I suppose having your tradeshow booth overwhelmed with visitors is a good problem to have, but if you have a small booth staff that can’t handle the number of visitors, it can be frustrating.
If you get lucky enough to face this problem, what should you do? Certainly, you want to capture contact info from as many people as you can.
Depending on the circumstances, you can approach it in a few ways. A little preparation for this will go a long way. For instance, have a couple of clipboards handy with pre-printed forms asking for just a few pertinent pieces of information such as name, phone, email and company. And if room, what do they want to talk with you about. If you’re overwhelmed with visitors, your staff can quickly hand out the clipboards and ask those that can’t stick around to leave their information behind – and be sure to ask for a business card as well. In fact, you can even say to those that hand you a business card to give a shortened version of their info on the form and make a note that they left a card. This gives you name, contact info, company and phone number without them having to write it down.
Don’t have clipboard with forms or even blank paper? You might think ahead and toss a small notebook in to the booth crate. You can at least ask the questions and write that info down.
No notebook? Ask for a card, tell the guest that you’re sorry that you’re swamped right now but that you want to get back to them soon: “Can we schedule a meeting later today or tomorrow? Or would it work better to call you when you get back to your office?”
The goal with this situation is to get contact info for as many people as possible – if they leave without you doing that, they’re likely gone for good. Grabbing a card and making a note on the card is sufficient. Even if you don’t get a chance to jot a brief note on the back, you can make a return call a few days later.
At busy shows, it’s kind of rare to have a few moments when you’re simply overwhelmed, where you just don’t have the booth staff to handle the influx of visitors. But if you can do your best to capture contact information before they leave, you have made a connection, even if it’s tentative. But it’s better than not capturing anything from them!
Magician and professional tradeshow presenter Robert Strong discusses how to draw a crowd, how he works with clients, and what makes a good opening line – and a lot more – in this enlightening interview.
Robert also shared a list of Best Booth Behaviors:
1. Remove bad behaviors: No eating, drinking, cell phones, sitting, booth huddles, etc.
2. Add good behaviors: Stand, face the aisles, smile, make eye contact, initiate conversation, etc.
3. If you are not getting rejected a hundred times an hour, you are not initiating enough conversations.
4. Have a strong opener: What do you do at your company? What is the most interesting thing you have seen at this show? What is your (companies) biggest pain point?
5. Make the current attendee you are talking with the most popular person at the show.
6. Be able to do the overview (elevator pitch) in 10 seconds, 30 seconds, and 90 seconds.
7. Understand and communicate concisely the giveaways and raffles.
8. Be able to scan badges and do it quickly.
9. Qualify leads quickly, make introductions, and end conversations quickly.
10.Have three case studies (success stories) rehearsed and ready to go.
11.When doing a demo, scale. When you see someone else starting a demo, help them scale.
12.You are on stage. High five each other, fist bump each other, enthusiastically cheer for your fellow booth staff, and let the attendees see that you really like each other and are having fun.
13.Treat the attendees exactly how you would want to be treated if you were in someone else’s booth.
14.Make a follow-up plan and take notes.
And finally, this week’s ONE GOOD THING: the Bag Man Podcast about Vice President Spiro Agnew.
When you think about it, there are several reasons why tradeshows work to reach new markets. And many reasons as to why they wouldn’t work for you.
Let’s start with why tradeshows work.
Tradeshows are organized for one very good reason: to bring buyers and sellers together under one roof for a short amount of time. It’s an extremely effective way to help both parties make connections. By setting up an exhibit at the right show – one that has hundreds or thousands of people or companies that are in the market for your product or service – you can save a ton of money when compared with trying to have face-to-face meetings with those same people at their company locations. Imagine meeting 100 people at a show over the course of three days. Then imagine the cost of traveling to 100 locations spread throughout the country (or state or world) and having the same meetings. Granted, a meeting in someone’s office is typically more relaxed than a meeting on the tradeshow floor. But other than the time and relaxation factors, it’s pretty much the same meeting! You’re determining if the prospect uses your product, is capable of making a purchase (they have the $$), and if they have the ability to make that decision for the company. It’s the same on the tradeshow floor.
Given all of that, tradeshows are the perfect structure for spreading the word about your product among a very large crowd that – again, if it’s the right show – are your target market. Naturally, you’re competing against companies that may be trying to sell virtually the same product or service to the same target market. That’s where the fun starts: how do you differentiate from them, how do you approach the prospect, how do you understand their needs, how do you make them look (and feel) good?
On the flip side, given the high cost and a multitude of variables that go into planning and executing a tradeshow appearance, a lot of exhibitors have come to the conclusion that tradeshow marketing doesn’t work. For them.
You could point to a number of reasons why it doesn’t work for them. They’re at the wrong show. With the wrong exhibit. In the wrong space. With a booth staff that isn’t properly trained. Going against competitors that are way ahead of them in experience, savvy, planning, and attitude. In fact, attitude, I would argue, is one of the keys to winning vs. losing at a tradeshow. But let’s take it a step further: let’s not even use the words “winning vs. losing” because that frames it as a competition. Yes, it is, in a sense. But if you consider all tradeshows as more than that – as a learning experience – take that experience and apply it to the next round. What worked? What didn’t? Why did something work, and why did something else not work? If that’s hard to figure out, it might mean you’re too close to it. Ask someone on the outside to take a look and give an objective perspective. Buy a book or two and learn how it’s done from people that have been there before.
Don’t give up. Keep plugging away. Keep trying. It can – and will – work for you, eventually.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the main goal of all tradeshow marketing is to grow your business, right? Yes, you’re right. But that’s a general and somewhat vague-sounding goal, so it’s worth breaking it down a bit more.
The main goals for exhibiting typically fall under these categories:
Most everything you can do, whether it’s pre-show marketing, in-booth activities, or post-show follow-up, helps support these three main goals.
To support your Branding efforts, consider the following goals:
Easily recognizable exhibit that captures your brand. How do you measure this? One way would be to survey visitors as they pass through the booth to gauge their feelings on the exhibit.
A trained booth staff that knows and understands your show goals and how to properly interact with your booth visitors. This isn’t something that is easily measurable, but investing in your booth staff by hiring a professional trainer is an expense that can be measured – and I’m confident you’ll see an improvement in critical metrics as a results.
Samples given away – if a lot of people want your stuff, that’s a good indicator. Easy enough to measure.
Social media engagement. Did you get good response from the photos and videos you posted from the show floor (as well as before and after the show)? Compare post count and engagement from show to show.
When it comes to Lead Generation, the following metrics and activities can contribute to the overall success:
Making sure that your lead has concrete contact information and specific follow up details. Count leads and track trends from show to show.
Tracking the overall visitor count. Yes, this is hard to do, but with technology it’s becoming easier. By knowing the percentage of visitors that convert to leads, you have valuable information that can be used at subsequent shows.
Sales Success comes from the follow up and the tracking of the total amount of sales achieved as a direct result of a show. Here’s where it gets a little dicey. Some tradeshow leads will pay off immediately, others in the medium-term and some in the long-term. If you can attribute a sale in March of 2019, for example to a show you did in July of 2016, add the profit earned from that sale to the Return on Investment from your July 2016 show. You probably won’t automatically know this information, especially if your company is a fairly large business and goes to several shows in a year. But by tagging the prospect as someone that first came into your sales funnel at that specific July 2016 show, no matter how many follow up steps it took, if they become a new client and you can attribute the income from them to a specific show, make sure to do so.
One of my favorite newsletters comes from Bill Lampton, Ph. D., otherwise known as the BizComunication Guy. When I invited him on to the TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee several weeks ago, he offered to interview me for his weekly show as well. It was a pleasure to reciprocate. Bill is great interviewer and as you might imagine a professional communicator.
A tradeshow is a competition that puts your product side by side with other companies in the same industry you’re in. You may or may not have a more superior product, but what can clinch the deal is how you interact with your visitors during your face to face encounters.
But how can you encourage engagement with trade show visitors? Here are some important tips that can help make your next showing a more engaging one.
1. Make your booth open and inviting
People are naturally visual beings so the design of your booth will play a big role in making it inviting. Your booth has to be attractive but this does not necessarily mean that it has to be expensive as well.
What’s important is that your branding is professionally done in high quality materials. Remember that your booth is a representation of your company so if the overall feel looks sloppy or rushed, then the visitors will also assume that your standards in how you do business are not that high.
Most companies also make the mistake of using the standard booth layout of having a table at the front of their booth to display their products, with the space behind them empty or filled with clutter. This traditional layout actually blocks the visitor flow because the table is putting a barrier between you and the attendees. Instead, employ a more functional open design the next time you set up your booth. Try placing the table at the inside center area to display your products or TV screen. Stand at the front of the booth and encourage people to come in to investigate further.
This open design also allows multiple people to come in and explore even if you are still engaged with another visitor
2. Smile and talk to people
There’s nothing more discouraging than seeing people manning a booth sitting down and looking bored. Visitors will think twice before approaching you so you need to be proactive to get people in. Smiling and being cheerful will always get a positive response.
When speaking to visitors, don’t launch into a monologue of your practiced spiel, rather, try to listen to their concerns in order for you to offer what they really need.
If the traffic in your booth is low, assign one staff to go into more populated areas to invite people to participate in your booth activities. You can also network with other business owners and make it an opportunity to build business connections.
3. Use digital promotion methods
Technology has made it easier for companies to promote their events at a more practical cost while still reaching a wider audience. With 96% of business getting on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, it is a great platform to drum up interest and invite visitors to your booth. Use an event hashtag and get booth visitors tag you in their social media posts as well.
During the event, ask people to follow you on your social networks and get their email ID’s instead of the old-school business card collection method. This will make it easier for you to engage with your visitors straight away instead of waiting post-event to reach out.
Another way to take advantage of digital techniques is by providing electronic fliers or brochures instead of giving away printed paper versions that only end up being thrown away. Have a laptop or tablet ready where event attendees can sign-up or leave their email addresses. They can then receive an instant automated email with a downloadable link that contains your company’s marketing materials. This is also more cost effective than printing or giving out USB sticks because you can access your cloud storage option of choice from your laptop or tablet. There are lots of brilliant free options available like Google Drive or Dropbox.
4. Be interactive
Simply giving away fliers or dishing out long speeches about your company is not enough to encourage engagement. Host activities that require attendees’ participation like games, competitions, product demonstrations, and sampling.
Hosting a game for example will give visitors a feeling of fun which they can then associate with your brand. Make sure that the game is related to your product to amplify your brand message.
In doing product sampling, go the extra mile by not only giving out samples supermarket style. Instead, make it into a challenge so it’s more exciting!
For example, if you have a food brand like a cheese product ask visitors to craft their own sandwich creations instead of just handing out a taster. Give a prize to the best participant and place a leader board so other attendees can also be motivated to participate.
5. Give away valuable freebies
Giving out freebies is still one of the best ways to get engagement, however, gone are the days when a free branded pen or t-shirt excites trade show attendees. These traditional types of giveaways are often ignored and chances are, some visitors won’t even bother to give you a second look.
Instead of spending your money on boxes of branded keychains that will not be used, try offering a premium gift to just a limited number of attendees who really interacted with your product.
Selection can be in the form of a raffle or a contest. A bigger, more valuable prize can also stir up more interest rather than an unremarkable souvenir. This also prompts people to seek out your booth and spend more time engaging rather than just taking a free stress ball and leaving.
6. Provide a free service
Attending trade shows can be a stressful and tiring experience so one great idea is to offer a free service to visitors.
Setting up a mobile charging station or providing free dedicated Wi-Fi are just some examples that will surely get your booth awesome foot traffic. You can also offer free premium coffee, healthy snacks or shoulder massages if budget is not an issue. If you cannot afford this, something as simple as a comfortable seating space can even be inviting to tired visitors.
Once the visitors are in your space, use that opportunity to interact with them to let them know more about your product.
7. Be memorable
How to be remembered after the show is a big challenge for any exhibitor. Sadly not everyone has that bouncy personality that can draw people in. If you are not a naturally people person, think up ways on how to stand out. If it is a health & beauty event, maybe invite a social media influencer in your booth to help speak about the product.
You can also try offering valuable information by hosting educational sessions, mini-lectures or workshops every hour. For example, if you have a coffee machine company, why not invite visitors to a coffee-tasting session at your booth explaining the origin of the different coffee beans? If you have a photography company, host a free photo booth that will include a small logo of your company in the digital print. There are a lot of possibilities if you just think out of the box.
The tricks of the trade
One of the main purposes of exhibiting at a trade show is to create awareness for your product. Don’t waste the opportunity, time and money by putting everything at the last minute and turning up without a sound plan. Using these techniques will help you create a bigger impact on your next event.
Nathan Sharpe is the entrepreneur behind Biznas. He knows that you have to wear many different hats in order for your business to be a success. He helps others achieve this success by sharing everything he knows over on his blog, as well as any new lessons he learns along the way!
What is the “revitalization of the human spirit” and how does it relate to events, tradeshows and conferences? Andrew Bennettof the Bennett Performance Group joins TradeshowGuy Tim Patterson on this week’s vlog/podcast to discuss exactly that, along with many other reasons that events are thriving, and in fact, will likely never go away.
This is a guest post by Mohamed Bah of Springrates.
If you have plans to exhibit at a tradeshow any time soon, or you want to bring your newest product to the latest conference, you’re going to need a way to market your product. Doing well at a show or conference is a great way to generate early buzz and test a product out before it hits the sales floor. If you’re still not sure about how you should be showcasing your product to promote sales, we have a few suggestions on the most effective methods you can use.
1. Do Something Differently You
Absolutely everyone will tout the effectiveness of being “unique,” or doing something that no one else does to stand out of the crowd. It’s for a reason: Being unique will help you stand out, but only if you do it right.
When you’re trying to find a way to stand out of the crowd, think about the things that make your product special, or the characteristics of your brand that are unique. A marketing strategy is more effective if it’s meant specifically for you! If your brand has a more “fall” theme, then something like business cards made in the shape of rectangular-ish fall leaves would be a specifically you strategy. Someone else could copy it, but it fits you far better than it would fit them.
2. Don’t Be Afraid of the Big Bad Display
Large displays can be intimidating. This is especially true when they’re not yours, but you don’t need to have the biggest budget to have a big wow display. Maximize your airspace and do something unexpected! Bigger isn’t necessarily better, but bolder can be pretty close.
Instead of going for a massive banner or a 3D style, try eye catching colors, or upright flags. It might be a throwback to grade school, but don’t hesitate to run the proverbial underwear up the flagpole: if you’ve got something that makes your product stand out, or you’ve got a brand-specific t-shirt, make sure it’s flying high for the duration of the show. It’s a quirky way to attract attention, and it should set you apart from the crowd.
3. Rescale Your Style
People, as a general rule, love seeing things in the wrong size. Is your product too big to hold in the human hand? Shrink it down to toy size, and watch people play with it all day. Is your product more on team teensy? Scale it up to enormous, and see people gawk over how huge it is.
Things like rescaling the size of your product can also give you an opportunity to put it in context. It’s all well and good to have the full-size model next to your booth, but if you can provide a scale model of your brand’s lawnmower trundling around a standard-size yard, people are going to appreciate that a lot more than having to imagine what it might feel like. Alternatively, blowing up the size on something small can give people a better look at the little details they might not otherwise get to see.
4. Practice Proper Audience Participation
If your product is something that people can really get their hands into, why not let them? “Try before you buy” has become an increasingly popular selling tactic, and offering conference attendees and trade show goers the chance to test out something you’ve made demonstrates confidence. A bigger demonstration will also attract more attention to your booth, especially if you can work it into the schedule of main events.
This option also pairs well with the previous, and doubly so if your product is something like a game, or if you’re planning some kind of stunt for the demonstration. Getting your audience involved in the usage of your product, or creating some kind of game around how it works, will get them even more invested in what you’re doing and what you have on offer.
Event marketing is tough. Depending on where the event is held, you’re in a larger space, and you’re competing with dozens, if not hundreds, of other vendors, for a limited amount of time and attention. By focusing on what makes you great, and playing to your product’s strengths, you’ll be able to effectively draw attention and showcase and sell your product well.
Mohamed Bah handles public relations for Springrates and in his free time enjoys playing with his dog, Leo, and working on cars.
What is an INFLUENCER? To me it’s someone that gets your attention in any number of ways. It could be a video I saw. Could be a book or article or blog post. Or podcast. Or someone I know in my actual, real life as opposed to online.
These are the people whose tweets I read, whose podcasts I listen to, whose blog posts I read, whose newsletters I make sure not to miss. They write and say things that make me sit up and pay attention.
These are listed in no particular order. Some I’ve been aware of for years, others not so long. Some that were influencers ten or fifteen years ago may have popped back into my consciousness to make the list. And in a sense, it’s incomplete because it will always be incomplete. Influencers come and go. The ideas, writings and videos that catch anyone’s attention also wax and wane like the moon. But to me, these are all worth checking out:
Seth Godin: Daily blogger, host of the Akimbo podcast, speaker, author.
Mel White: VP of Business Development at Classic Exhibits. Mel and I have known each other for close to a decade and a half. His insight and knowledge of the tradeshow world, and in particular the latest in tradeshow exhibit materials and trends has always been helpful. Not to mention his crucial help in making both of my books a reality. Here’s his TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee interview.
Trade shows continue to be immensely popular within a variety of industrial spheres for a number of reasons from networking opportunities to celebrating the launch of a new product, or simply allowing brands and professionals to come together to pool their very best lines. They are also a bustling hive of people who need to make sure they keep their own ID and brand ID safe and secure at all times.
Shows and exhibitions, when run correctly, can be very safe environments and can effectively ward off potential criminal activity with minimal effort. However, it always pays to keep your own wits about you and to protect your own data, and there are plenty of ways in which personalization of various products can help to assure the safety of personnel and firms alike.
Access Granted ID Cards
It perhaps goes without saying that the primary reason for ID cards to be issued at all is to ensure that the right people have the right access to the right areas. That’s a lot of rights and a lot of sensitive areas, so it’s important to give only the correct people access cards and to make sure they are security enhanced cards.
ID cards can be manipulated if they are not secure enough and whether it’s unwanted attention or potential criminal activity, it’s a very good idea to make sure that personalised ID and cards are produced to a high-end standard. Make use of ID cards which have identification on the front to prove authorisation and are near impossible to clone. This way, not only are show staff always assured that they are handling authorised personnel, but there is no chance of such cards being copied if they are stolen or lost.
The Power of Lanyards
Lanyards are often seen as freebie material which can be used to promote certain brands and services. Beyond marketing, however, they are a great way to both protect and show off personal ID and information which can be quickly and easily checked. Personalized lanyards and otherwise, can be used to display who you are and why you request access to events and certain areas. What’s more, specifically printed lanyards with brand names and otherwise can also prove who you are working for or with – a great way to offer quick confirmation to anyone checking ID beyond the standard protocol.
The access wristband is a standard which has been around in several forms for many years now, and at trade shows, they are a great way for personalized information to be stored and displayed without thorough checks needing to be established on each and every occasion. For example, a personal wristband can be printed and offered to a show guest once they have passed all initial mandatory checks and they can then simply display their bands should they wish to gain re-entry to certain rooms or areas. This process of personalization and ID protection allows for fast verification, which is likely to be sought after at trade shows and exhibitions.
Controlling Your Access
Personalized items such as those discussed above offer plenty of power to the individual, and therefore, it is their responsibility to make sure they take care of such items at all times. Personalized ID can help improve security as it essentially makes sure that each individual takes responsibility for their own data. It can help to cut down on access checks and the time it takes for mandatory protocol to be followed, meaning a smoother event. Furthermore, it can help attendees to easily identify one another, on a different level to security benefits, so it can break the ice in terms of networking. It can also let other attendees know that you have full access rights to such an event and that you may well be an authority in your field.
Personalized access items are always recommended in a trade show setting. For the tightest control and for the most efficient checks, cards, lanyards and wristbands are essential apparel.
Tamara Blackburn is a hands-on Digital Marketer for the UK’s largest ID card company, Digital ID. Tamara has a passion for writing and specializes in creating high-quality content, mostly on topics relating to marketing, security, branding and even press releases to name a few.