Drawing a tradeshow crowd is the boiled-down essence of the reason for exhibiting at a tradeshow. With hundreds or thousands of competing tradeshow exhibits, every single one of them wants to find a way to draw the biggest crowds throughout the tradeshow. Having a crowd – and knowing what to do with it – is the best path to success in your tradeshow marketing endeavors.
Given that, let’s take a look at ways you can spend a little money and draw a crowd.
Hire a pro. Professional presenters know what they’re doing. They will put together a short presentation designed specifically to not only draw a crowd but inform and educate the crowd about your product or service.
Have an exhibit that is visually appealing and feels comfortable to walk into. Many exhibits look great but feel intimidating and will turn people away. Does your exhibit invite visitors to come in?
Do consistent pre-show marketing. Letting people know what to expect at your show is one of the keys to getting people to make a special trip to your exhibit.
Leverage your social media activity. Make sure that all posts include the show hashtag and your booth number.
Have a famous person in your exhibit. No, you can’t hire the Brad Pitts, George Clooneys or Jennifer Lawrences, but you can hire an author or speaker that is well-known in your industry to draw a crowd.
Have a well-trained and fun booth staff.
Offer food. Yes, at a food show, you won’t stand out that much. But at a non-food show, it can help draw a crowd. One exhibitor I saw years ago at a tech show made smoothies for visitors. Since it took a minute or two for each smoothie to be made, the staff had plenty of time to chat with folks in the smoothie line to determine if they were prospects or not.
Offer a unique giveaway. Promotional items are a dime a dozen, but if you are offering something useful and cool, word will get around.
And remember – once you have drawn a crowd, be sure you know what to do with them!
As an exhibitor, or someone who manages an exhibit program for a company, you have oodles of details to keep track of each and every show. This often means you don’t have time to stop and ponder the very act of exhibiting at a tradeshow. But sometimes taking time to do just such a thing is a good thing. These questions are not aimed at the logistics of your exhibit, but are pointer more towards the internal conversation you may have with yourself and how you and your staff approach the act of marketing while standing in a tradeshow booth with the intent of finding potential clients or customers.
Do you have any blind spots?
What are your hidden strengths?
Are you really focused on the things that are important?
When it comes to networking, do you push your comfort zone or do you play it safe?
How well do you take care of yourself during the few days of the show?
Does everybody on your booth staff know all of your products or services well enough to talk about them fluently?
Do you sometimes talk too much to visitors just to fill time instead of letting them talk?
Do you have three good questions to start a conversation centered on the needs your product or service fulfills?
What information do you need to determine if a visitor is a prospect or not?
Once you qualify a visitor, what precise information do you need from them to move forward?
Are you comfortable you’re doing all you can to maximize the company’s time on the tradeshow floor without doing too much and getting burned out?
Do you have a tested plan to gather all leads and get them back to the sales team in a timely manner?
I could go on and on, but the point is to have you examine your involvement in tradeshow marketing from a different perspective and see if you could find some areas to improve. What questions should you be asking yourself or your team?
A tradeshow floor sales call is something a little different than a typical sales call. Okay, it’s a lot different. Let’s compare.
With a typical call, whether in person or on the phone, a sales person will research the prospect, sometimes to the point of reviewing their LinkedIn Profile, the company, the possibility of doing business, their needs in regard to the offered service or product and maybe more. Sometimes the sales person just has an inkling that the target prospect may have a need for the product or service and they just make a call with little more to go on, figuring they’ll either uncover a need or disqualify them and remove them from a prospect list. Either approach is valid and each sales person has their own system for making contact and determining potential.
On the tradeshow floor, a sales call is something different. Not altogether different, but it is different than a typical sales call. The floor is controlled chaos with hundreds of people near your exhibit, either walking by or stopping if your exhibit has done a good job of pitching a proper message.
Once the person stops, the conversation is usually faster-paced, with an eye on qualifying or disqualifying quickly. A prepared booth staffer will have a few questions at the ready, and use them to find out if the visitor is a prospect. If they are, the next questions will determine if they’re in the market currently (or soon), if they make the buying decision and if they have the money to spend. As Richard Erschik put in in a recent interview, the five questions a staffer should have at hand are:
Do you currently use our product?
Are you considering the purchase of a product such as ours?
If so, when?
Do you make the buying decision?
Do you have the money to spend?
In a more typical sales call, where the sales person is either on the phone or in their office, the conversation is a more nuanced approach, covering agreements on the amount of time agreed upon, the agreement that if there is no need for the product that the prospect will be honest about that, and if there is a need, the two parties will agree on the specifics of the next step.
During a tradeshow floor sales call, the timing is quicker – mainly you cut to the chase. If the visitor is prospect, determine the next step. If not, politely disengage and move on to the next person.
A tradeshow floor sales call may take place dozen, maybe a hundred or more times during a day, as opposed to just a few calls in person on location, or on the phone.
Knowing what to expect and being prepared will give you a distinct advantage over your competitors who are at the show without a concise plan.
Welcome to a new year – so glad you found us online! This week’s interview on the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee features the author of a new book called “Flying Cars, Zombie Dogs and Robot Overlords.”Charles Pappas, a senior writer at Exhibitor Magazine, was kind enough to sit down with me and discuss this unique historical look at expos, exhibitions and tradeshows:
This is a guest post by Patrick Foster, ecommerce entrepreneur & coach: “tradeshow essentials for luxury ecommerce brands.”
Get ready to impress — it’s time to meet your discerning customer face-to-face. For a luxury ecommerce brand, attending a tradeshow provides a great opportunity to make some sales and do some important market research. Not only will it give you the chance to meet customers face to face and promote your products in a completely different way, but you will also be able to see what the competition are doing. As all luxury brands know, staying ahead of your competitors is essential when it comes to standing out in a lucrative marketplace…
Here are six essentials to help you make the most of your next tradeshow in the luxury ecommerce market!
1.Decide on your strategy
Having a solid strategy in place is essential for success at tradeshows: from who needs to attend, to how you’re going to market your stand and generate leads post-show — everything needs to be mapped out well in advance. If not, you run the risk of wasting valuable marketing budget on a poorly executed show. It’s also a good idea to marry your offline/online marketing and create a tradeshow landing page (or at least blog and post about it in advance).
There are hundreds of tradeshows out there for ecommerce brands to attend – so it’s really important that you do your research and choose to attend the ones that best fit your overall brand strategy. It’s a bad idea to stress your business out by attending too many, or only going to the ‘safe shows’ where you stand to learn nothing new.
In the same way that you would review any other platform before deciding to promote your ecommerce business there, the tradeshow you choose to attend needs to fit your goals and objectives. Speak to previous attendees and delegates and spend time quizzing the sales team before you sign up.
2.Plan an engaging & aesthetic stand
In the luxury market, your aesthetic says it all. Generally more understated and elegant in tone, luxury brands need to convey their heightened sense of self with a cohesive and ultimately beautiful stand. Color schemes and decorative flourishes need to highlight the more exclusive nature of what you’re offering. Look at fashion show centerpieces for inspiration.
This also means ensuring that your branding is 100% professional, and that you have a good amount of high-quality literature available for attendees to take away with them. For a luxury brand, you will want smaller print runs of high quality tokens and mementos, rather than a load of flimsy flyers. Samples and token boxes are good thing to give away to potential prospects or partners.
You also need to make sure that you have enough staff available to deal with enquiries, and that they also represent your company well by appearing smart and professional. Get your best people on the ground, including some people from sales and customer support who have firsthand product knowledge.
3.Showcase your products effectively
It’s important to take a selection of products with you to display on your stand. And ensure they are showcased and displayed in the most attractive way possible, constantly patrolling the stand to ensure that the first reaction is ‘wow’. For a luxury brand, more is probably less — so only take your big sellers with you.
You need to make sure that your tradeshow offering mirrors the images that customers (or potential customers) have seen on your website. For luxury products especially, it’s essential that they are presented in a way that reflects their superior quality – you need to make them stand out and look desirable. Think of it like dressing a set before taking a perfect photo.
4.Know your stock levels & capacity
If you’re going to actively take customer orders on your tradeshow stand, then you need to make sure that you know your stock levels or delivery capacity well in advance – just as you would monitor them when selling on your online store. Otherwise you run the risk of overselling, disappointing prospective customers and damaging your reputation as a result when you can’t fulfil orders fast enough. Luckily, most online store systems have built-in dashboards and inventory management systems to help you keep on top of everything when you’re on the go.
5.Make sure you capture data
Attending a tradeshow means one thing in particular – the opportunity to meet lots of prospective customers and business partners. In order to maximize this opportunity, you’ll need to capture the email addresses of visitors to your stand in order to build a specific mailing list for your email database. Offering incentives such as discount codes or other offers can encourage attendees to give you their details.
In order to mirror the seamless online experience that customers have when shopping online, why not capture this data via a tablet? The visitor can even enter their details themselves and the data can then be imported into a database straight away – a win-win situation!
As people spend more and more time attending tradeshows, they can become more reluctant to part with personal data. That’s fine — you don’t want unengaged people clogging up your email list anyways. Don’t get too obsessed with capturing data — it could harm your brand reputation.
6.Make sure you follow up on leads after the show
After going to all that hard work you need to ensure you follow up to qualify any potential leads. This means sending an email to customers to thank them for visiting your stand, or sending over other content that’s specific and timely. If you receive any queries back, it’s also important that you respond to these as soon as possible to ensure that you come across as a brand that gives good customer service – something that’s so important for anyone breaking into the luxury market.
Create some awesome content about the show and what you’ve learned in order to make the most of the event. Use the event as marketing collateral over the coming weeks and months.
When it comes to attending tradeshows, the most important thing to remember as a luxury ecommerce business is that your in-person offering mirrors your online offering. The two should be seamless in terms of presentation, offering, and service, in order to attract customers or attendees and drive sales as a result.
Patrick Foster, ecommerce entrepreneur & coach.
I’m Patrick Foster and I write about ecommerce and digital technology trends. I’m passionate about helping ecommerce merchants reach their audiences online. You can find my blogs, articles and resources across a variety of entrepreneurial websites aimed at digital growth.
It’s a big commitment, investing in a custom tradeshow exhibit. Maybe not as much as getting married or buying a new house, but it’s more than deciding who should accompany you to the prom. It’s a big deal – buying a new custom exhibit. If you haven’t been through the process before, or in a while, it’s not a bad idea to review the steps.
What are the pros and cons of the decision? What about budget, logistics, staff preparation and more? They’ll all be impacted by the purchase of a custom tradeshow exhibit.
Some of the pros and cons to weigh before choosing between purchasing a custom tradeshow exhibit or a more standard, modular or manufactured exhibit.
Uniqueness: A custom tradeshow exhibit means that your company will have a unique, one-of-a-kind presentation. No one else will look like (if the designer does his job!). Your designer starts with a blank slate and before doing anything on the slate they should ask a lot of questions. They should ask so many that you may wish they’d stop! But it’s all good – it means they care about creating an exhibit that you really want; one that works well for your company from many aspects: the look and feel, the branding, and the functionality.
Flexibility: A custom exhibit can be designed and fabricated form the outset to accommodate a variety of needs and intended uses. For instance, if you have an exhibit schedule that demands you exhibit in a 10×20 space in one show, a 10×20 space in another show, and a 20×20 in yet another show, your exhibit components can be designed to work in all three configurations.
Pride of Ownership: A custom exhibit will give you those intangibles: pride of ownership, unique corporate identity and a feeling that can’t be beat, from the CEO to the front-line staffers!
Other Options: Of course, you have options other than custom, especially when it comes to smaller exhibits, such as 10×10 or 10×20 inline exhibits. There is pop-up, modular, flat-panel, fabric panels, fabric back-lit walls, monitor inset options and more. There are custom hybrids that take elements of modular designs and add unique twists that help you stand out – maybe for less money than designing and fabricating a custom exhibit from scratch.
Logistics: Drayage, Shipping and Installation & Dismantle: It seems that nothing can torpedo your tradeshow marketing budget faster than logistics. Shipping, show drayage and the costs to install and dismantle your exhibit are often seen as nothing short of highway robbery. But in the tradeshow world, it’s a cost of playing the game. So, what can you do from the design and fabrication standpoint to keep these costs as low as possible? Using lightweight materials such as fabric graphics and aluminum framing can help. Knowing how to set up your own small exhibit can help you avoid having to pay an I&D company, but there are tradeoffs. You’re either paying your own crew for their time, or you’re paying the pros.
Custom Look, Function and Branding: The main reason to consider a custom exhibit is that, after all is said and done, you want a booth that looks like no other. If your company handcrafts potato chips, for example, uses biodiesel fuel, donates to charitable causes, mitigates wetlands on the site of a new factory, works a staying green by invoking heavy use of solar energy, you have a solid idea of how you want your exhibit to reflect those values as part of your brand.
Design/Fabrication: One question that pops up on occasion: is it important to have the same company that designs your booth fabricate it? Not necessarily. But having the design and the fabrication shop right next door means communication is smoother and more efficient. Some independent designers will gladly create a custom design that is guaranteed to wow your audience. But many may not have as much experience designing using specific materials that an exhibit house typically uses. They may also not have as much experience at knowing how much things cost. Having an exhibit project manager in close communication with the designer can help keep the design within budget.
Pricing: Budget is often the key element of a new exhibit project, and creating a custom exhibit will often drive the cost higher than picking something that’s more “off the shelf.” Those standard-issue exhibits will, in most cases, cost less than a similarly sized custom exhibit. But that doesn’t mean your custom exhibit has to cost an arm and a leg. Taking time to go through the process carefully helps rein in those costs. Know what your needs are, communicate those needs to your exhibit house, and make sure they are aware of your budget. Confirm all steps of the design and reviews, all the way through to fabrication.
Learning Curve: Many companies that step up from a small modular booth to a custom booth will go through a few growing pains. It’s not uncommon. They’re spending more money, they’re having to deal with higher shipping costs, I&D, and their staff now has a larger space to deal with. But ultimately, every company I’ve worked with that has gone through the process unanimously report it was well worth it. Partners, clients, prospects, and even competitors see them as bigger players in the industry. Higher respect and recognition are your due.
There is a tremendous benefit to your company when your tradeshow marketing moves to a significantly higher level. Tradeshow marketing is by far one of the most cost-effective, highly targeted methods of reaching your potential customers and maintaining strong relations with your current clients.
When I started the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee a year ago, my intent was to hold forth weekly about some aspect of the tradeshow world, mix in personal and no-tradeshow or event-related business discussion, and have the occasional guest. After a while of doing that, I decided that I needed guests more regularly – it’s much more fun and entertaining! And you learn a bunch from other people, too.
Looking back on the past year, a whole lot of interesting folks stopped by. Here they are, in no particular order):
Mike Duseberg of Magic Means Business – entertaining your tradeshow or corporate crowd.
Ashley Blalockof the Ashley Avery Agency – using hired crew and models in your tradeshow booth.
Dale Obrochta of Put a Twist on It – drawing a crowd at a tradeshow booth with entertainment.
John Halvorson of Transgroup Global Logistics – shipping and tradeshow logistics tips from a pro.
Mel White of Classic Exhibits in Portland – should you rent or purchase a new exhibit?