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The Business Partner’s Perspective: Making Conference & Expo Work for You

Now that you’ve made the decision to be a part of the WMCCAI Annual Conference and Expo, you will want to get the most value from the investment. Toepfer Construction has participated in this show, consecutively for over 30 years. We exhibit at many similar trade shows as well, for other associations. Trade show success is measured by how much effort you put into it.


Prior to show day, spend significant time determining who will attend the show, and what style of communities they manage or reside. Know what needs both property managers and board members may currently have, such as current building code upgrades or changes in state laws governing multi-family communities. Be a resource for your prospective clients by being current on any new regulations or impending regulatory changes, with regard to multi-family communities.


Your 10 x 10-foot spot of real estate on the show floor is your opportunity to present your company as professional, dynamic and current. Your booth should be inviting and engaging. You should not create a physical barrier from your clients, such as a display table. Consider locating your table off to the side or use a smaller podium style table.  Staffing your booth is crucial.  Your staff should be extremely well versed in your product, and should be able to field any questions a client may have. Your booth should explain your goods or services very clearly and simply.

You have about two seconds to capture the attention of the people walking the show floor. First impressions are everything. Your booth should be bright, professional and clean.

We have found that banning food and beverages from our trade show booth has made a significant improvement to the professionalism of the booth.


Your company literature must convey the same message as your trade show booth display. Your literature needs to be professionally printed. It should be bold, concise and include photos with captions. There is little need to dissertate about your services or products in your trade show literature. It is rarely read. Clients who want to know more about you will want you to present to them in person.

Promotional items are a great way to send your customers and prospective client home with a reminder of your business. Choosing the right item can be a challenge. Try to find something unique, useful, eye catching, yet inexpensive. It’s not an insurmountable task, but one that must be taken with great consideration. Marketing companies can be useful in finding the newest or most appropriate item for your business. Clients may not take or read your literature, but they will take your promotional item.


Monday morning is always hectic as you put your booth away, and sort through your leads and interested clients. While going through your notes and cards, be sure to note all requests for additional information, requests for proposals and requests for presentations. Monday morning is certainly not the ideal time to attempt to contact your leads, they are also pouring over the information they picked up at the show. We strongly discourage the “Monday morning email blast”. Few to no people read emails blasts, and it makes you look like a pest.

With that said, being the professional that you are, you must follow through on every lead. Clients expect you to reach out to them. They are not likely to call you, when they have asked you to call them.  Responding to your clients’ needs in a professional and helpful manner, without sales pressure, has proven to be successful to us.


Teach what you know. If you have a topic that is current and informative to property managers and board members, offer to teach about it at no charge. The Conference makes a call for presentations several months prior to the show. If you would like to be a presenter, complete the application. This gives you the chance to speak before a large group, and teach about your topic. You then become the authority on your subject. Be sure to do your research and teach to your audience. Only offer to teach if you thoroughly know the material. When making a presentation, you are given the chance to distribute more detailed information and answer more specific questions than you would at your trade show booth.

If you don’t want to apply to present at the Conference & Expo, but you still have a great class to offer, use the trade show time to offer “Lunch & Learn” classes in your client’s office or in your office. You can provide the information necessary for your clients to remain current on topics pertaining to our industry.

Purchasing a booth at the WMCCAI Conference and Expo is only a portion of the investment in successfully participating in the trade show. There are many preparations to be considered to maximize your trade show experience. The key to presenting yourself in the most professional manner at the show is planning, and a positive attitude.

By Sharon Toepfer Burns

Sharon Toepfer Burns is President and CEO of Toepfer Construction Co., Inc. and has been employed there since 1981. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Technology from University of Maryland. An active member of the Chapter for over 30 years, she has supported the Chapter’s various educational and other programs. Sharon is also an experienced Disaster Management and Preparedness trainer.

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