Do you put on your “game face” when you’re in the booth at a tradeshow? What does that even mean? Here’s a quick look at a half dozen things to consider when it comes to “Game Day.”
Yes, we’ve heard it a hundred time: perfect is the enemy of good. But what would a perfect tradeshow experience really look like – if you could make it happen?
From your perspective – the exhibit tradeshow manager or staff member – it might look like something like this:
- Fair prices for booth space rental, material handling, shipping and other show services such as installation/dismantle, cleaning, etc.
- Getting a nearby hotel, within walking distance, at a good price.
- Twice as many leads as you had planned for and/or more sales than you anticipated.
- Tradeshow exhibit getting plenty of compliments from visitors, maybe even recognition from the show itself with some sort of award. Graphics looked terrific, booth was always clean and presentable.
All of that would be great, right? Maybe not perfect, but as close as you can get.
But let’s flip the script and ask the question: what would be a perfect tradeshow experience for your visitors? Yeah, the people that come to the show – and to your booth – to learn about new products and services and hopefully find the right one that suits them to a T.
- Immediate recognition by a booth staffer when you walk into the booth: a smile and a good opening question that engages them on a topic that is relatable to their specific situation regarding your product or service.
- The visitor would feel like a welcome guest in your booth. After all, you’ve hired the best people and trained them well, so they know how to properly welcome visitors.
- Good follow-up questions from the staffer. Perhaps even a product sample if appropriate.
- Collection of contact information: no more and no less than what is needed for a timely follow-up.
- Their visit to your booth was useful to them but didn’t end up being cut off or taking too long. After all, they have other booths they want to visit.
- The follow-up was exactly as promised: on the day and time it was planned, and it happened like it was intended, whether an in-person visit, a phone call, an email, or a follow-up piece of mail with a sample or brochure or another promised piece.
- Based on their visit, the prospect decided that your company was indeed exactly what they were looking for and feel that the business relationship is just starting and, assuming all continues to go well, will continue for years.
Now that you know what a perfect tradeshow experience might feel like from the attendees walking into your booth, what will it take to pull that off, again and again?
It’s been only a few months since Shep Hyken appeared on TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, but with his new book out next week, I wanted to have him back to talk specifically about it. The book is called “”I’ll Be Back: How to Get Customers to Come Back Again and Again.” Find it at IllBeBackBook.com.
The on-again-off-again return to events is proceeding as you might expect: with unexpected twists and turns that are keeping everyone a little off-balance.
In the past week, I’ve seen the following:
- A return to masking for the most populated counties in Nevada, which of course affects tradeshows and events in Las Vegas.
- A noticeable and stressful challenge is still with us when it comes to shipping. A recent email from our main exhibit manufacturer Classic Exhibits to its distributors outlines freight size limitations. Many tradeshow exhibit crates are 98 – 103” long, but now many freight forwarders will not accept any shipments that are not skidded or crated, and will no longer accept any shipments that are over 96” L or 96” H.
- A note just came in this afternoon from Freeman, which says that effective August 1st, Freeman will require anyone on their property or show site to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Freeman employees are also required to either show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within the previous 72 hours to be able to work.
- A Facebook page I follow had a recent post where the HIMSS Show has been canceled, but at this point, it seems to be a rumor. The show’s main page doesn’t mention any cancellation, but there are details on how they’re now requiring masks (see the above story on Nevada’s return to mask mandates), even for fully vaccinated people.
- Another one: we’re working with a client for a show in late October, and with the recent news of the past week, I point-blank asked if they were still planning to attend and move forward with a new booth project. Suffice it to say that they’re still in discussion about it and haven’t made a final decision yet (which has to be made within the next couple of weeks). Contrast that to just a couple of weeks ago where they were full speed ahead.
Yes, as Mink DeVille once sang, it’s a mixed up, shook up world (okay, they were singing about a mixed up, shook up girl, but hey, it’s about the same thing, right?)
All I can say is hang in there, in spite of the two-step-forward-one-step-back world we’re living in. We’ll make it through. I got faith in the world and in the industry.
As the tradeshow world returns to something resembling normal, it does so in fits and starts and a few bumps along the way. In this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee, Jim Wurm, Executive Director of the Exhibitor Appointed Contractor Association talks about those challenges:
This week’s ONE GOOD THING: Listen to Micky Dolenz’s new album “Dolenz Sings Nesmith” on Spotify.
One way to learn how tradeshows are progressing in this soon-to-come post-pandemic era is to walk the floor of a major show in Las Vegas and observe. If you can’t yet, the second-best thing is to talk to someone who did just that. And that’s what we’re doing on this week’s TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee. I spoke with Andy Saks of Spark Presentations, who walked the floor at last month’s World of Concrete to find out how a big tradeshow in Las Vegas dealt with the relaxed safety protocols:
Find Spark Presentations here.
This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The last season of BOSCH on Prime Video.
Tradeshows are a great place to bring in more sales. But to bring in sales and grow your company, tradeshows are also a perfect place for setting secondary and tertiary goals. Here are some you might want to consider:
Shep Hyken’s new book, “I’ll Be Back,” is still months away, but it’s not to early to talk about it, or to catch up with him on how he and his team managed their way through the pandemic. Shep always has a lot to say, and it’s good:
Learn more about Shep’s upcoming book at I’ll Be Back Book.com.
This week’s ONE GOOD THING: The Politician, a TV series on Netflix.
When you step up to a larger island booth and get away from the shorter inline configurations, your options for a private or semi-secluded conference or meeting area increase dramatically. You can go all the way from a private, enclosed space with opaque walls to more open meeting areas that, while open to the aisle, have a barrier of some sort, whether it’s a see-through wall such as a milk-plex or some arrangement of foliage or barrier that tells people “this is private.”
This topic came up recently during an initial conversation with a client who stated they wanted a private meeting area in the booth. That led to a discussion about what exactly they meant by “private.” Opaque walls? An area that is clearly delineated as a meeting area by invitation only? A second floor that would also clearly mean “invitation only”?
There are many approaches to creating a private or semi-private meeting area for you and your clients or prospects in a tradeshow exhibit, limited only by your imagination and budget. Here are a smattering of exhibits I’ve seen over the years that have various iterations of what a meeting area can look like.
If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. Famous words, no doubt, and they certainly apply to any marketing endeavor you’re undertaking. If your goal is to simply appear at a tradeshow, you don’t have much of a roadmap. It might look something like this: rent a booth space, get an exhibit (doesn’t really matter what size or what it looks like); bring a few people from the office and talk to people that stumble across your booth.
Success! Of course, since you didn’t really have much of a plan, how could you fail?
On the other hand…
If you want to talk to bring home 300 leads, that requires a longer plan and a better road map. Setting a goal – any goal – immediately puts restrictions on your map. It forces you to go in a certain direction. And the good thing is that it makes you ask questions, such as:
- How do we get enough people to our booth to collect 300 leads?
- What kinds of leads do we want?
- How do we qualify the leads?
- What information do we want?
- Do we need to do pre-show marketing to bring people to our booth? If so, what will that take?
- How many people should we have in our booth?
- How big of a booth do we need to support those people?
- What will it cost to create that exhibit?
And so you. You get the idea. Sure, you can simply set up a booth, hand out a few brochures and samples and cross your fingers, but if you really want to bring home the bacon with a bagload of new prospects, it takes more than that.
It takes a roadmap that only you can put together, based only on what’s important to you.
If you want a little help, you could do worse than picking up my book Tradeshow Success. It’s got a pretty good roadmap planning guide, chapter by chapter.
But whatever you use, if you want to get somewhere, you need a map.