There’s a bumper sticker from the Humane Society which says, “Who Saved Who?” We are a nation devoted to pets, whether they’re on the farm or in a purse. They learn from us, but we learn from them as well. The other day while watching Animal Planet with a cat in my lap, one on the sofa next to me, and another puking upstairs (it sounded like the world’s worst ventriloquist), I realized that we could learn a thing or two about trade show marketing from our feline companions.
What Cats Can Teach Us About Trade Shows
- Cleanliness Matters. There’s nothing more distracting than a dirty or cluttered booth, whether it’s Day 1 or Day 3. You can always spot the exhibitors who are serious about their trade show marketing. They’re in their space two hours before the show wiping down counters, vacuuming, and organizing. And yes, the booth staff needs to be presentable as well. Not lick yourself clean, but clean.
- Recognize Your Meal Ticket. Cats know who feeds and pampers them. They devote their attention to that person to the exclusion of anyone who wants their affection but doesn’t reward them. They tolerate those who occasionally give them a kibble, but they’ll spend hours with the person who makes their life better.
- Attitude Matters. You knew this had to be on the list. There are “Scaredy Cats” and cats with a “Tude,” but there’s a fine line between “tude” and “attitude.” Trade show attendees are looking for solutions for their business or organization. To win their business you must be confident and knowledgeable without being cocky or a know-it-all. Smart exhibitors know the difference between being gracious and welcoming (like a cat) versus being obsequious and fawning (like a dog). Don’t be a dog. It’s embarrassing.
- Purring Helps. There’s a reason we love a purring cat. Happiness is contagious. Ever walk by a booth and everyone is smiling and laughing. You want to be with them. When we’re around positive and happy people, our stress melts away.
- Conserve Your Energy. Trade shows can be exhausting for us desk jockeys. We no longer have the stamina to stand for hours on a show floor. And then there are the meetings before the show and the meetings and entertaining after the show. The days can be long and grueling. Pace yourself. Take cat naps when you can and drink plenty of healthy fluids. And stretch . . . it’s not always pretty, but it feels good.
- Eat Well. If there was ever a time to turn up your nose at cheap fast food, it’s at a trade show. Just because it’s right in front of you, you don’t have to eat it. Wait for the good stuff and then indulge.
- Get Along with Others. Trade shows can be stressful. There may be occasional spats with coworkers and a little fur will fly, but the key is to forgive and forget. Don’t let that slap-fest over a patch of sunshine turn into a grudge. There will be lots of opportunities to shine. Family is family, even if there are multiple fathers.
- Stalk Your Prey. Let’s not kid ourselves. Trade shows are equally cooperative AND competitive. In a dog eat dog world, let the dogs eat one another. You want to be the one stalking your prey without their knowledge and then pouncing. And, depending on your temperament, don’t be shy about playing with your prey before putting it out of its misery.
- Hide Your Poo. Things happen at trade shows, but you don’t have to let the rest of the world know. Be sure to cover it up as quickly as possible. We don’t want to see (or smell) it.
- Play the Kitten Card. There’s nothing more irresistible than kittens: cute, cuddly, spastic balls of fur. They attract more attention than the snake lady at the county fair. Deep down, every exhibitor wants a “kitten” in their booth, something that attracts crowds. The goal is to find a “kitten” that relates to your product and service. Is it easy? No. But serious exhibitors, those who are relentless about trade show marketing, are always looking for ways to combine flash with substance so appropriate attendees flock to their booth. When it comes to generating qualified leads, they want to be the electric can opener at dinner time.
- Land on All Four Feet. Cats manage to land on all four feet. No matter how much we plan and prepare, there will always be circumstances that we can’t anticipate at trade shows — freight, labor, damage, weather, etc. Things happen. But if you keep your cool and tap into the resources around you, you’ll not only survive but thrive. [Thanks to Lisa Shackelford for this tip]
For you dog lovers, here’s your chance to start a new list: What Dogs Can Teach Us About Trade Shows. I’ll offer #1 and #2 — “Don’t Bite the Hand that Feeds You” and “Loyalty Matters.”
Let the comments begin . . . .
Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions and engineered aluminum extrusions (ClassicMODUL). Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100.