By Robyn Davis, Trade Show Strategy Specialist

Executive SupportOne of the biggest challenges many event professionals face is gaining support from their executive team for key initiatives. And, while some experts may suggest persistence or preparation, I think another great starting point is to simply ask a few questions of yourself. For example:

Question 1: What do you know about your executives?

Typically, one of the first exercises we go through as marketers is to understand our audience. However, many event professionals skip this step when they’re marketing themselves and their ideas internally. This is a mistake, because our internal stakeholders make decisions based on their personal preferences/priorities and decision-making processes, just like your target audience.

So, start by working to understand your executives. Then, adjust your requests accordingly. Frame each one in a way that makes the correct answer just as obvious to your executives (from their perspective) as it is to you.

Question 2: What do you know about your request (i.e. what data do you have)?

As you learn about your executives, you may discover that they’re driven by data even more than you realized. This is very common in business today and with leaders, specifically. That brings us to our next tough challenge: How do you prove something you “know” is true but have never had to prove before?

Start by identifying any data points (i.e. any statistics or comparisons) that are relevant. Whether that’s data you’ve collected personally or benchmarking data that you’ve obtained through other sources (like AEM). Then, confirm that this data supports your request and share it with your executives.

Question 3: What (other) support do you already have (or can you get) for your request?

Then, if you’re still having trouble getting approval, it’s likely you’re struggling with a credibility issue. Even if you are an impressive person (as many event professionals have to be), there are two reasons your executives may not see you that way:

  • You may not be speaking up for yourself, so they may not know you very well.
  • You may not be drawing their attention to your many accomplishments (behind the scenes). Trade show planning looks easy, but it takes a lot of hard work to make it appear that way.

To remedy this quickly, identify any outside sources who can vouch for you. If the person you choose is well-respected, their opinion will carry more weight than yours (at least until you can establish a stronger reputation for yourself).

In order to do your best work at trade shows, you need the support of your executive team. If this is something you’ve struggled with, as many event professionals do, take a step back to ask yourself the above questions. Then, make your requests with confidence. After all of the work you’ve put in, you deserve it!

Want more information?

Trade Show Strategy Specialist Robyn Davis will be hosting a free, 30-minute webinar called “10 Simple Ways to Secure Executive Support” on Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 2:30 p.m. EST, and you’re invited!

To learn more and to and register, visit

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