In this week’s vlog/podcast, I got a chance to learn quite a bit about something with which I’m not very familiar with: international tradeshow exhibiting. I’m guessing that a lot of us don’t get a chance for much exhibiting in Dubai, France, Spain, England, China or Japan or any of a number of countries. That’s why this week’s interview with exhibit designer and international tradeshow exhibiting expert Larry Kulchawik is such a treat. Loads of great information – and you should pick up his book if you do any international exhibiting. Check it out:
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!
Photo courtesy Ken Newman of Magnet Productions.
Earlier this week we got a chance to hear directly from magician and professional tradeshow presenter Robert Strong. One of the items that caught my attention and led to the podcast/vlog interview with Robert was his report from the tradeshow floor asking people what their opening lines were:
As you’ll see, there are a lot of ways people try to break the ice with tradeshow visitors. Not all of them work. Not all of them are effective.
Take a look and listen to the interview I did with Robert and you’ll find a way to approach this issue of how to come up with an engaging, pleasant and effective opening line.
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.
Find Robert Strong here.
Robert was kind enough to share some great material including the following posts:
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.
This is a guest post by Lee Becknell.
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.
This is a guest post by Samuel J. Smith
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.
It almost seems dumb to suggest that you should be proactive in your tradeshow booth, but with the number of relaxed and frankly lazy exhibitors I’ve seen over the years, it’s not so dumb.
I’ve seen exhibitors standing behind a table in their booth on the phone, eating lunch, talking with co-workers and more. They’re doing anything but paying attention to attendees.
And that’s just dumb. Keep in mind that tradeshows are a focused marketing opportunity where hundreds or thousands of potential clients or customers are going by your booth space. Also keep in mind these attendees are qualified: they’re in the upper-reaches of the decision-making echelon of the companies that decide to attend the show. You know, the show where your company has spent thousands of dollars to connect with those very decision-makers.
So when I see booth staff ignoring passers-by, I think “they’re letting money just walk on by. Don’t they get it?”
On the other hand, being proactive in your tradeshow booth isn’t hard. It might be slightly harder than standing there gazing idly as potential clients walk but, but not by much.
Instead, your booth staff should have a plan. They should be trained. They should understand the reason they’re there. They should know how to engage attendees in an upbeat positive way.
As our old pal Andy Saks says, you must find a good way to break the ice. Once you do that, you have control over a brief conversation. During that conversation, you’re proactively working to qualify or disqualify the attendee. Once you do that, you dig a little deeper to find out a handful of items. Start with a collection question such as “how did you get started in this industry?” It’s an innocuous question, but it gets people talking. They you proactively peel the onion by uncovering what problems they may have with their current product or service-provider.
Finally, once you’ve gathered sufficient information, close with a confirmation question to verify that you indeed understand the visitor’s situation and move on to setting up the next step before disengaging them.
Or take our old friend Richard Erschik’s approach. There are five questions you should get answered to know if the visitor is qualified:
- 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 both cases, the goal is to proactively find out if the person standing in your booth can be turned into a customer.
If you’re proactive about how to engage with tradeshow visitors, this approach can be extremely effective in uncovering leads, identifying their problems, moving them from a prospect to a customer.
Sitting on a chair eating a sandwich just won’t cut it!
What is the “revitalization of the human spirit” and how does it relate to events, tradeshows and conferences? Andrew Bennett of 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.
Also, a tradeshow tip of the week.
And this week’s ONE GOOD THING: Chris Ducker’s Youpreneur podcast, etc. Good stuff!
Selling anything, whether in a clothing store, a car dealer showroom, or a tradeshow, means in some sense you have to understand your buyer. You must have empathy for what they’re going through or the sale will be much more difficult.
When you put yourself in the shoes of your potential buyer, you feel what they feel. You understand what they understand. You know what problems they are facing. You know what it would feel like to have a solution to the problem that your product or service would provide. You must know what makes them feel good, what makes them feel hurt.
Your marketing strategy should include efforts to understand those potential clients or customers. Ask yourself these questions:
Do you really understand how they feel prior to learning about your product or service?
What is the perspective of your customer in regard to your product or service?
How do your prospects view the world?
What challenges do they face?
How do they view companies such as yours?
There are other related questions that will come up, but the goal is to see the world from their perspective as best as you can. The more you’re able to do this – and the better you’re able to communicate that understanding back to them – the higher your chances of converting them from a prospect to a client.
A recap of Natural Products Expo West from an official blogger’s point of view. Nicky Omohundro is a blogger and runs a website called Little Family Adventure, and we spoke about Expo West on this episode of TradeshowGuy Monday Morning Coffee.
This week’s ONE GOOD THING: a spreadsheet of all of the music played during the 4-year run of WKRP in Cincinnati.