I have a very casual relationship with planning.  I began Diva Works in 2001 with no business plan as I decided instead to be my own living embodiment of  “if is is to be, it is up to me”. My pad in Sydney was seen on-line at 10.16am and the deposit was slapped down at 4.53pm that same day.  And for my most recent car purchase, I was handing over the bank cheque as soon as the back seats flipped up to reveal space for rowing riggers, suitcases, tools, my bike and the esky.

So yeah, planning the big life stuff I am rather cool on.  However on the smaller, daily details and gotta-get-dones, planning and I are happy co-habitants and I see so many benefits with having a strong and actionable pre-exhibition or event plan.  Here are my 3 major points to keeping your cool, having great nails (less likely to bite them when you follow through on my pointers) and actually enjoy the process leading up to the exhibition or event.

1. What the hell are you doing here?
Just because you have been told that your company attends this exhibition or event every single year does not mean you have to keep trudging down this well worn trail.  It may sound odd coming from someone who has a business based on companies attending trade shows, but really, why are you going and what do you hope to achieve? Exhibitions and events are time and money eaters and if you do them right and with heart, you will get awesome benefits.  However if you and your company are attending just because you have to be there otherwise your customers will think that you are suffering in the new normal, or because the Steve the sales rep will get all steamed up if he misses out on the booze up on the final night or that Marion the brand manager really likes to travel and get a break from her family, you need to get a grip.  Seriously. Sit yourself down in a quiet place away from the chatter and write your list of objectives that you want to achieve by attending the event or exhibition.  If they aren’t based on growing your business, developing face to face relationships, promoting the unique and brilliant solutions your company offers then pull the rip cord and bail the hell out. Get real and get better results!

2. Pack a geek.
I have just returned from the Queensland Mining exhibition in Mackay and my giddy aunt, aren’t they a friendly bunch up there?!?  I was chatting with some sales fella from a nearby stand and asked him if he got good return on investment from attending exhibitions like these. “Dunno” he drawled, “I’m just told to turn up and collect the business cards”.  Now I am no psychic (however for my beloved Arians, better times are ahead) but if I checked back in with my excitable fella at show end I reckon he would have had a poor outcome. As a marketer, why would you send someone to a face to face marketing event that has no personality and has no clue how to engage customers? You need someone who is going to go off like a frog in a sock on your stand!  So buck the traditional path and grab Sally in the IT department who never gets to travel but is chatty as all get out and – hold onto your heels – take Brad the personable young man from procurement so he can understand that marketing is not just a cost centre within a business but is the engine that drives sales and promotes the business.  Man your stand with people who are geeks, that are super passionate about their area of work and let them loose on the stand.  We live in an age where face to face conversations are becoming rare so please don’t waste this golden opportunity.  Don’t stack your stand with company drones, no matter how much they might be earning on commission, take people who like other people and are who are curious about others.  This tip will totally transform your exhibition or event performance, guaranteed!

3. Get yourself a Markita workbench (or equivalent).
I know you are so busy with all the hats a marketer has to wear but there are plenty of tools out there you can use to build your arsenal, revitalise your “workbench” and develop your rep as a star performer. The tools I recommend to help with pre-show planning:

Basecamp Project Management

This is a web portal accessed by a unique password that allows all project documents to be shared throughout the team, deadlines set and tasks assigned. Never again will you waste time sending out emails repeatedly or locate missing files, just upload and with internet connectivity, you have immediate access. Ridiculously cheap plans so try the 45 day free trial and enjoy the time savings!


Awesome for taking notes on the fly (most of my bogs are written on it via the iPad while zooming about on planes), clipping ideas and images from websites, syncing across all devices with the option to share throughout your network. A free and upgrade version are on offer so never again be caught with a killer idea or image and no systemised way of collecting and storing this genius.


The event and exhibition industry relies on the visual, so why not use this website to share inspiration amongst your team? You could nail down a show theme by collecting a bunch of visuals together and asking your network for their comments. You will instantly have leapfrogged over the blank page stage.

I know you would have other pre-show planning tips and tricks so please share in the comments below.

You know I had to do it. The only type of phreak out I like. Roll tape.

See you next week!