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How to Be a Professional Trade Show Promoter
I have always been passionate about excellence in delivering exhibition results for our clients. How we deliver the results is purely down to hiring phenomenal talent that possess the same core qualities, wherever they are situated in the world.
Over the last 5 years, I have had the pleasure of working with outstanding professionals who are passionate about their promotion work and strive to do an excellent job with each and every assignment they undertake. On the other side, we have also worked with people with fantastic talent, but somehow blew their chances of an outstanding career in promotions due to some things which were missing from their “promotional” DNA.
So what are the qualities that these outstanding promoters have in abundance? What makes these “Expo Stars” stand out from the crowd? Why are some promoters always booked one year in advance? Why do these brilliant promoters earn 50% more than anyone else? What is it that drives these “Expo Stars” that makes them take the client’s breath away with an outstanding contribution to their exhibition/trade show ROI?
Successful promoters always leave clues. In the article below I share the 7 P’s that lay the foundation for being a Phenomenal Exhibition/Trade show Promoter. By implementing these 7 P’s into your promotional career, not only will you have increased and regular trade show repeat bookings and earnings, you will have clients raving about you and your work.
Please note that the terminology in this article is relative to Trade show Exhibitions, and Conventions and the article is for people who are engaged in work such as a Booth Hostess, Promotion Staff/Model, Trade show Lead Generator, Product Demonstrator, Interpreter/Translator, Trade show Presenter, MC, Crowd Gatherer, Brand Ambassador, Spokes model, Narrator or a Sales Representative.
P # 1: CREATE A PROFESSIONAL PROFILE
The first step to being a phenomenal promotion professional is having an outstanding personal profile. How you present yourself to your clients including Staffing Agencies makes a huge difference to how often you get bookings for jobs.
Clients and Agencies potentially have a choice of thousands of people that work in the promotional field. Your professional profile is what will get you chosen ahead of the rest.
So what are the essential components to compiling a professional and job winning profile?
80% of the client’s decision is based on their first impression of you based on your pictures. Pictures can say a thousand words about you. So it is vitally important that your pictures really communicate your personality, character, and professionalism.
As a minimum your picture portfolio should contain:
– A professional head shot with a beautiful smile that radiates happiness and self-confidence.
– A full length picture in a business suit with open positive body language.
– A picture of you at work, at a booth/stand/promotion doing what you do best.
Below are some excellent examples of profile pictures that clients and agencies are extremely receptive to.
If you have been using pictures that are photo-shopped, artistic shots, fashion shots, standing in front of a bathroom mirror, taken in your bedroom, underwear shots, at a party holding a glass of wine/cocktail, or even where your face is covered up as part of your profile, then these are completely useless in helping you get promotional jobs. If you have these amateur type pictures, you will look like an amateur in the client’s mind set and will not get the job ahead of someone that has professional pictures. A small investment in having professional pictures taken will pay dividends in increased bookings. What clients want to see is the professional person that they are going to get at their booth so it is important your pictures communicate that you are a real professional.
2. Powerful Personal Statement
A powerful personal statement that highlights your strengths makes a huge difference to being chosen for an assignment. What attributes do you have that will help the client meet their objectives? Why should the client choose you? What difference can you make for the client? The personal statement should be no more than 200 words and should contain some really positive words that will help to convince the client that you are the ONE for them.
Example: “I am an outstanding promoter that speaks 5 languages, and loves to proactively generate new business at exhibitions and trade shows. I am passionate about sales, meeting my objectives and learning about new business concepts in the process. I am punctual and love working in a team environment… “
3. Specific Work Experience:
You should highlight in detail what kind of promotions experience you have had in the past. This should include the event name, the client/brands you represented, your tasks and responsibilities and your achievements in the job.
4. Education and Languages
As well as your experience, what will set you apart from the rest is your Education and Languages. You should highlight all your educational courses attended. With languages, you should highlight what languages you speak fluently. If you cannot hold a business level conversation in a language then this language should not be mentioned in your profile information to avoid any embarrassment on the job.
5. Physical Information
Some assignments will involve the client providing you with a corporate uniform or outfit. It is essential that you have the correct physical information on your profile including your natural height, clothes sizes and shoe size. If your physical appearance has changed from the pictures presented, like your hair colour, waist size then you should communicate this to your client and agency as soon as possible. There is nothing worse than the client receiving a completely different person to that shown on the pictures.
If you have done a brilliant job for previous clients, then you should have these testimonials and references stated on your profile as proof that you are a true professional. If you have achieved certain career or personal goals, then these should be highlighted too.
Once you have created your profile, it is essential that you keep it updated. If you work for an agency, then please ensure that they are communicating all your attributes to the prospective client(s).
P# 2: PREPARATION & PLANNING
So your super professional profile has now landed you an exhibition/trade show assignment. What will determine if this assignment will be a success for you is the planning and preparation you undertake before the actual assignment takes place.
A long time ago when i was in training for my first ever sales job, I was taught the acronym “PPPPPPP” by my sales trainer. If you haven’t come across this one before, what this stands for is Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. This is not only applicable to a salesperson but also to other areas in business and personal life.
So what can you do to prepare and plan effectively for each project that you undertake?
1. Fully read and comprehend the assignment brief well in advance of the event. Many people make the mistake of reading the assignment notes the night before the event. If you read the assignment brief 7-10 days before the event, then you not only have time to ask questions to your client but also it will give you time to do some research about the event and the client.
2. Research the client, their industry and the event. What are the client’s objectives? How do you fit into their objectives? What kind of visitor is attending the event? It is important that you ask these questions and understand the client’s business environment.
3. Understand your role, tasks and responsibilities. You should understand and be very clear what is expected from you from the client. What will be your role? What outcome does the client expect at the end of the event as a result of hiring you? If in doubt please connect with your agency or the client if you are working for them directly.
4. Learn the Script, Product Info, Questions to ask visitors and the Unique Selling points of the client’s products and services. If you are working in sales, presenting or a lead generation related assignment, then it is essential that you learn the product info, your presentation script and/or the unique selling points of the client’s products and services. If you are in a lead generation or sales role, a good benchmark is to learn 3 open ended questions that you can ask visitors to determine if they are a qualified prospect for client, and along with these question learn 3 unique key interest statements (ie features and benefits) that will help you to interact with the visitors and generate more qualified sales leads. If you are learning a script, it is essential that you use and adapt it to your personality to deliver a successful presentation.
5. Research the Event Location and plan your travel. I cannot emphasise enough how important this is to your assignment. You have to know where the event is, where you need to go on the day, and how long your journey will take. Agencies and clients do not appreciate receiving calls on the day saying that you are lost and do not know where to go.
6. Know what you will need to wear and what uniform clients will provide for you. The client and the agency should communicate clearly to you what you need to wear and what items the client will provide if appropriate. You should prepare your clothes accordingly and know what you will wear on the day of the event. You should also ensure that all your clothes and shoes are clean and appropriate for the event.Arriving at an event being fully prepared not only gives you the self-confidence but also the client feels the energy and the positive vibe from you to give them immediate confidence that you will do an outstanding job for them.
P # 3 BE PUNCTUAL
Live exhibitions, trade shows and promotional events demand that not only you are fully prepared prior to the event, but also that you arrive on time as per your agreed schedule.
Professional promotional people do not leave anything to chance. By planning your journey in advance, you should aim to arrive at the venue at least 30-45 minutes prior to your start time, to give you a chance to collect your badge and find your way to the client’s booth/stand. You may argue that you are not getting paid to arrive early, but surely it is better to arrive early and avoid having your pay deducted for being late?
Detailed information about the location of the event is always available on the event website including directions and transportation information. Floor plans are also made available on the exhibition website, so you should take 10 minutes of your time to familiarize yourself with the floor plan and plan your journey from the entrance to the client’s booth to avoid getting lost on the morning of the event. This 10 minute exercise could potentially save you 30 minutes of aimlessly walking the aisles trying to figure where you are.
If you are late, the impact is significantly negative to the client’s plans, as they have to brief and prepare you for the job. Please remember that the client is already in a “tense and nervous” state as they have to ensure that everything is ready at their booth by the time the event opens. On the client’s mind (usually the exhibitor’s marketing/event director), they will have issues like the stand falling apart, the graphics not being right, the carpet being in a mess, the brochures not arriving, the electricity not working, the Wi-Fi connection not working and on top of that, they will have the pressure of the CEO attending on the first day! The last thing you need is to start the relationship off very badly with the client when they are in this “tense & nervous” state.
It is also important that you are punctual with your breaks as a matter of professional courtesy to your fellow team members and the client. Ensure that you return back to the booth within the period allowed for your lunch or breaks.
So just to summarize this passage in 5 words: Be on Time. Every time!
P# 4 BE PROFESSIONAL
Whilst you are working at the assignment, you need to ensure that you conduct yourself in a professional and business-like manner. Clients demand nothing but the very best from you in terms of punctuality, professionalism and a pro-active “can-do” work attitude. Remember they are paying good money for your services. You have to be professional from the time you arrive on the stand to the time you finish the event. You have to expect more from yourself than the client or your agency should ever expect from you.
What does being “professional” actually mean in real terms whilst working at an exhibition/ tradeshow?
As discussed in the above paragraphs, being professional starts with preparation and your punctuality.
Turn up professionally dressed ready to do business. Your clothes, shoes must be clean and tidy at all times. Please ensure that your hair, make up and personal hygiene are of the upmost high standard. Invest in several formal business suits if you don’t own one already. Also ensure that you are wearing comfortable shoes as you will be standing up for most of the day. Looking the part and wearing comfortable shoes gives you extra confidence and energy to cope with the long days.
Be professional in terms of your communication with your client, fellow team members, supervisors and all visitors at the event. You must always be polite, friendly and business like with your behaviour on the stand. Always be smiling and create a positive first impression to visitors.
Be a team player. If you are working within a large team, then you have to be part of the team rather than perform your tasks as an individual. Remember TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves More.
Always keep your exhibition/promotion work area neat and tidy. If you see any litter, please take personal responsibility and deal with it accordingly.
Always inform your client or your supervisor if you are leaving the booth/stand for any reason.
There is some negative behavior that you should avoid whilst working at the clients booth. If you walk through a typical trade show exhibition, you will find some people engaging in these actions. Please take responsibility and avoid partaking in these activities at all costs.
DO NOT Eat or Drink in the booth/work area
DO NOT Engage in idle chit chat with your team members whilst visitors pass by.
DO NOT Read magazines/newspapers in the booth
DO NOT Use your personal phone or ipad/laptop in the booth/work area
DO NOT Use bad language whilst at the booth or argue with your colleagues
DO NOT file nails, fix your hair, or put make-up on in the working area.
DO NOT bring excessive baggage to the booth. Please leave it in the baggage holding area and collect it after the event has finished.
DO NOT bring freebie promotional materials from other stands to the booth. If you do collect freebies in your break time, please put them in your baggage and out of site.
Remember you are only as good as your last event! So be a professional every single time!
P#5 BE POSITIVELY CHARGED
Live Exhibition and Trade show events are about face to face communication. Sellers are meeting buyers. Remember people buy from positive people, not from the fantastic stands which are on display or negative people that have their shoulders slumped.
It is your personal responsibility to be in a positive frame of mind for every assignment or project that you undertake. This starts from the moment that you enter into the exhibition hall. Leave your personal issues and problems outside the exhibition centre. Your focus should be on how you can help the client achieve their objectives. Nothing else matters during the time that you are on the client’s exhibition stand.
After standing up for 9 long hours, yes your feet will hurt, and you will just want to go home and have a long hot bath. But what is point in complaining and whinging that your feet hurt? Everybody else is in the same position as you, so rather than let this affect you in a negative way, stay positive, and stay focused on your objectives.
Being positively charged also means starting the day with a beaming smile. Your smile will attract visitors to your client’s booth, your smile will create a positive first impression, your smile will get you through difficult situations, your smile will make other people smile, and most importantly, your smile will make people happy and allow them to approach and talk to you.
Having open positive body language helps you be approachable. When was the last time you approached someone whose arms were folded or someone that didn’t look interested and wanted to be somewhere else? Ensure that your back is upright, your shoulders are straight, your arms are by your side and that you are looking ready for business. Try and catch people’s attention by making eye contact and smiling. It’s amazing how many people will be drawn to approach you unconsciously.
I would recommend that you read books on reading people, body language, and creating that winning positive mental attitude to help you become even better promoter.
P# 6 BE PROACTIVE
This P is probably more relevant to those people that are hired as Sales Promoters, Lead Generators, Product Demonstrators or Crowd Gatherers.
Over the last 5 years I have walked miles and miles of exhibition floor. If I had a dollar for every person that I have spotted at their booth/stand chit chatting to their colleagues, talking or texting on the telephone, eating their sandwich, just standing there staring into empty space or working on their laptop whilst potential prospects walk past, I would be a very rich man. Even worse is when promoters are engaging in this kind of behaviour. Clients are paying people to stand there and let potential prospects walk on by and they are accepting this as standard behaviour.
Your job as a promoter is to attract people to the booth/stand. You are a professional that is being paid to bring people to the stand so you have to earn your fees. To do this effectively, you must be proactive in your approach to engage visitors, qualify them as prospects and move the prospect to the next stage in the sales process, be it to collect their business card, arrange a follow up meeting, seat them for a presentation, fill in a questionnaire or to hand them over the clients sales team.
Being proactive means knowing your client’s products, their objectives, and what you need to do to achieve them. It means constantly striving to meet your objectives to the best of your ability. It means having the discipline to constantly approach as many people as you can in the 8 or 9 hours you have on the exhibition floor.
By being proactive, not only your day will go faster, you will achieve your objective(s) and the client will see a true professional at work. Will the client rebook you for their next event? You bet! Not only that, they will be approaching you to work for them full time if you put in a solid shift. You are the professional… so show the client how it should be done and why you are worth every penny or cent that you get paid for doing the job. Lead by example and always be PROACTIVE.
P # 7 BE PASSIONATE
Love what you do! When you are passionate about your work and love what you do, everything else just falls into place.
If you are only doing promotion jobs to pay the bills, and see it as easy money to just stand there, look pretty and shove leaflets in people’s faces, then please do us a favor and get out of the business quickly.
Working in Exhibitions and Trade shows is a brilliant privilege. You actually get paid to talk to and meet people from all over the world, sometimes you also get to travel, and you learn about new cultures and new business concepts. You get to make new friends. When you really put your passion into being a brilliant outstanding professional and have fun during the process, the rewards are very satisfying.
Let me put it this way. It beats the hell out of sitting in an office all day staring at a computer screen.
When you are engaging people and qualifying prospects you are actually making a huge difference to the world economy. You are helping the client get new prospects that will generate more revenue for them. You are helping the prospects by giving them new solutions which will help them improve their business. If you are facilitating international trade, helping the buyer and the seller, then it puts you in a very unique and privileged position.
If you can look back at the end of an exhibition day, and just think of all the people you have talked to, the prospects you have generated for your client and the amount of business that will be done as a result of your hard work, then you will feel very satisfied.
My advice to you to close off the article is that you should strive to become the best promoter you can possibly be and just love what you do! Everything else will just fall into place.
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