The upcoming Book Expo America (BEA) convention represents an
opportunity to reach thousands of potential customers in just three
days. You will increase your chances of success if you plan and
promote a prominent display that communicates your message
effectively to the largest number of attendees. Here’s some
tips on how to make your participation a success.
• Begin by deciding exactly what it is you want to
accomplish. Inexperienced exhibitors believe it is necessary to
sell enough books at each show to cover their costs of attending.
Although sales are important, you will rarely sell enough books at a
show to defray all your expenses. Instead, initiate contacts and
perform activities that will give you the best long-term return on
your investment. These include performing market research,
discovering new ideas and treads for future books, continuing your
education, networking, socializing, stimulating publicity, creating
national or international distribution, and uncovering opportunities
for special sales or foreign rights.
• Next, contact the sponsoring company
(http://bookexpo.reedexpo.com) for an exhibitor’s kit with
information on the floor layout and available locations. Choose
a space that is visible from a high-traffic zone such as an
entrance, restaurant, or autographing area. BEA also offers a Small
Press Section with more economical booth space.
• Once you know your location, create your physical
display. Attracting the attention of potential customers
wandering past your exhibit is a key to success. Your exhibit should
have one focal point, one element that will attract attention. Use
graphics and copy to encourage eye movement to your book or product.
Plan demonstrations or events that will make people stop and
• Your exhibit should be distinctive, creative, and
attention-getting. It should also be appropriate, tasteful,
clean, neat, and attractive—always projecting a first-class
image. Photographs, signs, or other elements used in the display
should look professionally prepared. Hand-printed banners or
homemade posters pinned against a backdrop will make you look
unprofessional and will not attract people passing by.
• Begin promoting your exhibit as soon as you are
assigned a booth number. Create press kits to leave in the press
room and to hand out at your exhibit. Send out mailings and
announcements inviting customers and prospects to visit your booth.
Let people know you are exhibiting, where you will be located, and
why is it of value to them to seek you out. Also place announcements
on your Web page. And several weeks before the event, arrange
appointments to meet with prospects at the show.
• Be prepared to professionally greet those who visit
your booth. If your pre-show promotion was successful, you
should draw at least 1% of the attendees to your exhibit. The
quickest way to turn these visitors away is to make them feel
unwelcome. Your prospective customers expect knowledgeable
salespeople to staff an exhibit. People working your booth must know
about your titles as well as their authors, prices, and discounts.
It will help if they memorize a 30-second descriptive sound bite for
• Get people to stop and talk with you. Do not ask
them questions that could be answered with yes or no (i.e., “Are you a buyer at a bookstore?”). People will answer in
one word and then walk away. Instead, ask open-ended questions
beginning with who, what, where, when, why, or how. For instance,
you could say, “What types of books are you looking for?”
This will make someone stop and answer you. Photograph your exhibit
when it is teeming with visitors and send one to your local
newspapers, customers, and distributors.
• Once the show is over, evaluate your experience while
the information is still fresh in your mind. Should you exhibit
again next year, and if so, what would you change? What booth
locations seemed to get the most traffic? Which displays seemed to
attract the most people? Did you see a large number of people
walking around with one particular giveaway? What was your
cost-per-inquiry and is that acceptable? What new ideas or trends
should you act upon? What new relationships did you make and what
old friendships were rekindled? If you were seeking opportunities
for special sales or foreign rights, were you successful?
Participate in BEA with a strategic plan of action. Plan your
exhibit carefully, implement your plan, and then evaluate the
relative success of your actions.
Brian Jud is a book-marketing consultant and the author of the
video program, “You’re on the Air” and its companion
guides, “Perpetual Promotion” and “It’s Show
Time.” Reach Jud at 800/562-4357 or at
|This article is from thePMA Newsletterfor April, 2000, and is reprinted with permission of Publishers Marketing Association.