Exhibitor Education Manifesto

In 2012, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) issued a report on “How the Exhibit Dollar is Spent,” which stated that of the $24 billion used for U.S. trade show marketing, staff training comes in dead last at a measly 1%! (Another study reports that 31% of exhibitors provide no type of pre-show training at all!)

So as an exhibit marketing strategist and blogger, I wrote a post on “The Importance of Exhibitor Education,” thinking it was a pretty straightforward idea that exhibitors benefit from being better educated. Well, it turns out this is quite a hot topic because it sparked a firestorm of controversy online, first in an adamant rebuttal from another blogger, then a lengthy conversation on a LinkedIn forum, so I decided to compile this manifesto to explain what exhibitor education is (and isn’t) and why it matters.

If you believe your exhibit marketing could improve and you want to create the most successful exhibit team you’ve ever had, then go ahead and grab your free copy here or by clicking on the cover below (right-click or control-click to download):

Exhibitor Education Manifesto

Take about 10 minutes to read this (it’s only 14 pages) and you’ll learn the answers to these key questions and more:

  • Why is exhibitor education necessary?
  • Who needs to be educated?
  • Who benefits from education?
  • What should be included in training (and what shouldn’t)?
  • What type of education is available?
  • When should education take place?
  • How can you join the revolution?

Feel free to share this with team members, show organizers, fellow exhibitors, industry vendors, or anyone you feel could benefit from being better educated.


Once you’ve had a chance to read the manifesto, please join the conversation and tell us what thoughts this prompted. What jumped out for you … or what will you do differently as a result of reading this manifesto?

And if you’d like to discover what other free resources are available, visit this page in the Exhibit Marketers Café.


Marlys Arnold
Founder & Host
Exhibit Marketers Café




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 4 reviews
by Susan Ratliff on Exhibitor Education Manifesto
The Exhibit Expert Concurs

Marlys, you have compiled a superb analysis of why exhibitors need training and I cannot agree more with your findings. As a fellow exhibit marketing trainer I am bursting with enthusiasm to share our knowledge with exhibitors around the world to lift their profits,improve their experience on the show floor and help show organizers reap the benefits. Just a little education goes a long way considering most exhibitors in my audiences as well, have never received any type of formal instruction on how to market from a booth. Thank you for the thorough report. You offer great perspectives and I too will be spreading the word on how to maximize profits and productivity at tradeshows, consumer shows and events.

Thanks, Susan! I'm glad you appreciated the Manifesto and that you're joining the cause to educate exhibitors everywhere.

If only...

I worked many a booth back in my days as a client relationship manager for a large corporation. The amount of money they spent on the physical booth, giveaways etc. was astounding and not a word about how we should perform our duties while at the exhibition or while in the booth. Of course, business etiquette and a customer/prospect focused mindset were assumed, but if we had received some of the extra training you talk about in your manifesto, we probably would have had the edge!

Thanks for sharing that perspective, Cathleen. Unfortunately, that company is not alone in making this costly mistake, even though exhibitor training is such an easy (and inexpensive) way to fix it.

by Shawn Elledge on Exhibitor Education Manifesto

I cant tell you how much I agree with your comments. I'm shocked at how many times marketers simply toss money at me for sponsorships with no marketing plan or strategy in place, let alone staff training. I'm more than glad to send people your way.

Thanks, Shawn! And yes, it is sad how often exhibitors fail to take advantage of the tools necessary to maximize their investment and then complain about all the money they spent. Sponsorships can be an amazing boost of exposure when used in the right way.

worldwide problem

Congratulations Marlys on formalising what we've all talked about for years. Exhibitors think that they know what they are doing - they dont know that they dont know! Exhibitor training is essential in improving exhibition results.
I will spread the word in South Africa. Exhibitor training resistance is a world-wide problem.

Thanks, Joy, for spreading this message in South Africa - Together we can change the world of exhibiting!