The Matrix Method for Working Large Trade Shows

November 2003
by Robin Bartlett

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If you’ve ever attended a large publishing or educational trade show in the U.S. or Europe, you realize how difficult and frustrating it can be to make good use of your time and accomplish sales objectives, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the turf. You know there are people out there on the exhibit floor who are good prospects for your books, but how do you find the right ones to meet and network with? How do you allocate your time profitably? How do you make your interviews productive without getting totally exhausted by the end of the day?

I recommend using my Matrix Method for Working Large Trade Shows. The Matrix Method is a simple organizational tool designed to help you budget time wisely and focus activity on the booths and prospects that are most likely to return profitable business relationships, future sales, new partnerships, and networking prospects.

It’s not unusual for trade shows such as BEA (Book Expo America), ALA (American Library Association), AFT (American Federation of Teachers), or ATRA (American Teachers of Reading Association) to have between 900 and 1,500 exhibit booths in multiple halls with more than 20,000 attendees. I have found that taking an hour before the start of the show to prepare my matrix and plan how to work the exhibits ensures a profitable experience.

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