splash, but suddenly, for no reason at all, we realized there was only one goal: get a business card or the equivalent contact information. Everything else was secondary. It’s taken all these years for us to understand that we purely and simply want a contact, a potential lead. Not a sale. Awesome thought to get a whale, but catching whales immediately is either rare or just dumb luck. What we realized we needed to do was establish contact so we could nurture a lead. Think of it as a seed in your hand, unplanted, wanting life; but a seed is a success. Jack traded an entire cow for three seeds—the promise was that valuable. All the other data entering your calculations? Forget them. Get the seed. The seed can feed you for a lifetime. We’re not asking you to lower your ambition. Far from it. We’re asking you to get smart and put one foot in front of the other. Just. Get. The. Seed. An utterly simple goal clarifies everything.
Read the rest of our latest Big Idea here.