Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.


Determining Your Potential Audience

If you’re exhibiting at a show that attracts 30,000 visitors, how can you calculate – within a reasonable margin of error – how many of those 30,000 will actually come to your booth?

Well, it’s all guesswork. But at least it’s educated guesswork!

The most recent information I’ve seen suggests anywhere from 7 to 12% of the entire audience at a show is going to potentially visit your booth.

Let’s say you’re planning to exhibit at a show that attracts 30,000 visitors – that means your potential audience is 2,100 to 3,600 people. But only about 80% of the potential audience will see your exhibit, and only about 45% of that number will stop and engage with your staff.

So let’s go back to the example. If your ‘potential audience’ is 2,100 to 3,600 and only 80 percent of that number will see your booth that puts the number between 1680 and 2880. With that you can plan on seeing anywhere from 945 to 1620 people who will stop at your booth.

So if you take the number of hours and divide that into your potential audience, you can calculate approximately how many people will visit your booth on an hourly basis. Let’s say the show lasts 3 days, and runs from 10am to 5pm each day. That’s a total of 21 hours, so you should have about 45 to 77 people visiting your show per hour.

Of course, some hours of a show are busier than others, but with those numbers, you have information at your fingertips that can help you determine a number of things: how many people you should have staffing the booth, how many ‘lead sheets’ you should have available, how big your booth should be, even how often your staff should be able to take breaks.

If for some reason you have run the numbers and found out at the end of the show that your numbers are way off (say, way down) from what you had anticipated, look at some of the variables that might have affected that. Some you can control, others you can’t. You CAN obviously control the ‘look and feel’ of your booth, its attractiveness and the graphics. You CAN’T control the look and feel of booths around you, or what your fellow exhibitors are using as enticements or promotions. You CAN control how your staff interacts with attendees, how well-trained they are at gathering leads and qualifying visitors.

And keep this in mind: a rule of thumb is that you should have two staffers for each 100 square feet of booth space, even with demo stations, tables for client meetings, etc.

So, do the math, and determine how big of a space you should really have – and if that fits in your budget. Naturally, budget rules everything. But if you have very strong information that suggests your booth should be bigger (or even smaller) than what you’ve been using, you can make those adjustments internally over time.

How to Successfully Work a Tradeshow

It’s been said the best way to learn about tradeshows if you’re new to the industry, or new to the experience, is to attend one or two shows before you attempt to organize or handle the actual booth.

So DO IT! Spend a few days. Get there early and watch the set-up, booth designs, and stick around for the tear-down, too. It’ll help you get a look at the strategic behind-the-scenes planning and an overall feel for how tradeshows work.

When it comes time to actually display, many small companies vying for attention have found that it makes more sense to invite the buyers to come by booth and set up appointments. With thousands of people streaming by your booth over the duration of the tradeshow, it’ll give out a much better impression if you look organized. If you look disorganized, how will you convince a potential buyer or distributor that you can deliver the product?

Before adding a show to your exhibit list, you might strongly consider attending as a visitor, which will give you a good sense of who is there, who your competition is and who’s on the guest list. With the large number of shows that can touch on your industry, or even your niche of your industry, it’ll help you determine which shows are right for your company.

Look at tradeshow marketing as just one prong of your marketing efforts. No smart marketer will put all his eggs in one basket.

But spending time at a tradeshow either as an exhibitor or a visitor is a great way to meet a large number of potential customers and business partners in a short period of time. It’s a compressed experience: your time is compressed and the amount of people you can meet is also quite compressed.

The key to success whether as a visitor or exhibitor is to be over-prepared. Know who you’d like to meet, know what companies you want to see, whether as a competitor or as a potential business partner or customer. Do your homework before you leave for the show, and spend a little of your down time in your hotel room updating and making notes.

It’s all about taking control. Take control and you’ll be a success!

10 Ways to Get More Attention at Your Next Tradeshow

There’s nothing quite like being the one booth in your aisle that’s grabbing all the attention – whether it’s from the food you’re giving away, the demo you’re giving, or the pseudo-celebrity signing autographs.

Try a few of these ways to get more attention for your next show!

1. Pre-show promotion. Target your market, send them a clever promo piece with enough value so that they feel compelled to stop by your booth. One of the most famous in recent years is the company that sent one very nice glove and said the other one was waiting for them at the booth when they stopped by. Another approach would be to offer a high perceived-value premium gift to the prospect when they stop by – something that the normal tradeshow attendee won’t get.

2. Offer good food. Now of course this depends on the show and the rules at the show. At a Natural Foods Products show, of course, everybody’s offering food, so at those shows this may not be the best way to stand out. But at a tech show? Fios, Inc. of Portland, offered smoothies at a tech show – and had people lined up for much of the show. The Catch? Attendees couldn’t get a smoothie until they had their badge scanned.

3. Unusual or Extreme Demos. Self-defense weapons maker Taser offered to shock attendees. Hundreds took up the offer and ended up on the floor – some taking up to ten minutes to recover. One company selling a fire and trauma survival blanket had a company executive walk through a fire wearing the blanket. Microsoft once handed out nearly a thousand pocket PC’s and randomly sent out a messages on MSN Messenger. The first 100 people to find the mystery woman’s location received a token and a chance to win a pocket PC.

4. Re-think your Strategy. Why are you at the show? What is the purpose of your exhibit? Are you looking to sell products or focus on the company’s brand? By asking these kinds of questions – starting from scratch in the whole planning process and questioning all previous assumptions – you may find that your tradeshow booth needs a complete makeover. Or not. Maybe you’re doing everything the way it should be done – you just need to focus on execution better.

5. Fix the Mistakes in Your Graphics. If your booth graphics take more than a few seconds to read, you’re losing much of your prospective audience. Graphics paraphrase…the conversation you engage in will explain. Fix the text: show benefits to your prospect, don’t brag about awards your product has won. No one cares except the guy who created the product! Don’t use clever, artsy fonts; don’t use too small of type; make sure your background and foreground text have enough contrast so that it’s actually readable! Get your text up off the floor by at least 4 or 5 feet – people don’t want to read anything below eye level. Also keep graphic clutter down to a minimum. Use these rules: Simplicity Sells; Clean Design Attracts.

6. Ask the Right Questions. Once the visitor has been attracted to your booth with the right graphics and ‘look and feel’ of your booth, engage them in a short conversation. Asking the right questions means quickly qualifying the person, finding out what their needs might be in regard to your product, answering any questions they have and getting all the information necessary for prompt follow up. Then move on to the next person.

7. Hold a Media Event. IF –and it’s a big if – you have something new to offer or unveil, holding a media event will draw interested parties and experts out of the woodwork. Don’t just bring in your company officers. Ask some well-known industry folks and observers to attend and chime in with statements on your behalf. If they offer observations as to why the new thing is important and the industry should sit up and take notice, they usually will. Also make sure your hot prospects are a part of the event as well. But one caveat: unless you really DO have something new, don’t do this, it’ll annoy the press and you’ll waste your money.

8. Offer To Introduce Them To Someone Special. If people know they are going to meet someone they really want to know, they’ll have a big incentive to show up. It could be an industry bigwig, a local politician, a sports celebrity. Most celebrities can be hired for a day for a fee, if they’re available. If you found out your biggest prospect was a huge fan of some retired baseball player, and you hired that player for a few hours – don’t you think your prospect would walk on fire to get to your booth? Depending on your budget, you may be looking at someone local of note. Some celebrities are quite reasonable, others are outrageously expensive. Don’t forget to figure in travel and lodging expenses.

9. Offer an Ethical Bribe. Autographed merchandise has a high perceived value: baseballs, basketballs, books, etc. Or get an autographed artwork or a football signed by a major star from your hot prospects home town. With a little sleuthing you should be able to determine what will hit the prospect’s hot button. Then it’s a matter of footwork – and sometimes cost – to get the autograph on an item. Sometimes its just a matter of contacting an entertainment agent in your town and letting him know what you want. Rule of thumb – whatever you offer, it shouldn’t appear to be a bribe. Lots of companies have rules prohibiting their executives from accepting articles worth more then $50. The PERCEIVED VALUE is what’s important.

10. Shoot A Commercial At The Show. If you create a product that folks can sample and purchase on the spot, set up a video camera and record testimonials. Set up some studio lights and photo backdrop with your TV camera. Have signs up announcing that you’re shooting testimonials for future commercials. You’ll attract a lot of attention from people who want their 15 minutes of fame. This works on a lot of levels: not only will you attract attention from attendees, but you’ll have the public selling the public on your product; you’ll gather excellent testimonial footage for future use and the people on camera will come up with their own sales pitches. A few caveats: make sure you ask EVERY PERSON ON CAMERA this question: “Will you allow us to use your voice and image to sell our product without payment for as long as we want to?” When they answer yes, you’ve got their talent release – on tape. When they’re done with the testimonial, hand them off to your sales guy, who will hand them an order form for the product. If they hesitate, you can say, “But from what you said on camera, you love this stuff. You really meant it, didn’t you?”

Podcast: Ken Newman Interview

Podcast Interview with Ken Newman, Magnet Productions in San Francisco. Ken has been doing tradeshow presentations for 25 years, and just recently returned from a big show where, lo and behold, traffic was great and his client brought home more leads from last year. Ken’s a terrific, talkative guy and discusses what it takes to put on an effective tradeshow presentaiton. And to think we met on Twitter: Ken Newman on Twitter and IE’s TradeshowGuy on Twitter.

When Do You Need A Tradeshow Consultant?

Does your company need a tradeshow staff trainer? A tradeshow is NOT a regular sales call. On the hot, active floor of the tradeshow, you must be quick on your feet, flexible, inventive, direct, creative and engaging. And you must know your product, your company, and your Most Important Prospects.

So how do you tell if your tradeshow sales crew could use a tradeshow training specialist?

Some questions you might ask yourself:

Are you having a hard time defining what a good lead at your show really it? You’ll have a lot of lookers, passersby as well as clients and prospects. If your sales staff doesn’t have the skills to differentiate between the various people that are there, you may be wasting time and energy chasing the wrong people, or missing important time with current clients or good prospects. If your prospect has shown in interest in your company, has the bucks to work with you and you’re able to solve her problem – you have a good lead.

Are your leads being sorted out into A (hot), B (warm) and C (cool) leads? If you’ve asked the right questions at the show, you’ll know exactly when the prospect wants you to follow up, and how. Some companies want immediate follow up, others are not ready to hear your presentation for a couple of months. Based on your company’s sales cycle, determine your categories of hot, warm and cool.

Does your on-floor sales staff know the difference between tradeshow selling and ‘normal’ selling? At least what’s normal for your company? Do they know how to attract a prospect’s attention in five seconds or less with an engaging question? Do they know how to qualify, disqualify and gather proper information for the sales team back at the office?

Do you have a list of pre-qualified prospects primed to see you at the show? Have you done pre-show marketing and made personal contacts to make sure your prime targets are attending and are planning to come see you?

Do you have a system in place to trade lead follow-up? After the leads come back from the trade show, the sales staff needs to be able to show you how they’ve followed up, what the status of the contact is, and if the lead was a quality lead. By regular checking you’ll be able to determine if your trade show sales staff were actually qualifying the leads, or just scanning badges.

Are you constantly ironing out inefficiencies in your system? This means regular de-briefings with your trade show sales staff to find out what works and what doesn’t. It means find out if your technology is doing all it should. It means reviewing your methodology for handling leads, putting on the trade show, updating your booth and more. It means going over your budget regularly with a fine tooth comb to weed out unneeded or ineffective items.

Trade shows are not a regular sales event, it takes the right staff and the proper training to insure you’re getting the level of success you should. When you bring in a trade show consultant your trade show investment can really pay off. Contact us at TradeshowGuy Exhibits if you would like to find out more details.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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