How to Use “The Marshmallow Principle” For Your Trade Show Success

I’ve just returned from attending this year’s National Speakers Association convention in Orlando.  What I love to do at this event is to listen to the speakers and presenters and search for universal messages that can easily apply to the trade show industry.

One of the many I heard this year, came from my friend and colleague, Joachim de Posada, CSP, who wrote the best-selling book, translated into over 20 languages, Don’t Eat The Marshmallow Yet!: The Secret to Sweet Success in Work and Life.

The book explores “The Marshmallow Principle of Success,” a concept that extols the virtues of experiencing the pain of discipline or else suffer the pain of regret.

Hearing this message struck me like a flash of the obvious.  Isn’t this what exhibitor preparation is all about?

I often end my exhibitor staff training programs with the phrase “proper, planning prevents poor performance. Taking the time, and having the discipline of pre-show planning, is for many exhibitors, a painful process. However, for those who do it, the payoff can often far exceed the effort.

Kathy Seid, one of the creators of the Minibük, took time to prepare for her first trade show, and reaped the benefits with quality leads that far exceeded her expectations.

Many of my clients come to me after they’ve suffered the pain of one or many bad shows. My question is always, “why have you waited so long?” The common answer, “we’ve been doing this for years, and thought we knew what we were doing.”  This common misconception lies at the foundation of many exhibitor experiences. Just because you’ve been doing something for years, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve been doing it right. Because the market is changing exponentially, what you found worked well in the past, often doesn’t work now. The change in what influences the buyer decision-making process, means a change in your approach to the market.

Many clients come looking for the magic bullet, or shortcuts to trade show success. The key to the magic exhibiting bullet can be found in basic planning and preparation – knowing what you want to achieve and then creating a road map to get you where you want to be.

What’s your road map to pain-free exhibiting?

Susan Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, internationally recognized exhibit marketing expert working with companies to increase their profitability at trade shows. Author: “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market,” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Target Marketing,” “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies” and many other titles. For more great information on trade show marketing strategies that work, and for a complimentary copy of “Exhibiting Success,” visit Click to download the “Riches in Niches” app.


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