Some of us have done a few in-person shows throughout the year, but it’s safe to say that we haven’t done as many… and many have done ZERO.

The upcoming APMA National Conference is going to be the first time many of us have stepped foot on an exhibit hall floor. It’s definitely exciting, but it’s probably going to be different than what we remember in the “good-ole days.”

Ann and I were lucky enough to be able to exhibit in January at the FPMA SAM Conference. It was then we knew “we weren’t in Kansas anymore.” So what can you expect and/or how can we maximize our success?

Well, first – keep in mind that we all need to manage expectations of hall traffic. While frustrating, it’s just the plain and simple truth. Capacity is limited due to safety regulations and it’s harder for venues to allow a lot of gatherings in a single place. Basically, avoid getting overly frustrated if you don’t feel the traffic is how it used to be.

But this means more intimacy too with those that you will see. So as we go into the week, think about those interactions and develop a plan for how you can make the most of them. You may even want to schedule 15-minute sessions with small groups at your booth in order to provide a mini-presentation of your product/service. If you do that – get those emails out now! Time is running out!

Also, make sure you pay attention to those attendees who are participating virtually. Virtual attendance is just going to be part of the norm moving forward and you will be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t acknowledge those sitting in front of their screens vs. physically walking by your booth. Like the suggestion above, email some of your prospects that you know will be attending virtually, and schedule a break time zoom call with them so you can present your product/service.

You may have already packed everything for this upcoming show, but if you have another show coming up soon, you probably don’t have to pack and ship as many materials as previous years, simply because the amount of bodies is going to be greatly reduced. Good news – less money spent on shipping!

If you’re not getting the traffic you want at your booth, consider holding a small private event in another conference room or hotel suite. Just be sure to check with the hotel as the staff is often unappreciative of “secret gatherings.”

Oh – and bring your masks. Even though we are seeing more and more people getting vaccinated, these types of events will have staff members lurking the halls to ensure you’re wearing your protective face coverings.

But while our vendor environment is going to be different, we will adapt. We always do. Now let’s get out there and spread some smiles because we have missed you all!