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"If we encounter a man of rare intellect," Ralph Waldo Emerson once advised, "we should ask him what book he reads." While Emerson was likely thinking more Henry David Thoreau than Stephen R. Covey, his sentiment rings true regardless of the genre. So, taking a page from the writer's book, EXHIBITOR presents its eighth annual recommended reading list. Featuring tomes suggested by our 2016 Editorial Advisory Board members, this year's selection explores a range of relevant topics.
How to Get the Most Out of Trade Shows
This must-read for exhibit managers outlines tips for proper planning and management, effective execution and promotion, and overall optimization of your trade show investment. Author Steve Miller's meaty content is arranged in a simple, easy-to-follow format using real-world examples. Would you recommend this book for people who are new to the industry, or is it tailored for experienced exhibit managers?
I think everyone in the industry can learn something useful from it. And actually, my favorite section of the book speaks to both newbies and veterans: "Unfortunately, it's common for 'experienced' staffers to develop a negative attitude about the value of trade shows. 'We've got to be there, but it's a big waste of my time.' When these experienced staffers get ahold of a new worker, I call those people 'dogs with fleas.' When a dog with fleas comes in contact with a dog without fleas, soon you've got two dogs with fleas. And, without a doubt, a preconceived negative attitude about trade shows can seriously impact your ultimate results." That quote really resonated with me. That's quite the comparison. Does the book teach you how to get rid of the fleas, so to speak?
Yes. It doesn't simply address the often-overlooked hurdle to trade show success – which is thought to be out of our control – but provides the rather simple solution. As exhibit managers, we can alleviate negative preconceived notions by presenting staffers' involvement as constructive to their personal and career goals. Why is a positive attitude in the face-to-face marketing industry so important in the grand scheme of things?
Through reading "How to Get the Most Out of Trade Shows," I've learned that you can complete every checklist and fill in every form while coordinating a show, but until you understand how you provide value and expertise to your team, internal clients, and external clients, you won't realize true trade show success.
Gale Portwine, CTSM, marketing specialist, Aon Affinity Insurance Services
An in-depth exploration of how attention works, "Captivology: The Science of Capturing People's Attention" is focused on the triggers that can attract attention from whatever audience you are targeting, in any industry or situation. How were you introduced to the science behind capturing people's attention?
I listened to a podcast that featured the author, Ben Parr, and I was instantly captivated. He caught my attention with his keen insights on things I had never thought about before, like how colors, scents, volume levels, and textures are all subtle ways to capture people's attention. I was also very intrigued by the psychology and neuroscience behind how and why those triggers appeal to us. How is this book applicable to exhibit and event managers?
Collectively, we are in the business of capturing people's attention. Exhibitors are competing for the attention of target audiences, new prospects, and valuable influencers. The resulting competitive landscape is crowded and noisy. The author provides key insights on ways to reach our audiences and stand out from the crowd. Do you believe the challenge of capturing consumers' attention is more difficult today than it was in the past?
Absolutely! In our own daily lives, we are constantly bombarded with distractions and many brands vying for our attention. We are always navigating efforts to distract us. Some of those efforts are instantly disregarded and ignored. Others break through, resonate with us emotionally, and trigger us to offer our attention, if for only a moment. Think about the last time a brand or experience captured your attention. What made you take note? So how does the book help exhibitors overcome that challenge and break through on the trade show floor?
As exhibitors, we are always faced with brands competing for the attention of attendees. In fact, the trade show floor is one of the most competitive ecosystems. You could be right next to your competitors, but you really don't know what tactics they'll employ until you reach the show. By applying some of this book's ideas during the planning and design phase, I believe we can more effectively plant and cultivate the seeds for captivating our audiences.
Victor M. Torregroza, brand experience design program manager, global marketing and communications, Intel Corp.
In "Experiential Marketing: How to Get Customers to Sense, Feel, Think, Act, Relate to Your Company and Brands," Bernd H. Schmitt introduces readers to the "experiential marketing grid," which includes two concepts marketers must understand to be successful: Experiential Providers (ExPros) and Strategic Experiential Models (SEMs). Why did you decide to read this book in the first place?
I wanted a better understanding of the term "experiential marketing." Although I've used experiential tactics at many of my events, I wasn't sure – from a strategic standpoint – how and when they made sense. The book helped me to understand the theory and establish a framework for when and how to use an experiential approach. It has also helped focus my thinking on how to tackle promotional campaigns while maximizing the power of experiences. How does the book apply to trade shows and events?
Events really are perfectly suited to experiential marketing techniques, and this book gives readers an understanding of how to use experiences to improve their outcomes at trade shows. It brings together all the various pieces of the marketing mix and facilitates readers' understanding of why experiences and events are so tied together. How did reading this help you improve your face-to-face marketing program?
The book was extremely helpful in providing a concrete framework and foundational knowledge of the components, theories, and reasoning behind experiential marketing. But most importantly, it gave me specific examples I could use to explain why experiential marketing is so important, and how it has been successful for many various types of organizations selling all kinds of different products. Furthermore, reading the book taught me the verbiage and terminology I needed to effectively explain to my colleagues and internal clients what experiential marketing is and why it is so effective. It transformed a somewhat esoteric concept into something tangible.
Terrence Young, CMP, trade show manager, D+H Corp.
Who Moved My Cheese?
An oldie but a goodie, "Who Moved My Cheese?" by Spencer Johnson, M.D., follows four main characters (two mice and two small people) as they work their way through a maze toward a piece of cheese – a metaphor for navigating the corporate world and being receptive to change. How is this book a relevant read for exhibit marketers?
Change happens to all of us in one way, shape, or form. And as exhibit marketers, we see change happening almost daily – shows go under new management, markets shift, and target audiences evolve. How our companies look at event marketing (especially during budget time) also changes. We need to be able to anticipate and prepare for those changes, whether planned or unplanned. And we need to be able to think on our feet and adapt to any situation, often very quickly. This book provides some thought-provoking advice on how to adapt to change on the fly, and how to react to change positively. What do you like most about the book?
It's a fun, engaging, and easy read, and it is very simple to understand. The story seems to reach down to the core of people's fear of change and provides some suggestions for moving forward. Before you know it, you'll identify with one of the characters in the book and start looking at the cheese in your own world in a whole new way. I also love the Handwriting on the Wall insert in the book that succinctly walks readers through the process of change. I have it taped to a white board in my office, and I reference it on quite a regular basis. Aside from its applications to exhibit marketing, this book seems like it would be a valuable read for anyone facing change on any professional front.
Definitely. A friend of mine recently had her company acquired by one of its competitors. Even though signs pointed to the eventual acquisition, employees kept their heads in the sand and didn't want to acknowledge that it was forthcoming. Having gone through an acquisition many years ago, I recommended this book to my friend to help her adapt to the evolving environment. She read it, made a career change as a result, and is very happy that she has finally found her cheese.
Dana L. Tilghman, CTSM, CMP, senior events planner, Minitab Inc.
Never Eat Alone
"Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferrazzi is an informative networking book that encourages readers to look at their network less as a collection of names in a Rolodex and more as an ecosystem of contacts with whom they share information and experiences. What did reading this book teach you about networking?
The book begins by addressing the reluctance many people have to actively reach out, network with, and learn from others. The author goes on to stress the importance of creating connections specifically so that you will be able to help those who need it when you see an opportunity to do so – without "keeping score." How does the author suggest that readers should think about those professional connections?
Ferrazzi does a great job explaining that networking has to be about adding value to the other party and also maintaining the relationship over time. The emphasis is on creating connections, as opposed to blindly networking just because it's considered important. What part of the book resonated with you the most?
The final section of the book provides techniques for strengthening your connection circle and marketing yourself. As Ferrazzi writes, "Each of us is now a brand." Would you say that the book is more tailored to Millennials starting out in the events industry, or veterans looking to hone their networking and relationship-building skills?
The great thing about this book is its relevance no matter where you are in your career. Ferrazzi's insights also point out how powerful conferences are when it comes to networking opportunities. That can work for us as event professionals, but it can also help us to plan engaging experiences to enable attendees to make meaningful connections. His guidance in attending conferences is as relevant to us as planners as it is to attendees: Come prepared, understand your objectives, know who you want to meet, and – most importantly – follow up.
Vanessa Schultz, CTSM, manager of events, Illumina Inc.
The Book of Business Awesome
"The Book of Business Awesome" is a look into the best practices – and abysmal failures – of sales, branding, messaging, and service. Citing real-world examples, author Scott Stratten examines companies that are stepping up and finding new ways to elevate their brands. Stratten also explores companies that took giant steps backward through poorly executed ideas. How would you describe this book in a few sentences?
This book analyzes some of the small and subtle ways that companies engage customers and potential clients, including approaches that have been highly successful and those that have proven to be epic failures. Amid all the examples, there are great tips on how customer service, clever use of social media, and first-time interactions can have long-lasting and far-reaching impacts on brand perception and customer loyalty. Does it have any direct ties to exhibit and event marketing?
Trade shows are all about using engagement, marketing, and social media to attract people to your brand. This book explores the right and wrong ways to do that. It is a great read for both exhibit managers and marketers. Did reading the book help you improve any particular components of your company's exhibit-marketing efforts?
It helped me learn how to use social media more effectively. The book includes examples of companies that have found unique ways to use social media while still being very strategic about their messaging. It gave me ideas on how I could think outside the box a little more while still remaining true to my company's brand and key messages. Is there any particular example that stood out to you?
There is a great chapter on a rib place that just went to war with a customer over social media. The restaurant tried to defend itself for providing the customer with terrible service, and it ultimately escalated into name-calling. The restaurant ended up looking worse than if it had never engaged with the customer in the first place. I use it as an example when I try to help retail outlets, employees, and booth staffers understand why we must always be polite and take potentially negative conversations offline.
Brandon Wiltshire, CTSM, marketing manager, Durabilt Windows & Doors Inc.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
"The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" can help you streamline your exhibit program. Author Marie Kondo, who has developed a cult-like following, explains how purging clutter can move you (or, in the context of exhibit marketing, your brand) toward "sparkling joy." Why would you recommend this book to professionals in the exhibit- event-marketing industry?
I'm always looking at ways to reduce clutter, and this book was recommended by a friend. So would you say that reading this book helped you tidy up?
The method Kondo teaches in the book provided me with a framework I could use to accomplish that purging. I learned that by actively seeking to reduce the volume of all the things related to my program, I could create a more efficient and, in many ways, effective approach. Who, in your opinion, should read this book?
Any experienced exhibit manager who wants to clean up an amassment of old exhibit properties, graphics, etc. Whether you're inheriting an existing program and need to take inventory before discarding unnecessary items, or you've been working in a company's exhibit-marketing department and need to de-clutter after years of hoarding, this book will help you understand that tidying up will give you a better sense of what you have to work with. What specific things did you find yourself purging as a result of tidying up?
We have discarded old properties from companies we acquired, along with outdated banners and graphics. That has opened up space in our warehouse for new flooring and booth properties. And by applying the book's methods, we now have fewer forms and checklists that are also much simpler and easier to complete.
Melanie Swanson, CTSM, CMP, tradeshow coordinator, Johnson Health Tech North America
The Accidental Creative
According to Todd Henry, author of "The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice," it isn't enough to just do your job anymore. In order to thrive in today's marketplace, all of us, regardless of our roles, have to be ready to generate brilliant ideas on demand. This book teaches effective practices that support the creative process. What attracted you to a book about creativity?
Just like writers have writer's block, I was occasionally finding myself suffering from creative block. This book grabbed my attention because I feel like we are all expected to be brilliant at a moment's notice, and I knew I would benefit from learning new tips and tricks to continue producing creative ideas and solutions. So is this book only for people with "creative block," or can anyone benefit from its teachings?
Any event manager or individual in the marketing industry will find helpful advice in this book. In the event world, it is expected that you are able to continuously produce new and inventive ideas. This book helps you understand the dynamics of being creative in the workplace and aids you in identifying and establishing a creative rhythm. How did reading the book help you improve your company's exhibit-marketing program?
I picked up this book at a time when I needed to get very creative with very few resources. I needed some inspiration and encouragement to kick-start new ideas, and that is exactly what the book did. Reading it helped me get out of my creative funk and ultimately led to the creation of our exhibit's new theme for the year. I was also able to use many of the tools and teachings in the book to establish a more inspiring environment for my internal team members. What's the primary takeaway that readers can expect to learn from this book?
The biggest lesson is that to continue to be creative in the workplace, you must be prepared. By understanding what type of work environment aids your creativity, managing your energy, and establishing a rhythm that produces focus (which is the most challenging task of all for an event manager who thrives on multitasking), your creative performance will naturally improve.
Noelle Luchino Feist, director of experiential and event marketing, Mindbody Inc.