Trying to decide if you should invest in a custom tradeshow exhibit? Don’t know if it’s worth the money? How about downloading our free report “9 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Custom Tradeshow Exhibit.”
You’ll find a brief comparison of the pros and cons of custom vs. pop-up or modular, as well a look at other considerations such as drayage and shipping.
Of course we all want to be noticed at a tradeshow. It’s the main reason for being there!
Whether your goal is to network, write orders, set up distributors, introduce a new product or any of a variety of other ‘business-building’ activities, being noticed is the key.
So what are some good ways to get noticed?
Naturally, if you’re an exhibitor, you can focus on your booth and any promotions that bring people to your booth. A striking graphic, a bold design or an unusual demo all contribute to being noticed.
If you’re not exhibiting, but are still hoping to draw attention to your product or service, there are a number of ways to be noticeable. Stop at booths of people you’d like to do business with. Don’t try and sell them anything on the spot; that’s not ethical (after all, they paid for the booth space, not you). But you can strike up a conversation, and direct that conversation the way you want.
One of the best ways to draw attention to yourself is by speaking at the show. If you have been in the industry even for a few years, chances are your expertise is enough to get you a speaking gig at a show somewhere. It may not be THE industry show that you’re aiming for, but any exposure is apt to be good.
If you’re not a public speaker – or not confident in your abilities at this point – you might consider joining a discussion panel. This is a great way to get some exposure as an ‘expert,’ and it will also help ease you into more prominent speaking roles. In the meantime, join Toastmasters, or hire a personal coach that can help you with your speaking skills.
Author and consultant David Meerman Scott did that early on when he wanted to promote his consulting and speaking business. Scott is the author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” which was initially released as a shortened free PDF downloadable e-book. He’s often suggested that getting on a discussion panel at a conference or tradeshow is a great way to open doors. It’s obviously worked for him: he is often hired to deliver keynotes at larger tradeshows and it’s helped him become known as an author and thought-leader in his field.
Scott is a popular blogger at Web Ink Now and offers at least four free e-books – just check the right column of his blog.
To become a speaker at a tradeshow, browse the websites of shows you’re interested in, where you’ll find the speaker requirements and submission methods. The narrower the topic of your proposed speech, and the more eye-popping the title, the better the chances that you’ll book a speaking gig.
For some reason, in the past three hours I’ve seen the phrase “…if you’re serious about…” in at least four email newsletters I subscribe to. In Jeffrey Gitomer’s “Sales Caffeine” his lead article discusses what being serious about something is all about from his perspective.
Two Internet marketers used the same phrase in regards to their question about readers’ seriousness about building an Internet business. Another email asked if I was ‘serious’ about creating a good life for myself.
It’s a fair question, and one you probably don’t think about enough.
“Of course I’m serious,” you respond. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I weren’t serious!”
Gitomer’s approach is from the sales aspect, and he covers such things as ability to deliver, desire to serve, friendliness, truth at ALL cost and more.
Much of that applies to tradeshow marketing. So, how serious are you?
Do you plan your pre-show marketing?
Do you pick your staff with an eye to having the most open and enthusiastic personalities at the show?
Do you train your staff?
Are you regularly re-examining your tradeshow booth’s marketing message to make sure it in sync with your products and your audience desire?
Do you debrief your staff each evening before turning them loose?
Do you make adjustments at the show based on your observations of visitors or the staff debriefing?
Do you have definable, measurable goals for each tradeshow?
Do you re-assess those goals based on the type of show and expected audience?
Can you crunch the numbers to come up with the ROI over the last year’s worth of shows?
Do your sales staff have real, actionable leads after each show, rated as ‘hot,’ ‘warm,’ or ‘cool?’
These questions can go on and on and break down each aspect of your tradeshow marketing, from the moment you commit to a show to the time a year later when you go back through the sales figures you’ve been tracking to see what business came out of the show.
If I may quote Jeffrey: “Serious is the intention, the intensity, and the focus that you put into your work ethic and your personal ethics.”
Serious is not having a sober or grave demeanor. You can have fun at tradeshow marketing, or sales, or whatever it is that you have chosen for your livelihood. In fact, I’d say that making as much of it “fun” as possible is important to your overall success and your mental well-being.
So…are you serious about tradeshow marketing?
(Plug: I’ve been an avid reader of Jeffrey Gitomer’s ‘Sales Caffeine’ e-zine for years…and highly recommend it – thanks for the inspiration this morning!)
1. Conferences and Break-out Sessions. Business execs find this useful. It gives insights into presentations and ideas, and helps bring you closer to people who are not there…as well as connect with ones who are.
2. Booth Promotions. Got a prize to giveaway? Regularly tweeting about stuff going on at your booth is a good way to bring visitors by, and helps remind non-attendees what kinds of things your company is doing.
3. Raves. Love a booth? Promotion? Graphic? Break-out session? Meet a cool dude/chick? Tweet out a rave. Works even better if they’re on Twitter; if so, be sure to use their handle.
4. Ask/Answer Questions. Trying to find a good restaurant or watering hole? Need an answer to an industry question? Ask and ye shall receive.
5. Engage in Conversations. Similar to #4, but perhaps on a more casual or personal level. A conversation may only be a few tweets long, but even a short one can be engaging.
6. Announcements. Got a media event? Unveiling a new product? Is there a demo or celebrity in your booth? Tweet it out and let your followers – and show followers – know.
7. Tweet-Ups. Seems every tradeshow or conference has a tweet-up of some sort. If you’re going, re-tweet the location/time. If not, do it anyway.
8. What You Are Doing? This kind of tweet can be easily overdone, but if cleverly packaged it doesn’t hurt to know what other people are doing and where. Could bring back a good response.
Of course, if you’re tweeting about the show, be sure to insert the show’s hashtag identifier so that anyone searching that tag can see your tweet. If you are at a booth, don’t forget to include the booth number.
Even though my ‘twittering’ comes and goes according to the time and inspiration available, it’s always nice to connect with other Tweeters – and see your stuff get mentioned in the national landscape.
Just arrived back this morning from a week-long golfing and historic car vacation with a buddy and found the latest edition of Exhibit Magazine on my desk. I was looking forward to this edition because I’d worked with writer Charles Pappas at the magazine on some elements. I’d originally proposed doing the article and they tentatively accepted, but then decided to expand the scope of the article and do it in house with a senior staff writer.
The article covers LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, the ‘Big Three’ of social media in 2009. And yes, Charles and his folks did a terrific job.
I’d give you a link to it BUT they don’t post current issues online, so you’ll have to check the magazine (p. 21), or wait a month for the current issue to appear on their website.
IN THE MEANTIME… speaking of Twitter, I had a chance to sit down with fellow Tweet-Man @KenNewman this week. We met up for about an hour at the Ritual Roasters coffee house in San Francisco and shot the breeze about expensive cars, selling cars, coffee roasting…and whatever other thoughts shot through our brains. Nice guy, great guy – glad we could meet face-to-face and connect on a personal level – all because we found each other on Twitter and decided we had stuff in common.
Tradeshows are dressed up in flashy graphics, entertaining interactivity and endless hype.
But the real reason you’re there is to SELL. So how are your tradeshow sales skills? Are you asking the right questions? Are you qualifying and disqualifying visitors with ease?
Since selling is generally not a one-step process, do you have the logical steps laid out for company reps? The steps might look like this: engage, qualify, assess interest (cool, warm, hot), gather contact information, agree upon the next step and when that will take place, turn the lead over the sales person.
The steps are flexible depending on your type of service or product. But you’re generally building a relationship to the point where the prospect likes and trusts you and values your product enough to make a commitment to buy.
Tradeshows offer a lot of distractions to visitors and staffers, but by focusing on the end goal – the SALE – you’ll come away with better results.
You’ve no doubt arrived at a tradeshow booth wanting to find out more about the product or service being offered. Maybe you even scouted them out or found them on a recommendation.
But when you arrive you find that the staff greets you with indifference. Or worse, you find yourself ignored, and not because the staff is busy with other customers but because they’re chatting with themselves.
What do you do? Turn and walk away? I’ve seen it happen.
It’s a missed sales opportunity that will likely not be regained. All because your booth staffers didn’t have the presence of mind or proper training to greet you.
When you arrive at the tradeshow with a well-trained staff, you communicate a subtle message to visitors and fellow exhibitors: We Came Prepared. We’re Ready for You. Bring It On.
It’s all part of your bottom line: a well-trained staff can increase both the quality and quantity of your take-home leads. Team meetings every day can keep your staff focused and on task. A well-trained staff will invite visitors in by smiling and asking pertinent qualifying questions. They’ll determine who’s a quality prospect and who’s not, and effectively move the prospects into the sales funnel and the non-prospects out of the booth.
By taking the time to train your staff in engaging and qualifying your visitors, you’re investing in a valuable resource. And that investment will reap dividends in the real world – your tradeshow marketing ROI.
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 light reggae beat emanating from inside a small structure. When I stepped through the door I was treated to Bob Marley’s ‘Jammin’’ and I was treated to a small art display that enhanced the exhibitor’s image.
Across the show floor at another booth my ears detected new age music that was barely audible from ten feet away – but it sounded perfectly appropriate for the product on display and added to the overall booth ambiance.
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.
What About the Legalities?
Not being a lawyer, but at least being familiar with the licensing requirements of ASCAP and BMI, it’s my understanding that any event or venue that features licensed music is required to pay a fee. For instance, if you play a radio over your on-hold system, technically you’re required to pay a licensing fee. Same at a restaurant, bar or other gathering place where pre-recorded music might be played – or a live band for tha matter. If you play music in your booth at a tradeshow, often the event organizers or convention operators will have a license to cover that performance.
If you want to play music at your booth, check with the show organizers first and see if they’re covered. If they’re not, check with your company legal advisor. If they determine you should cover your legal you-know-what, purchasing a performance license is relatively cheap.
Here’s a simple way to show off your company to prospective customers and clients from the minute you walk out of your door until the minute you return.
Wear a branded shirt or coat. It may sound simple, but look at what it does: it puts your name in front of people in the cab or shuttle to the airport. It shows your name off to people in the airport and on the plane.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with traveling anonymously, and it may suit you best. But why not take the opportunity to not only show off your company name while traveling, but to show how cordial and engaging you can be? This may be a better fit if you’re a salesman or PR person who enjoys interacting with other people, but it can work for anyone.
Some companies I know have all of their tradeshow staff wear nice branded clothing, such as a long-sleeve button, collared shirt with an embroidered emblem, so everyone on the plane, bus or hotel knows who they’re with.
Thousands of people come to tradeshows. Most are pretty nice. Many are a joy to meet and greet and do business with.
Then there are the annoying ones. Worse than Uncle Marvin at a family reunion. Harder to put up with than sand in your beach barbecue.
So what are the most annoying behaviors at tradeshows? We scratched our collective heads – then asked some of our online friends. And we came up with the following obviously incomplete list.
10. The guest who won’t leave. Yeah, you’ve done all you can, answered all his questions, put up with his lame jokes and made it clear you need to talk with other visitors…but the guy is still standing there. Waiting for…something?
9. The visitor who tries to pick up dates with booth workers. ‘Nuff said.
8. (related to #9) Guys who hit on the ‘models’ in the booth. Okay, so the company decided to bring ‘booth babes’ to attract an audience. But it’s still a pretty eye-rolling thing to have guys try and pick ’em up.
7. When visitors bring their bratty kids to shows. Now, bringing youngsters to a tradeshow (as opposed to a consumer show) is a bit questionable…but when they’re in a horrible mood and bratty? Yeah, annoying.
6. When an attendee says “I’m just looking” when I approach them. Trade shows are NOT The Gap!
5. Petty annoyance, but how about people who just dart over to your booth to grab the “free stuff” and then vanish? (too typical, but still annoying)
4. Stand in your booth talking to each other but refuse to engage your booth staff! grrrrr…
3. When attendees don’t wear their badges or turn them around. Just let me know who you are and what I can do for you..
2. The ones who refuse to accept that a female booth personel could be the expert and keeps addressing the men in the booth.
1. “They don’t show up!”
Your own exhibiting experiences would give you a different list…but for today and today only, those are the top 10 annoying things tradeshow attendees do!