How To Scream “THANK YOU” (and why you should.)

If you’ve exhibited at enough trade shows, it’s safe to assume you’ve got your own, “Ahh, the show is over” ritual.

  • You add one more Exhibitor Badge to the ever-growing collection on your bathroom doorknob.
  • You peel off your incredibly flattering branded polo-shirt.  (And burn it.)
  • You mix a strong drink
  • You find a hot bath
  • You schedule a foot massage, pedicure, chiropractic adjustment, trip to an Ashram …

Whatever your post-show tradition may entail, I would like to humbly suggest that you add one thing to your list.

Scream, “THANK YOU.”

Let me explain:   At a recent high tech trade show, I asked my client what her goals were for the three and a half days looming ahead of us.  She handed me a long list of ‘deliverables.’  Among them was a rather ambitious lead count.   I looked at the number, looked at her, looked back at the number and said, “OK.  You got it.”  Several hours later, I was in the storage closet having a little confab with my team of four assistants.  These were my crowd-gatherers, booth hostesses, booth ambassadors, my front line …

… whatever you want to call them ….

… oh, and they were not my ‘booth babes.’  (I know, that’s a subject for another blog.)

I explained to my team that we had a pretty challenging goal and I wanted them to do their best to make the numbers.  They smiled at each other and looked at me in a way that said,

“Uh huh … you just WATCH.”

Three days later, they had blown away our goal by over a thousand leads, had kept the presentation area filled with attendees,  AND had moved a huge number of these people into the waiting arms of some very happy sales reps.

When I got back to my office (and before I engaged in any of my own rituals),  I posted a picture showing a rather impressive crowd at our booth on several of my Social Media sites.  There, I publicly thanked the four women who helped me score this big win for my client.  This ‘THANK YOU’ cost me nothing except a few minutes of my time, but I know it meant something to my team.  Why?  Because it was shouted.  It was a declaration to anyone within earshot, that they did an amazing job.  (And from the number of ‘likes’ and comments I saw, it definitely found some ears.)

Why don’t we do this all the time?  Why don’t we tell our staff people, our co-workers, our FRIENDS, the people who busted their butts for us; that we appreciate their efforts?   That we’re grateful.

Why don’t we scream, “THANK YOU” after the show is over?

Do we think, “Oh, my people were just doing their job.”?    Do we think, “Oh, they already know they’re appreciated.”?  Or do we just not think it’s worth it.

How about trying this?  After your next show, single out some of the people on your team who really went the extra mile, who really tore it up for you.  Do a shout out on Twitter, Facebook, on your company network, wherever you want.  But make sure a lot of people see it.

And then see how those people perform for you next time.  See what happens when you hand them an impossible goal  and they smile at you and say, “Uh huh.  You just WATCH.”

(By the way, here’s a shout out to my four miracle-workers: Manya Landers, Jennifer Speelman, Marie Jacobs, and Kecia Cooper King.  I couldn’t have done it without you.)

A Tip For Exhibitors: Don’t Go To Your Next Trade Show

That’s right.  Don’t Go.

  • Don’t go if you’d rather be anywhere else.
  • Don’t go if you don’t like people.
  • Don’t go if you don’t like a LOT of people.
  • Don’t go if you can’t handle the idea that these people won’t want to talk to you.
  • Don’t go if you’re not passionate about your product, your service or your solutions.
  • Don’t go if you’re thinking of it as a break from ‘real work.’
  • Don’t go if you can’t STAND for eight hours at a time.
  • Don’t go if smiling all day makes your face hurt.
  • Don’t go if your favorite sound is that of your own voice.
  • Don’t go if you LOVE garlic and HATE breath mints.
  • Don’t go if your phone is surgically attached to your ear.
  • Don’t go if you’re not good at listening.
  • Don’t go if personal hygiene is something you rarely consider.
  • Don’t go if you HATE waiting in long lines … for damn near everything.
  • Don’t go if “partying till dawn” is your primary skill set.

In short, DON’T GO unless you’re willing to be an ambassador for your company … at all times.  Everything you do on a trade show floor, and I mean EVERYTHING, is a reflection on your organization and your brand.

Sometimes you’re doing yourself and everyone else a favor by staying home.

* Feel like adding to our “Don’t Go” list?  Be my guest.  I’m sure it’s far from complete …

Got Swag?

“Hey Newman.  What the heck do people do with all that swag that’s left over after the trade show is done?  T-shirts?  Stress Balls?  Flying Monkeys?  Is there a final resting place for all this stuff??”  – JB from LA

That’s a darn good question, JB.  Instead of trying to answer it myself, I got in touch with some of my fellow trade show professionals.  Andy Saks of Spark Presentations, turned me on to a great piece that just appeared in the Boston Globe:

Convention Center Repurposes Leftover Swag

I was really happy to see that some Convention Centers are doing the responsible thing and not just letting all this stuff go straight to the dump!

I also wanted to find out what people were doing (and could be doing) on a smaller scale to deal with this Swag Surplus.  So I got in touch with trade show veteran (and fellow blogger), Jennifer Canale.  She not only has hundreds of trade shows under her belt, but she is very active in helping out her local community.  Here’s what Jennifer had to say:

“I can’t understand why people would EVER just dump all this trade show swag.  It makes me NUTS !!  Let’s face it, somewhere out there, closer than you think, are people who could use a few new t-shirts.  So go GET them!   On the last day, walk the floor, grab an extra shirt or two from each booth.  Women’s shelters are perfect places to drop off clothing!  So are Child Care Centers.  And, if you mention to the booth that you are giving their merchandise to a shelter, they usually will load you up on a variety of sizes after the show.  It’s been my experience that companies are thrilled to have people not only WEARING their branded merchandise, but NEEDING it.

And while you’re on swag patrol, here are some more ideas:

  • Schools always need pens, pencils, notepads, and thumb drives.
  • Soup kitchens love 20 pounds of mixed candy collected from the booths.
  • Stress balls and stuffed animals become toys at a low-income day care or preschool.

After the Fancy Foods West show, my client, Maria & Ricardo’s Tortilla Factory, had about 50 pounds of tortillas left over, all of them still in sealed packages.  I couldn’t bear to see them thrown away, so I loaded them up in my little “Trade Show Granny Cart” and hauled them to Glide and the Tenderloin Outpatient Clinic.

At the NADA show, my client, Elead, had about 6000 cookies leftover—again, all in packages.  I suggested that she let me take them to Glide, and she was thrilled!  Everyone at Glide got a wonderful dessert, courtesy of Elead.

And the company even got a nice tax write-off.”

Want to hear more from Jennifer Canale?  Check out her blog at BRANDED FOR LIFE.  Great stuff there.  And we would love to hear what some of YOU are doing with all those shirts, hats, bears, monkeys, thumb drives, and other branded baubles that are part of our trade show life.  Just put it in the comments section.  Thanks.