My dad loves baseball. Even at the age of 66, he still plays slow-pitch baseball both in the summer and down south in the winter. When I was a kid, he coached me, and although I wasn’t particularly gifted and was cursed with a wild arm, I did learn some things that I still carry with me to this very day. One of the things I remember is that there are only two times you walk in baseball: before the game when you walk to the ball diamond; and after the game when you walk off the ball diamond. Nobody exemplified that kind of attitude like Pete Rose. In his rookie year, he made his impact felt by always trying his
hardest, and it earned him the nickname “Charlie Hustle.”

Companies that exhibit at trade shows could learn a thing or two from my dad and Pete Rose. I recently worked with two large and established companies. They both exhibited a real lack of hustle. The booth staff sat around and talked amongst themselves, showed up late for booth duty, and was generally unaware of their complete lack of effort.

From my experience, the younger companies just out of the start-up phase have a lot more “booth” hustle. They are lead-hungry because they know their existence depends on their ability to market themselves and to drive sales. Somewhere along the line as companies mature, they seem to forget why they are at the show. They think of themselves as veterans of trade show marketing, and they develop a sense of entitlement. Trade show crowds are fickle. You have to earn their attention and respect every single time.

Do you know what happens to the old veterans when they come to spring training overweight and out of shape? They get cut. If I were the “coach” of this particular team, I’d try and put some fire into their bellies. Motivate the booth staff so that they go out there and perform to the best of their ability.

How can you create more “hop-to-it-ness” with your booth staff? Have you ever tried holding a contest to see who gets the most lead scans? Have your people vote for the booth staff MVP of the show. How else can you reawaken their competitive spirit and get the results you desire?

Sometimes it’s not about attitude, but aptitude. It never hurts to go back to the fundamentals. Every year major league baseball teams work on conditioning and the fundamentals of the game—and yet, when was the last time your company trained the staff for a trade show? Your staff is your trade show team. It’s integral that you do what you can to bring them together, to rally them around the cause, and to instill a little hustle.