When I started looking through the analytics to determine the top ten 2018 TradeshowGuy blog posts, I faced somewhat of a dilemma. Many of the “most-viewed” posts of the year are not from 2018. Do I include those or not? Perhaps the best approach is to create two lists: one that includes the most-viewed, and the other narrows the list down to the most-viewed 2018-published blog posts.
Take a look – starting at Number One:
SWOT Analysis for Tradeshows. This was posted in February of 2015, but still manages to get more traffic than any other post. And interestingly, more than half of those visits come from out of the US.
While the reasons for attending a tradeshow are different from company to company, everyone has essentially the same tradeshow goals – we all want to spread awareness about our brand, make sales, and forge connections with new partners and customers.
Regardless of how top-notch your product or service or how flashy your booth, you won’t achieve any of these goals if you don’t have a steady stream of traffic. Get creative in your tradeshow approach so that no one can resist stopping by your exhibit.
Make your booth unmissable—Step No. 1 of effective tradeshow marketing: design a show-stopping, crowd-pleasing, sales-grabbing booth. Of course, how big and bold you can go varies greatly on your budget, but be sure to look around at some of the top tradeshow booth ideas to get some inspiration and learn how you can do more with less. You don’t necessarily have to have a huge and flashy environment to draw in more visitors. Simple but creative designs—turning your booth into an indoor garden, recreating the feel of an art gallery, or including interactive components—are the most successful in today’s tradeshow landscape. Anything that serves as a conversation piece will get people talking, generating some big-time buzz.
Dress your reps to impress—After your booth, the first thing attendees see is your reps. You should make sure that anyone representing your brand adheres to a strict dress code, and one that jives with your brand image. In other words, if your brand has a laid-back, youthful vibe—and those are characteristics of your target audience—then it’s okay to have your reps dress in jeans and company T-shirts. If you’re catering to a crowd of attendees in suits and dresses, it’s best to stick to the suits and dresses yourself. When visitors think they’ll be in like-minded company, they’re more likely to cozy up at your booth and connect with your team. Be sure that all representatives wear badges displaying their name and company to keep things professional.
Showcase your giveaways—A not-so-well-kept secret in the tradeshow world is that swag is everything. The fact of the matter is that registered attendees are much more likely to pass on your booth if they don’t believe they’ll get something out of it, whether it’s a new partnership or a free gift. Make your promotional giveaways part of the display so that passersby can see them from the aisle. It’s also a good idea to go name-brand with your freebies and to use them as incentives. Save your cool items, like custom Nike swag bags and YETI tumblers, for those who sign up or commit to a deal.
Promote your presence—Make sure that your existing customer base and networking circle knows that you’re exhibiting so they stop by and bring their friends. Be sure to schedule marketing emails and blast your social feeds with your exhibit location and encourage all of your followers to visit. Not only do you need to promote your own presence on social media, but you need to leverage the broader event pages and hashtags to get attendees who may not yet be engaged with your brand to look at your posts.
Host a giveaway—As we’ve already discussed, tradeshow attendees love free stuff. With that in mind, one of the best things you can do to entice visitors to your booth is to host a giveaway. Choose a desirable item—perhaps a gadget, a gift card, or a getaway—and make it a prominent feature of your display. Ask everyone who passes your booth to drop in a business card as their entry and designate a time and place for the official drawing at the end of the show. This is beneficial to you for many reasons. It draws attention to your booth, encourages visitors to stop by twice (once to enter and once to see who won), and earns you lots of new contacts and leads.
Get on the VR bandwagon—There are a few important technologies that you should be leveraging to get ahead in today’s tradeshow environment. The first is virtual reality. If it’s in your budget, do what you can to draw in customers with VR, primarily if what you’re selling is a place or an environment that can’t be recreated at the show. For example, the German airline Lufthansa drew major props when it invited tradeshow attendees to watch the world’s first 360-degree movie filmed on a Boeing 747 at a recent tradeshow—in virtual reality, of course. VR can help users visualize, learn, experience, and get hands-on training with your product without the need to get them in the door for a real-life demo.
Make your booth a getaway—What do tired, busy show-goers want more than anything? A place to chill. If you can make your show environment simultaneously high-energy—you want attendees to take action, after all—and relaxing, you can bet that visitors will come back again and again with friends. Whether it’s adding a TV, massage chairs, or a couple of phone chargers, anything you can do to make your booth feel homey and welcoming is a win. Just be careful about loafers! It’s important to keep the energy flowing rather than stagnant in a tradeshow environment.
Selling with a smile
One of the most important things you can do to draw more visitors to your tradeshow booth is to exhibit with a smile. Put your friendliest, most charismatic employees on the frontlines and train them to act as hosts and hostesses of your environment. If they’re able to make warm connections with people passing by, whether it be making eye contact and smiling or asking them a question, they’ll be able to help convert visitors to loyal customers. Be sure that your exhibit has an open and inviting feel no matter what.
Lee Becknell serves as the Senior Digital Marketing Manager for Pinnacle Promotions. Lee oversees digital marketing from the Atlanta, GA headquarters. Lee has been with Pinnacle for over six years. Lee enjoys spending time with her husband, son and golden retriever, running and taking naps.
Many exhibitors crave ideas on how to attract more visitors to their tradeshow booth. They want an attraction that makes their booth irresistible for attendees walking down the aisle.
Do you want to drive booth traffic, too? Here are 5 proven ideas you can consider:
Rather than make all their purchases over the Internet, buyers continue to go to trade shows because it allows them to see and touch real products in person. Leverage this strong advantage by demonstrating your products in your booth. Show how your product solves real problems. Have a presenter constantly demonstrating your product, and even invite attendees to try your product themselves. Just be sure to have your booth staff trained to perform the demo smoothly, especially if it’s a new product.
Games & Contests
Attendees love to play trade show games. They can have fun, win prizes, compete with colleagues, and even learn something about your products during the game. Trade show games can be selected to fit your audience and booth size. They can be designed to include your company branding and logo. You can host games that are digital or old-school analog style. Games rejuvenate attendees drained from tromping down too many aisles, so they’re ready to talk shop with you again.
When a simple giveaway isn’t enough, exhibitors are upping their game by hosting experiences in their booth. Experiences are best when they are immersive, personalized activities that emotionally connect buyers to your brand story. They engage the senses and are hands-on. Experiences that attract visitors to your trade show booth require space and staging, which means planning your exhibit design in conjunction with your activity.
Trade shows continue to remain relevant and grow in part because exhibitors have integrated technology into their exhibits. Tech-dependent attendees are never without their smart phones, tablet computers, and the Internet, so exhibitors include tech to match attendees’ higher expectations. What content works best on all that technology? Exhibitors start by showing their websites or PowerPoint presentations. Some graduate to videos or apps made just for the show. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are sought by exhibitors with the largest budgets and longer planning timelines.
Some exhibitors choose to put the “show” back into trade shows by hiring entertainers in their booth. They may be magicians, artists, dancers, celebrity lookalikes – any kind of performer that will attract visitors to your booth. The best entertainers will customize their performance to blend in your product messages.
With hundreds of exhibitors at the average show, you need an edge to get attendees to stop by. When you choose any of these 5 ideas to attract visitors to your booth, you’ll make your space, and thus your company, more interesting. Not only will attendees will be more engaged, but your booth staffers will also have more fun, too.
Samuel J. Smith is a thought leader, researcher, speaker and award-winning innovator on event technology. In 2011, BizBash Magazine added Sam to its annual innovators list. Since then, Sam has won awards from Exhibitor Magazine, IBTM World, RSVP MN, International Live Events Association and MPI for innovation in event technology. You can read more from Sam at http://www.socialpoint.io and reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This guest article on tradeshow marketing trends is courtesy of Sam Holzman of ZoomInfo.
Despite our increasingly digital world, in-person events such as tradeshows and professional events continue to rise in popularity. And, for good reason: 31% of marketers believe that events are the single most effective marketing channel, over digital advertising, content marketing and email marketing (source).
Tradeshows provide the unique opportunity for face-to-face interaction and can help marketers forge long-lasting relationships with customers and prospects. But, like any marketing tactic, tradeshow marketing is constantly evolving. And, event marketers continue to find new ways to deliver fresh and unique tradeshow experiences.
To maximize your tradeshow potential, it’s important to keep up with modern event marketing trends. For this reason, today’s blog post looks at some of the top tradeshow marketing trends in 2018. Let’s get into it!
1. Artificial intelligence.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence have become more prevalent throughout all marketing tactic– including tradeshows. AI refers to technology that can rapidly process large amounts of data and subsequently “learn” and make adjustments based on this data. AI can aid your tradeshow efforts in more ways than one. Here are a few examples:
Lead collection: AI can capture important information from attendees as they arrive at your tradeshow booth. AI fueled technology can help you organize and score tradeshow leads instantly so you don’t have to play catch-up after the event.
Personalized interaction: AI can rapidly process and analyze information so you can tailor your conversations with attendees to fit their needs. With instant insights about an attendee’s industry, company size, and more, you’ll be able to have more personalized, targeted interactions.
Generate buzz: AI won’t just help increase your efficiency at tradeshow – it will also gain the attention of attendees. When attendees see new and exciting technology, they are more likely to stop by and check out what you have to offer.
2. Creative booth designs.
More and more marketers have grown tired of traditional booth designs, and for good reason. In a crowded event hall filled with competing companies, it’s difficult to stand out with your tradeshow display– especially if your booth is indistinguishable from those on either side of it.
Fortunately, plenty of businesses have begun to think outside the box and build unique tradeshow booths. “Un-booths” is a term that’s gaining steam in 2018, as it refers to tradeshow booths that feature unconventional and interesting designs. For example, some marketers craft their booth as more of a “hangout”, complete with comfortable seating for attendees.
Remember, your booth doesn’t have to be over the top or expensive to stand out. It just needs to be creative and different.
3. Mobile event apps.
In recent years, event-specific mobile apps have become commonplace at most tradeshows and conferences. In fact, last year 86% of event planners said they would create a mobile app for their event (source)– and we only expect that number to rise.
A mobile app can dramatically improve attendee experience by providing an event guide, allowing them to schedule meetings, and offering polls and surveys to get their feedback in real-time.
If you’re still relying on business card collection and physical handouts to connect with potential buyers—you’re living in the past. Research the different mobile applications that can help you be more efficient and organized at each of your tradeshows.
4. Virtual reality.
It’s no secret that virtual reality is one of the fastest-growing trends in marketing. Virtual reality provides an immersive, multi-sensory experience through which attendees can observe your products or presentations. VR can combine visuals, sound and other elements to captivate your booth visitors and take them out of the event and into the world of your products and services.
While VR may seem like a complex technology, it has become more accessible over recent years and will continue to be a staple at tradeshows in 2018 and beyond.
5. Social media engagement.
In the past, marketers used social media to post updates about their booths for their followers who aren’t in attendance. Now, there are a ton of creative ways you can leverage social media engagement to improve the experience for both attendees and your audience at home.
One example is branded Snapchat filters, which attendees can use to take fun photographs and share them on their own accounts. And, live video streaming on Facebook and Instagram can bring followers to your event even if they are unable to attend in person.
6. Cohesive campaign themes.
Your tradeshow booth is an extension of your brand – so it’s important to tie the theme of your booth to your overall marketing strategy. More companies are creating unique themes that align with their other marketing campaigns. When you offer one cohesive message to your attendees across all channels – including tradeshows – you will strengthen your brand and offer a more cohesive experience both at the event and in your other marketing initiatives.
And there you have it, six of the biggest tradeshow marketing trends in 2018. If you have already implemented some of these strategies, you’ve likely seen firsthand how effective they can be at improving your tradeshow performance. If not, we hope this list has provided you with some ideas to take your next tradeshow to the next level!
About the Author: Sam Holzman is the Content Marketing Specialist at ZoomInfo where he writes for their B2B blog. ZoomInfo is a leading business information database that helps organizations accelerate growth and profitability. Sam regularly covers topics related to sales, marketing, and recruiting, and likes to write about sports and travel in his free time.
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.
In our webinar How Fabric Graphics Changed the Tradeshow World, Dave Brown of Optima Graphics and I discussed myriad topics regarding tradeshow graphics. We looked at new trends in materials, print capabilities and color. We went over advancements in UV printing, Latex printing and fabric printing. We talked about Tac Tac graphics, a unique one-time use graphic that can really dress up a wall, booth, elevator door or whatever. We ended with a number of questions that tradeshow marketing managers can equip themselves with when discussing new graphic options with their exhibit house.
This is a guest article by Blair Pettrey of MeetingPlay.
1.) Do One Task at a Time!
You have heard of multitasking, but have you heard of solo-tasking? Instead of trying to accomplish multiple items at once, put your full focus and attention into accomplishing one task at a time. Research shows that solo-tasking can not only result in better task efficiency and results, it can also help you get more done! (Bonus, it can even make you happier!)
2.) Prepare in Advance
Odds are, you have an annual calendar in your office, showing all of your trade shows for the year. But do you have an individual calendar for every single trade show? Having an annual calendar for each of your trade shows – with what exactly needs to be done and by what date, helps keep you on track. An easy (and economical way to do this?
Use Google calendar – set up each trade show to be a specific color- and set up every single task that you need to do for each trade show, by when, with reminders and alerts (which can also be set up in Google calendar!)
3.) Remove the Distractions
We fail to realize how easily distracted we are – until it is too late. Whether it’s the frequent notifications buzzing from your phone, the email notices showing up on your monitor, or the latest news update blaring through your television. Turn off the interruptions and focus on the task (that solo task!) at hand. You will be far more efficient– and accomplish more by being able to give your full attention.
4.) Track Your Time
If you know you only have 30 minutes to type up your next proposal, or only 15 minutes to send out an email to a potential sponsor for your trade show, commit to that amount of time and get the endeavor done. A great “pressure” is to know if your laptop only has 30 minutes of battery left, it is a perfect time to pump out that 30 minute task
5.) Utilize Chrome Extensions
If you know that you are easily distracted with growing vegetables on Farmville, or by browsing your favorite fashionista dog page on Facebook – Google Chrome (and Firefox) have multiple extensions you can install to restrict the amount of time you can spend on pages you pre-define.
Our favorite? StayFocused (for Google Chrome).
6.) Consider Outsourcing
Whether you choose Upwork or Elance or Fiverr there are several websites that have professionals who can do exactly what you are in need of – whether it is producing a video, publishing a blog post, or delivering an automated report – these freelance professionals can do it all. Just make sure you are employing someone whose first language is yours. Even though your primary language may cost a bit more – the peace of mind of knowing someone says (for example) “Trade Show Booth Design” vs. “Trade Show Designs Booths” is worth the price difference, all while still saving you critical time, at a small fraction of the cost of your worth.
By implementing these tips and suggestions trade show professionals can maximize their time, accomplish more tasks, and open up time and opportunity for further success!
Author: Blair Pettrey is the Senior Marketing Manager at MeetingPlay – a mobile event app. With over 10 years of experience in all areas of online marketing, she is committed to ‘paying it forward’ for trade show and event professionals through resourceful marketing tips and content.
Event planning is no easy task, but it’s a vital part of marketers’ jobs. Companies spend about 20 percent of their budgets on marketing for events. Plus, 67 percent of business-to-business marketers find marketing at events as one of the most effective ways to meet future clients and customers. This is your opportunity to shine as a brand at the exact moment customers are most open to new relationships and budget allocation for upcoming initiatives. Don’t let that opportunity slip away by making these easily avoidable mistakes.
Mistake #1 Being Invisible
Blending into the background is never a good idea. The whole point of attending events is to advertise, so standing out is a must. With so many others at your events, get creative to draw some attention to your booth. Don’t just show up with a white tent. Make sure to invest in one that has your logo. You can also consider adding giveaways or games to your booth to make it more interesting. Even a little music can go a long way. Finally, make sure to bring business cards so that it’s easy to swap contact information and follow through on next steps.
Mistake #2 Sending the Wrong People
Your staff represents you and your company so send team members who really know what they’re talking about, and that you would feel comfortable speaking to your best clients. If you send people who can’t speak to your brand or products, your company may appear incompetent and could hurt your image.
Mistake #3 Poor Location
It’s your job to select the perfect spot for your event. Locations depend on the nature of the gathering — you probably wouldn’t choose a small, quiet cafe for a big tech conference. The easiest way to avoid this? Aim for high-traffic areas. Put your booth near anything that could end up with a long line. You can feed off the success of free booze bars, or big swag giveaways, and infiltrate those lines to strike up conversations with everyone.
Mistake #4 Difficult Booth Setup
There’s nothing worse than having to rush through setting up a complicated booth. The simplest solution is to look into easy-up tents. Custom outdoor event tents, or even custom canopy tents for indoors, are a great answer. Not only will this take some stress out of the event, but you’ll have greater visibility with custom printed graphics.
Mistake #5 Ignoring Social Media
Social media has become vital: Eighty-four percent of event organizers promote their events on Facebook, and 61 percent use Twitter. Don’t think that because you’re attending in person, you can bypass social media. Instead, design a custom hashtag and encourage booth visitors to use it. Many events promote their own hashtags that can help advertise your tent and company. Posting photos of your booth/tent and posing for photos with other social media active attendees will give you a deeper reach into the community, so don’t be shy. Be the life of the party online and off.
Mistake #6 Underestimating Costs
Events are expensive, and not allowing wiggle room in your budget is a vital mistake. Maybe there’s an entry fee you didn’t know about, or one of your props breaks and needs replacing. Fact is, you can always have to expect the unexpected so be prepared to spend more than you planned. Plus, with event costs increasing by between 2.5 and 5 percent each year, this year’s booth will likely cost a little more than last year’s.
Mistake #7 Not Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Because 44 percent of attendees use their phones at events, it’s vital to have a mobile-friendly website. That means moving away from tiny font and photos, aiming for data that is visible, and clickable, on a Smartphone. Chances are that your booth visitors will be looking at your website to view your product line, but if your website is not mobile- friendly, you could end up losing out on sales. This is a risk, you do not want to take and must avoid at all cost.
Mistake #8 Leaving the Booth Unattended
You went through all the trouble of signing up, paying for, travelling to, setting up, and planning your day around manning the booth …. Why are you wandering around and abandoning your booth? What if you walked into Starbucks and no one was behind the counter? What if you went into Best Buy and there were no nerds in blue shirts around to help you find the giant TV you probably don’t need? Event booths are useless without you at the help.
Mistake #9 Paying Full Registration Price
Event registrations take up a big chunk of cash. But because nearly 65 percent of event planners believe early-bird discounts are a great way to promote events, by thinking ahead you can find discounted prices, leaving extra room in your budget for an outstanding booth.
Mistake #10 Forget to Follow-Through
Attending the event is only the beginning of a marketer’s work. After meeting potential customers or clients at an event, it is vital to gather their contact information. Business cards are ideal — hand out your own, too. Follow up within a week after the event, so you and your company are still fresh in their minds.
By avoiding these mistakes, your event is sure to go off without a hitch. Taking these steps can help you stand out in a large crowd of other businesses and attract more attention and new clients and customers. Avoiding these common mistakes can do wonders for your company.
Author: Miriam Couturie is the Marketing Manager at Ins’Tent Industries. She is responsible for managing the marketing department along with all tradeshows and exhibitions. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and expertise through educational content and blog posts
The following is a guest post by Tifany Scifo of Reveal Marketing Group.
Trade shows provide the perfect forum to expand your business – whether you run a multi-million dollar enterprise or a humble family business, a successful trade show can be a veritable boon to your company’s bottom line. Unfortunately, the opposite is equally true – a disastrous showing can not only give potential investors and clients the wrong idea about your company, it can have a lasting negative impact on your firm’s reputation and cling to your company like a stubborn, fetid odor.
With so much on the line, it only makes sense that you exercise due diligence and prepare your contingent of representatives before you even leave for the convention; to make absolutely certain everyone is ready to bring their “A” game – and ready to “wow” anyone who happens to saunter up to your booth.
Trade Shows: An Eye Witness Account
Last year while writing for the automotive industry, I was fortunate enough to be assigned to cover the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) event in Las Vegas. For those unfamiliar with this particular event, it is the biggest automotive event of the year – filling the expansive Las Vegas Convention Center with thousands of custom vehicles and aftermarket vendors as far as the eye can see. Big or small, each vendor had the same goal – to develop a list of qualified leads that could then be turned into a mutually beneficial business relationship.
As I walked from hall to hall, it became startlingly clear which companies were making the most out of the opportunity. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the companies with the flashiest digital displays or the ones that employed a gaggle of vapid booth babes armed with coy smiles. As I listened in on the interaction between vendor and potential client, it occurred to me that the ones that would emerge victoriously from SEMA were the ones that came prepared – lock, stock and barrel.
How to Get Your Staff Ready for “The Show”
Whether it’s your first show or tenth, there’s always an opportunity to tweak your approach to trade shows. Remember that if a strategy worked one year, it may not the next, so be sure to revisit your plan of attack and set reasonable goals. As for the staff that will be accompanying you, there are a few things they should know:
● The Marketing Strategy. It’s important your staff knows exactly what is expected of them in terms of sales goals, but be sure to take the time to expand a little further on the topic of “goals”. Give your staff some idea of the impact a successful trade show can have on the company, and take the time convey to them any key messages you’d like potential clients to walk away with.
● Your Products. Regardless as to whether or not you’ve decided to feature a single product or an entire product line, you need to invest some time reviewing them with your staff. Remind them that they will be the point of contact for a lot of new potential clients that may be unfamiliar with your company, and their product knowledge must be on
point. Take a features and benefits approach.
● Sales Floor Selling. If your staff is used to engaging clients one on one (or on the phone), remind them that selling at a trade show is a very different beast. Instruct them that they will likely be vying for a client’s attention (quite possibly within eye or earshot of a direct competitor) and that things like professional attitude, positive body language, and eye contact are all valuable tools in engaging a client. Also, take a few minutes to review some of the questions they are likely to encounter while speaking to potential leads, and ways they can answer them earnestly and intelligently.
● The Layout. While this point could certainly mean, “be sure your staff knows where the washrooms are located”, in this instance it means “know the layout of the booth”. Be sure that before the doors open that each member of your team knows where the overstock promotional items, company literature, and anything else they may need to close a sale are kept. There is nothing quite like a confused and disorganized staffer to chase away a sale.
Additionally, it would be good for your staff to know where the center’s private meeting rooms are located, should the need arise to take a client somewhere quiet to seal the deal.
Consider Hiring a Trade Show Coach
If you’re not exactly enthused at the idea of having to get your staff ready for the show, or if you simply don’t have the time, you can certainly benefit from hiring a coach. Professional trade show coaches like Susan Friedmann have carved out a niche for themselves helping companies get the most out of trade shows.
Coaches have seen what works and more importantly, what doesn’t – and have a commendable grasp on what needs to be done prior to, during, and after a show to ensure that your trade show is as profitable as it can be.
Tifany Scifo is the Creative Marketing Manager at Reveal Marketing Group Inc. She specializes in Web Design & Development, Creative Design & Direction and Tradeshows. She enjoys sharing her thoughts through blogging and social media.
This 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:
Be upfront. Give me two minutes of your time to find out about how you can ___.
Lead them. What is your department doing to lower your total cost of _____.
Establish common ground. What do you think of our show so far?
Take an indirect approach.Can I ask your opinion on something?
Get physical with a hands-on demonstration of product. Help me out with this!
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?
Draw them in with an offer, challenge or contest. Have you entered our raffle to win a free _____?
Be presumptive. I see you looking at our services. Are there any features you have questions on that I can explain to you?
Ask them to think about an industry problem (that your product solves). Hey! Do you know the statistic of _____?
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.