Magazine article Marketing

Psychology Takes the Stand

Magazine article Marketing

Psychology Takes the Stand

Article excerpt

Is it all in the mind? Techniques developed to help large companies recruit staff can also provide an insight into the minds of your exhibition visitors

Your exhibition stand is geared up, staff are primed full of information, leaflets are on hand - is there anything missing? How about psychology? These days the relevance of psychology-based models of personality types, used by companies such as IBM to select staff, is becoming acknowledged in the exhibition business.

The various models are seen to be of value not only in training exhibition stand staff, but also in communicating successfully with potential customers.

One man who has made it his business to understand and promote this relatively new approach to exhibitions is Scan Mills of Exhibition Training Services (ETS). Mills has been in the exhibition business since 1975, first in South Africa, then in the UK working for Reed Exhibitions.

"It gradually occurred to me that people were buying into exhibitions for the wrong reasons," he says, "and mostly for defensive reasons, such as competition, rather than with any particular marketing objectives in mind."

It was to this end that Mills set up his own company, training people to get the most out of exhibitions from both the planning and the stand manning perspective. Together with his partners, Richard John and Heidi Thomas, the company offers a broad range of training, from that of stand staff to person-to-person presentation skills. Montgomery's, Reed and Point Promotions have been among its exhibition clients, with Hewlett-Packard, IBM and NCR among exhibitors.

Mills is particularly enthusiastic about the stand staff training. "What we're trying to do is teach people that they have a behavioural style which makes them more or less suitable to a particular part of the staff team," he explains.

"Most importantly, we teach them to be versatile in creating a relationship with visitors to the stand and in following up leads after the exhibition."

The ETS philosophy is that people succeed in their jobs by being themselves. They've probably picked a job that suits their behavioural style and are successful by being who they are. The training does not try to change that style but aims to make people aware that there are other personality types. With awareness, people have greater choice when communicating with those other types.

In order to impart this information, Mills uses a psychological model he believes was originally created for IBM. "There are many similar models around," he says, "but this one is simple for people to work out."

Also, it is in the form of a questionnaire which the individual answers about themselves, rather than involving their assessment by other staff, as is the case with some models. Mills believes it is the individual's perception of themselves that counts.

The responses to the questionnaire (which in themselves often lead to new awareness about behaviour at work) are then plotted on a chart with two axes. One is the spontaneous/controlled axis, the other the dominant/easy-going one. Each of the four squares created by the axes is representative of a personality type, according to the model.

Answers to the questionnaire will place you in the Expressive, Amiable, Driver or Analyser quadrant. Mills is keen to stress that these behavioural styles apply to both the staff and their visitors and are applicable to almost any interpersonal situation.

The Drivers are highly dominant, ambitious, active and independent. They are good at taking the initiative, appear confident and are willing to confront others. An obvious example of a Driver is former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The Amiables, on the other hand, are very sensitive, feelings-oriented and empathetic. These people are eager to please and value relationships above all.

The Expressives are egotistical, like fun and excitement and are inclined to generalise. …

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