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An Interview with Linda Musgrove, the Trade Show Teacher

05/24/11 by Brandon

Today we’re excited to welcome trade show consultant Linda Musgrove to our ‘Interview with the Experts’ Series here on the Exhibit Edge blog.  Linda probably needs no introduction to many of you, as she is one of the most sought after consultants in the trade show industry.  She is CEO of Miami-based TradeShow Teacher, authored “The Complete Idiots Guide to Trade Shows, was named one of the “Top 40 Under 40 in the Trade Show Industry”, and has spoken at many trade show covering a number of different topics.

How did you get started in the trade show business?

While working in the marketing department at a former employer I got asked to attend Comdex, which in those days was the by far largest show in the High Tech Industry. The show was enormous, encompassing the entire Las Vegas Convention Center and several surrounding hotel convention facilities.

As I navigated the scores of halls and rows, I felt invigorated and excited by the buzz of the exhibit hall. The creativity of the booths impressed me. This artificial world of lights, sounds and creativity was such a captivating experience for me and I instantly felt a desire to be part of it, and be part of shaping and building it.

What types of clients do you take on at Tradeshow Teacher?  What services and products do you offer them?

Clients

  • Typically from Mid-size to Enterprise level businesses

Services and Products

  • Complete Trade Show Program Management (This is where the majority of our business comes from. This includes everything from selecting shows to working with the display company to design and build the booth to planning/executing the show to exhibiting in the booth)
  • Trade Show Program Critique
  • Hourly Consulting
  • Event Research/Selection
  • Booth Staff Training Programs
  • Booth Staffing

Trade Show Training

  • Live Training
    • Seminars: I present seminars on various trade show related topics to Exhibitors, Marketers, PR people and Salespeople
    • In Person: I work with a tradeshow manager/coordinator or marketing person and “teach them the ropes” to effectively plan and execute their trade shows to deliver their company with a high ROI from their Trade Show Program
  • On-Demand
    • I have webinars on the topic of Booth Staff Training that can be purchased from my website
  • Manuals & Tools
    • In addition to the many free publications with content from TradeShow Teacher, we offer books and manuals directly for sale from the website, such as an E-book titled “TradeShow Teacher’s Lesson Plans for Significantly Increasing Trade Show ROI” and a Training Manual titled “TradeShow Training for Increased ROI”

Can you share with us one of your client success stories?  What did you do to help them improve their exhibiting program?

My evaluation of their exhibit program revealed that they needed to improve in a number of areas. A few examples of the activities I conducted that helped them increase their ROI are:

  • Streamlining their internal show planning processes
  • Providing Booth Staff Training that addressed items such as
    • goals & objectives
    • how to effectively engage, qualify & close with attendees
    • lead capture process
  • Creating a Speaking Program
  • Increasing Publicity
  • Taking advantage of Pre-show, at-show and follow-up marketing activities
  • Improvement of their lead collection, handling and follow up process
  • And much more!

What are common mistakes you see exhibitors make?

Common mistakes exhibitors make are:

  • Not doing pre-show marketing.
  • Not setting goals & objectives for every show
  • Not training their booth staff or briefing them about the company’s goals & objectives for the show
  • Having too much information on their display and banners
  • Using fish bowls to collect business cards instead of gathering qualified leads through meaningful conversations and effective lead capture methods
  • Not including notes on their leads about their conversations with attendees
  • Not meeting discount deadlines and paying extra fees
  • Leaving the booth empty
  • Not having enough booth staff to handle the show traffic

What are your best 3 tips for someone brand new to exhibiting?

  • Set goals and objectives for every show and build your show strategy and theme around those objectives
  • Train Booth Staff how to engage, qualify & close with attendees and share the goals and objectives for the show
    • The booth staffers most likely were not involved in the planning of the show and therefore they essentially don’t know what is expected of them at the show
  • When gathering leads, use a method that allows for the ability to take notes.
    • Many lead capture devices offered by the show do not give the ability to write notes about the conversation they had with the attendee. I always advise clients to ask the lead capture company if their device allows for note taking; if it doesn’t use an alternative method such as a paper based lead form, or look into renting or purchasing a custom lead capture device

Can you share with us some details on your book “The Complete Idiots Guide to Trade Shows”?  What was it like putting that together, and what has the response been?

  • From the early days when I opened my business I wanted to write an Idiots Guide about Trade Shows because there wasn’t one available yet. But I got busy and never pursued it. Then one day out of the blue I got a call from Penguin Publishing pitching me to write the book! I couldn’t believe it!
  • I wrote the book to cover trade show exhibiting from A to Z in an easy to read format. It takes readers through all the steps they encounter when exhibiting and how to effectively and efficiently execute those steps. Some examples of topics covered in the book are:
    • Where to find trade shows
    • How to select the right shows for their business
    • Developing a strategy based on defined goals & objectives
    • Marketing and PR activities
    • Types of displays and how to go about selecting “the right one”
    • Messaging and graphics for the display
    • Lead Management process
    • Shipping
    • And much more!

Do you have any parting thoughts for our very smart readers?

To improve and streamline their trade show programs I suggest for them to constantly continue educating themselves by:

  • Reading blogs such as this and industry publications such as EXHIBITOR Magazine and Exhibit City News
  • Attending educational sessions on trade show related activities at industry events such as the EXHIBITOR show
  • Joining industry associations such as TSEA and taking advantage of the educational programs offered