Tips and Trends

Trade Show Trend: Team Collaboration and Up-Front Planning

Thursday, October 04, 2018

The hottest trend we’re seeing right now is that companies are investing more heavily in the planning stage of their trade show program. That’s right—before moving on to execution, they’re taking the time to really get organized and clear on where they are and where they want to go. And they’re making this into a team exercise.

Why a team exercise? Because in many instances, the team is what stands in the way between the program that exists and the program the exhibit manager knows could exist.

A great example is the success achieved by our client Jen. Jen’s trade show program had become stale and lackluster. She needed a revamp in order improve her results.

One of the obstacles that stood in Jen’s way was the mindset of her team. Some team members felt content with the way things were. Others wanted change but didn’t feel empowered to make it happen.

Jen asked us if we could help her make a change in her program—and change the mindset of her team.

A typical one-hour download of Jen’s needs and objectives wasn’t going to create the kind of major change she needed. So, in order to fully get, not just Jen, but her team on board, we suggested gathering Jen’s stakeholders—and our strategy/marketing personnel—all together in one room for an Ideation Calibration Workshop (if you’re unfamiliar with our workshops, here’s a quick read to catch you up before continuing).

We flew out to Jen’s facility for a day-long workshop. Within 30 minutes, we’d identified the members of Jen’s team that, after being with the company for over ten years, were stuck in their ways. These team members provided a lot of extremely helpful information about the company, brand, products, and customers—but they didn’t want to get on board with Jen’s desire for change.

We also identified several individuals who were newer to the company and, while they didn’t possess extensive knowledge, were open to approaching the program differently.

We spent the rest of the day asking the team questions about their brand, their current trade show program, and their customers. We gathered information about how the brand is being represented in the exhibit and how this needs to evolve. We defined the goals and objectives that needed to be achieved in order for this program revamp to be a success. We identified opportunities to improve Jen’s program. And we got everyone talking, participating, and—most important—listening to one another.

We pushed Jen’s team to think outside of their comfort zones. As outside facilitators, we were able to push back and challenge individuals in a way that Jen couldn’t. The fact that we came in as unbiased trade show industry experts gave us a strong platform to stand on; as the day went on, we sensed that walls were coming down. We saw team members start to nod their head in agreement more often—and even those team members who had been hesitant to participate began to share new ideas. By the end of our session, not only did Jen have a ton of great ideas to help move her program forward, but she also had the team consensus she needed to get there.

The end result? A brand-new exhibit launch that included pre-show exhibit staff training, pre-show marketing, new technology (including lead generation and RFID touch tables), and an evening VIP event. In addition to all of these elements, Jen’s team also had a rejuvenated positive attitude and were genuinely excited about the project.

At Jen’s old exhibit’s final show, we conducted a baseline exhibit audit and exit survey. Later, we juxtaposed this data against the results of the audit and exit survey we conducted at Jen’s first show with her new exhibit. The resulting report quantified the measurable improvement Jen’s revitalized program delivered.

Jen’s new program won several industry awards and was praised by her manager and other company executives. Thanks to Jen’s hard work and her implementation of an Ideation Calibration Workshop, she got her program on track—and her team on board.

Do you think an Ideation Calibration Workshop is a good fit for you? We’d love to talk more about how our workshop can be the first step to a revitalized and more successful trade show marketing program. Contact us at to learn more.

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