Need a promo item for your next tradeshow, but think it might be a waste of money because your guests will just throw it away? It doesn’t have to be that way. As in most marketing efforts, when you bring in the services of a professional your results usually improve dramatically.
Karen J. Silvers, a promotional products distributor with Lee Wayne Company, spent some time discussing promotional products marketing – and firmly believes there is no time when you should NOT be able to put together a promotion around giveaways.
So you have purchased your booth space, had your exhibit house design and build your exhibit, contracted all of your services, booked your airline flights and hotel rooms, hired your Professional Trade Show Presenter and other trade show talent, and chosen which of your employees are going to staff your booth. So now all you have to do is show up at the convention center…right? WRONG!!
The biggest reason that exhibitors have an unsuccessful show is because they just stand around and expect attendees to come to them. Trade shows have a lot going on in a condensed space, and you need to attract attendees to your booth. Here are some simple tips for a successful show:
A SMILE and a POSITIVE ATTITUDE are the best accessories you can put on in the morning!
Make sure to do PRE-SHOW MARKETING to drive attendees to your booth. The walk-bys are the icing on the cake.
You must give attendees a REASON to walk into your booth, otherwise they will just walk on by.
Make sure your PURPOSE for being at the trade show is crystal clear so that no attendee gets confused by your message.
You must WELCOME attendees into your booth and be a perfect “party host” once they are inside. It is all about the first impression!
Maintain your ENERGY LEVEL throughout the day, no matter how tired or hungry you are.
STAFF YOUR BOOTH with the employees who recognize the value of trade shows, shows up on time, will not wander away from the booth, knows the answers to the questions the attendees will ask, maintains a put-together appearance, and are not prone to losing business cards or information that will be needed back at the office.
Make sure that the staff of your booth has a UNIFORM APPEARANCE so that it is obvious to the attendees who works for your company and can answer their questions.
Don’t think that you can do it all, because you can’t. Make sure to OUTSOURCE functions to companies who represent your company image.
LISTEN to the attendees and give them exactly what they are looking for in the moment. Upselling can happen once the show is over and a relationship has been established.
Have a designated method for getting HOT LEADS to the appropriate sales person both on the show floor at back at the office. Never let an opportunity slip away due to disorganization.
Remember that you are REPRESENTING YOUR COMPANY from the minute you get to the airport in your home city to the minute you are in your car driving home. Many relationships have been started on airplanes or shuttles, in the cafeteria, or at dinner. And many more relationships have been destroyed during these same times.
And most importantly, HAVE FUN!!
Some of these tips may sound obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I approach a booth only to find one employee present, sitting with his/her back to the aisle, with a scowl on their face, hunched over their computer. These are the exhibitors that complain that they had an unsuccessful show and give trade shows a bad name.
Have a successful show!!
Presenter, Program Host, Narrator, Actress, Voiceover Artist
Have you ever been walking through a tradeshow only to be diverted by the onslaught of a loud steady hip-hop beat from a booth three rows away? It’s happened to me a few times.
Typically, if music at a booth is too loud, neighbors will complain and it won’t take long for the music volume level to drop to acceptable levels, whether voluntarily or through enforcement by show organizers.
So does all music at a show rub people the wrong way? And with thousands of exhibitors won’t low-volume music get lost in the hustle and bustle?
Perhaps, but there are ways music can be used effectively. At a recent show I was drawn to a faint but persistent reggae beat emanating from inside a small barn-like structure. Once inside I heard Bob Marley’s “Jammin'” and I was treated to a small art display that enhanced the exhibitor’s image in my mind. Of course, being a stone-cold reggae and Marley fan helped, too!
Across the floor I heard light new age music that was barely audible from ten feet away – but it sounded perfectly appropriate for the product on display.
In both cases the music was unobtrusive and supported the client’s image. If you’re going to consider music as a background for your tradeshow it should do both.
Tim Morris of Eco-Systems Sustainable Exhibits and Exhibit Design Consultants discusses his white paper “A More Sustainable Event Industry is Just Around the Corner”. Tim has spent several years looking to make the exhibit industry a more eco-friendly and greener industry.
“Of course,” you say confidently, “my tradeshow staff treats visitors great! We welcome them, find out what they want, and help them out to the best of our ability.”
But do they? Really? All the time?
I bring this up because of an email exchange I had with a guy I met on Twitter who had seen one of our company’s custom-fabricated booths at a recent show. He mentioned that the booth was great, but he left with, as he put it, ‘was not the most positive.’
Curious, I asked him to explain, which he did:
‘…as I was passing through the show floor on my way to see a client the booth caught my eye and I stopped to look. The rep approached and asked if I had heard of the company which I gently responded “No I have not.” At this she seemed offended and dis-interested in talking with me.”
Now I didn’t see the exchange so I can’t judge it other than what I was told. We don’t know what the rep’s version would be. But it does point out a glaring example of the lasting power of a first impression: months later, the negativity (even if only mild) is still the thing that sticks out in the visitor’s mind.
To me that’s an interesting story. When we discuss tradeshow marketing with out clients, we try to emphasize that while they can spend thousands on booth, travel, set-up, space rental and more, if their staff is not trained to properly handle simple encounters like that, it can all be for naught.
I tell them that their staff is the ‘front line’ and they all need to be ‘on their game’ at all times.
What would the proper response have been? I would ssuggest something along the lines of “Would you like to learn more?” or “Well, if you’re not interested feel free to tell someone about us that may be in the market for our product.” A referral is as good as any way to get a client.
Admittedly, anyone can slip. But think about this: like many games of sports, tradeshow marketing is a game of inches. If the rep had gone the extra step of asking a question or two or offering to let the visitor know a little more information, he may have left with a positive feeling instead of telling me months later about the encounter and the negative impression it left on him.
Ready for a new custom booth, but don’t know where to start? You might consider putting together an RFP (Request for Proposal) and sending it to 3 – 5 exhibit fabricators.
Whatever your approach, make sure you have an internal company discussion that addresses your booth needs: size, branding, budget, function (needs may include display tables, food serving areas, AV equipment, laptop stations, etc.), transportation (what shows will you attend?), storage, extra signage, interactive items, etc.
Since you’re creating a custom exhibit that you’ll use for years, take your time: after every show, make notes about what works and what doesn’t with your current exhibit. Document what your employees and visitors say. Hold project meetings, get staff input and keep a file.
When it’s time to issue the RFP, make it as thorough as possible. Issue the RFP to a handful of exhibit house, be upfront about how many companies you’ve invited to respond, and make sure the budget and timetable are realistic for what you want. If you can pull that off the chances of creating a fabulous exhibit has increased a hundredfold!