Thursday, March 6, 2014

Trade Show Etiquette

It's the season for Trade Shows once again, and for the last 20 years I've been a loyal attendee and exhibitor. Over the years, the fee to exhibit has skyrocketed big time, thus each and every minute count in order to maximize the hefty cash you cough out for the 3-4 day event.

On the funny side, I, together with some friends who are regular exhibitors as well, gathered a handful of  S.M.B. (yup, "Style Mo Bulok") tactics of both attendees and exhibitors alike. Happy reading!

1) Attending trade shows even if you don't have a company to represent. In short, you are representing yourself (fake calling card et all) in getting first dibs from all the trade show freebies you can get your sneaky hands into. These include - food & beverage sampling (with take-home to boot), give-aways (pens, notepads, keychains, etc), brochures, plastic bags (yup SUPOT!). Yes, "You got it all, FOR YOU!"

2) My company serves beverages: coffee and juice products to be exact. We have espresso machines and juice dispensers containing the items we promote. Every year a few "select" attendees would bring their own cup and/or mug and help themselves to our stuff (without asking permission) like they're in a buffet or drink-all-you-can. A round of applause to an elderly man in his late 60's, who drank to his heart's content, getting brain freeze on his 2nd LARGE cup. After being escorted to the clinic, I never saw him again... What a "chilling" way to go - RIP gramps!

3) K.I.A. (know it all) Prospects who visit your booth, asks a rhetoric yet answers it himself/herself. We call this muscle flexing, or defense mech that he/she is smart - unconsciously knowing that "smart-ass" is the better adjective.

4) Competitors who befriend you and HANG OUT (TAMBAY) in your booth for a good 1-2 hours per trade show day (either one-time big time or installment basis). Chatting about non-sense stuff and sweet nothings, while his prying eyes make side-glances on the stuff you sell, your price points, your sales pitch, and checks out who visits your booth so he/she can swindle them when they make the round to his/her booth.

An annex to this is when competitors befriend the booth beside you and hang out there in order to check on you. S.M.B. to you S.O.B.!

As the old saying goes, keep your friends close, your enemies closer - BY SPYING ON THEM! Shame shame! Bigger does not necessarily mean better.

5) Competitors who befriend you and bring their clients and/or foreign principals to your booth. I mean, what's the big idea when all you can talk about is how HOT HOT Manila weather or the horrendous traffic he/she/they are experiencing.

Let's take this a notch higher, at times my competitors with foreign principals in tow would come to my booth without minding me. They look at my stuff displayed, talk in a hush hush tone, and take photos of it discretely or vulgarly. Low and behold, they have a similar item to sell in 2-3 months time. Tsk tsk!

Im sure you have your own stories to share - either from an exhibitor's standpoint or as a trade show delegate (legit or otherwise). Whoever you may be, simply mind your manners, or better yet - M.Y.O.B. Mind your own business!