Exhibitors Learn What Attendees Want Learning the Ropes

Exhibitors for The Cooperator's 23rd Annual Co-op & Condo Expo recently gathered for Exhibitor University, a day-long workshop to teach the benefits of exhibiting in trade shows and making their appearances a success.

The standing-room only workshop at the New York Hilton was presented by Yale Robbins Inc., the parent company of The Cooperator, The New Jersey Cooperator, and New England Condominium magazine, each of which hosts annual real estate trade shows for the cooperative, condominium and homeowner association marketplace. The next annual Co-op & Condo Expo will take place Tuesday, April 27, 2010, at the Hilton, 1335 Avenue of the Americas.

Trade show expert Jefferson Davis, owner of the trade show consulting firm Competitive Edge, instructed his audience of more than 100 exhibitors on steps they could take to survive the recessionary downturn the country is now facing. The United States has undergone six recessions since the 1970s and has come roaring back each time. "Make a decision not to live in fear. Ignore the negativity,” he said.

Think Positive

Davis' presentation, along with tips on how to exhibit, are part of a concerted effort to educate Expo vendors on how to better respond to attendees’ needs, said Henry Robbins, executive vice president of The Cooperator. “Most exhibitors have had no training in how to exhibit,” said Robbins. “They do logistics great, they show up, they get their booths running, they have their literature. But they really don’t know how to serve the needs of the attendee,” he said. The purpose of training exhibitors before the show is to “make vendors responsive to people’s needs,” to answer questions in a professional and timely manner, said Robbins.

Turning toward specifics for the upcoming Expo, Davis said exhibitors could benefit from a positive attitude and outlined how trade shows can be a great opportunity to achieve significant company sales and marketing goals. To make that opportunity happen, exhibitors must switch from spending minimal time on pre-show preparation to mapping out an ambitious marketing strategy that starts months before the show. Research, Davis said, shows that 75 percent of trade show attendees arrive with an agenda, deciding in advance who they will talk to and what booths they will stop at. The trick, he explained, is to use pre-show marketing to get attendees to stop at your booth. That’s accomplished by a combination of pre-show direct mail, print advertising, emails, and sending out personalized VIP invitations to top prospects, he said.

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