When I ran Med League Support Services a legal nurse consulting firm, we had a premium location for a table at a New Jersey Association for Justice annual conference. We paid $1795 for the table and another $500 to help subsidize the food for a break, and many more dollars on pens, pencils, pads, flashlights and other giveaways. The companies near us would have done the same to get that spot.
The vendor (Company X) who had a table near ours at the New Jersey Association for Justice conference was a poster child for bad behavior. Learn from this description of what not to do.
Day one of exhibiting at the attorney conference
The critical times for meeting attorneys are during registration on the first morning, before the conference opens, during breaks and at lunch time. Company X’s personnel set up their booth the night before by laying out candy, balloons, mugs and pens. They had a few pieces of literature out. There were no signs to indicate what they did other than the name on the wall created by the curtains.
We got to the exhibit area at 7:20 AM and set up everything that we had stored under the table overnight. Attorneys began arriving at around 8:00, picked up their registration material and drank coffee and ate breakfast right in front of our tables. They also roamed up and down the rows of exhibitor tables, talking to exhibitors and picking up giveways. At 9:15 AM they moved into the conference rooms and by 9:30 AM, most of the exhibit area was empty of attorneys.
Between 8:00-9:30 AM, we handled a steady stream of attorneys, answered questions, gave away material, collected business cards, and identified some very interested attorneys. Company X’s table was unattended. People who walked by there took mugs, candy and pens, but there was no one to interact with them.
At 9:30 AM, Company X’s personnel arrived – three of them – and sat behind the booth. I was still astounded that they would leave the table unattended during the critical time of the conference. I told the owner there were lots of people who came by their booth. I received a blank stare.
Company X’s booth personnel changed frequently during that day. We observed one interchange that was astonishing. An attorney came over and warmly greeted the owner and said, “Nice to meet you. We use you all the time.” The owner asked him his name, which he gave, and then flatly said, “I have never heard of you.” I wanted to kick her under the table and ask, “Couldn’t you have at least faked being gracious?”
Day two of exhibiting
The next morning Company X’s workers showed up after the morning sessions began. They spread out a few pieces of candy and a small stack of reusable grocery bags with their logo and left after about 10 minutes. The owner was not there that day.
The entire rest of the day, which lasted until 2 PM when the exhibit hall closed, they were missing. Why would a vendor spend thousands of dollars to have a table in the exhibit hall and not be there? Exhibiting is a wonderful chance to form relationships, strengthen relationships, learn from clients and prospects, socialize with other vendors, and spy opportunities. Get the most from your exhibiting dollars by showing up! You can’t win at exhibiting at attorney conferences by being absent. Seems obvious, and it I had not watched it happen, I would never would have imagined it could occur.
Pat Iyer is the prior owner of Med League. She has been exhibiting at attorney conferences since 1995; it has built the company. Along with Gary Bronga, she presented a webinar on Tradeshow Exhibiting . Learn how to most effectively spend your dollars and time exhibiting at tradeshows for attorneys by watching the digital download.