Tradeshows are a significant investment and in today’s economic environment it is vital that you maximize your time spent at your next show. After many years of experience I put together a set of guidelines that I have found very useful and thought I would share them. These should come in handy with Print 09 just around the corner.
The Top Five Tidbits
The Demo: This is the primary reason that an attendee elects to attend a trade show. They are there to see the product demonstrated live. You need to have your demonstrations well scripted, prepared and customer centric. Have you done your research on the attendee, are you demonstrating to their needs? You may be very proud of your products features but they are meaningless if they are not delivered with the customer need in mind and the resulting benefit.
Six degrees of Separation: Use your network. If your booth is recommended to a potential customer by someone else than the likelihood that they will visit is much higher.
Personal Invitation: Use your sales force and the relationship that they have built with their customers and prospects. Today a personalized invitation signed by the sales rep inviting a prospect to the booth can be very effective.
Location Location Location: We have heard it many times in many areas but there is no doubt that this is a key contributor to the success of your booth. If your customer can’t find you then it is going to be pretty difficult to deliver an effective trade show demonstration.
Size Matters: Like it or not it’s a fact the biggest booth gets the most attention. Even if you need to manage your budget, creative signage and layout can give you the illusion of having a “big booth”.
About your Prospect
Never Underestimate ANYBODY
They may be wearing jeans, they may be younger than you expect, and they may be asking casual unrelated questions. No matter what treat every person that walks into the booth as a potential buyer. I remember a tradeshow where the gentleman handed me a business card with the title “trouble maker”. We later sold him $750,000 of equipment for his printing firm in Hawaii. (you know who you are).
We don’t need no stinkin’ badges….
There is a reason that badges are issued to attendees, so you can read their names. After you do, use them! “So Tom, tell me what area is your firm looking to make improvements, you have invested the time to attend so….”
Early Riser Or Late Bloomer
This person shows up right when the doors open. They may not appear to be anyone special; however they are often your power buyer. It is also typical for the power buyer to hang around when things are winding down. They me be perusing your booth after most have left and asking a lot of questions, this is more than likely someone who is ready to buy.
Don’t Ignore Prospects
One of the rudest things you can do is ignore a prospect . . . even for a few seconds. Nobody likes to be ignored. If you’re busy when someone approaches, either acknowledge him/her to try to include him/her in your conversation. If you’re talking to a booth mate or neighbor, break it off immediately.
It’s All ABout You!
Party Time… Not!
OK, let’s be realistic tradeshows can have a reputation of being an opportunity to be a little wild. Don’t get caught up in the excitement, let your competition whoop it up. The next morning when the potential buyers walk in and you have had your 7 – 8 hours sleep who is going to be ready to address their questions and concerns?
Tradeshows can be consuming. I have heard many of my peers comment “ we were so busy we never got out of the booth” too bad, what venue other than a trade show gives you an opportunity to hear your competitions entire pitch, new product announcements, key solutions, the trade show. By planning and scheduling your staff effectively there is ample time for someone to gather the information necessary to maintain your competitive edge. .
These should be obvious but I have to mention them because it still occurs; chewing gum, eating, drinking, sitting and even reading the newspaper should NEVER occur in the booth. Nothing is more irritating to a tradeshow attendee then walking into a booth and seeing any or all of these in combination.
One of my pet peeves… OK, you work for a large international corporation and you have offices around the world. Wow what a great opportunity to catch up with or even meet the people that you have been e-mailing back and forth for the past year. Do yourself a favor and have pre-show meeting the day before so you can get that out of the way. You are there to talk with the tradeshow attendees, your prospects, not each other!
You Are What You Eat (And Drink)
A nice steak, couple of martinis, maybe a bottle of wine, now that’s what I call customer entertainment. It is also what I call having a rough morning the next day. Stay away from heavy and rich foods and alcohol. Let’s face it, this is only for a few days you can do it. You will be much better “on your feet” the next day.
I know, it’s all the rage to wear a cool sport shirt with your company logo, maybe even ball caps that are monogrammed. Personally I think it is time to get back to basics. Whatever happened to a nice conservative 2-piece suite for a man or dress suit for women when working the booth? Who would you rather do business with?
Lanyards Are So “Techy”
I carry a small clip with a plastic loop that snaps through the lanyard badge. That way I can clip it on my right lapel where it is visible, turned facing the customer and to his or her left. When I lean in to shake their hand they can clearly read my badge eliminating the embarrassing “oh your badge is turned around on your lanyard so what is your name again?”
Keep it Clean
I like to call it “I get no respect” that is if the booth could talk. Empty paper cartons, food containers, drink cups, the list goes on. Keep it off the show floor and most certainly out of the booth.
This Is A Lead Generating Opportunity!
OK, I can accept that this is one of the key reasons for attending. On the other hand if your customer is coming to the show to buy, who are you to discourage them! Yes folks this is an order writing opportunity as well!