Santa's got a pop-up ... display for the trade show

The Advisory Committee's finalized the marketing plan. You've finished the design and production on the new graphic identity and are ready to jump into the rejeuvenation of the Santa Claus, Inc. brand. Your first stop? An international trade show, of course. But is your marketing team ready? Have you picked the right people to staff the booth? Do they have past experience with trade shows? Do they know how to "work the crowd"?

Many first-time exhibitors work with an experienced contractor; someone who knows how to sweat the details of working in a high-pressure and time-sensitive environment like the Javits Convention Center.

At Santa Claus, Inc., our trade show activities require special preparation. Here are some handy hints:

1) The union considers the sleigh a movable booth, and as such, additional fees will be imposed.

2) The sleigh can't be pulled by your normal reindeer - instead, you must hire union reindeer at $325 an hour. No less than 14 union reindeer at any time, minimum of 4 hours work per. Of course, only eight of them will actually be working at one time, so you have to book additional booth space for a "grazing area."

3) While other companies will be handing out pens, mousepads and stress balls, remember that the handing out of any "presents" in any form will be considered distributing, and you must apply for exemption from the event sponsors - and getting that idea by the Disney folks will be impossible.

4) Cookies and milk will no longer be left out for visitors - instead, you need to fill out a purchase request from the trade show's authorized caterer. They are $36 a dozen, and taste like sawdust (so the reindeer will like them).

5) Be careful about what promo material you bring. Any presents left unclaimed and out in the open will be inspected by police and may be destroyed. We lost 2500 Tickle Me Elmos that way last year.

6) Dress appropriately. There are many stairs, steps, and backstage hallways - you might be advised to wear comfortable shoes, based on your weight. For the Elves, this means support hose with the padded feet.

7) Commuting from the North Pole is a non-starter, even with the sleigh. Since Santa, the Chief Elf and the marketing Advisory Council will want to hit the hospitality suites every night, you will have to stay at the trade show overnight. You might consider taking a room at a local hotel. Use the code "SNTCLS" for conference rate - which is only 125% of the rack rate.

8) Look around you. Look at the guy at the workbench next to you, sewing the Strawberry Shortcake doll together. Is that elf really a "people person"? Are any of them? Consider hiring special trade show "models" who can smile for hours on end. They also get paid less than elf scale.

Thanks to Peter Shankman for his work on this!

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