Write More Orders at Trade Shows by Replacing Paper with Digital Technology

This is a guest post by Sarah Leung

Looking at your trade show strategy, you may already be doing a lot of things right: a perfectly designed booth, a well-trained staff, high foot traffic, and the ability to build great rapport with customers and prospects.

You may also be part of the shrinking majority of trade show exhibitors still writing orders on paper. If this is the case, it’s likely that you’re still not getting the most out of your trade shows.

For anyone who’s ever attended a trade show, it quickly becomes apparent that they can be extremely hectic. In a sea of competition, both vendors and buyers are looking to maximize their time on the floor. Customers often have a long list of booths to visit, while exhibitors need to work quickly in order to see as many buyers as possible.

IMG_9359In this environment, the slow, tedious process of writing orders on paper can result in lost business due to queuing, distracted buyers, and smaller orders. More and more wholesale brands are realizing that this inefficiency is hurting business, and that the solution can be found in technology.

Sales order management software, for instance, allows brands to store product information, images, customer details, order history, and sales reports on a mobile device. Orders can be written with just a few taps and swipes, and sales reps see more customers on the trade show floor. Read on to learn how technology can expedite your customer interactions at trade shows and yield big results.

Building the Case For Technology At Trade Shows:

  1. You Aren’t Slowed Down by Product Catalogs and Samples

Any sales rep knows that flipping through a paper catalog and sifting through a pile of samples isn’t the optimal way to sell. It’s a time-consuming process, and it can be overwhelming for the buyer.

Technology can expedite this process in significant ways. Imagine that your entire catalog is available digitally on an iPad and organized in easy-to-navigate categories. You can browse the catalog with just a few swipes, zoom in on high-resolution product images, and add products to an order with a quick tap.

If the customer sees a physical product that they like in your display, you can scan the barcode to add it to the order. Think about how much faster (not to mention cooler) this experience will be for the customer.

  1. You Have Existing Customer Information Readily Available

If you’re writing a lot of business at trade shows with existing customers, having their information available on your digital order-writing interface is invaluable. No one likes to go through the tedium of answering questions like “What’s your shipping address?” and “Can I get your phone number?” for the umpteenth time.

By having access to contact details, shipping and payment preferences, and order history during your face-to-face meeting, you can just pull up their record, check out their past orders and preferred products, and start writing the new order.

If you’re meeting with a new customer or prospect, you can just type in the details, or snap a photo of their business card for later.

  1. You Can Duplicate Past Orders in Seconds

For a customer that simply needs to place a reorder, you can use order management technology to just pull up the past order and duplicate it. You can use the saved time to share new items from your line, and hopefully increase that order size before it’s processed.

  1. You’ll Have Accurate Inventory Information

Accurate, up-to-date inventory information is extremely valuable on the trade show floor. Customers may ask about inventory availability, and calling your back office to confirm quantities before placing an order can slow down the process.

Order management software can give reps access to inventory information in real time. Having a reality check on your inventory numbers can also allow you to sell more strategically. If you’re low on inventory for certain items, you can notify the buyer (and avoid unpleasant surprises later) or simply steer them in a different direction.

  1. You Can Automatically Apply Customer-Specific Discounts

Remembering customer specific pricing can be a major thorn in a sales rep’s side. In the craziness of a busy show, having to remember those details can be a nightmare.

With sales order management software and mobile order writing, vendors can store those customer-specific discounts, so that there’s no need to do anything more than choose products. The correct pricing will be automatically applied. If you’re negotiating with customers in real time, one-time discounts can also be added.

Ultimately, what all of these features add up to is major time savings—for both you and your customers. It’s time that can be used to have more high quality conversations with buyers, and to ultimately increase your return on investment at each and every show you attend.

Author Bio:

Sarah Leung is Content Marketing Specialist at Handshake, where she creates high-impact sales, marketing, and technology-related content for wholesale brands. When she’s not writing, she’s talking with sales reps, sales managers, and other industry professionals to source new topics of interest and further understand how Handshake has helped them increase sales and build their businesses.

Tradeshow Exhibit: Rent or Buy?

It’s an oft-asked question: Should we rent or buy a new display?

Purchasing that brand new booth might bust your budget quickly, especially if you are new to tradeshow marketing and still exploring how best to get involved. Yet renting can save money.

If you’re at the decision stage for a new booth, here are some thoughts that should help you compare buying versus renting.

  • How many times a year do you plan to exhibit?
  • How important is the function of the booth?
  • How important is the ‘look and feel’?
  • Will a rental booth provide you with the custom look you want?
  • What is your realistic budget for the project?

IMG_9477Cost: Most experts agree that if you plan to exhibit multiple times you should lean towards purchasing your display. The rule of thumb is that for each three rentals you’ll have paid for the cost of a new booth. And depending on the booth and the graphics and other elements that need to be customized, it may be that for each two times you rent you’ll have spent the same as purchasing a new booth. So if you plan to exhibit the same booth at least four or more times in a year, purchasing will likely be a better financial choice.

However, money isn’t everything, right? Renting a booth can give you some advantages that purchasing a custom booth won’t. A rental booth is usually less worry. Maybe not completely worry-free, but close, and you usually don’t have to worry about damage done during transit.

Flexibility: Renting a booth can also mean more flexibility, such as waiting longer and closer to the show before major decisions are made. Since you’re choosing a rental from a catalog, even with some customizations, the exhibit house you work with is equipped to handle them within the parameters of the rental structure. A custom booth that you’re purchasing requires more time to design and more thought and input from more people to make it work.

Renting may also work if you want a turnkey approach. If all of the handling, set-up, shipping and assorted details are too much, you can have the exhibit house organize all the details. You just show up and sell.

Renting a booth gives you the opportunity to try out a style before making the purchase. You can test the look and feel, as well as function (storage, meeting space, etc.). And when the show is over, you just ship it back and don’t have to worry about having a place to store it.

Purchasing means a longer-term commitment. Not only are you investing more money, you’re committing to a longer run with the booth, so the design has to fit your brand as well as possible. But the good thing about that is once you’ve made the decision on the look and feel for your booth, the cost-per show drops dramatically vs. the cost of renting at each show when the purchase cost is amortized over the length of ownership. You may also have some tax advantages when using funds to purchase a depreciable capitol asset. To find out for sure if this applies to you, talk to your tax expert as I don’t even play one on the internet!

Want more information? Pick up the phone and call us at 503-507-4110 or drop an email. You can also check out our rental exhibits here.

Is your booth stuck out in ‘left field’?

Earlier this month I attended Natural Products Expo West at the Anaheim Convention Center. Yes, it’s a big show with a few thousand exhibitors, and over 70,000 attendees. And it continues to grow.

I spoke with literally a few hundred exhibitors, and almost all of them said the show was ‘great,’ ‘excellent,’ ‘busy’ and so forth. I say ‘almost’ because there were a few exhibitors who felt they weren’t getting all they could or should. One exhibitor said that he felt ‘stuck out in left field of Dodger Stadium!’ and wished his small 10-foot booth could have been in a busier hall.

A very lonely booth?
A very lonely booth?

I get it. As a first or second time exhibitor at a big show, stuck in left field of Dodger Stadium, wondering where the crowd is – that’s a tough place to be.

Is there an answer to this dilemma? Depends. If you’re a first or second time exhibitor who didn’t have much money to spend, you might end up out in left field, away from the madding crowd. So even though attendance at the show was up it might not do much for you.

If you anticipate that you’ll be in this situation, here are the steps I’d suggest you take in order to alleviate a crowd shortage.

Promote, promote, promote.

Pre-show marketing is more important than ever if your booth location will prevent a bulk of the audience from casually running into your booth. This can come in many shapes and sizes (and should), but at the minimum, spend some time letting your current clients know where you are.

Email: If the show offers access to an email list of attendees, think about renting the list for a one-time email blast. If you have an internal list, make sure they know about your booth location and product or service offerings.

Prizes: In your promotional material, offer prizes or free samples to visitors. Consider offering a premium giveaway for the few that respond to a small promotion, or to those targeted distributors or potential clients.

Social media: Whether it’s done internally by one of your staffers, or you hire an agency, keep the chatter going about what’s going on in your booth, and what specials or attractions you have.

In-booth guests: Is there some tie-in with a notable author or other figure in your industry? Perhaps that means an author who’s looking to promote a new book, or a speaker who’s willing to chat and sign autographs in your booth for an hour for a fee.

Unfortunately, many exhibitors that get a poor location come away feeling that the show really didn’t do well for them, even though attendance was up and most exhibitors grabbed a lot of leads. Yet when asked what they did to promote their appearance, they don’t have much of an answer.

Having a poor, less-trafficked location can be a show killer, but it also means that the success falls upon you much more to make the best of it. The audience is there. It’s up to you to let as many of them know as possible.

Expo West 2015: Blisters, Wacky Booth Awards and Show Reflections

After 62,219 steps, a couple of achy legs and a few foot blisters in four days of Expo West, it came to me: “Tradeshows ain’t for wimps!” Certainly not if you’re walking the floor, nor if you’re an exhibitor who’s shepherding a booth (and staff) from the home office location to the show floor, through day(s) of set-up, three days of visitors, then dismantling and shipping it back. Thanks to Fitbit’s tracking device that’s 28.96 miles, give or take…

Tradeshows ain’t for wimps. I know it, and every year I say the same thing: I should have gone into training for this about six weeks ago.

Depending on whom you listen to and believe and what rumors are flying, this year’s Expo West, held at the Anaheim Convention Center, drew around 80,000 visitors, a one-third boost from last year. Or, as one exhibitor confided, a New Hope rep told her that the total attendance (attendees and exhibitors) was north of 110,000 and growth was so substantial that they were looking to demand some more space and concessions from the convention center, or within a few years it could be ‘Sayonara, Anaheim, hello Las Vegas!’

Like I said, rumors.

Flash Drives: @Tradeshowguy Exhibitor Toolkit

The @tradeshowguy Exhibitor Toolkit
The @tradeshowguy Exhibitor Toolkit

My calling card this year wasn’t a card; it was a flashdrive that contained a lotta stuff to help exhibitors.  I took six dozen and they all found a home, except for the one that stayed in the bottom of my backpack. I loved that they were quite well-received by those I offered them to: “You’re showing me how to bring home more leads, get more PR and have a better-trained booth staff? I’ve been waiting for this!” Did you get one? Would you like one? It’s available now online: download your toolkit here.

Social Media

As always, I keep abreast of happenings on the show floor via Twitter, and, increasingly, via Instagram. It’s easy to post photos to either, but from the Instagram platform, you can also post directly to Facebook and Twitter, so that makes it an easy choice to start there. Loads of exhibitors and attendees are hanging out on both platforms, and it’s easy to follow them by tracking the hashtags #expowest and #expowest2015. Hey, I got some freebies this way, and also entered a few contests that I previously would not have run across. (Hey NutraSumma, call me when I win that mountain bike, okay?)

Booth Awards

This year’s show was, as usual, quite the extravaganza. And the booths (and attendees) ranged from ghastly to elegant to stunning. Let’s hand out a few awards, shall we?

Coolest Interactive

While there were certainly a lot of companies looking to find ways to get visitors to interact with their booth, the So Delicious booth found a nice way to get people involved by ‘sharing the love’ with chalk on a large chalkboard at the back of their booth.

 

IMG_9611

IMG_9614

Most Unsubtle Header

Boomchickapop decided to go all in. I can hear the discussion now: “Hey, let’s take the name of the product, make it as big as possible and add a lot of PINK! Whaddaya say, gang?” Well, it works. It gets you to stop, take a look and see what they’re all about.

IMG_9477

Most Iconic Cut-Outs

A year or two ago, the new Pope was featured in a cut-out. I didn’t see him this year, but I did see Will Ferrell, The Queen of England and Dr. Thayer. I probably missed some others.

IMG_9451

IMG_9631

Big Ass Colorful Graphic

Natrol’s booth sat up front at the entrance to the hall, and to grab people’s attention, they installed a graphic that must have measured about 8’ x 30’. Big. Colorful. And not the only one. The booth had big ass graphics on all sides, so you couldn’t miss ‘em.

IMG_9634

IMG_9632

Biggest Coconuts

A large pair of coconuts on the back wall of Zico’s booth caught my eye and drew me in for a taste of chilled juice blend.

IMG_9638

Biggest Boobs

A tough battle between Bamboobies (the girls with the pink hair) and the giant walking boobs of milkmakers, who were promoting their product with the hashtag #hoorayforboobies, and I think the boobs from milkmakers won out.

IMG_9443

IMG_9538

Best Stairway to Heaven (or at least the second floor)

Nature’s Path showed up with a clever booth that showed a layered look from the floor to the 16 foot level, including a stairway up the middle to a private meeting area.

IMG_9352

Busiest Graphic Backwall

Not always a good award to win because people don’t often stop to read the whole damn thing; nonetheless, this one from Powercrunch was arresting.

IMG_9639

Best Iconic Brand Knockoff

While Beyond Meat will never be mistaken for McDonald’s, they did work hard to pull the look and feel of Mickey D’s into their booth to show how their meatless product compares. Nicely done!

IMG_9653

Most Elegant Look

Simplicity and function are their own reward. This was accomplished by the designers of the new booth for Portland’s Pacifica.

IMG_9486

I look forward to Expo West every year; this was my 13th consecutive year at the Anaheim gathering. It’s had astonishing growth in that time (and it was big back then!), and it appears to be anticipating even more growth in the next half-decade. The Natural Products Industry has done well of late with healthy and intriguing products, dramatic competition and an increasing market for those products.

Our company, Communication One Exhibits, has about a dozen current and former clients at Expo West this year, and we’d love to add more. Want a booth for your next show? Click here. We love making you look good, whether it’s at Expo West or any other show.

SWOT Analysis for Tradeshows

If you’ve been attending and exhibiting at tradeshows over the years, no doubt you’ve had many chances to examine what went right and what didn’t. What brought in leads and what didn’t. What opportunities were open and those that weren’t?

But unless you’ve been trained in marketing, or spent a lot time reading about marketing and the analysis of it, you may not have ever done a SWOT analysis.

What’s A SWOT analysis? The SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

A through SWOT analysis will look at internal and external factors, but even a short examination of those areas will likely gather information that you’ll find useful. For your next tradeshow, ask yourself a few questions about each area.

What are your strengths? Do you have a solid brand? Are your products received well? Does your tradeshow booth show off your brand accurately?

Weaknesses: do you have staff members that may not be the right person to represent the company on the show floor? Are your competitors showing up year after year at the show with larger booths trying to squeeze you out?

Opportunities: What areas of new business or new areas can tradeshows assist with? Do you see certain competitors downsizing or vanishing completely from the show floor? Do you find that your products are getting better reviews or responses from potential users?

Threats: Higher labor costs to set up the show. Higher shipping costs. A competitor that is launching a new competing product right across the aisle from you – and yours is still at least a year away.

Take a notepad, draw a line across the middle from top to bottom, and one from left to right and label them: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Weaknesses. Start writing down things that come to you. Go over it with your team and management to see if they can identify more for each area.

Some pieces that might fall in any of the quadrants include global markets, new products and services, the cost of money, reduced labor costs, higher exhibit costs, rising costs of raw materials or labor, government regulations, tax changes, etc.

Such an exercise can bring to light a number of things that you might not have been aware of as you prepare for another chaotic appearance at the next big show. And it might not even prompt any immediate changes. But hey, if you think about all of the various items that you wrote down and let it marinate while working the show booth and walking the floor, you will probably find yourself in a position of more understanding of the process, your competitors and how much you can control the outcome of each show. By adding to your knowledge of your own company’s business, the broader business environment, your competitors and other internal and external factors, you will be much more prepared for each coming new show.

“Why Do Exhibits Cost So Much?”

It’s not the first time I’ve heard the comment, whether directly or implied.

“Why do exhibits cost so much?”

That question comes up with potential new clients who are in a growing company and want to make a big splash at their next show, so they’re looking at getting a new custom booth.

It also comes up with companies that have been hand-crafting their booths for years, but are ready to have a better look with their brand, along with well-planned and executed storage, meeting, product display and demo areas in the booth.

But when they’re told the price of those potential exhibits, that question lingers: Why do they cost so much? At least that’s their impression. But it is true? Do exhibits really cost a lot?

It’s not a hard conclusion to come to, especially if you’re not familiar with average costs in the exhibit industry. After all, when you learn that companies can spend a quarter of a million dollars on a custom 40 x 40 tradeshow booth, you think, “I could build a heckuva house for that money and it would last a hundred years!” That exhibit might last five years, or seven or ten, depending on the company’s needs and budget and other factors. And if it does, that company has certainly gotten their money out of their investment.

031314 SEG 10x10_cAnd make no mistake; a new tradeshow booth is an investment. But with a custom booth (and even with more modular ‘off-the-shelf’ booths) a lot of different people have their hands in the creation. Just like that 4 bedroom, 2 bath house with a double garage that requires a general contractor, architect, electrician, plumber, roofer, etc., an exhibit needs a booth designer, graphic designer, production/fabrication team, marketing team and a project manager to guide the project from start to finish.

Costs add up, and typically the biggest cost is labor. Things don’t just happen by themselves. Graphics don’t magically appear; designs don’t hop out of bunny holes. Everyone on the project gets paid. It’s a good bet that when you hire that team, you get access to expertise that adds up to dozens if not hundreds of years of combined experience in design, fabrication, project management and production.

But still, you say: a 10-foot inline exhibit that can cost anywhere from five or ten to twenty thousand dollars brand new? How is that possible?

As you go through the process, you’ll be looking at custom materials, printing, design and the labor to put it all together. And chances are in the US you are hiring domestic talent, which will be higher priced than importing a pre-built exhibit from overseas that you found on the internet. Of course, you could buy a lower-cost version of the same exhibit and save ten, twenty, thirty percent or more. But what happens when something breaks down on that imported booth and you need to replace a part? It’s probably much easier to call up your exhibit house or rep and ask than it is to track down a manufacturer in China or South Korea. So now where does that savings apply? You spent less on the exhibit, but you have a short warranty (or none) and a difficult process to take care of the repair or replacement.

What if you simply can’t spend that kind of money on an exhibit? Then what? You do have several options, such as putting up a low-cost, high-impact graphic back wall, or renting an exhibit at one-third to one-half the cost of purchasing a new custom booth. Or you get creative with a minimalist approach in the space and make something else happen there that attracts visitors and generates leads.

New exhibitors looking to buy should take a look at industry averages, which will help prepare you when you go shopping. For instance, according to the Exhibit Designers & Producers Association 2012 survey, custom exhibit costs average $138 – $154.50 per square foot. So that brand new custom 30×30 booth (900 square feet) will run in the neighborhood of $124,200 – $139,050. That doesn’t mean you can’t do a 30×30 for under a hundred grand. Or course you can. It means communicating your needs and budget clearly to your exhibit house, and letting them use their experience and expertise to bring you a cool booth for your budget.

Finally, your exhibit needs to be designed and fabrication so that it can be dismantled and packed into custom-jigged crates for shipping and protection. Your house usually doesn’t need that!

All of those items – design, fabrication, graphic design and production, crating and the rest of the ball of wax – means that yes, your exhibit can end up costing “a lot.” But if you are prepared you can budget for that great exhibit and get it when you can afford it. If you need something sooner, work with an exhibit house and a limited budget to get what you need and make it fit your budget. Or invest in pieces over time so that those upgrades happen more gradually.

In any case, the more prepared you are with valid and realistic pricing information and a decent budget, the better your exhibit and the better your tradeshow marketing experience.

10 Skills Every Trade Show Event Staffer Should Have

The following is a guest article by Margaret Colebeck of Vantage Advertising LLC.

When it comes to preparing for an upcoming trade show, first impressions are everything. From trade show displays and signage to product demonstrations and presentations, the first impression your brand creates with trade show attendees sticks with them for life.

In order to create the ideal first impression for your brand, you must have a team of highly skilled and reliable trade show event staffers at your booth. But, what skills should they have? Below, we’ve listed the top ten most important skills every trade show event staffer should have. Use this list as a guideline to determine which skills are the most beneficial to your booth.

10 Important Trade Show Event Staffing Skills

  1. Tech Savvy – This is a big one! Without question, every event staffer at your booth should be knowledgeable and skilled with using technology, such as smartphones and tablets. This is most important when it comes to social media. Your booth staffers should be able to easily access your company’s social media accounts and share your social information with others. Social media, especially Twitter, is very popular for networking and lead generation at trade shows, so be sure your event staff come prepared with technology and social media skills.
  1. Strong Communication Skills – When it comes to trade show event staffing skills, your team’s ability to communicate effectively is one of the most important. Communication is the basis for everything at trade shows, so it’s important to fill your booth with event staffers that have strong communication skills. Lack of strong communications skills should never be a reason your team doesn’t meet their trade show goals.
  1. IMG_5416Listening Skills – Along with great communication skills, your team must also have great listening skills. Why? Because as important as it is to communicate your brand to attendees, it’s more important to listen to their needs so as to effectively provide a solution to their problems.
  1. Persuasion – If your event staffers can’t persuade attendees to try out your product, follow your brand on social media, or sign-up for more information, then why bring them to the trade show at all? Consider what your team’s trade show goals are and only bring team members that will be able to help achieve those goals.
  1. Multi-Tasking Skills – Trade shows are a busy place where multi-tasking it a must. Make sure your team is full of event staffers that can handle the fast-past, busy trade show environment. If the team members you select can’t multi-task at the office, they definitely won’t be able to on the trade show floor. So, don’t bring them
  1. Stamina – This skill should be a no-brainer for exhibitors that have worked trade shows in the past. Trade shows have long, draining hours the require event staffers to remain on their feet the whole time, while also keeping their personalities and moods turned on.
  1. Go-Getter Skills – It’s also important for your event staffing team to be full of people interested in achieving. Go-getters are the type of people who are motivated to approach as many attendees passing by your booth as possible. They are amazing networkers and typically have an incredible elevator speech.
  1. Flexibility – Flexibility is an important aspect of any trade show event staffing team because without flexibility a team can quickly fall apart, especially when problems arise and last minute adjustments are made.
  1. Negotiation Skills – The trade show floor is unpredictable. You never know what’s going to happen or who you’re going to run into. By having the skills to negotiate with attendees, your team will increase trade show leads and sales.
  2. Problem Solving Skills – Finally, no matter how hard your team plans for a trade show and no matter how many precautions your team takes, something will go wrong. And, when it does, your event staffers need to have the problem solving skills and patience to create an effective solution. Because as they say, the show must go on!

Margaret Colebeck is the Marketing Manager for Vantage Advertising, a nationwide event staffing company that provides exhibitors with experienced trade show models and booth talent for their events. She manages and writes educational content for their blog & social media pages in an effort to inform and inspire trade show exhibitors about trade show marketing, lead generation, event staffing, and more.

What’s in Your Exhibiting Toolkit?

When it comes to your Exhibiting Toolkit, I don’t mean the screwdrivers, masking and duct tape and scissors (although those and other items will come in handy), but what about the various bits and pieces that will help draw visitors to your booth and capture more leads?

Let’s create a short but incomplete list of some of the necessary tools you should consider having in your toolkit.

  • A Damn Good Plan
  • A Well-Trained Booth Staff
  • A Booth That Represents Your Company Brand at a Glance
  • Lead Capture Mechanism
  • Follow-up Plan

Let’s break these down a little more:

A Damn Good Plan should include what you’re going to do 6 months before the show, 3 months ahead, 2 months, a month, etc. It includes your pre-show marketing schedule, the booth details (making sure to review the booth ahead of the show with plenty of time to do any minor repairs), electrical grid if needed, shipping dates, booth staff schedules.

A Well-Trained Booth Staff is a crew that is pleasant, friendly, knowledgeable, friendly (did I say friendly?), willing to work long hours, flexible and trained. Trained in what? Booth etiquette, how to interact with visitors for maximum efficiency, lead capture knowledge and more. Your staff is your front line in a chaotic environment. If there are any weak links in this chain it will eventually show.

IMG_5636
Photo by Tradeshowguy Tim Patterson

A Booth That Represents Your Company Brand at a Glance: this often means a custom booth, but it certainly doesn’t have to. There are a lot of tradeshow booths that can be customized to fit your brand sensibilities. They also have to function well, meaning there has to be proper storage, product display and meeting areas to accommodate your company exhibiting goals.

Lead Capture Mechanism: Whether you’re writin’ those leads down on paper, or capturing them in electronic form, all of the leads should have maximum information required to confirm the next step, and nothing more. Name and address, phone number and email are often the top of the list, but ask if all of those items are absolutely necessary. What’s as important is agreeing on the next step, whether it’s a follow up call, meeting or simply sending more information. Agree on what the next step is, and when it will take place.

Follow Up Plan: How are the leads getting to the sales team back in the office for follow up? Are they being transmitted electronically back to the team each night? Are they being transported in your briefcase? Whatever the method, make sure not to leave them for someone else. Too many leads wind up in Neverland. Sticking them in an envelope and then tucking that envelope into the booth crates often mean that the next time you see them is 11 months later when you open up the crates to prepare for next year’s show! Beyond that, your sales team should be prepared to receive and follow up on the leads in a timely manner.

No doubt you can add to this list, but these are the basics. Leave any item here aside at your own risk!

Tricks of the Tradeshow: Get the Conversation Started

smiling woman greetingThis is a guest post by Ruthie Abraham of The Brand Builders.

Regardless of whether you’ve worked at dozens of trade shows around the country or whether you’re headed to your first show, coming up with a compelling way to get people to stop and see what you have to offer is always one of the greatest challenges at a show. A standard greeting normally isn’t enough to engage someone, so you need to develop a catchy opener.. Pre-plan your opener. It can be catchy, intriguing, flattering, startling, weird, clever or some combination of these, but we recommend having a few on hand and testing your pre-planned lines to see how initial attendees react. If you get a good response on one, you can continue to use it for the rest of the show and at your next exhibition.
Here, we break down 10 ways to get the conversation started in a compelling way and connect with a quality lead:

  1. Be upfront. Give me two minutes of your time to find out about how you can ___.
  2. Lead them. What is your department doing to lower your total cost of _____.
  3. Establish common ground. What do you think of our show so far?
  4. Take an indirect approach. Can I ask your opinion on something? 
  5. Get physical with a hands-on demonstration of product. Help me out with this!
  6. Show you care about client needs by asking them what problems they face. Which part of our service or product is most relevant to your needs?
  7. Draw them in with an offer, challenge or contest. Have you entered our raffle to win a free _____?
  8. Be presumptive. I see you looking at our services. Are there any features you have questions on that I can explain to you?
  9. Ask them to think about an industry problem (that your product solves). Hey! Do you know the statistic of _____?
  10. Make it open-ended. How are you familiar with our product or services?

Ruthie Abraham is the founder & President of The Brand Builders – a B2B marketing agency focused on helping companies drive results, return and revenue from their online marketing.  Their B2B Marketing Blog is a resource for executives and professionals to learn about lead generation, content marketing, strategic sales, social media, trade show marketing and more.