Trade Shows & Conferences...Be Prepared - Part One

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Exhibiting at a tradeshow or conference?  Why?  The typical answer is to generate new business and make contacts.  That is fantastic!

However, how much time do you put in to being prepared to achieve those goals?  If you are like the rest of us your workweek is a blur of meetings, tasks and responsibilities.  So when the time comes to leave for the event you grab everything you need, make sure your trade show booth is shipped, and run out the door to get on the plane.  I would suggest you think about these things before you leave:

• What does your booth say about you?  You have invested in a trade show booth – and most likely it has a back wall – THE place for you to proudly announce to the world who you are.  What does yours say – I’m going out on a limb here and say it’s your company name?  HUGE MISTAKE!  Think of that back wall as a roadside billboard – and figure you have 3-4 seconds to gain someone’s attention, get him or her to stop in the aisle and interact.  Unless you are Google, Apple or someone like that, use this space to demonstrate to your audience the one, single most important benefit they can achieve by working with you.  Don’t assume the audience knows you – they probably don’t.  Don’t assume they know what your company does, they most likely don’t.  In fact – assume they know nothing.  In one sentence, or fragment of a sentence tell them WHY they need to stop in their tracks and speak to you at that moment.  That is why you are at the conference in the first place, and you must be able to answer that question.  And make it bold and eye-catching.  What do you remember about any billboard you passed on the way to the office this morning?

• What is your plan in the booth?  Do you have a table and chairs?  Do you sit down?  Stand on the edge of your booth?  Want people inside your booth or do you want to interact with them on the edge?  What makes a good interaction?  All of these questions and more should be part of your planning.  Let’s look at them:

o Table and chairs?  These are great if you have the room and are going to hold meetings at them.  If not, get rid of them – there is nothing worse in a booth than the staff sitting down and talking to each other.  If you are having meetings there you have to consider a few things – do you have enough coverage for your booth if you are in a meeting?  Is there any privacy or is it an issue – would a competitor of the person you are meeting with be comfortable stopping by?

o Sit down?  NEVER – unless you are meeting with someone.  No one likes looking down at someone when they are talking to you.  And generally people will feel like they are bothering you if you are “relaxing” in your booth.

o Interaction – if you want people inside your booth – make it easy for them to get in.  Make it inviting.  Have your give-a-ways inside the booth and your staff inside the booth.  Clearly if you are in a 10 X 10 this is very difficult.  If you are in a small booth and are primarily working the edge of your booth I would seriously consider if that is the best way to do it.  With space confinement if there are two of you at the edge and engaged, everyone else will walk right by – no interaction with your booth – since they won’t be able to see it.  And what is a good booth interaction?  What are you going for – a purchase order, a qualified lead or simple name acquisition?  Have a plan for this.  If it’s names – automate.  Scanner, business card drop, etc.  If it’s qualified leads – have a quick interview script everyone uses to ask the same qualifying questions so when you are back in the office everyone is using the same criteria.  Make it simple and quick.  And if it’s sales/orders – structure your booth space appropriately to accommodate this.  Have a place to sit and meet, review materials, discuss pricing and terms, etc.  Doing all of this out in the open is difficult and does not put your new client at ease.

These are just a few things to think about to make your next trade show or conference the best experience it can be.  Good Luck!

 

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