“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.