So you're probably wondering – why are we standing in the kitchen to talk about trade shows? Well, that's because I'm going to share with you today the recipe for good exhibitor or sponsor relations for your trade show. And we're going to talk about how to do it using a three-ingredient cookie recipe.
I'm Marlys Arnold, trade show consultant and author. And in this video series, we're talking about how to make your trade shows better and more rewarding for both you and your exhibitors.
All right, so just like in this cookie recipe, there are three basic ingredients to have better sponsor and exhibitor relations.
So your first ingredient in the cookies is a cake mix, and your first ingredient in your exhibit and sponsor relations is good communication. So you start out by having great onboarding for your exhibitors ... you know, helping them, especially first timers, walking them through, talking with them, finding out their goals and then pointing them in the right direction, because no two exhibitors or sponsors have the same exact goals.
And so therefore they need to find a little bit different strategy or a little bit different path to have the response and the results that they're really hoping for at your event. You also want to communicate in bite-size messages, because as we all know, everybody is overwhelmed. And if you put out a whole list of things all in one email, they're probably not going to read it. So give them bite size communication and make that consistent.
One thing that I hear a lot of times from exhibitors is that they get more communication from either – in the face-to-face world, from the general contractor and all the different services – or in the virtual world, they may get more email from the platform provider than they do from you as the show organizer. So that's really important that you make sure that you stay in touch with them, providing them that one point of contact throughout your whole event.
And of course, streamline wherever possible. But just make sure you're keeping in constant communication. Don't just sell the booth and then they don't hear from you again until right before the event. And also talking about setup (when we do get back to face to face), do you have a team member available or team members available to them when they're setting up on show day? Do you have an exhibitor concierge, or some point of contact that they can go to if they have a question or an issue?
Ingredient number two in our cookie recipe is the oil, and in our exhibitor and sponsor relations recipe, that is appreciation. So how do you show appreciation to your sponsors and exhibitors? You know, it doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. There are simple things that you can do just to show them that you appreciate them and that they mean a lot to the success of your event. Doing something especially for your first timers, giving them some kind of extra perk or making them feel special and making sure that they realize that they made the right decision by signing on with your event.
Also, you want to reward longtime loyalty with perks – especially after this past year! Make sure that those long-time exhibitors and sponsors that have stuck with you feel appreciated. You know, that could be something like doing a VIP event with members of your board (if you're an association), or use celebrity speakers that you're having at your event or whatever. Just giving them some kind of kind of a backstage pass that they can feel like they're special.
Also doing a goodie box – a lot of events in the last year especially have done some kind of a goodie box for attendees. What about doing some kind of actual goodies and perks for your exhibitors and your sponsors as well to show them how much you appreciate them?
And our third ingredient in our cookie recipe is eggs. And by the way, I've got the recipe in the show notes here for you so you can make this on your own. But the third ingredient is eggs. And in our exhibitor and sponsor relations recipe, the third ingredient is education. It is so important whether you're doing a face-to-face or virtual show. In fact, in virtual it's probably even more important to educate your exhibitors on how things work because it's so different and a lot of them are still struggling and have no clue what they're doing. But provide orientation webinars, or even just short tutorial videos, provide them ways so that they know what to expect and what they need to do.
Another thing that I've done for my clients sometimes is interview some of their exhibitors, some of their longtime successful exhibitors, and do like little mini-podcast episodes where they share tips and strategies for especially the newbies so that they learn what they need to be doing to be more successful. You can even offer in-booth critiques, again either face-to-face or virtual so that people have a better idea of what they need to do to improve. Sometimes right there on the spot, and sometimes it's tips that they can use for next year. But make sure that you're educating them before, during and after the show so that they know what they need to do to take those next steps.
So just like any recipe, it takes more than just simply throwing random ingredients into a bowl. You've got to take the right steps and use the right tools. Like for cookies, I'm not going to use a meat grinder. I'm going to use some kind of a stirring spoon or spatula to mix my cookies together. And the same thing holds true for good exhibitor and sponsor relations. Have a strategy, use the right tools, and then you can begin to customize and add your own flair to tailor it for your own audience.
So in our cookies, I could add some nuts, I could add raisins, whatever I want to give it that extra pizzazz. Same thing, take those three basic ingredients of communication, appreciation, education, and make it your own, to really show how much you care for your exhibitors and sponsors.
So now I've got some cookies to bake and you've got some assignments too.
Now for the 3-Ingredient Cookie Recipe!
- 1 box Cake mix (I used chocolate fudge cake)
- 2 large Eggs
- 1/3 cup Oil
Stir ingredients together in a large mixing bowl (add whatever mix-ins you desire) until fully combined. Preheat oven to 350º F.
Use a medium cookie scoop to drop onto a non-stick cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until tops no longer look moist.
Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer them to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container. (If you have any left after the first day!)