Mystery Shoppers Enhance Tradeshow Performance

May 8 06:05 2007 Susan Friedmann Print This Article

An Organization’s first step to improved financial performance is to have an accurate assessment of the current exhibiting situation. This is where the mystery shopper can prove beneficial.

Everything’s perfect.  The display is beautiful,Guest Posting your team is well-trained, you’ve got fantastic giveaway items and the best pre-show promotion you’ve ever had.  This is going to be the absolute best tradeshow ever. Are you sure? You might be the last person who can answer this question honestly.  It’s not that you don’t want to -- it’s that you can’t. Let’s face it.  After you’ve spent weeks, even months, planning, preparing and practicing your exhibit routine, you’re no longer objective.  You’re too close to your work to see it as a stranger would.  This is no fault of your own. It’s human nature.  We can’t engage with our work and distance ourselves from it at the same time. Yet it is critical that our tradeshow performance be excellent.  Your organization’s financial well being depends in part of what attendees learn about your company from your exhibit. How will you know, at the end of the day, what they thought of your booth? This is where the mystery shopper comes in.  By stopping by your exhibit and doing a little covert surveillance, the mystery shopper can provide you with a critical and fair assessment of your performance.   This skilled professional will assess your booth on many levels. Was your team as polished as you thought they were? Was that clever signage really that funny? Did the giveaway items appeal or were they just so much more stuff to haul around the show floor?  The mystery shopper can tell you. Getting an objective opinion of your exhibit is one very valuable and valid reason to hire a mystery shopper.  It’s not the only one.  There’s another reason to consider hiring a mystery shopper, especially if you have a larger company with several display teams. When the cat’s away, the mouse will play. It’s an old saying, with more than a little modern truth to it.  Any time the boss is out of the office, for example, employees tend to slack off a little bit. It’s a good time to chat and surf the web.   What happens when it’s not the boss who’s away, but the employees?  If you’ve packed up your sales team and shipped them across the country to a tradeshow, how do you know they’re performing up to your standards?   We all like to hope that professionalism and responsibility will carry the day.  Employees who do a good job all the rest of the year will probably continue to do well in the tradeshow environment.  It might be a safe bet -- but do you want to take chances with your company’s reputation? If the answer to that question is no, you have a few options. The first is to go to the show yourself, and keep an eye on things.  If you can’t go, you could delegate this duty to a trusted supervisor. If that doesn’t work, or you want a wholly objective opinion, you can hire a mystery shopper.  Mystery shoppers walk the show floor, and will visit your display. Without identifying themselves, they assess your team’s performance.  Were they greeted promptly? Did your team ask qualifying questions? Was the level of professionalism and product knowledge displayed in keeping with your company’s expectations? The mystery shopper will let you know.  These professionals are not only objective, the best ones are well versed in what makes an effective tradeshow exhibit.  Simply knowing that a mystery shopper will be stopping by the booth can act as a de facto ‘cat’ for your booth staffers.  When they don’t know who the important attendee they have to impress is, all attendees become important.  That’s good news for your company! You might also opt not to let your team know about the mystery shopper. This way, the mystery shopper will get to assess the exhibit as it really is, without any special pretense or put-on behaviors. If your team is doing a good job, the mystery shopper will see that.  If things aren’t as you might wish them to be, the mystery shopper will see that too. The mystery shopper can let you know of any performance problems.  The first step to improved performance is to have an accurate assessment of the current exhibiting situation.  This assessment will allow you to identify weak areas and pinpoint performance problems -- information that’s critical to have if you want to formulate solutions. That’s what a mystery shopper can provide. From critical exhibit assessment to objective performance review, the mystery shopper provides a critical service to the exhibitor.  Everyone can benefit from having a fresh set of eyes on them, from fledgling exhibitors to the ‘old pros’.  Consider having a mystery shopper work with you on your next show.  You’ll be amazed what you can learn.

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About Article Author

Susan Friedmann
Susan Friedmann

Written by Susan A. Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, internationally recognized expert working with companies to increase their profitability at tradeshows. Author: “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market” (May 2007) and “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies.”

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