School teaches students a lot of things, but it also teaches teachers. After college, I had a wonderful opportunity to teach high school English abroad in South Korea. It was an extremely influential period of my life, and when I returned and jumped into the event marketing industry, I found myself calling back to six key lessons I learned as a teacher.
your energy in is directly related to their energy out
We’ve all had those one-year-to-retirement teachers who dryly moved through the motions of the day’s lessons. We’ve also (hopefully) all had that dynamic, fiery teacher that worked to engage students. Students mirror the energy and excitement of the teacher. The same is true with trade shows. Your booth staff is critical. They must exhume excitement and passion if they are going to make an impression on a booth visitor. Energy in equals energy out.
little rewards go a long way
I had a sticker system. Yes, my 18-year-old high school students would do just about anything for a tiny sticker to add to their sticker chart. The same goes with event marketing. Little giveaways make visitors feel very special and leave a lasting impression. For tips on trade show giveaways, read our trade show giveaways blog post.
the best gimmicks are the one that make sense
Gimmicks are excellent ways to grab attention, whether in a busy classroom or a crowded show floor. But the gimmick needs to make sense. Sure, you can show a music video to grab the class’ attention, but the video is far more impactful if the lesson is woven around the content. In the trade show world, take, for example, offering candy at your trade show booth. The candy is great, but it’s not doing much for you just sitting in a bowl. At IMTS 2014, exhibitors used robotic machines to deliver candy to visitors. It combined two things that would capture the eye of a target client: incredible machinery and brightly packaged sugar. The candy was a much better draw when the product and service was woven into the delivery.
you are not their friend. you’re their partner.
In the classroom, I was only four or five years older than some of the students in the room, and – by far – the youngest teacher in the school. It was easy for me to “make friends” with my students, but they did not need another friend. They needed a partner; someone to give the tools they needed to succeed. The same is true on the show floor. Booth staff is there, not to be chummy-chummy, but to identify need and provide solutions. Just like teaching, the client’s success is your success, so be that catalyst!
always have a plan b. and c. and d.
Chalk it up to teaching in a rural school, but something almost always backfired. Whether it was my projector or the copy machine or – yes – even a lack of whiteboard markers, something would happen that would force me to fall back on Plan B (Or C. Or D. Once, even E). Event marketing is exactly the same. Every event marketing plan must have backups to backups. You never know what will happen, so you must be prepared to accept it, react to it and move on.
the patient investor reaps the biggest rewards
English fluency or passing a test or even correctly asking for the time does not happen as a result of only 50 minutes of teaching. It is the culmination of all of the touch-points between the teacher and student. The same is true for face-to-face marketing. To walk onto a show floor and expect complete strangers to invest in your product or service is naive. The final sale is a result of pre- and post-show marketing, in-show efforts and so much more. Be patient with new visitors who do not yet invest. Continue including them in your regular marketing efforts so, once they are ready to make a purchase, they turn to you when the time is right. When this happens – when your most struggling student passes their test or when the most hard-to-reach contact makes the sale – the payoff will be invaluable.