7 Tips from Smart Meeting Northern California Speaker Eileen McDargh for Partnering at Your Next Trade Show

Want to gain added exposure at a trade show? Smart Meeting Northern California speaker Eileen McDargh says, “don’t settle for just a banner on the stage with your company’s name.” Consider sponsoring a professional speaker and get creative about partnering. Here are some of her must-do tips:

1. Make sure the speaker is versed in your product or service. If possible and appropriate, the speaker might be able to use your company as an example during the presentation. For example, in addressing the administrators of law firms, she spoke about the importance of strategic alliances so the right work is done by the right people. The sponsor, Pitney Bowes, handled printing and mail room services in a manner that was be both efficient and cost-effective for the firm. Pitney Bowes was a great example of a strategic alliance!

2. Use the speaker for both a keynote and a break-out. Many speakers offer a daily fee which means you can schedule them for more than one session. This strategy ensures that every attendee will have the opportunity to see the speaker in action.

3. Ask the speaker to write an article that can be reprinted with your company logo and given away free at the booth. The speaker can be in the booth, autographing the article. Print the article in your company newsletter or magazine for those who could not attend.

4. Ask the speaker to sign books in your booth and greet people. Give away the speaker’s book at your booth for the first 100 people. You’ll be amazed at how much traffic will instantly show up. A variation on this theme is to split the give-away into morning and afternoon, thus generating traffic at different times of the day

5. If possible, work with the speaker to use either her core message or the speech title as part of the background in the booth. This not only reinforces a learning point, but identifies your company to all attendees.

6. Print a postcard with your company information and the speaker’s key learning points. Mail it after the trade show to everyone who attended the conference. In fact, a classy gesture is to write a cover letter about your company and why you sponsored the speaker. Mail it in a hand-addressed envelope and enclose a wallet-size card with the speaker’s main points.

7. If it fits, consider sponsoring the same speaker within your organization. So often, rank-and-file employees do not get to attend conferences. The prevailing view that “sales and marketing have all the fun” can be countered if you bring what you learned back to the corporation. And continuing education is one of the top three retention factors.

To sponsor a speaker for a one-hour session leaves value and opportunity on the table. When you match the association’s needs with your business objectives and strategically avail yourself of whatever services a professional speaker can offer, everyone becomes a winner!


Eileen McDargh, CSP,CPAE is one of top-ranked women business speakers in the United States. She’s an award-winning author, radio commentator, and serves on the Board of Directors of the National Speakers Association.

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