Author Archive

Fairs & Festivals

Written by Susan Ratliff on July 4th, 2008. Posted in alternate exhibiting opportunities, Uncategorized

All across the country there are hundreds of really fun craft fairs and festivals that take place on holidays like the 4th of July. They offer multiple opportunities for exhibit marketing and are a great way to make a living or a quick buck.  I know this because  I started a home-based business after my son was born and quit a real estate career to stay at home with him.  I learned my exhibiting skills from the trenches selling personalized children’s books at swap meets and craft fairs.  The books were made on a computer in four minutes and had the child’s name, family and friends in the story.  I would cart around the books, computer and Garrison in his playpen.  The first time I exhibited was in a lady’s backyard craft fair.  I registered late and because the yard areas were full, I got stuck out in the front driveway.  That actually turned out to be the best spot because everyone had to pass by me to get in.  Every mother or grandmother stopped by to see my baby, then ordered books.  This was perfect because it gave me time to make their books while they shopped and then they picked them up when they left. I think I made about $1000 cash in about 6 hours.  That was pretty good at the time. I loved those days learning the secrets of selling in a booth by hit and miss.  Everything I learned at that backyard marketplace about selling on the fly, decorating my table display and drawing people over to see my products formed the basis for my career in the exhibit industry.  If you are a crafter,  hold regular yard sales or drag your treasures to the swap meet every Sunday you could improve your profits and skills by studying what business owners and corporations have learned from exhibiting at tradeshows and consumer shows.  There are a few great authorities out there to study.  I am one of them, or .  The others that come to mind are Susan Friedmann,, Matt Hill, and Julia O’Connor,  Check everyone out for the latest tips and tricks to make you a better exhibitor.


Reflecting on life

Written by Susan Ratliff on July 3rd, 2008. Posted in Uncategorized

Ok, so this is not about exhibiting.  It’s 10:44 PM on July 3rd.  Thirty one years ago my younger sister died in a drunken driving accident.  Six kids in the car.  Three lived, three died.  She was 15 years old.  I called my Mom today,  as I do this time every year, to reflect on life.  You never get over the death of a child.  She still cannot look at her picture.  Tomorrow will be one year ago that my husband Carey’s Father died.  He was 83.  A Marine.  (you’re never an ex-marine)  I used to love this holiday. Now it holds new meaning.  I wanted to keep this post short so I will end with a wish:  May our soldiers be safe, thank you for your service and God Bless America. 


New Industry Magazine

Written by Susan Ratliff on July 2nd, 2008. Posted in industry news

I recently gave a seminar about attracting free publicity to attendees at SPOTLIGHT produced by Open Door Events. www.opendoorevents.  This consumer expo is for the meetings and events industry.  The exhibitors offered everything from entertainment, audio visual, party supplies, speakers, etc.  A wonderful variety of products and services for anyone planning a meeting, conference, party, corporate event or celebration of any kind. 

I also just heard about a wonderful new magazine for the event industry.  Southwest Meetings + Events Magazine, is an industry publication aimed specifically at the events industry in Arizona. You can sign up for your free subscription at   The first issue is set to launch in November 2008. I will be contributing my opinions to the advisory board and providing articles to the publication.  Be sure to check out their website. It has an enormous amount of information and some great blog connections.   For futher information contact the editor, Kristin Bustamante at

Susan Ratliff,



It’s a Blog-a-thon

Written by Susan Ratliff on July 1st, 2008. Posted in Uncategorized

I am excited to tell you that I will be blogging my little heart out for a while because I agreed to participate in a blogging marathon.  If that’s what it takes to kick start my posting then I’m ready.  What’s really cool is that there is a list of terrific experts, speakers and authors below who will be joining me in this effort.  We will all have something wonderful to share and I encourage you to check out all their sites for interesting, valuable viewpoints on a variety of topics.  Here they are and a taste of what they know.

Jackie Dishner, is a freelance writer and speaker with a unique value proposition.  She has two blogs and is the instagator of this event. She has this blog: BIKE WITH JACKIE. And is a week away from launching this new travel blog, The Phoenix Traveler.

I am Susan Ratliff:  I am known as The Exhibit Expert on topics of tradeshows, consumer shows and events and a speaker and author too.  This is my blog you are reading.

Andrea Beaulieu is a highly creative woman who teaches you how to find your authentic voice. She also encourages you to live your life at its best at Conspiracy of Love.

Mimi Meredith inspires you to create better lives, workplaces and communities. The Blooming Blog helps spread her message.

Beth Terry is a maverick in the speaking industry.  A true sharer of knowledge and an expert on employee relations and avoiding toxic people. Reach her at Corporate Cowgirl.

Vickie Mullins is an amazing business women and owner of Mullins Creative.  She has a staff of unbelievably talented graphic designers who can creates things like office collateral, your newsletters, and really special books. She talks about it all at her two blogs: Mullins Creative and Vickie Mullins.

Michelle May, a physician and author helps you eat for the right reason–because you’re hungry. She talks about diet and food and how consumed we are about all it at at her blog in the East Valley Tribune newspaper.

Arlene Rosenberg helps her clients achieve personal and professional rewards. Her blog, Leading Achievers, shares inspirational stories behind her work.

Stanley Bronstein is a motivational speaker who helps businesses perform at their best. Click on his name to check out his words of wisdom.

Suzanne Holman is the million dollar productive coach. She helps you achieve the millions that you deserve. Learn more at Lessons for Your Million Dollar Life.

I will have four more blogs for your review in another post. Please check them all out and let me know what you think.   We want to hear from you.

Get serious about exhibiting

Written by Susan Ratliff on June 28th, 2008. Posted in get serious about exhibiting

Last week I exhibited in a business to business expo put on by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.  This is an annual event that is held at a fancy hotel.  In a period of four hours an exhibitor can connect with over 1000 people coming by their booth.  Where else can a company get a shot at that many people in that short of a time frame?  Let’s face it, a salesperson can only drive around town and call on about 5-7 prospects during a workday, so you’d think that they would be thrilled to have access to 1000 people in four hours, right?  What kills me is how so many companies that pay for an exhibit booth show up unprepared to do business and staff the exhibit with disinterested employees.  The usually assumption is why am I pulled out of the field to do this stupid tradeshow?  Reread the information above.  It is safe to assume that 99% of everybody coming through the doors for the tradeshow will pass by your booth at least once.  Most attendees, in a show as small as that one (100-150 exhibits) will actually go around several times.  The first time will be to scope everyone out and register for the give-aways. The second time will be to go back to the companies they want to inquire about or do business with.  That’s alot of opportunity to make connections, brand yourself, get leads, sell something.  I know what you’re thinking:  How many of those 1000 people are actually interested or qualified to buy what I’m selling? Good question, but it really does not matter.  Unless you are in a retail selling show you aren’t coming away with a sale.  True in the case of the Chamber show. It’s a non-selling show.  You already know that so lead generation should be your number one goal.  Talk to one in every three people coming by and you can qualify them and determine whether to capture their contact information for followup later.  If you are smart you could bring along your appointment book and make the appointment to meet with them later, eliminating the follow up call altogether.  Don’t forget the other benefits.  One thousand people see your booth, marketing message and company name.  That’s what you get when you put an ad in the newspaper right?  You also get face to face time so your company is humanized.  Name to face action.  If they like you they will do business with you.  Attendees make an immediate judgement about your business when they look at your display too.  Those who came to the show with wrinkled vinyl banners or hand-lettered signs make a different impression than those with targeted messages, professional displays, colorful printed graphics in a neatly designed space.  Don’t forget about all the people those 1000 prospects know.  Statistics prove that attendees will tell 4-6 other people about what they saw at a show.  If you are a prominent force in your industry and your booth looks like you didn’t give a d—- then that is the image that will be relayed.  Conversly, a small business can be perceived as much stronger, bigger, successful than it actually is by having an impressive presence at a tradeshow.  That is the image that will circulate around about you.  Image is everything at a show.  Same thing with the representatives at the booth.  80% of attendees base their opinion of your company on the actions of your employees at the booth. Enough said.

P.S.  Never break down before the show closes (unless you don’t want to ever exhibit in that show again) Leaving early is disrespectful to the attendees and other exhibitors and against the rules of your exhibitor contract.  Learn how to make the show work for you and you’ll wish you could stay longer. 

For a list of upcoming Arizona tradehshows you migh want to exhibit in go to, click on the extensive resources link and look for the new shows link.  The Maricopa county home and garden show is coming August 1st. as well as the Scottsdale Chambers Showcase on September 4th.   Maybe I’ll see you there.